Titanic Struggle Recap

A Win for the Finish

Final R H E
Cincinnati Reds (67-94) 3 10 2
Chicago Cubs (92-69) 1 3 0
W: McGuire (1-1) L: Lackey (12-12) S: Iglesias (28)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score

The Good
–The Reds won.

–In winning, they beat the Cubs.

–Joey Votto set a new record for the Reds for times on base. It is now 321. He is good.

–Duvall and Suarez both had a couple hits.

–The pitching was, in general, good. Deck McGuire got his first major league win, that’s fun.

The Bad
–No more Reds baseball until next year.

 

Not-So-Random Thoughts
–Joey Votto finished the season having reached base 321 times. His final line was .320/.454/.578. He had 36 homers and 100 RBI and 106 runs scored. He is the MVP of my heart and, I’m sure, yours. I’m going to have a big post on his remarkable season in a couple of days. Stay tuned.

–The thing in the 9th when Hamilton and Winker tried a double steal was just fun. I know then end of the baseball season is often meaningless, but that these guys are still able to find something to get excited about when they’ve been out of it for ages and it’s time to go home tomorrow only bodes well for the future. You want players who are excited to play every game and many of these Reds are.

–This was certainly a hard year, but there were real results. The Reds will break camp next with a better team than they had this year. The pitching will be better. The offense will still be there. I don’t know if they’re going to magically make the playoffs next year, but I do know they’ll be much better than they were this year. Sure, it was a rough finish, but there was a lot of throwing whoever you could find out on the mound because various guys had been shut down.

48 thoughts on “A Win for the Finish

  1. Jason, I’m going to link to the article you wrote about this time last year about the best case scenario for the 2017 Reds. It’s fun to go back and read it:

    http://www.cincinnatimagazine.com/reds/reds-ready-2017-get/

    And, in the spirit of fairness, here were my own predictions from this post:

    Best case scenario? Ok, I’ll take a stab:

    1. Joey Votto hits like Joey Votto
    2. Brandon Phillips is traded and Dilson Herrera steps in a provides decent offense.
    3. Zack Cozart is traded and Jose Peraza steps in a proves his numbers this year were no fluke.
    4. Nick Senzel absolutely sets the world on fire in Spring Training (something ridiculous like a .500 OBP with 15 HR) and is the starting 3B for the Reds, and hits like he has been in the minors.
    5. Billy Hamilton bulks up in a an effort to become more durable and suddenly has 15 HR power while not sacrificing speed or defense.
    6. Jesse Winker makes the team out of ST and proves to be Votto Lite.
    7. Scott Schebler keeps hitting next year like he has been since August of this year, and platoons in LF with Duvall
    8. Suarez becomes a Super Sub and gets 400 ABs.
    9. Mesoraco bounces back like nothing happened and becomes a middle of the order force.
    10. Homer, Disco, Reed, Finnegan, and Garret pitch awesome, with Bob Steve stepping in when one of them gets injured and he pitches awesome too.
    11. Iggy and Lorenzen stay in the ‘pen and the front office brings in some relievers that actually aren’t terrible.
    12. Brian Price doesn’t drop a single F-bomb in an interview all year.

    Final record: 88-74, Wild Card team.

    Ah, we were so young and innocent in halcyon days of October 2016.

    • I don’t remember Price dropping an f-bomb this year and Schebler more or less kept hitting( not counting his wallet missing July), and Votto was Votto. So 2.5/12 was way better than me.

    • 1. Yes
      2. Yes and no
      3. no and no
      4. no. but the starting 3B did hit really well
      5. no
      6. no but did play Votto-lite when given the chance
      7. taking out the month of July where he was likely playing hurt Schebler slashed 255/330/530. good for a 118 wRC+
      8. far exceed expectation here, see no 4
      9. no
      10. no
      11. yes. the 2016 bullpen had -4.0 fWAR. the 2017 bullpen 0.9 fWAR. this at least meets the “not terrible” criteria
      12. yes

  2. The Old Cossack was completely ambivalent about Hamilton’s attempt at the stolen base title, but the title was important to Hamilton, so Winker’s attempt at the front end of a double steal showed a lot in the context of a team sport. Kudos to young Mr. Winker for recognizing and acting on the attempt and kudos to Mr. Hamilton for recognizing Winker’s effort. The attempt nearly worked and Winker will never receive accolades for his stolen base prowess.

    • Agree Cossack. There were some milestones to root for in this game – Cozart to .300, Duvall (and even Gennett) to 100 RBI, Hamilton to win a stolen base crown, and Votto to reset the season record for times on base. Only the last one happened (because he’s Joey Votto), but the highlight of the game was Winker trying to steal third to give Hamilton a chance at his goal. I loved the respect, the awareness and the enthusiasm it showed, and I loved Hamilton’s response in appreciation to Winker who is ill suits for the attempt. Chris Welsh was talking about the quality of the people in the Reds clubhouse, including Winker and Suarez and several others, and that is one more detail that has me excited for 2018. One last tip of the CFD Reds hat, this time to Jesse Winker.

    • Ditto. Though it looks like Blackmon will probably win out MVP after his recent games. I think Votto finishes second ahead of Stanton and Goldschmidt. Maybe swap Votto and staton if the voters are all giggly over the HR.

      First base Silver Slugger goes to Votto – hands down. And his first to boot

  3. I’m not sure that winning the SB title is something that in the larger scheme of things is real important, but the individual players, I am sure it is. What I really liked about today was that Winker was wiling to try to take third so that Billy could steal second, and even though he is not the fastest runner by far, he gave it a tremendous effort and came with a few inches of getting the base, due to a great swimming move around the tag. That is a teammate that wants his fellow players to get the accolades. I am hoping that Winker gets plenty of PT next year.

  4. When the “Predict the Reds Record” article was posted, I thought it would be a long, painful year and guessed 66-96. I take no joy in being close. It was long. It was painful.

    Jason tends to write optimistic things with a degree of certainty. I wish I shared the optimism based on faith.

    All 5 NL playoff teams have 4 or more starters make 25 or more starts.

    The Reds had Scott Feldman (remember him?) make 21. Everyone else had fewer.

    The next goal has to be planning on a set rotation (injuries excepted) coming out of Spring Training, let these young guys get fully exposed, have to adapt when “the book” is out and become finished products.

    Thanks to all who make the RLN Game Threads such a fun place, regardless of the game outcome.

  5. Ah we can paint it all smiley and friendly, sure that is Reds baseball, we are the good guys while Cardinals are evil, but Hamilton’s selfishness is exactly what is wrong with this team. He got picked off at least twice in the past 2 weeks while selfishly pursuing his individual milestone. He simply cannot be a regular on this team and I fear even as a bench player he is a net negative because he will find his way into the lineup and at the top of the order and this manager unlike evil LaRussa isn’t smart enough to hide him behind the pitcher’s spot in the order. Still, I look forward to next year, hope springs eternal.

    • I’ve been wondering all year why the Reds weren’t winning. Now I know: Billy’s selfishness. Thanks for clearing that up.

    • He scored a run after being picked off…he must have been pursuing the runs scored record, since he didn’t give himself up (as so many do) after getting picked off.

      • You guys can defend him all you want. He has a .260 obp batting first in the lineup. Havoc is highly over-rated, that’s my point, and Billy is all about Billy he never stops getting picked off after 4+ years of experience he still just want to show off his speed regardless of risk or the situation (picked off 2B with Votto AB while infielder lurking behind him.)

        • Votto must be the most selfish player on the team then, with his baserunning blunders.

          Said no one ever, because it’s foolish to call a player selfish for doing what he can to help the team.

        • Please note that Bham and his lowly BA is his fault, but him batting first is Bryan Prices fault.

          If your manager penciled you in to lead off, would you go to him and say “Sir, my OBP is too ridiculously low to be batting 1st. Can I bat 8th instead?”

          You would not.

          • Also, and most importantly: the perpetual green light Bham has been given to “create havoc” on the base paths– also Bryan prices fault.

            If he doesn’t get the sign to steal, and doesn’t have the green light, he doesn’t steal.

            Bryan price fault.

  6. It was a strange season because although they were a last place team they were exciting to watch. It will be a stranger off season and spring training as the only definite roster spots next year are
    Votto- 1st base
    Suarez- 3rd base
    Barnhart- catcher
    Bailey – sp
    Castillo- sp
    Iglesias- closer
    Could be a totally new team next year

  7. Since we are on the topic of best-case scenarios for the 2018 REDS, may I indulge in some way-out-there wishful thinking and a wish list for the team as catharsis?

    I actually live in Miami and, as we all know, that the Marlins have been chummy trading partners with the Reds recently. It has worked out pretty well for the good guys. Well, there’s a lot of talk of the new Marlins ownership of tearing down, replenishing their farm system, and rebuilding the team. Might there be some creative trades to acquire some their offensive talent like Ozuna, Yelich, Realmuto or Dee Gordon? Stanton is too pricey although that would be something scary if he landed here.

    Anyway, Hamilton finishing with a .299 obp as a below-average leadoff hitter again. Enough said. Someone else has to be better (Winkler?). Picking up a solid, reliable starter to stabilize the rotation would do wonders for this team. Also figuring out what to do with Cozart/the SS pos will be very significant. I like the Steelers philosophy: it’s better to rid of your older players before they become diminishing returns. Tough decision though. We’ve been blessed that Cozart has outperformed expectations, but for how much longer? For whatever is worth, the good part of looking forward to next season is the fresh start and wondrous possibilities.

    Thanks to all the writers at RN for your efforts, insights, undiminished fandom, and for making it very enjoyable to follow the Reds especially for long-time fans like me who live in some other place. Have a great off-season.

      • If you’re going to do that… may as well give him his slugging points for each time he stole and ended up with “triples” and “doubles”

        • I did that a month or two ago and he was above .700 ops but low to middle. Given the fact that steals and pickoffs don’t have same impact as doubles or GIDP it’s highly suspect but fun to tease out. To use like OP, as fully interchangeable, is either ignorant or deceptive.

          • A steal when he’s leading off is the same as double, effectively. I’m not trying to make the case that he is a good hitter who should bat leadoff, but making him the scapegoat for a season that was clearly poor due to ineffective pitching is ridiculous, as is calling a guy selfish who regularly risks injury making great catches.

          • Greenmt… exactly. A very reasonable argument can be made that Billy isn’t the greatest player, but to conflate the issue with selfishness is unhelpful. Great point about his giving up his body on defense.

            Getting picked off comes with the territory. Doesn’t mean don’t work on it, but it’s kinda like how teams with high OBP’s tend to leave more runners stranded.

          • Yes. But Hamilton stole 103 and 104 bases in the minors .He’s hitting hitting leadoff and still has never stolen 60 bases in 4 years. That’s incomprehensible for a guy with his speed. His WAR is career low and there are 60 outfielders + in MLB who had more WAR than any of the reds outfielders. About 15 outfielders had as much or more WAR than schebler.duvall and Hamilton COMBINED. Hamilton was at the bottom of the CF list.

            Winner is the best OF….then the sorting starts after that.

          • Hamilton should not be scapegoated for this season. The SP rotation was horrendous and is the biggest culprit for this season’s woes. But in the end and through a long MLB season, talent rises to the top unless widespread injuries ravage and sabotage a talented team. So the team at this point is not that talented or its talent has not ripened yet (Romano, Mahle, Nick Senzel, Hunter Greene, Tyler Stephenson, etc.). I believe (call it fan optimism) the team is not that far away.

            Revisiting Hamilton and his value. The simplistic comparison of a stolen base is effectively a double or add to his slugging % when he steals a base or two is just that – too simplistic and invalid.

            1. Stealing a base can be an effective strategy to have a player in scoring position, but it cannot potentially drive in a run like a true double/triple (even a single).
            2. A true double/triple has the same results of having a player in scoring position.
            3. 80% of stolen bases don’t directly lead to a run scored; a small pct. of stolen bases are necessary to occur in order for a run to score. On the hand, the cost of being caught stealing exceeds the benefit of stealing.
            https://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2014/2/20/5425744/stolen-bases-lack-value
            4. Being a high SB team does not directly translate to playoff success. Half of the playoff teams are in the top 10 for total SB; nor does it translate to runs scored: Rockies (#26 SB but #3 RS); Cubs (#24 but #4); Indians (#15 but #6).

            So the argument is stronger that it is more valuable to have a batter with significantly better SLG% (with a better overall OBP) with low SB numbers than the other way around (like Hamilton). I like Billy H. and it is not his fault that he is what he has proven to be the last few years. He should be #4 outfielder or the #9 hitter if he’s the starter.

          • Old-School: Winker is the best outfielder only if you ignore half of the game. I agree that he should be getting lots of playing time–probably starting–but he really couldn’t play adequate center. In discussing the merits of players here we often seem to consider only hitting, and it’s clear–to me, at least–that there’s a great deal more to the game and to being a successful team than that.

          • Davy13: I was only conflating a stolen base with a double when the batter is leading off an inning, but I understand and agree with your point. If a player can’t steal successfully often enough (I’ve heard 75%) than he shouldn’t try. But that said, it’s obviously better to have a runner on second (or third) that a runner on first (or second). Just out of curiosity, I wonder what percentage of walks score? Or singles, for that matter?

      • I never meant or implied that Hamilton is the scapegoat. Of course the pitching was horrendous. Management is far more to blame for this fiasco than any individual or even the team as a whole. My main point was that Price will continue to bat this guy leadoff and as such our best hope is addition by subtraction, trade him to the Padres or a west coast team that values speed and get a pitching prospect in return. I was complaining about seeking individual goals when the team as a whole is so awful you would think winning a game would be more important than reaching a milestone.

  8. Well, it was obviously a very disappointing season.. But, I do see a lot of good things heading into next year. The progression of all the young pitchers late in the year is extremely encouraging. Like most I wish they would have started giving the young boys a decent chance to play earlier. I don’t see how we can have Duvall and Schebler as regulars. So let us part with one. 30 home run guys should bring something decent.Lastly it has been fun reading all of your comments and the age old tradition of baseball kibitzing. Let’s all have a great winter and keep the hot stove burning hot.

  9. We went undefeated for the final month of the season. Every game of the month was against the defending World Series Champions. 2nd month of the season with a winning record too!

  10. I know we’ll all be talking playoffs, awards, transactions, hot stove rumors and soon enough, spring training. But before that starts again I want to send a huge shoutout to the RLN team – Chad, Steve, Jason, Doug, Mary Beth, Ashley, Wesley and all the writers, and another to all my fellow fans and commenters here – too many names to list – who make this such an engaging, respectful, vibrant, challenging, compelling home for this long distance Reds fan. Thank you everyone. It has been a rough year to be a Reds fan, but it’s always a good year as a tiny part of the RLN family. Go Reds!

  11. When Bailey and DeSclafani went down before spring training, and then Finnegan before April was up, that changed the whole calculus on the 2017 season. Feldman was brought in to be the #4 starter and bullpen piece after a younger starter took over. Then he becomes the Opening Day starter and Reds #1 starter for the first half of the season.
    At least Homer Bailey came back, shed a lot of rust, and is looking like he’ll be a solid middle rotation piece next year. There was a lot of positive for Homer to take into the winter.
    And Stephenson also came back, not from injury, but from oblivion. Shaky at times, but a he established a good track record the last 2 months of the season.
    The Reds found two very solid starters this year in Castillo and Romano. Mahle is just a step behind these two.
    That is seven starters right there. The Reds, like most teams should, will need to have 2-3 solid starters at AAA next year. That is already done. And the Reds have McGuire, Reed, Garrett, Stephens, and Davis to beef up the AAA rotation. Also the Reds might have to make some room at AAA for RHP Jose Lopez for the AAA rotation.
    I can see a couple of big trades coming this winter. Miami and Toronto could be two of the better trading partners for the Reds. Both need younger starting pitching very much.

  12. Reds finish with the 5th overall pick in next year’s draft. Another top-5 pick. Hopefully after next season, it’ll be a pick in the 20’s for the 2019 draft.
    How they finished:

    1. Tigers (64-98)
    2. Giants (64-98)
    3. Phillies (66-96)
    4. White Sox (67-95)
    5. Reds (68-94)
    6. Mets (70-92)
    7. Padres (71-91)
    8. Braves (72-90)
    9. Athletics (75-87)
    10. Pirates (75-87).

    With the 5th pick in the 2019 MLB draft, the Cincinnati Reds to select Oregon St. 2B Nick Madrigal

  13. Best part of this year was Votto, Barnhart and Castillo. Worst part was the Starting Pitching, Price and Hamilton leading off every time.

    • I don’t remember Price leading off… or maybe it was a missing Oxford Comma (and now the true argument begins 😉

      I think Price did the job he was asked to do, which was to convert pitching prospects to strike-throwing MLB pitchers. In the cases of Castillo (easy), Romano, Steveson, and Mahle (all a bit tougher) he did this pretty well. Now, how much influence did he have? I’m guessing more than we know. He was a top-notch pitching coach at one time – this should be the one thing he can do. On the other hand, if I were Price, I’d probably let a sabre-nerd construct the lineup.

      Hamilton needs to bat 9th and also needs to be part of a 4 man OF rotation in 2018. Duvall needs days off to play at peak. Hamilton needs to play situationally to play at peak. Winker needs to play and Scheb is no schlub.

      If I were the Reds front office, I’d be looking for a real starting pitcher and some significant bullpen help. Then, we need to hope Senzel’s bat is ready and Saurez can play SS. Sprinkle in a little health and a bit of luck and we might have ourselves a 2018 ball-club.

      • what’s the evidence for Price as a top notch pitching coach? who did he develop and what pitches does he specialize in teaching?

        difficult to find….

  14. Glad this mess is over. Let’s get on to the off season. I’m on the long end of a metered connection for a while. Talk to you all more later.

  15. Another season goes into Red’s history and looking forward to another one. In the meantime there’s a month of playoffs ahead and then three and a half months to Spring Training. I hope the Front Office is in active mode to get the Reds ready to contend in 2018.

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