Game Thread

Game Thread: Reds vs. Texas Rangers

The Reds play the Texas Rangers, the first of two consecutive home night games. The game starts at 8:05 p.m. ET. No TV. Radio is WLW-700. The next two games will be on national television, carried by the MLB Network. Today’s lineup by Bryan Price:

  1. Billy Hamilton CF
  2. Eugenio Suarez 3B
  3. Joey Votto 1B
  4. Scooter Gennett 2B
  5. Adam Duvall LF
  6. Schebler RF
  7. Jose Peraza SS
  8. Tucker Barnhart C
  9. Ben Revere DH

The starting pitcher is Anthony DeSclafani. It’s his third start. He’s pitched two innings in each previous appearance, with a walk and three strikeouts. Here’s Chad’s welcome back post.

Outfield Rotation Joel Luckhapt has a terrific article up at The Athletic that analyzes the factors Bryan Price should consider in figuring out the best outfield rotation. Joel looks at platoon splits based on batter handedness, the size of centerfield at specific parks, the fly ball-ground ball split for that day’s pitcher, the need to balance the lineup, and helping players battle season-long fatigue, in particular Adam Duvall. The article provides solid stats throughout to backup its claims.

The one factor I’d add is the development need to get Jesse Winker playing time. It might prove important that Winker get 600 plate appearances instead of 450-500.

But all of this analysis is for naught. Bryan Price is going to make decisions based mostly on minuscule matchup histories. Schebler will play because he’s 1-for-2 against the starting pitcher. Billy Hamilton will play because he got two hits against that starter in 2014. That’s Price’s track record. The front office is full of talented analysts who know that matchup histories have been proven to be a terrible basis on which to make decisions. It’s too bad they can’t convince the manager of that.

Roster Speculation A few weeks ago, John Fay guessed at who the Opening Day roster would be. This morning, he posted updated thoughts. He still thinks Sal Romano has an edge for the #5 rotation spot. He’s moved Oliver Perez and Tanner Rainey into the bullpen, which he admits is mostly a guess. Fay thinks Ben Revere will make the team ahead of Patrick Kivlehan.

Fay may well be right about that last one. The Reds love fast runners. But Revere over Kivlehan seems unnecessary if Scott Schebler can spell Hamilton in center. Kivlehan hits with power and plays first and third in addition to the OF. Players like Ben Revere are easy to pick up. The Reds signed him late this spring to a minor league deal. All he does is run fast. He’s below average defensively in CF, doesn’t walk and has zero power.

The Most Reds Thing Ever Yesterday, the Reds had runners at first and second with no outs and their leadoff hitter coming to the plate. That leadoff hitter was hitless for the spring and struggling to get started. It was the fifth inning of a meaningless spring training game. But Bryan Price had Billy Hamilton give up his at bat for a sacrifice bunt. Did I mention it was the fifth inning of a meaningless spring training game? Do you recall that Hamilton needs every at bat he can get?

As major league baseball has all but abandoned the sacrifice bunt (except for pitchers), Bryan Price’s Reds are still bunting like they’re paid by the sacrificed out. The organization has a newly designated roving bunting instructor. In the age of everyone hitting home runs and smart people understanding math, sacrificing outs for a base is even dumber than it was a few years ago. Unless your leadoff batter hits like a pitcher, I guess.

Just Once Price assures fans that Jesse Winker is going to get regular playing time, there’s going to be an outfield rotation, yada, yada, yada. We’re still waiting for the first time Winker gets a start in one of these games where it’s obvious Price is playing the entire starting lineup. At least Price has his designated sacrifice bunt guy batting leadoff again.

Sorry, I promise to be less grumpy tomorrow.

92 thoughts on “Game Thread: Reds vs. Texas Rangers

      • Look guys, it’s clear the front-office agrees with what he is doing or they wouldn’t have brought him back. They didn’t have to fire him this off-season. There was no money on the table for him that they would have had to of eaten. They could have just elected not to resign him. They brought him back. That tells me all I need to know about how they feel about the job he is doing. If I was in the analytics department, I’d probably be insane by now.

  1. On one hand its just spring training, but finding a way to lose has gotten pretty stale. We can lose 14-12 or we can lose 3-2 with the best of them. Just forward already to Opening Day and give us Homer vs Scherzer. That’s when it will all turn around:)

    • I couldn’t care less about winning and losing in spring training. But watching the game managed and played in a stupid, habitual way that you know will carry over to the regular season does bother me.

      • I keep telling myself that Price isn’t that ignorant. What I’m hoping is that he had Hamilton bunt because he wanted to give him a success. He wanted to give him an “atta boy” upon getting back to the dugout.

        I hope this.

        Unfortunately, it’s probably not though.

  2. All the quantitative analyses suggesting batting orders don’t matter very much are probably based on an assumption that the leadoff hitter will get on base at least 25% of the time and won’t be asked to sacrifice bunt every fourth or fifth at-bat. Price may be single-handedly changing the equation so that batting orders will start to matter quite a bit. (Or maybe the statistical analyses will start including footnotes explaining that Price’s teams have been omitted for obvious reasons.)

  3. Much rather have Kivelhan than Revere. We will lose kivelhan if he isn’t on the roster correct? Although, a good opportunity to pick up a 4th outfielder may come along (ala scooter last year) at the end of spring training.

    Nice article up at about outfield rotation and Schebler playing more CF along with Price comments. I think Schebler is going to have a breakout season and may be able to handle CF well enough to fit there.

    • There were times last season when I was really optimistic about Schebler, and still remain that way overall. Heavy bat. But he sure was inconsistent. That might have been injury-related. Looking forward to watching him play this year. He’s 27.

      • I am super optimistic about Schebler. His bad stretch was due to playing hurt. He has worked this offseason to improve his plate discipline and hit the ball up the middle and opposite way more. Not too many hitters hit the ball as hard as he does.

        • When the Reds got him from the Dodgers, they weren’t expecting much beyond a LH extra outfielder. If he ends up being a contributing starter it will make up for Peraza being a relative bust (if that’s what happens).

          • And Dixon may become a versatile bench player. A bat like Chris Heisey’s but can also play all over the OF/INF. He could be around for 4-5 years like Heisey was also. That will help take some sting out of that one too.

    • I am also pretty high on Schebler. His plate appearances this spring have been mostly outstanding. He’s continuing to go the other way more and seems to be more patient at the plate. I think he could play his way out of “the rotation” and demand more playing time. I hope the Reds find a suitor for Duvall and let him go. They cannot maintain this backlog of players in the OF forever. One could probably say the same for 2nd base as well.

  4. That was the 2nd time Billy has bunted with 0 outs and runners at 1st and 2nd. I should say that he attempted to bunt. He struck out. How can we all see the obvious incompetence and the Reds management continues to let it happen over and over again?

    • Yesterday Hamilton got the bunt down and advanced the runners. The next two batters made outs though. So no runs.

      Knowledge: Run expectancy, 2017 season —

      • Runners at first and second, no outs: 1.48 runs
      • Runners at second and third, one out: 1.34 runs

      A *successful* sacrifice bunt lessens the chance of scoring.

      These numbers are not kept hidden from Bryan Price.

      • And as we who watch the Reds know, their “success” at the sacrifice bunt is certainly not a high percentage. I don’t know the numbers but i know they’re not good. Furthermore, if Billy hasn’t learned how to be a good bunter by now, i don’t think he ever will.

      • Those expectancies assume an average hitter. Hamilton is one of the worst
        and will also never bunt into a double play. I’m not defending the sac bunt….I’d rather have Winker or Suarez at the plate hitting away.

        • Yep. You bunt if you think your hitter is basically pitcher-caliber at the plate. Hamilton may not be much better than a pitcher. So why would a manager even consider him as a leadoff hitter? Answer: Because this manager sees speed as a more important attribute than being able to get on base. Again, this was the fifth inning of a spring training game.

          • smh- true.
            Old Cossack made the point a few days ago Hamilton is a terrible bunter for base hits, drag bunt etc., but is very good at sacrifice bunts and has almost beat out several. Maybe they are trying to see if he can polish a faster sac bunt and turn it into a hit.

      • We need to hire a big time analytics manager.

        I would convert all hamilton bunting into bunting for hits even in 1 & 2 w/ no outs and then it becomes more valuable.

      • I don’t like run-expectancy tables because they are completely context neutral. That said, the context here doesn’t help the argument for bunting much at all and the run-expectancy tables shouldn’t be dismissed. They basically say “all things being equal, a bunt is a bad idea with this base/out combination”.

      • What’s run expectancy for runners at first and second, one out? (Given Billy at the plate (0 hits) that is a real possibility). I suspect it’s worse than second and third one out.Also, we are assuming Price told him to bunt. I imagine Billy has a green light to bunt…besides, Billy should be able to bunt (which he doesn’t do very well), so he could use just as much practice there as swinging away. I suspect, Billy doesn’t have much more time in the big leagues.

      • That’s not really correct. The bunt lessons the overall “run expectancy,” which is the overall expectation of scoring x number of runs, multiplied out (37%chance of 1 run = .37, 22% chance of 2 = .44, etc.).

        Bunting actually ups the odds of scoring one or two runs, while the chances of 3+ are reduced. In other words, it increases the odds of “scoring a run (or two).” Because giving up an out greatly reduces your odds of a big inning, the overall run expectancy is reduced, with lower is multipliers applied against 3 and 4 runs, but the increase in likelihood of just plating anyone goes up.

        • Any actual data/reference to back up your claim about one or two runs? Why play for one run in a meaningless spring training game in the fifth inning?

          • Practice. But the point you raise is that sac bunts aren’t good things to employ, so why practice them?

          • That is an excellent rhetorical question. The larger question is: Is it really better to have your leadoff hitter attempting a sac bunt in this situation rather than trying to get a hit or a walk? Because that was the actual choice made here and one that you can easily see being made during the regular season. And I think it speaks to a lot of what’s going wrong with management decisions both on the field and in the FO.


            0 outs, 1st & 2nd vs. 2nd & 3rd with 1 down. I wrote a long post about it but Steve censored it because I dared chide him for using half- understood stats to be an old sourpuss. “Get off my lawn” when you don’t know where your lawn actually ends is ugly.

            The thing to remember is that the overall expectancy isn’t the likelihood of a single run coming home, it’s the expectancy of any number, added together. Think of it this way – a 1/10 AB hitter steps in, 10% chance of a homer. .1×3 runs adds .33 to the overall expectancy. However, the odds he singles, doubles, triples, or even hits into a double play to score at least one are bigger. He’s highly likely to plate one, less likely to get three in. Same for every following batter. Overall expectancy even includes the odds of scoring 11 that inning.

            The other time to bunt, statistically, is with a man on second, none out. It ups the odds of scoring one, lowers overall run expectancy (due to the decline at 2+). If you’re down one late, especially against a tough pen (say NYY), it’s worth playing for one.

            “Never bunt because no one else does” or “giving up bases for outs is dumb” is the sort of argument the semi-SABRs use to flaunt their alleged intellectual superiority. The actual “smart people who know math” look at it as being the semi-literate @$$ who says “I’m well” all the time. You can be good, be well, doing well, but not doing good (unless you actually mean you are doing good deeds). I am doing well, fine, but I am well is just like “Never bunt.” I think I look slick but the actual educated people think I look pretentious and wish I’d just be nice and say “I’m good, you?” Instead they smugly point to math they don’t understand and chastise a manager they’re less qualified than to lead a team. PS, Hamilton made the choice to bunt, not Price, negating this whole stupid debate. Take that bet to the bank!

      • To be more precise from the description of data you provided Steve,
        we don’t know if a successful bunt lessens the chance of scoring.

        From the data you provide, however, the successful sacrifice bunt leads on average to slightly fewer expected runs scored.

  5. The real issue is not Hamilton v Winker at leadoff. It’s how much playing time does Winker get. If Price commits to Winker as THE leadoff hitter, then he’s committing Winker to 150 games as a corner outfielder. He’s not doing that. It’s as much about Duvall and Schebler and the outfield rotation as who hits leadoff.

    Assume Price plans to give Winker 3 starts a week as a corner outfielder. Who hits leadoff when Winker is benched? Well, Hamilton of course. So why would price hit Winker leadoff now and open that can of worms before the minor Leaguers are even sent packing….. when on Opening Day Winker is on the bench? Hamilton will be the primary leadoff hitter and Winker will be the leadoff hitter when Billy sits 1-2 games a week.

    This scenario allows price to still manage his way and the Big Bob and Walt way…….but placate the front office on the DW side of the building by giving Winker some time leading off.

      • You may be right but I recall and paraphrasing …. Dick Williams after the season saying Winker as a leadoff hitter is intriguing.

  6. Steve I am going to be positive and say that Price is giving Billy every opportunity to convince him he is a leadoff hitter. I dont care about who is in the lineup and where in Spring training. If he is batting first on opening day then we have problems. I think Schebler is going to have a great year. Now let’s be honest here, when they signed Revere and Pennington , we all knew they would make the team no matter what. Come on have we forgotten Gregg, Marquis,Arroyo etc…..

    • Jack – I want to believe that too. And I don’t really care if Hamilton bats leadoff in spring, although it would be nice if Winker gets a little practice leading off. But if Price is truly giving Billy every opportunity, why take one away by having him bunt in that situation? That’s what I don’t get. If – in Dusty’s language – you need to get Hamilton going, why take the bat out of his hand then? Can’t be good for his confidence.

      • Steve, in all seriousness, I think Price would say a successful sacrifice bunt IS helping to “get him going.” In his mind, that’s a productive at-bat.

  7. I understand the grumpiness. I am get grumpier overtime I see Hitless Hamilton leading off. I keep telling myself it is only spring training, but my mind keep telling me yes nut it is already a week into March and a pattern is being developed. Didn’t mind Winker batting DH yesterday but 7’th????? I see a pattern developing. Grump. Grump. Grump

  8. The pattern is not developing, it is already cast. That’s the concern of the commenters who fear the ST lineups will carry forward into the regular season.

    The Reds have played 15 games. Of those 15 games, the anticipated regular season starting lineup has started in 4 of those games. Hamilton has lead off in 9 games, including all 4 games with the anticipated starting lineups. Winker has not even started any of the games with the anticipated starting lineups. In not game has Hamilton received more than 3 PA. Of the 6 games Hamilton has not started, the leadoff position in the lineup was filled by: Peraza (2), Revere (1), Ervin (1), Long (1) and Winker (1). In addition, Hamilton lead off in the game before he missed 2 games with a sprained finger and lead off in the game after he missed 2 games with a sprained finger (Revere and Peraza lead off in the 2 games Hamilton missed).

    Price decided before ST what his starting lineup was going to be during the 2018 season and nothing that happens in ST, beyond an injury, will alter that decision, irrespective of Price’s claims to the contrary.

  9. Moneyball the movie was a little off about Carlos Pena. He wasn’t having an AS season with Oakland but the point still stands. Art Howe couldn’t play him over Hatteburg because they traded him. Thats the only thing that will stop Price. I don’t know why Cozart wanted a donkey when he’s been around Price all those years?

    Bottom line…I hate to have to root for Billy to get a stinger or something to try someone else but that’s what they relegate us too?

      • Yep, and that is worse in my opinion because Revere doesn’t play CF like he used to and he was never as good as Hamilton out there. I’ll take Hamilton leading off and playing CF over Revere leading off and playing CF.

  10. I know none of this is going to carry forward to the regular season, but who’s hot and who’s not:

    .579/.571/.895/1.466 Scebler
    .357/.438/.786/1.223 Barnhart
    .350/.417/.650/1.067 Winker
    .278/.409/.556/.965 Suarez
    .200/.273/.550/.823 Duvall
    .278/.350/.444/.794 Gennett

    .238/.273/.381/.654 Peraza
    .071/.333/.071/.405 Votto
    .000/.200/.000/.200 Hamilton

  11. The confusing thing with the Reds at this point is what is the plan with the front office. If Williams the GM really believes in analytics and how a team should be put together, then wouldn’t it make sense that Price the Field Manager is on board. It seems that the successful teams at this point have an agreement/understanding in how the team is to be managed between the Manager and GM.

    Does Price really have that much power to manager the roster however he pleases? If not, then it appears that the GM is on board with the decisions.

    It just seems strange that this point in baseball to have a Manager make unilateral decisions to the detriment of the organization.

    I guess this is a long way of stating that I am losing faith in the Reds Front Office at this point. Not sure they are on board with today’s game. In addition, the Reds are trying to accomplish something, a rebuild, in an environment that is littered with teams doing the same thing. Teams are not going to want the Reds average players and the Reds are going to really need to develop talent and utilize them in the most effective manner.

  12. I am not certain Price has full control over the line-up. I recall Williams being asked about this while in the booth with the TV commentators. Williams hedged when asked if Price had full control of the line-up. I would not doubt if Price has very much control at all.

    My take on Hamilton: He should not be leading off, and should be a defensive bench player. I am not in favor of Winker leading off until he proves he can hit left-handed pitching. Votto should be leading off.

    The case for Votto leading of is this: When he bats third, most of the time there are one, or two outs by the time he bats and they pitch around him. If he leads off, he will get better pitches to hit, they will not be as likely to put the lead-off man on, ( basing on the likelyhood of the lead-off man in an inning scoring.)

    • Williams said he believes in having a high obp guy leading off so if it were his call it anyone but Hamilton would be leading off. I actually wouldn’t mind Votto leading off, career 428 obp. I think ideally I have Winker and Senzel at 1 and 2.

  13. Saw a “D Fowler CF” in the box score for Oakland and thought they picked up Dexter Fowler for a second. Its actually a 23 yr old lefty named Dustin Fowler that they picked up in the Sonny Gray trade. A .871 ops at AAA last year in the same league as Lville. Trade Billy for whatever you can get and trade a starter to Oak for Fowler…done deal!

  14. Pitching was the demise of this team last year, not the offense. The Reds were shopping Hamilton in the offseason and I believe still are. The real interest in this ST game for me is how Disco performs in his third start. Command, velocity, mixing his pitches…He’s one of our best arms and a solid rotation will make this an interesting year.

    • JB: It just upsets everyone when you say things like this. I, too, am far more concerned with how the pitchers are developing that I am with the tempest in the tea pot.

  15. I’m going to the game so I’m more than a bit disappointed that neither Senzel or Winker are in the lineup. Watching Ben Revere DH is not what I was looking forward to. Sigh…..

  16. So does anyone know what pitchers are scheduled to follow Disco tonight? Specifically what starting pitcher will make a trip to the bump?

  17. Hamilton’s speed allowed him to score amazingly fast on that home run. Being on base was also helpful.

  18. Mahle adds a solid 3 innings before yielding to Reed. Good pitching tonight…fo the Reds anyway.

  19. Well Saturday nights game should be interesting, Not only is it going to be on tv but as of now Nick Senzel is going to be leading off and playing shortstop, according to Mark Sheldon.

  20. Looks like Reed is no longer being stretched out for starting after pitching just 1.0 solid inning. Perez has to be very close to pitching himself out of contention for a major league assignment and reassignment to the minor league camp.

    • I was at the game. Perez looked bad. Anthony D, Mahle, and Reed looked good. Suarez was the bomb, literally with one to left and one to right. Barnhart also hit one. Peraza and Joey just missed as well. Nick and Jesse got in late although neither did anything notable.

      • Small sample size aside, there is hope that Barnhart is adding a little more pop to his bat this spring. I hope so. The Reds will need some improvements from a few positions in order to make up for lost production at SS.

      • My son was there, too. He said Perez was terrible and Reed looked good. He will be there tonight too. We will be out there the 19th and 20th too. Excited!

  21. Scooter only .250 but .348 obp. Who knows…maybe being around Joey will rub off like it did with Cozart. He finally developed some patience and better pitch recognition after many years.

  22. The Pitchers:

    DeSclafani => 3.0 IP w/ 1-H, 1-BB. 1-SO & 0-R
    Mahle => 3.0 IP w/ 1-2B, 0-BB, 2-SO & 1-ER
    Reed => 1.0 IP w/ 1-H, 0-BB, 0-SO & 0-R
    Perez => 0.2 IP w/ 1-HR, 1-HBP, 0-BB, 1-SO, 1-SB & 2-ER
    Brice => 1.1 IP w/ 0-H, 0-BB, 2-SO & 0-R


      • I wish I shared your optimism. Perez may be washed up, getting worse, and stealing innings from young promising pitchers, but he throws the ball with his left hand. His ERA will probably need to be in the mid 40s before they release him.

    • Let’s not worry since it’s only ST. I’m sure things will be fine with our speedster leading off from March 29 onward.

  23. The story of spring training is slowly shifting to the good news of a healthy and strong Anthony Desclafani.

    If ….WHEN….. he bounces back into that good #2/3 SP and Luis Castillo builds on what he did last year and becomes that #1, the Reds rotation will have some stability for the first time in years and the building blocks in place for a winning rotation/team in 2019.

    Its still early, but looking forward to stretching the starters out to 4 and 5 innings.

    • I think his velocity topped out at 91 and was more often in the 88-90 range. He seemed to have better command of his breaking pitches at least in the first inning. To my untrained eye overall he looked good and gave me some hope for him being effective this year.

      • I’d say that would be a problem but Disco is just getting back in the groove. He was throwing 93-95 before and that was with the slower gun. Last year it ticked up 1 mph or so. Velocity is so weird though? For example Stephenson hit 98 early last season vs St Louis out of the pen, but he was terrible out of the pen. When he started in the 2nd half…his velocity was 93 and he pitched very well because he was locating pitches and his offspeed stuff was better. Its like a QB in the NFL. Of course a strong arm is better but it guarantees nothing.

  24. There are plenty of ways to score runs in baseball. Maybe the decision to bunt is not the ideal way in some people’s eyes. I absolutely hate bunting. But, how come the guy that succeeded is torn up more than the 2 guys that followed him and didn’t?

    • Its more the flawed strategy of Dusty that Price continues that irritates people. You don’t take a weak pitching team that plays in a launching pad and play for 1 run all the time. You don’t build around speed when 370 ft flyballs to the opposite field go out for HRs. I’ve seen Price have 1st/3rd with 1 out with Leake at the plate and safety squeeze the guy to 2nd for Billy. Thats idiotic. Dusty used to bunt Stubbs to 2nd when he stole safely 80% of the time? The Reds can’t afford stupid. They already have enough working against them!

  25. To those with angst about BH hitting leadoff this year, it will all shake out. That’s accordingly Bryan Price. So, the pop quiz for you is, does this statement mean:

    A. BH will hit leadoff until Opening Day, when BP will proclaim that “hitting 9th is the new leadoff”?
    B. BH is a fixture at the leadoff no matter what, Votto, Winker, Senzel be damned?
    C. BH will be moved down in the line up once BP is removed as manager?

  26. Billy Hamilton plays by different rules. He’s never hit…ever …..because well…he can’t. The Reds are now getting desperate. He was drafted for his world class speed. The mental gymnastics the Reds are doing to justify him are becoming cartoon-ish.

    He has a separate special currency exchange rate. One great catch is worth 3 Winker doubles. One triple is worth 2 Suarez home runs. A stolen base= 3 votto walks ……a first to third missed pickoff is worth 8 shutout innings from Castillo. Big Bob loves his guy.

    • He actually has hit in streaks, some of them reasonably prolonged. That may indicate–does indicate–that he isn’t necessarily doomed to failure. But, no, he certainly hasn’t been able to sustain it over the course of a season, so he’s an easy target for us. If Mike Trout had played center for last year’s Reds–in particular with last year’s Reds’ pitching staff–they would not have won the WS.

  27. Winker doubles off a lefty…. Tries to take third on a wild pitch and out. Thom says out by thirty feet. He was out by 2 feet and probably a bad move but judgment aggressive play and didn’t work..but absurd and unprofessional by Thom. Is he being coached to Target Winker??? No way a seasoned professional acts so ridiculous and says Winker out by 30 feet when he’s out by 2 feet. Shame on you Thom Brennamen.

    • Old-school, that’s what I said about the Reds TV announcers. I heard 1 say an outfielder made a catch against the wall & he wasn’t even on the warning track. You know like Dizzy Dean said about Harry Cary, “is he watching the same game I am”.

  28. “It was the best of times and the worst of times….”

    Senzel being showcased by FSO TV crew tonight, and living up to it, in the field and at the plate.
    Romano looks like fifth starter material, plus he just fills up the screen while on the mound…massive,

    And…the TOOTBLANs are in mid-season form. Two runners thrown out by a collective mile.

    That Senzel/Gosselin/Votto Top 3 batting order is funny to watch. Screams of Spring Training.

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