Monday, December 1, 2014

The Post Mortem....part 2.

I know, I know, I've been slacking on writing part 2. But part 1 only has 46 views, so I'm not exactly going to make doing this a priority. Fun little hobby, sure, but it's basically for my own enjoyment and no one else's, and if someone thinks it's interesting or cool, great.

Since part 1 covered the position players, part 2 is going to be all about the pitching.

The party line of Reds fans is that they have really good pitching. I'm not sure they have really good pitching. I think they may have ok pitching that looks better than it would on an average fielding team. The Reds defense has been consistently among the best in the game for several years now.

Here's the past few seasons, rated among both NL and AL teams, for Park Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. (or PADE for short)


So, as you can see, they get more help from their defense than most teams.

By FIP the Reds were actually 4th worst in all of baseball with a FIP of 4.01 as a team pitching staff. One might say that you would attribute that to the shoddy bullpen, but that's not really the case. The FIP of the combined relief corps was 3.94, and the FIP for the starters was 4.03. Now, using ERA they were dead in the middle of the pack. 15th out of 30 teams, with a team ERA of 3.59. That's a pretty big difference in FIP and ERA, especially over 1400+ innings of data. The Reds weren't the only team with that large of a split, Seattle and Oakland also had a sizeable split, and coincidentally, (not) those are the 1st and 3rd place teams in PADE.

Now let's look at some of the individual performances, and just like I have done in the past, I will be comparing how they actually performed with their pre-season PECOTA projection from Baseball Prospectus, and saying a few words about each player.

(PECOTA numbers used from left to right: K/9, BB/9, ERA. If other numbers are used I will point those out specifically. I wish they included FIP in their projections, but alas, they do not.)

Mat Latos:
Act-6.5/2.3/3.25 (FIP was 3.65 due to a pretty good HR rate)

Mat Latos had a pretty good year, when he was able to pitch, which unfortunately, was only 16 times. Everything was pretty much right where it should be, but that K rate is alarmingly low. That K rate was only 5.4 at my midseason review, so it started trickling up as the year went along. Why was that K rate so low? The fastball velocity. Average fastball for the season was 90.7, down from 92.5 from the previous year. He was able to adjust somewhat, throwing the cutter and curveball at higher percentages than previous seasons and the fastball slightly less. He can be effective at 91, but another drop puts him in dangerous territory (and a reason why I wouldn't be opposed to trading him this offseason, but other GMs can see this stuff too, you know.) His bread and butter has always been getting swings and misses up in the zone, and as the season progressed he did have more whiffs in those areas than he did early on.

Johnny Cueto:
Act-8.9/2.4/2.25 (FIP was 3.30)

Here is what I said about Johnny Cueto on July 14:

Beating the projection in every category! He's been great. Now let's keep him healthy for the stretch. That strikeout rate is also a career high. I expect the ERA to creep up a bit, and probably wind up with a 2.60 or so by the end of the year....and that's quite ok. He's never been a big strikeout guy but that 8.8 k/9 is 15th among all pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched. A .220 BABIP is a little eye opening, but that's why I expect the ERA to tick up a bit, because I doubt he'll carry a .220 BABIP straight through.
I was off a little bit there. The BABIP only went up to .238 and the ERA only rose to 2.25. I have nothing else to say. The man pitched amazingly well, better than probably everybody else in the NL not named Kershaw.

Homer Bailey:
Act-7.7/2.8/3.71 (with a FIP of 3.93)

Revisiting old posts....again, here's what I said about Homer Bailey on July 14:

That ERA has been trending down for a while, and I think it'll wind up in the high 3s. That K rate is right on and the walk rate is close, half a walk per 9 isn't THAT much. He's gotten hurt by a .312 BABIP in a year where the league average is .299. Just dropping that down to average would help trememdously. He's typically around .290 in most seasons, so there's your discrepancy, when it seems like he should have better numbers than he does.

I did a little better with that one. The BABIP did drop to .286. The HR/FB rate was a career high (not counting an 8 start cameo in 2008) and if that drops to his career rate and the other stats stay the same Homer could, and probably should beat that 3.62 ERA projection going forward. FWIW, Steamer (another projection system that already has 2015 projections available) has Homer at 3.65 for 2015. He's 28 now. He is what he is. He's a good pitcher that will most likely never be a great one, and that's ok. Not everybody can be Chris Sale or Clayton Kershaw.

Mike Leake:
Act-6.9/2.1/3.70 (with a 3.88 FIP)

Fell off slightly in the second half, but you know what? I'm in. He's not flashy like some of the other guys, and the stuff looks like crap when you are watching, but he's really a solid mid-rotation guy.

Aroldis Chapman:
Act-17.7/4.0/2.00 (with an 0.89 FIP!!)

Still video game numbers. You almost feel bad for the hitters. (I said almost.)

Alfredo Simon:
Proj-7.3/2.9/4.22 (remember those projections were ran with him as a reliever)
Act-5.8/2.6/3.44 (4.33 FIP)

Read older posts for my feelings on Simon. They haven't changed. I still think he's a back of the rotation guy/pen guy going forward.

Not going to hit too many of the bullpen guys, (or Tony Cingrani, because he didn't pitch after I last did this) because they had a revolving door in the second half, and some of the prospects on the pitching side could be ready to contribute soon at least in the pen. Not all of those guys are going to stick as starters, and heck, most relief pitchers are/were failed starters anyway. I think there might be quite a bit of churn this offseason or early next season in the pen.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Post Mortem....part 1.

Well, that sucked. I've been quiet on this front lately, because, frankly, there just wasn't anything inspiring me to write anything that I thought interesting. Now let's take a look back at the good and (mostly) bad of the 2014 season. I'll touch on the position player side of things here in Part One, and follow up with the pitchers in Part Two.

There is nothing I can really say about the Cincinnati Reds 2014 offense that you probably don't already know. They sucked. Hard. Just how bad did they suck? I'm about to tell you. (links are embedded to explain some of the stats for the non saber crowd)

Going back to the very beginning in 1882 (I know that's not the true beginning, but that's how far back Fangraphs records go) by wRC+ the 2014 team has the 15th worst offense in Reds history. We're talking over 130 years here, folks. 15th worst! That's bad. Only 2 teams in my lifetime (for context, I was born in 1978) were worse offensively, the godawful 1982 and 1983 teams. Check the table out right here for yourself.

Why did this happen? Why did the 2014 Reds score 103 less runs than they did in 2013? I'd say injuries had a part to play, but not all. There was also just general bad hitting from healthy players. (or players that were claiming to be healthy, anyway)

Well, the Votto injury was a killer. Votto created 129 runs in 2013, and only created 39 runs in 2014. (Revert back to the wRC and wRC+ primer I linked to earlier) Now, of course, not all of those runs are the ones missing from the 103, because his replacements would have created some runs themselves, but that's still quite a large chunk to have missing. Brayan Pena created 33 runs this year...and he played a lot of first base, so let's do a quick and dirty ballpark guess and say he created 29 of those while playing first base. That's still about a 60 run deficit from first base than the previous season. Todd Frazier also played some first, but whenever he played at first a bad hitter was always in the third base slot in his place so it's basically a wash. Say a healthy Votto made up those 60 runs, and honestly it may be more than that, but there's no way I'm doing the math on that, well, if they scored 60 more runs and allowed the same amount that they did pitching and defense wise....well, then they probably if not make the playoffs, are right there in the hunt. And that's just factoring in one guy.  So, not all is lost in Redsland. 2015 may turn out to be just fine.

Now to some good things....Devin Mesoraco had his coming out party this year. .273/.359/.534 with a wRC+ of 147 and fWAR of 4.4 and bWAR of 4.8. By wRC+ that's the 5th best offensive season by a catcher in Reds history, trailing Johnny Bench's 1972 season, 2 Bubbles Hargrove seasons, and an Ernie Lombardi season. You can see that chart HERE.

Todd Frazier also took a leap forward this year. .273/.336/.459 with a wRC+ of  122 and about 5 WAR depending on which system you are using, (4.7 and 5.3 so I split the difference) By WAR he was the 6th best third baseman in baseball and he was ahead of some darn good players. I don't necessarily think he's going to be better than those players in the future, but he had a damn good season. Compare him to other third baseman HERE. Of course, this was also his age 28 season, so this may wind up being his career year. I'd expect a slight dropoff in those numbers next year, and Mesoraco too, for that matter, although he's not 28 yet.

Those are pretty much all the bright spots offensively. I'm mixed on Billy Hamilton. I was pretty high on his performance on my mid-season piece, but he fell off a cliff in the second half, to a tune of .200/.254/.257 with a 42 wRC+.  For a little perspective on how bad that was, Mike Leake had a wRC+ of 40 over the full season. Do I think Hamilton is that bad? Nah. But I do wonder if he's ever going to hit well enough to be more than a league average player. His defense and baserunning will make him an average player even if he is below average with the bat going forward, so he will have value. 23 caught stealings is something that has to change going forward though. Someone with his speed should be stealing at more than a 71% success rate. That can change with experience as he learns the pitchers and their ability to hold runners on or lack thereof. He grades out near the top of CF in both defensive metrics.

Speaking of players who have a lot of defensive value, let's briefly touch on Zack Cozart. Dude had a horrible year with the bat. I don't think he's as bad as he was this year in a true talent level sense, but he's still below average at his best. 2014 was Cozart's third season as the full time starting shortstop, and from 2012-2014, his wRC+s have been 83, 79, and down to 56 in 2014. I could easily see that going back up to the 70s in 2015. Just like it was at mid-season, the major problem was the loss of slugging. He only slugged .300 this year but his career slugging is .365. If he can bring that back up he's probably a 2 WAR shortstop, which is average. The defense is very good. So, the Reds have 2 elite defenders at the 2 most important defensive positions, which helps the pitching staff more than most people realize. He was second in defensive runs saved (behind Simmons, obviously, that guy is soooo damn good) and third in UZR/150 behind Simmons and JJ Hardy among shortstops. So despite the horrible bat he does have some value.

The Reds need Jay Bruce to bounce back next season. No sugarcoating it. Dude was bad. I'm usually biased towards Bruce because I'm a bit of a Bruce fanboy, so I've always been a bit of a Bruce apologist, but there's no defending this season. It was bad. I have no idea how a guy who had put up wRC+ numbers of 124, 119, 120, and 117 could completely crater down to 79. I hope it was the knee, and not just a natural decline of skills, because the knee will be better, but if it's a natural decline there's nowhere else to go but further down, which would not be good. The 2015 Reds need production from that spot.  Digging deeper into the numbers, and you will find that his ground ball rate went up from 37% to 45%, and his fly ball rate decreased from 39% to 34%. That's quite a drastic change from one season to the next, and likely a big part of his struggles. Jay Bruce rolling ground balls to the second baseman over and over is not a recipe for success. The line drive rate was actually slightly higher than his career average, so that's a little comforting that he's still making solid contact at around the same rate, but that groundball/flyball profile is slightly alarming. I think he just got a bit lost at the plate when he came back from the knee injury and it shows in other ways as well, His rate of swinging at pitches out of the strikezone went up from 30 to 33%, which is a career high. (30 is right at his career rate) His rate of swinging at strikes dropped from 76 to 69%, which shows that there was likely a pitch recognition problem. His contact rate actually went up, so that wasn't part of the issue. It was swinging at the wrong stuff. When he swung he actually hit the ball more often than he did in 2013, but swinging at bad pitches probably also leads to hitting more grounders, so we've gone full circle. I think he will likely bounce back next year, but if he doesn't, his career will be basically over as a full time major leaguer. He'll be a bench guy going forward if he doesn't turn it around.

A lot of Reds fans are high on Kristopher Negron after his pretty good performance after he came up this year. I'm not buying that quite yet. Let's pump the brakes on that a little bit, folks. It was only 158 plate appearances. That's not really a substantial sample. Credit where credit is due, he was good for that stretch to the tune of .271/.331/.479 with a wRC+ of 126, but I think it's fool's gold. I just have a hard time buying that a guy who was average AT BEST in the minor leagues, and often times was a below average hitter could suddenly be an above average major league hitter. Not. Buying. It. I do think he could be a pretty good utility guy and bench piece. Steamer's 2015 projections agree with me, actually. They've got him dropping down to .221/.273/.335.  Now that wouldn't even be a quality bench guy. I don't think he'll be that bad, but I'm just one idiot.

Brandon Phillips...oh boy....this is going to piss some people off. Guy is a below average hitter at this stage in his career. I know people don't want to hear it, but it's true. The defense is still good, but people thinking, oh, Phillips, he'll bounce back...well, no. Stop it.  Dude's 33 years old. He's going to go down, not up, because that is what 33 year old players do. He's not even in the conversation anymore if you want to list the top ten players at his position. I don't want people to think that I'm knocking the guy. I like Brandon, but the undeserved love he gets from the fanbase needs to be balanced out, and I'm the guy who's gonna do it. A lot of Reds fans actually think he's the best second baseman in the National League, and even at his best, that was NEVER the case. He's never been as good as Utley.

Ryan Ludwick will likely not be on the team next year, so I'll be skipping that. Skip Schumaker shouldn't be in the major leagues at all, but he'll be there, and he'll continue to suck. He's been bad since 2009 but teams keep giving him a job. Maybe he's a good clubhouse guy, I don't know.  Branyan Pena isn't very good, but as backup catchers go, you could do worse. Jack Hannahan is a dumpster fire. Ramon Santiago was actually pretty good for a backup, problem is, he started too much due to all the injuries. I'd actually not mind him being re-signed for another year. Chris Heisey is your garden variety backup outfielder, I don't have much to add there. The segment of the fanbase that is always yearning for him to play more, well, I just don't think those people are very smart.

Part 2-The Pitchers....coming soon.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Trade targets.

The Reds need a guy who gets on base. They have actually done a good job during this losing streak of cashing in the runners that DO get on base. Out of 47 runners, 12 have came around to score. That's acceptable. The problem is, only 47 runners in 6 games. That's less than 8 runners per game. You aren't going to score like that. So, I'm targeting guys with a high OBP first, everything else later.

Casey McGehee:

McGehee has a career .326 OBP. He started his career strong, slumped, then went to Japan for 2 years and came back as an on base machine. He's currently at .383. Not much power, but he can play first, second, and third, so would be a pretty good pickup due to being able to move around with all the injuries they have right now. The Marlins would probably be willing to flip him for a small level prospect. He's making 1.1 MIL this year but will probably go up a bit this offseason because it would be his third year of arbitration. The fact that he made the All Star team might discourage the Marlins to go to arbitration with him. (or sign him before that)

Dexter Fowler:

Can't field that well, but he wouldn't play CF for the Reds. Stick him in left and let him hit. He'd be under team control until after 2015 so this would be a move that would help in future years potentially. He might cost more than McGehee, but I'd be willing to move any prospects not named Stephenson or Winker for a guy that would help in 2015 as well, since that's probably when this current team's window closes for a bit, seeing as how all the pitchers are free agents after that and we ain't gonna be able to keep them all. I would totally take a guy with a .366 OBP.  A guy like that can play in my lineup any day. It's weird that you haven't heard his name in any rumors yet, because most people assumed the Astros acquired him just to flip him for more prospects as they rebuild. He's not going to be there when they get good again, so why not? He's been on the DL with an intercostal strain, but I'm assuming he would be back by the deadline.

Josh Willingham:

My least favorite of these guys...and probably the one most likely to be acquired, but he'd help. He can get on base, the batting average sucks, but he's got some pop. Not going to help defensively, but he's played some first base earlier in his career and could slide to left when Votto comes back. 35 years old, and a free agent after the season. Strictly a 2014 only rental.

Marlon Byrd:

I don't think this is likely, because Ruben Amaro is apparently thinks that trading veteran players for younger guys when your team is out of the race is something that you shouldn't do, even though it's worked for decades if done competently. He's not a great on base guy but he has good power, so I don't think it's that good of a fit anyway. Only problem is that he's owed 8 MIL for 2015, which isn't a big deal, but there's a vesting option that kicks in for 2016 for the same price if he 600 plate appearances in 2015 or a combined 1100 plate appearances in 2014 and 2015.

Monday, July 14, 2014

2014 Midseason PECOTA report....part 2...the pitchers.

If you've come this far, you know what I'm doing here, so enough with the explanations, let's get down with it.

Will be comparing ERA/FRA/K per 9 innings/and BB per 9 innings, with other things cherry picked if I find them interesting or valid.

Starting with:

Johnny Cueto:

Projection: 3.42/3.71/7.3/2.3
Currently:  2.03/3.53/8.8/2.2

Beating the projection in every category! He's been great. Now let's keep him healthy for the stretch. That strikeout rate is also a career high. I expect the ERA to creep up a bit, and probably wind up with a 2.60 or so by the end of the year....and that's quite ok. He's never been a big strikeout guy but that 8.8 k/9 is 15th among all pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched. A .220 BABIP is a little eye opening, but that's why I expect the ERA to tick up a bit, because I doubt he'll carry a .220 BABIP straight through.

Homer Bailey:

Projection: 3.62/3.94/7.9/2.4
Currently:  4.21/4.43/8.0/2.9

That ERA has been trending down for a while, and I think it'll wind up in the high 3s. That K rate is right on and the walk rate is close, half a walk per 9 isn't THAT much. He's gotten hurt by a .312 BABIP in a year where the league average is .299. Just dropping that down to average would help trememdously. He's typically around .290 in most seasons, so there's your discrepancy, when it seems like he should have better numbers than he does.

Mike Leake:

Projection: 4.16/4.52/6.3/2.0
Currently:  3.54/4.48/6.9/1.9

They nailed the FRA and the Walk rate. That strikeout rate is very surprising, and a career high, and by quite a bit. That is leading to his best season to date. I think this is pretty much his ceiling. I just don't think he has ACE stuff. He's a good midrotation guy and that's all, and that's ok. Gotta have those guys.

Alfredo Simon: (note...preseason PECOTA projected him as a reliever, because, shit, that's what he was supposed to be)

Projection: 4.22/4.59/7.3/2.9
Currently:  2.70/4.59/5.8/2.2

As I've written about before..I just don't think you can be a successful starter long term in today's game without striking out at least 6 batters per 9 innings. 5.8 is right there at the tipping point. I still feel like I'm waiting for the house of cards to collapse every time Simon pitches, but credit where it's due...he's pitched his nuts off so far.

Mat Latos:

Projection: 3.16/3.44/8.3/2.3
Currently:  2.79/4.90/5.4/1.6

Don't really know if you can draw anything from this...since it's only 39 innings of work. That strikeout rate is alarming..but coming back into form after an injury can take some time. He's not walking many, so that's mitigated some of the damage of a dangerously low K rate.

Tony Cingrani:

Projection:  3.81/4.14/9.7/3.3
Currently:    4.55/5.45/8.7/5.0

Very disappointing, and now injured at Louisville. I think his future may be in the bullpen. That secondary stuff just isn't coming along, and without it, teams figured out that he only had a fastball, and yes, it's hard to pick it up out of his hand, but if you see it enough they could hit it. And they did. Hard.

I'm only going to hit some of the bullpen guys and sum up the ones I miss at the end.

Aroldis Chapman:

Projection: 2.31/2.51/13.6/4.0
Currently:  2.20/2.50/18.0/3.1

18 strikeouts per 9! Fuck that..that's video game numbers.

Jonathan Broxton:

Projection: 3.17/3.45/10.1/3.1
Currently:  1.12/3.55/6.3/3.0

That's usually not enough strikeouts for a reliever. His ERA should probably be up there in the high 2s or low 3s based on his performance, because a .163 BABIP is oh so unsustainable.

Sam LeCure:

Projection: 3.49/3.79/8.4/3.1
Currently:  3.48/3.75/8.0/3.7

Other than a tick more walks, he is who we thought he was.

Logan Ondrusek

Projection:  3.72/4.05/7.1/3.2
Currently:    4.31/4.53/8.3/3.7

More strikeouts than before. (or projected, but also more walks too) He's very frustrating, because sometimes he looks like a world beater and times he looks like he should be throwing batting practice.

Manny Parra: (Lance Schenkel's favorite pitcher, lol)

Projection:  3.91/4.25/8.8/3.9
Currently:   3.96/4.88/9.7/4.3

I don't have much else to say. He was bad in Milwaukee, good last year, and mediocre now, which is what you would have expected.

JJ Hoover:

Projection:  3.73/4.05/8.8/3.5
Currently:   4.95/4.87/10.6/4.7

Still walking too many guys. The strikeout rate is nice, but the walk rate will need to come down if Hoover is going to keep his spot long term.

Sean Marshall, Jumbo Diaz, Nick Christiani, Curtis Partch, Carlos Contreras, and Trevor Bell have either been too injured or not been in the majors long enough to really analyse anything. I really like Contreras and Diaz's stuff though. There's something there, although I think the club might want Contreras to continue starting in the minors for his development.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The 2014 mid season batting PECOTA report and some other stupid Reds rambling.

I know. I know. It's not really mid season, because the Reds have played 84 games, so I'm three games late. Bite me. :)

For an explanation of PECOTA and some of the other terminology talked about in this post, please refer to last year's similar posts if you need some education. I haven't made that many posts because I'm a lazy sow, so they shouldn't be that hard to find. I will be referencing Baseball Prospectus' "True Average," or TAv, at times, and you can find the explanation for that RIGHT HERE. TAv is on the batting average scale, which means that, just like the batting average you grew up seeing, .300 is good, .260 is average or so, and .200 is bad. I find that it's a good stat to introduce to "newbies" of sabermetrics because it doesn't require a lot of thought like some other advanced stats. Everybody knows what a .300 hitter or .250 hitter is.

Here goes.

Starting with the catchers...damn, Devin Mesoraco has been frigging awesome so far, hasn't he?

Was projected for:

.242/.305/.394 with 14 HR and a .253 TAv. He's blowing that away. He currently sits:
.314/.380/.645 with 14 HR and a .388 TAv. Holy shit. He's already at his preseason projection for home runs, and let's not forget he was hurt early, twice. He only has 192 plate appearances. (For reference, Frazier leads the team in plate appearances with 354.) Basically, over a full season pace he'd be on pace to hit over 40 bombs, and nobody thought he was capable of that. I don't expect him to repeat this in the second half, and he doesn't have to to still be really good. Among players with at least 100 plate appearances, a .388 TAv leads all of baseball. For comparison, Giancarlo Stanton is at .364 and Mike Trout is at .362 in second and third. So, yeah, I don't think Devin is a better hitter than those two guys, but I'm excited about his future.

Branyan Pena has been pretty much what he's been his whole career, which is a serviceable backup. He's a nice player to have around, but he is what he is.

On to the much maligned Mr. Votto. We know the guy's not healthy. We can see it.  That quad is bothering him, and credit goes to him for managing to be fairly decent. But he's not having a typical awesome sauce Joey Votto year, and I don't expect him to be back to his regular self until next season after an off season of rest and rehab.

Was projected for:

.298/.412/.512 with a .331 TAv and a 5.7 WARP. Currently at:
.259/.398/.415 with a .313 TAv and 1.9 WARP, so on pace for 3.8 WARP, roughly.

That's a good season for most players, but Joey Votto isn't most players. It's a testament to just how much of a bad motherfucker that guy is that he's putting up OK numbers when he's obviously struggling with that leg.

Brandon Phillips....still good on defense. Offensively, meh. Not a huge fan of his production or his approach. Remember that post I made where I talked about how swinging more and making less contact isn't a great idea? Well, he's largely regressed back to his career norms, as I predicted might happen back in April. He still swings at too many bad pitches, but he always has. As he ages and his skill declines he won't be able to get away with that as much, and I'm not sure he's capable of completely changing his approach at the plate at his age. Old dog and new tricks and all that.  Oddly enough, looking at the pitch values on Fangraphs, he's been doing most of his damage on fastballs, and getting hurt on curves and changeups. Last year, is was the other way around. I don't really know what to make of that.

.264/.311/.404 with a .261 TAv. Currently at:
.266/.297/.394 with a .259 TAv.

That PECOTA system is pretty good sometimes, right? That's damn close, and it was last year too.

Zack Cozart. I touched on him in a previous post this season. (The 23 games post) and my opinion hasn't changed, although I will give him credit for being really really really good on defense this year. If your shortstop isn't going to hit, at least he needs to field well, and he is. Being that SS is the most important position on D, that's the one position that I don't get that upset about if a guy isn't hitting but he's contributing on D.

.254/.289/.393 with 14 HR. Currently at:
.230/.277/.305 with 2 HR.

Where'd the power go? At least before when he was offensively challenged he'd occasionally crack a homer or two, and that's no longer happening. His .214 TAv is tied for 23rd worst in all of baseball among all players with at least 100 plate appearances. His TAv projection was .246. Since his on base projection is close to his real OBP, I'd say that the lack of power is really hurting his TAv.

Todd Frazier is having a pretty damn good year. Man, with all the injuries and Votto's struggles, also injury related, where would this team be without Flava Fraz and Rocco? In the toilet, that's where. I think he should be in the All Star Game, and I hope he makes it. He won't get the fan vote, but hopefully he'll get in as a reserve because he deserves it. I never would have thought Todd Frazier would be in an All Star Game. I've always thought he was good, but not that good. So far this year I've been wrong.

.243/.311/.428 with a .270 TAv and 19 HR. Currently at:
.289/.356/.503 with a .321 TAv and 17 HR. (only two more to meet his full season projection!)

Yeah, so PECOTA missed on this one, and I think everyone else did too. If you had asked me before the season started what Frazier's season would look like, I'd probably give you numbers pretty close to what PECOTA spit out. Hey, it's not perfect because these are human beings and a computer program (which is what PECOTA basically is) isn't always going to catch every breakout season.

Ryan Ludwick has been pretty much what you would expect. Projected for a .260 TAv and he's at .275. He's been ok. I have nothing more to add.

Oh, Billy Billy Billy.

This kid's a revelation isn't he? We all knew he could run, but the bat's been a major surprise (and honestly, I think he may be a little bit over his head right now. I thought he would hit fairly well eventually, but not this soon. I guess I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. Let's hope it doesn't.) Even if the bat does slump, his ELITE defense (and I'm not exaggerating, Fangraphs has his defensive metrics as the best centerfielder in the game, and I know that small samples of defensive data is often unreliable, but it passes the eye test too) means he will always be contributing value no matter what.

.244/.296/.332 with 71 steals and 15 caught stealing. .235 TAv. Currently at:
.279/.309/.400 with 35 steals and 12 caught stealing. .266 TAv.

Need to not get caught stealing as much. But, with that defensive value and baserunning, if he could bump that TAv up a tick, to say, .280-.285ish, and improve his SB rate, then we are looking at a potential All Star caliber MVP candidate type of a guy. I'm pretty excited to see how his career turns out. If the bat plays he's a superstar, if not he's Willy Taveras. Could go either way but I'm leaning towards "he's not Taveras." Thankfully. That guy blew a dick. (.210 TAv with the Reds in 2009. Yech. Good riddance. Although apparently Willy is still playing in the Mexican League, and doing pretty well for himself, on a team with former Royal Angel Berroa. Good for him.)

Jay Bruce has had a hard year to analyze. That damn injury bug again. He wasn't playing well before the knee surgery, but it was reported that his knee had been a little wonky for some time, so who knows how that effected his performance early on. He had a really good June at .300/.351/.540 so it seems like he's back on track, but his full line isn't going to look that great right now because of the bad start/injury.

.250/.325/.468 with a .283 TAv and 29 HR. Currently at:
.234/.321/.402 with a .269 TAv and 7 HR. (only on pace for 14, roughly. I expect him to wind up hitting 20-22 by the end of the year. For the record, I'm using the preseason PECOTA projections, but they revise those projections during the season as well, as guys miss time and guys under or over perform, sometimes those factors go into it, and they are projecting Bruce for 13 HR between now and the end of the season, which would put him at exactly 20, and I promise I just looked that up right when I said 20-22, not before, so me and the computer agree almost exactly here. Spooky.)

That's all for position players. I will do another post in the coming days where I will talk about the pitching side of things.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Simon Says.....

This post was inspired by some posts on Facebook by some Reds-lovin friends of mine. I won't name names, but you know who you are.

I read a comment the other day that stated that Alfredo Simon should stay in the rotation when Latos is ready to pitch. I don't agree with this, and I'll tell you why. First off, he hasn't pitched over 115 innings in a season in his career in the majors, and hasn't pitched anything close to what a typical starting pitcher would throw since 2004, in high-A ball. I don't think that it would be a good idea to then ask a guy to throw 200 innings when he threw 87 last year and 61 the previous year. That would most likely lead to arm injury or fatigue induced ineffectiveness.

Secondly, and here's where I bust out the advanced stats, his FIP is currently 4.54 (For a primer on FIP, go HERE, YO. ) Now, seeing as how his ERA is currently 2.31, you can see how that might not be sustainable. (if you took the time to read the link I provided....I'm not supposed to do everything here, am I?)

So, I got curious. I wanted to see if there were any cases where a player had outperformed his FIP to such a degree over a full season of starting pitching. I'm going to show my work here. I went to the Baseball Reference Play Index, (a fantastic tool well worth the 30 bucks a year I pay for it) and did a query. I searched for players with a FIP greater than or equal to 4.54, and sorted by the lowest ERA. I made it so that only pitchers who started 80% of greater of their appearances showed up, to eliminate relievers, and made it so that only pitchers who pitched enough innings to qualify for the ERA title were listed, to eliminate guys who only started a small number of games. I left this current season in only to show where Simon was listed in comparison. You can find that result of that query right here. Pretty crazy, right? As you can see, Simon is outperforming his FIP by the BEST IN THE HISTORY OF THE FUCKING GAME. Obviously there's going to be some correction there. So, I deduce that the best thing to do would be to stick him back in the bullpen, where let's face it, we need a little help anyway,  (Ondrusek fucking blows) before he turns back into a pumpkin. So there's that.

P.S. I also got curious about what would happen if I lowered the FIP in that Play Index search to 4.00, and you can see those results here. Not much changed.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Pitching and defense.

Looking at the defensive metrics at Prospectus, I see that the Reds currently have the highest defensive efficiency in all of baseball, and the second highest (behind Oakland) PADE (Park Adjusted Defensive Efficiency). Last season they were also second, also behind Oakland, and the year before that they were 11th, then 6th, then 10th, so pretty high since 2010.  Also interesting that Oakland and Cincinnati are two teams that have been contending pretty much every season of the last several, despite not having very many big time bats in their lineup. Run prevention is half the game, and if you can keep the other team from scoring a lot of runs, you will always have a chance to win, even with a reduced offensive profile.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

23 games in the books....time for me to ramble on.

I hate April. Baseball statistics in April are a bitch. That said, I think there are a few things that we've either learned, or can analyze somewhat. I'll try to hit on some of the hot button issues going on in Reds Land up to this point.

What's the deal with JJ Hoover?

Well, he started out pretty crappy last season as well, although this run is lasting a bit longer than it did last year. The main problem is walks. He's currently walking 24.2% of batters faced. That will go down. I'm very confident of that. If it doesn't he'll be pumping gas. That's second in all of baseball among people with more than 5 innings pitched. And that's another issue. It's 5 innings! 5 1/3 to be exact. (for future reference, I am going to refer to thirds of innings as 5.1, or 5.2 going forward, although it's not mathematically correct, it's easier to read and type) Think about it. If a starting pitcher has 5 bad innings, it's one start. For a reliever, that's a lost month. That's part of the reason relief pitchers are so volatile from year to year. A guy may just have a hot or cold streak that lasts a whole season because he may only pitch 60 innings in one year, but for a starter that same workload is a quarter of a season. Makes it hard to tell if a guy is actually pitching to his true skill level or just on a run of good or bad luck. (Phil Norton in 2003 says hi, and for the record, that guy sucked, I don't care how good he was for a month in 2003) But anyway, if Hoover can stop walking guys he'll be fine. His stuff is still there. The strikeout rate is a little lower than career rates, but still very good, and usually if guys just lose their stuff the strikeout rate will drop. If he doesn't stop walking guys he'll be driving down 71 to meet some new AAA teammates, but I think past success will give him a bit of a leash.

What about Homer Bailey? What the fuck man?

It's frustrating. I know. 7 Home runs in 5 starts? The good news is that this isn't going to continue. That's pretty much a guarantee. Homer's HR/FB ratio is currently 29.2% (Meaning that that percent of fly balls hit off of him are leaving the yard) That's unsustainably high, and part of the problem with looking too closely at April small sample size numbers. For some context, league average is around 11%, and the HIGHEST OF ALL TIME (at least since Retrosheet, and Baseball Info Solutions starting tracking it, which only goes back 11 or 12 years I think) is Odalis Perez in 2003 with 19.7%. (By the way, our own Mike Leake's 2012 season is 13th worst all time) So, unless you think that Homer is going to break the record by 10%, be safe in saying that that number is going to regress. Is that Homer's only issue right now? Well, pretty much. His walk rate is a little elevated, but his strikeout rate is actually at a career high right now. When some more of those fly balls start finding gloves instead of grandstands, he'll probably be gangbusters.

In case you want to see that list of HR/FB all time worst season ratios, you can find that HERE.

Zack Cozart really sucks ass, right?

Pretty much. But even he's not this bad. As I type this, he's sitting at .147/.179/.240. He's actually striking out slightly less than his career numbers...problem is, his walk rate has cratered. His BABIP is an unsustainably low .151. He's put 66 balls in play and only has 10 hits. If you normalize that to his career line, (or as close to it as I can mathmatically get), just adding singles, no extra base hits, which you can't assume that they would all be singles but I'm being conservative here, that would raise his line to .250/.270/.347. That's not great, at all, but being that his career line is .246/.280/.384 that's pretty close. I'd expect that slugging percentage to rise a bit. Just changing one of those added hits to an extra base hit would put it right on target, I'd say.

Devin Mesoraco is going to fall to earth, right?

Well no shit sherlock. He's not fucking Ted Williams.

What about DatDudeBP?

I'm a little concerned, quite frankly. Here's why. Look at the following screenshot and look at the columns I circled. I know it's early, but it's not a good trend.
Why is this happening? Well, he's swinging more than he ever has. He's currently swinging at a baffling 43% of pitches OUTSIDE of the strikezone. (He's also swinging slightly more at pitches IN the strikezone. He's swinging more overall) Pitchers know they can get him out right now without challenging him because he will chase. I know it's early and this could change, mind you, but his career number is only 34%, which still isn't that great, but Brandon has always been a bit of a free swinger. Unfortunately, his contact rate is down from 79% to 72%. Swinging more and making less contact is not a good recipe for success, obviously.