Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again...

Sorry for my extended absence from the blog, I had out of town things to attend to over the weekend. Suddenly, the Reds are playing some pretty good baseball. They are 2 games above .500, have been clicking on offense, and the pitching has been stellar. Here's some thoughts from the weekend and last night:

  • Holy strike outs! Reds pitchers have been on fire the last 2 games, striking out 29 batters in the last two games alone. Strike outs are awesome, any high strike out rate for a pitching staff is going to not only mean a higher likelihood of winning ballgames, but also a high likelihood of sustainability. I'd like to see a higher strike out rate from staff ace Johnny Cueto, but I'm more than pleased with everyone not named Mike Leake. Speaking of Mike Leake, last year he had awesome run support, with his offense providing him with 5.13 runs per game. This year, the offense is only providing him with 3.06 runs per game. And that number is even inflated by an 8 run game, in his other 4 starts they've provided him with 1, 1, 2, and 4 runs. But hey, maybe he should work on giving up fewer runs too.....maybe?
  • Not only is Todd Frazier a great young baseball player and the possible future at 3rd base, he is also a master of air guitar.

  • The Reds have given up 101 runs so far this season, 3rd in Major League Baseball behind the Nationals (82), and the Cardinals (96). This would be great news if the offense didn't shit the bed in the first few weeks of the season, as their runs scored is only slightly above that at 111. But just last week the Reds had a negative run differential (runs scored minus runs allowed) and the further they move into the positive, the better the record will become.
  • The Reds face Yovani Gallardo tonight. Reds batters have fared well against him in the past.
    • Jay Bruce: 8-17, .471 AVG, 1 HR, 5 K's
    • Ryan Hanigan: 3-11, .273, 1 2B
    • Ryan Ludwick: 4-11, .364, 2 HR, 0 K's
    • Brandon Phillips: 7-25, .280, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 K's
    • Scott Rolen: 7-13, .538, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 K's
    • Drew Stubbs: 4-14, .286, 2 2B, 1 HR, 7 K's
    • Joey Votto: 7-21, .333, 3 2B, 1 HR, 1 K
  • On the Cole Hamels thing, I think that's bush league. And by "that" I mean the fact that he threw at Bryce Harper to begin with. There is this stupid mentality out there that just because things have always been done a certain way, that we should keep perpetuating that thing for "tradition" sake, without ever asking ourselves "is this dumb?" Baseball has always been at the forefront of change, despite the game remaining largely unchanged for the past 100+ years. Where would baseball be right now if Branch Rickey, who decided to take a chance and sign a great young player named Jackie Robinson, had said to himself "Well, it's baseball tradition to not allow black players on Major League teams, and I'm pretty old school so I think I'll pass on signing this Robinson kid." Not to hammer home this point, but chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a very real problem, as evidenced by former NFL players blowing their brains (or chests) out left and right. Baseball is not immune from this either. It has been argued that Lou Gehrig's ALS was perhaps brought on by a blow to the head from a pitched baseball. Being the iron man that he was, of course Gehrig never sat out any games after the blow to the head (or any games ever for that matter), and some modern researchers who study concussions in sports and CTE have concluded that either ALS can develop from repeated concussions, or simply that symptoms develop that mimic ALS. Enough research and rambling, the point is, its the 21st century and players shouldn't have to intentionally throw baseballs at one another to prove who is tougher or show some sense of respect for the "old school ways". It's as dumb and outdated as a practice as pitcher wins is as a statistic. Call me crazy, but anyone who would claim that cracking down on beaning batters is taking anything away from the game is a freaking 19th century neanderthal. Haven't we evolved to the point where "macho" is an archaic sexist stereotype? 
  • Thanks for reading again, sorry for the lull in blog updates, I'll try not to let life get in the way again! Music fans, check out Ohio band Red Wanting Blue this Saturday night at Bogart's!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Step Back from the Ledge.....Again

Well yesterday was fun. Proof that it ain't over until Marmol goes all Marmol. But dear Lord, again with the negativity even after a win. This team is not there yet, that much is clear. But what is it that we should expect from this team? Are they even any good? To answer those questions, we have to look to the only place we can to help predict what this team might do: last season.
  • Last year, this team scored the 2nd most runs in the National League with 735. So why did they finish under .500? The answer is, they gave up nearly as many runs with 720, good enough for 12th place in the NL. Let's take a look at the offense first.
  • 10 players out of the 2011 Reds top 15 players in number of plate appearances are on the team again this year. Here's what has changed:
    • Shortstop: Paul Janish (who had the 5th most PA on the team) sported a slash line of .214/.259/.262. He has been replaced by Zack Cozart who ANYONE would consider an upgrade. Ninth in plate appearances was Edgar Renteria with a slash line of .251/.306/.348, and he and Janish's plate appearances will almost all be picked up by Cozart. So anything that Cozart does at the plate above the combined .238/.285/.316 slash line that the Reds got from their Shortstops last year is an improvement. Don't forget those SS offensive stats were even boosted slightly by Cozart's .324/.324/.486 in only 11 games played. So we have to ask ourselves: Did we upgrade at shortstop?
    • Left Field: Even though Chris Heisey had more plate appearances than Jonny Gomes last year, Gomes had the most PA as a left fielder. Gomes sported a .211/.336/.399 slash line in 2011 for the Reds. He clearly dragged down the combined LF numbers of .242/.321/.412. In the offseason we went and signed Ryan Ludwick who even with his bad season in 2011 still managed to bat .237/.310/.363. So if Heisey doesn't regress at all, all we have to ask ourselves is: Did we upgrade in left field?
    • Catcher: Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan of course split time at catcher last season. They combined for a .267/.339/.401 slash line at a traditionally weak offensive position. Replacing Ramon Hernandez was perhaps one of the biggest challenges of the offseason. Devon Mesoraco is, as of yet, an unknown entity. We know he has pop, just like Ramon Hernandez did, and so far this season I've seen nothing to show me that we have downgraded at all at Catcher. That leads to our question: Did we upgrade at catcher?
    • Beyond those 3 positions, the team has remained largely the same. Sure, everyone is a year older, but that may be better for some (Jay Bruce) than for others (Scott Rolen, although he seems to be a lot healthier this year). So now that we've looked at this, we have to ask ourselves: Can these guys score as much as the 2011 team did? Ignore what you've seen so far because no ~20 game stretch is ever indicative of an entire season. Simply look at the career norms for these players and ask yourself if they can perform as much as they did last year offensively.
  •   The rotation this year looks a bit different from last year, as does the bullpen. So our pitching (which is the reason we did not compete last year) is the real key to success. Here are the top 5 starting pitchers in innings pitched last season:
    • Bronson Arroyo: Pitched 199 innings in what was the worst year of his Reds career. In those 199 innings he sported a 1.367 WHIP, second only to Edinson Volquez among the top 5 starting pitchers. He also gave up by far the most runs of any Reds pitcher in 2011, with 119. Ditto with hits (227). It looked at the time that Bronson was washed up, he was giving up home runs like it was batting practice. But not all was as it seemed, since we know that Bronson suffered from Mono all season. You can take or leave that diagnosis if you want, and I'm not doctor, but I've always heard that Mono is hard to recover from without rest, and Bronson went out there every 5 days for better or worse. So far in 2012, he looks like a brand new man. So we have to ask ourselves: Will Bronson be better in 2012 than he was in 2011?
    • Mike Leake: Ahhhh Mr. Leake. The true question mark of this blog post. Leake pitched the 2nd most innings for the Reds in 2011 with 167.2. To be honest, he was a solid, reliable pitcher. ERA below 4, decent WHIP at 1.175. But herein lies the question: Will Leake be as good as he was last year? This is probably the toughest question to answer "Yes" to because of how bad he has been so far in 2012. His problem has been just giving up a ton of hits this year, not necessarily control or anything else. He may be a tweak away from returning to form, or batters may have figured him out. It remains to be seen. Of course, if he continues on this path we'll ask ourselves: Can Aroldis Chapman do better than Mike Leake? I think that day might come.
    • Johnny Cueto: Ah yes the "Ace". Johnny was 3rd in innings pitched with 156. He was phenomenal last year. He looks phenomenal so far this year. Last year he missed the first month of the season though. So we have to ask ourselves: Will Cueto be as good as he was last year? If he is, and we get an entire year of what we had last year, that's awesome.
    • Homer Bailey:  Homer gets a bad rap. Maybe it was the lofty expectations heaped upon him from the moment he was drafted, but Homer had a decent year last year. He pitched 132 innings and had the highest SO/BB ratio of any of the starting pitchers with 3.21. That ratio isn't due to an unusually high strikeout rate, but a combination of high strikeouts and low walks. He looks to be continuing his career progression this year, and he has not looked bad at all so far. The question is: will he be as good as or better in 2012 than he was in 2011?
    • Edinson Volquez: Oh boy. Here's the guy we traded for Mat Latos. He clocked 108.2 innings in 2011, and also sported the highest WHIP of any of the starters with 1.574. He was just awful last year, walking a ton of batters and just overall letting the team down. Now, a lot of people look at the Mat Latos trade, and then they look at Edinson Volquez's numbers with San Diego and wonder if we made the right choice. Can't do it that way. We have to look at what we expect to get out of Mat Latos, and compare it to what we got out of Volquez last year and ask ourselves: Will Mat Latos be better in 2012 than Edinson Volquez was in 2011?
    • I'm not going to break down the relief pitching in too much detail, but I can say this: Right now we have the best bullpen in the NL. If we can keep this up, I won't be worried at all. The bullpen wasn't terrible in 2011, but I think its better in 2012. Marshall is better than Cordero I think, Arredondo and Ondrusek continue to get better, Chapman will dominate as long as he is in there, LeCure does what he does and does it well, and maybe Bill Bray and Nick Masset get healthy and look good when they come back. I know I've made jokes on Twitter about Alfredo Simon, but I think he's better than Carlos Fisher at the very least. Bonus: J.J. Hoover!
If we ask ourselves all of these questions, the pieces of the puzzle add up to this: this team is equipped to score as many runs as they did last year, and give up less. The numbers haven't quite added up to that yet this early in the season. But past performance is the only tool we can use to predict future performance, and past performance again tells us: this team will score a ton of runs, and hopefully give up way less. If we score the same amount of runs, and each starting pitcher gives up 10 less runs (Not literally, but a total of 50 less runs from the SP), and the bullpen gives up 20 less runs (combined), it would give us a run differential of +75, and an expected win-loss record of 89-73. Last year 90-72 got the Cardinals the Wild Card.

So what's the lesson here? I'm not sure. I think it's "Don't panic".

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Reds Fan Checklist After Loss

  1. Completely blame Reds hitters for lack of offense without ever acknowledging the fact that sometimes opposing pitchers can be really good.
  2. Make bold general statements that don't jive with statistics about how (insert player) needs work and maybe we should send him down to AAA. 
  3. Tweet angrily at Dallas Latos who has nothing to do with the games.
  4. Declare the season lost.
  5. Lament the Reds lack of bunting skills despite statistics that show bunting lowers the chances of scoring a run.
  6. Propose a completely unrealistic trade in which the Reds give up 3 players who have absolutely no value and receive a future Hall of Famer.
  7. Tweet more angry hateful things at Dallas Latos.
  8. Make several statements of regret regarding past trades the Reds have made.
  9. Blame the umpires.
  10. Call for hitting coach's job on nights Reds don't hit well.
  11. Call for pitching coach's job on nights Reds don't pitch well.
  12. Call for Dusty Baker's job every night.
  13. Blame a bench player who struck out in his only at-bat of the game, even though the rest of the lineup fared no better.
  14. Complain about the batting order as if place a batter in a certain position in the batting order magically makes him an All-Star.
  15. Call for minor league prospect to be called up from A ball.
  16. Make anecdotal reference to (insert player) who has done nothing this year, without bothering to visit baseball-reference.com to check if you're right.
  17. Ask John Fay a stupid question that could be looked up easily by typing the same thing into a Google search.
  18. Ask Jamie Ramsey if (insert player) is being negatively affected by his at-bat music.
  19. Tweet something to Dallas Latos, again blaming the loss on her.
  20. Overreact to every loss as if it is the end of the world. Don't acknowledge any of the games in which the Reds have looked good, don't give the players time to perform, don't let anyone talk you out of it.
We're only 23 games into the season, but that gives us 139 more opportunities to use this list

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April Reds Rewind

Well, here we are May 1st. After an off day Monday, we can successfully turn the page on a roller coaster April and see what sort of conclusions we can come to from some of the numbers we've seen. Being at .500 at the end of the first month is a favorable spot to be in considering some of what the Reds went through the first two weeks of the season, and some of the pitching they saw. Being only 3 games behind the Cardinals, who had a pretty amazing (and pretty unsustainable) April is another thing to be thankful for. So here's some random thoughts and stats for April:
  • After scoring only 1 run six times in the first 12 games, the Reds have only scored less than 4 runs once in the 10 games since. As I tweeted a few days ago, the Reds averaged 2.75 runs the first 12 games, and 5.4 runs in the 12 games since.
  • After 12 home games, the attendance at GABP totals 309,874 or an average of 25,823 fans per games. In 2011, after 12 home games the attendance at GABP totaled 275,335 or an average of 22,945 fans per game. Attendance is up, so that's a good thing.
  • The whole "Joey Votto's slow start" thing was a bit stupid and overblown. We've seen Joey strike out more than we're used to, sure. But we've also seen him walked more than we're used to. His SO% (percentage of plate appearances ending in a strikeout) is 23.5%. His career average is 18.6%. But his BB% (percentage of plate appearances ending in a walk) is 20.4%, up from his career average of 13.2%. We may see both of these even out as the year goes on, and that's fine. If we get what we expect to get out of Joey Votto, I will be a happy camper. Don't forget that he had an awesome April last year with a slash line of .372/.504/.628 with a 1.132 OPS, and he ended up coming back down to earth (if you can even call it that) to .309/.416/.531 and .947 OPS. That's not THAT far off from his current .289/.439/.500 and .939 OPS. If he has a month or two like last April in him this season, I'd prefer it to be September and October. Until then, I'll take his career averages, which is almost what we're seeing.
  • Speaking of Joey Votto, please stop measuring his numbers against the amount of money he is making/is going to make. First off, in no sport do you pay a player in direct correlation to how well he performs. If this were true Mat Latos would be making a hell of a lot more than $550,000 this year. Or Zack Cozart's $480,000. A contract acts two-fold: You pay them the amount of money its going to take to keep them (i.e. as much as or more than a potential free-agent suitor), and that number has something (but not everything) to do with what they have done in their career so far, and what they can be expected to do the rest of their contract (or in Joey's case, career). The contract is done, over with. As Stevie Wonder would say, "I can't see!" "Signed, sealed, delivered". It is now what economists like to refer to as a "sunk cost" meaning as long as he plays, that's what he's going to be paid regardless of performance. Since the money is already committed, complaining about it will do us no good. And comparing his numbers to the $$$ is even more futile.
  • Jay Bruce is off to the fastest start of his career. His current line of .296/.337/.617 and .954 OPS is far away his best April ever. Of course, last year's start (.237/.306/.381 and .687 OPS) was followed by an unbelievable May (.342/.402/.739 and 1.140 OPS) in which he tore the cover off the ball. I hope we see a repeat of that success. But I'd rather see it sustained than the drop off he experienced in June (.217/.301/.348) and July (.256/.363/.442). Maybe Jay being in better shape this year will mean more sustained results, but we'll have to wait and see. May is by far the best month throughout his career with a .292/.375/.577 slash line and .953 OPS over his career. No other month even comes close to that, so I hope that maybe whatever he's been doing in May the past 4 years, he does every month this year. His April this year is almost identical to his lifetime May numbers so maybe he's figured something out. It remains to be seen. In case you didn't hear, Jay won National league player of the week honors.
  • Brandon Phillips has been playing below 100% for over 2 weeks now, and his slash line of .254/.302/.407 is not THAT far below his career .271/.321/.433 numbers. I'll take that.
  • Last week I talked a little bit about team BABIP or Batting Average on Balls in Play. The Reds team BABIP has risen to a much more normal .282, up about 40 points from the last team we discussed it. It is important to remember that BABIP is, under almost all circumstances uncontrollable. It is what a lot of people refer to as a "luck factor". That means that over a long enough period of time, it will always even out to the normal levels of between .290 and about .310. So again, we must realize that BABIP has nothing to do with strikeouts or homeruns. It only looks at balls put in play, and what percentage of those balls put in play result in a hit. Right now for the Reds, about 28% of the balls put in play go for hits. We can probably expect this to rise slightly more as the season wears on. (Also note: the Cardinals' BABIP is still sitting above average at .329 and can be expected to drop a bit further as they come down to earth)
  • So what about the pitching? So far we've gotten more than we expected from Bronson Arroyo, less than we expected from Mat Latos and Mike Leake, and about what we expected from Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey. I like what I've seen from Bronson Arroyo so far, and I think the biggest thing we can assume from his good start is that he is back to his healthy and reliable self. 2011 was no doubt the worst year of Arroyo's career. But a comparison of his 2011/2012 numbers shows just how much he has improved with a healthy offseason. 
    • H/9 (hits per 9 innings): 10.3/9.1 
    • HR/9 (homeruns per 9 innings): 2.1/0.7 
    • BB/9 (walks per 9 innings): 2.0/0.7 
    • These 2012 numbers will probably drift upwards a bit towards his career norms, but I don't see them coming even close to his 2011 numbers, barring injury. Arroyo is another guy that if we get what we've gotten from him most of his years in Cincinnati, I'll be happy.
  • Johnny Cueto continues his career progression and we may be seeing him transform into an elite MLB pitcher. The awesome thing about looking at Johnny Cueto's career stats is that he has gotten better every year so far in his career, in almost all areas. Despite that fact, looking at the 2012 numbers compared to 2011, not too much has changed (which is fine, he had a great year last year). BUT, his current BB/9 rate is 1.9, compared to 2011 at 2.7. This equates to basically one less walk per game so far this year, and that makes all the difference in the world. If he keeps this up AND starts 30 games, expect to see Johnny Cueto at year's end with an ERA around 2 and him in consideration for a Cy Young Award. Johnny's real progress last year, and it is continuing into this year, has been his progression from a strikeout/flyball pitcher to more of a ground ball pitcher. His groundball/flyball ratio jumped last year from an average of 0.71 his first 3 years, to 1.18 last year. This year he's a little below that at 0.83, but don't forget SSS (small sample size). I fully expect that rate to go up as the year goes on. Becoming more of a groundball pitcher does a lot of things for Johnny. It has cut his Extra Base Hit rate in half, as well as the % of hits that go for extra bases in half. This translates to "When Johnny gives up hits now, they're usually singles". That is the key to his continued success and career progression.
  • We've been down the Mat Latos road already, and if you haven't driven with us down that road, you should remember that Mat sucks in April and pretty much owns the rest of the year. That's about all we can ask for from him. The percentage of his starts that go for Quality Starts the past two years has been about 66%. Right now we're sitting at 20%. As long as he starts 30 games, we'll get another 19 Quality Starts from him. 19 more potential wins from him? I'll take that.
  • I don't really even know what to say about Homer and Mike Leake. Whatever we get is what we'll get, and not a ton is expected of 4/5 starters to begin with. More than likely, by this summer one of the two will be replaced with Chapman, so really its important to just get as much out of them as possible. PLEASE remember that EVERY team has 4 and 5 starters, and they all typically range from average to shitty, with very few exceptions. I know we get pissed whenever a starting pitcher blows up, but we just need these guys to keep us in games, not throw quality starts, and not strikeout 12 batters per 9.
  • So what about the competition? Well, the Cardinals are off to a hot start and people as always are worried that we can't keep up. Here is where I attempt to ease your worries. 
    • Kyle Lohse has been awesome so far! Oh noes! Check out his 2011:
      April/March 4 1 1.64 1 38.1 23 7 7 1 5 24 0.730 4.80
      May 3 1 2.57 0 42.0 36 12 12 2 10 23 1.095 2.30
      June 1 2 4.55 0 29.2 34 15 15 7 5 11 1.315 2.20
      July 1 3 5.53 0 27.2 30 23 17 2 7 13 1.337 1.86
      August 3 1 5.92 0 24.1 30 18 16 4 10 18 1.644 1.80
      Sept/Oct 2 0 1.37 0 26.1 25 5 4 0 5 22 1.139 4.40
      Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
      Generated 5/1/2012 
    • Yeah, that's right. He always is awesome in April and then slowly regresses throughout the year. Jaime Garcia's best month throughout his career is also April. The lesson here is, don't overreact. The Cardinals are good, and will continue to be good throughout the year, but more than likely not THIS good. Oh yeah and pray that Wainwright keeps sucking.
So what can we gather from all of this information? Mostly that its still early. But the Reds are good, and in a pretty good spot right now. Sooner or later certain players will go on a tear, and we'll start to see this team closer to how we expected them to be. After such a slow start, where we are right now is a good place to be in. And the Reds need to win games and (sorry for the cliche) not worry about what the rest of the division is doing. And even though it would be awesome to win 110 games and be the favorite to win it all come playoff time, remember that the best team in baseball rarely wins the World Series in the Wild Card era. In fact, its only happened twice: 2007 and 2009. All we need is for this team to get to the playoffs however they can do it. They don't have to beat the Cardinals or the better teams in baseball X amount of times to prove that they can hang. That's what dumb sports fans say because they think its true. So what if the Reds go 4-11 vs. the Cardinals this year? It only takes 3 or 4 to win a playoff series. The moral of this story is don't expect or hope for anything other than the Reds making the playoffs, anything above and beyond that is icing on the cake. And how they played in April won't matter then. Just how they play in October.

So maybe you came to this blog expecting me to hand out grades. Well, that's not me. There are plenty more well-written Reds blogs out there that can give you eloquently written gradebooks for the Reds' April. There is nothing wrong with that, I just prefer to look at numbers, convey them to my fellow fans in a way that people will understand, and extrapolate ($5 word right there) some theories as to what is going on, and give an educated guess as to what will happen the rest of the way. For the most part I loathe sports journalism because most of it is pretty meaningless, and a lot of it seems so formulaic. So I hope you enjoy my style and keep reading, I will always try to bring you relevant information and hopefully generate good discussion. But my ulterior (and unrealistic) motive is to create a better sports fan. One who doesn't say stupid things that aren't true. One who doesn't take a small sample size and overreact. One who understands why things are the way they are and will pass it on to other sports (especially baseball) fans.

And here's the most important thing you can do: go down to the ballpark and cheer on your Reds.

Here's a little Moody Blues for your Tuesday afternoon....until next time folks.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Game 2 Recap and Game 3 Preview

The Amazing Johnny Cueto

The metamorphosis of Johnny Cueto from a talented young thrower to an elite MLB pitcher continues. Yesterday, Cueto looked like Harry Houdini. On an afternoon when Cueto clearly didn't have his best stuff, the Reds ace continually worked out of jams and kept the Astros off the board for 7 innings. In 3 of his first 4 innings, Cueto let runners advance to 3rd base. Before the season started, I predicted among friends that Cueto would win the Cy Young Award in the National League. The competition will be tough no doubt, but Cueto is definitely doing enough to keep his name in the conversation. Let's hope his name is still there come September. 
  • Besides Cueto's strong outing, it was the Jay Bruce show. Since going 0-19 from April 12-17, Jay Bruce has gone 15-35 (.428) with 3 doubles, 3 HRs, and 10 RBI.
  • Speaking of working out of jams, Aroldis Chapman certainly did his best Francisco Cordero impression yesterday. Aroldis, if you're reading this (he's not), we don't like that. No me gusta.
  • The Reds are still 3 games ahead of everyone's popular pick to win the World Series: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Los Angeles and also California.
  • Buying a beer for: Johnny Cueto. I don't know a lot about beer in the Dominican Republic, so I'll just pick a good American beer. How about a Palate Wrecker from Green Flash Brewing. Much like Johnny's performance yesterday, you're unsure of it at first, but by the end you realized it was awesome. Drink up Johnny!

Game 3 Preview: Mat Latos vs. Jordan Lyles

Hopefully this afternoon we see a repeat of Latos' performance against the Giants. Carlos Lee is the only Astro with more than one hit off of Mat, so hopefully he is out again after twisting his ankle on Friday. Mat's opposite number, Lyles, gave up a HR to Todd Frazier last year, so its good that Frazier is in the lineup today for Old-Man Rolen. Other thoughts:
  • Like I said last night, Bryce Harper's hair is stupid. Look at how stupid this is:
  • Speaking of the Nationals, Stephen Strasburg, since coming back from Tommy-John Surgery has thrown 56 innings, with only 8 walks, 58 strikeouts, and 0 HRs. Wow.
  • Why doesn't GABP do anything cool like Dodgers Stadium does when Matt Kemp does awesome things? They start a drum beat which starts the crowd chanting "M-V-P!". It's probably like the coolest thing ever. Check it out here last night after Kemp's walk-off homer
  • That's all for now. As always, keep the kind comments coming if you like the blog. And shut your mouth if you don't. I'm just kidding. Sort of.
Last minute edit! Just found a .gif of Cozart's amazing play yesterday. As always, courtesy of the Something Awful Forums.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Game 1 Recap and Game 2 Preview

A Leake in the Rotation

Yikes! What an awful night from Mike Leake. He must be moonlighting at Maggiano's in Kenwood because he was serving up meatballs all night last night. Even through the first 2 innings, it looked like Leake was throwing a lot of strikes right over the heart of the plate but the 'Stros weren't biting. By the 3rd inning, the Astros started swinging away and they weren't getting any cheapies off of Leake, they were hitting the ball hard. I don't know what Mike Leake needs to figure out, but I'd rather him figure it out soon, or figure it out in Louisville.
  • Speaking of hitting the ball hard, Scott Rolen has been absolutely crushing the ball lately. Last night he hit two balls hard into the left-center field gap and unfortunately both were caught. Like I said the other night: reports of Rolen's death have been greatly exaggerated.
  • Baby steps for Jay Bruce against Wandy Rodriguez. He did look overmatched on one or 2 at-bats, but he also managed to get a hit and score the Reds first run of the night. Then, just to show us that he's not normally as bad as he is against Wandy, he crushed a dinger to deep right center field (oddly enough, right into the seats I was sitting in on Wednesday night)
  • Todd Frazier is like Chris Heisey 2.0. Pinch Hitter Extraordinaire! I really like what I'm seeing from him, and I think if he keeps this up, he will be our go-to pinch hitter and supersub. The good thing is, he can play the outfield as well.
  • That Joey Votto at-bat where he hit the RBI double was a thing of beauty. 13 pitches. Vintage Joseph Daniel Votto.
As for today's 4pm game, I will be there as long as the rains hold up. Lucas Harrell toes the rubber for the Astronomicals, and Johnny Cueto for the Redlegs. Only 3 current Reds have ABs against Harrell (Bruce, Phillips, Votto) and Bruce is the only one with a hit. Johnny Cueto has had a lot of success against the Astros, with really only Carlos Lee hitting him hard. Hopefully Lee is still out today after that rolled ankle. Hope to see some of you down at the ballpark today (along with lots of sunshine!)
  • I do accept people buying me beers, so don't be shy. You may or may not find me at the Holy Grail prior to the game.
  • My good friend and local comedian Mike Berlon has a CD (Half price! Only $5!!! Totally worth it) out now that you should check out at mikeberloncomedy.com and you can follow him on Twitter @mikeberlon
  • Until next time folks, I'll leave you with a little CCR on this rainy day. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @JoeyVottosBat and tweet at me or comment here on the blog with any ideas/suggestions. Go Reds!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Game 1 vs. Astros Preview

Jay Bruce's Day Off (I hope!)

Happy Friday everybody! Glad yesterday is over. And it pleases me to see the Astros in town, but I'd prefer not to have to face Wandy Rodriguez. I know Jay Bruce feels the same way. I've got a feeling Jay Bruce will have the night off tonight. Check out his career numbers vs. Wandy:

  • Jay Bruce: 1-26, 13 SO. That works out to an amazing .038/.038/.038 line. I think we'll see an outfield of Ludwick/Stubbs/Heisey tonight.
  • Ryan Ludwick: 11-32, .344/.400/.406
  • Chris Heisey: 3-8, 1 HR, .375/.444/.875
Mike Leake takes the bump for the Reds after one of the worst outings I've ever seen from him. I guess the good news for him is that Hunter Pence and Michael Bourne, who have had the most success against him over the past two seasons, are no longer in Houston. Leake needs to bounce back strong or he may find himself the odd man out once Chapman inevitably joins the rotation.

  • Speaking of Chapman, I know every time we see him pitch, and every time another starting pitcher struggles, fans start clamoring for Chapman to get in the rotation already. We have to remember that Jocketty and Co. pretty much know what they're doing. I don't know this for sure, but I would guess the plan all along was to start Chapman out in the bullpen and move him into the rotation mid-season. Why, you might ask? Actually its a pretty obvious reason that I would hope most fans would have realized by now: we need him in October. We don't want Chapman to reach his innings limit by early September and then shut him down. Starting him in the bullpen limits his innings, AND gives us an 8th inning hammer. Patience, my friends.
  • Billy Hamilton stole 4 more bases last night for Bakersfield. That gives him 23 in 20 games. At this pace he'll steal 161 bases by the end of the season. How is he doing this? Simple: he's getting on base more. His OBP is .116 points higher than last year. Oh yeah, and he's only been caught stealing 4 times. We must temper our excitement for 2 reasons: the California League is notorious for inflated offense, and small sample size. But I like the trend we're seeing.
  • Scott Rolen has now hit safely in 8 of his last 9 games, including each of the last 5. The one game he didn't get a hit he walked twice.  He also has 4 straight games with at least one RBI. Reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated.
  • The Reds collective team BABIP of .281 is still below the league average of .290.
  • Poor Willie Harris' BABIP is .120. That's what I call bad luck. Another reason people should give the guy a break.
  • The Reds have 10 HRs at GABP this year, only 4 on the road.
  • The Reds have 10 HRs in wins this year, only 4 in losses. Hmmm.
  • Team batting average in wins: .301
  • Team batting average in losses: .176
That's all I've got for you today. Don't hesitate to let me know if you guys have ideas or suggestions for the blog. Also, if you like the blog, make sure to tell your friends to read it, and follow me on Twitter. Here's a cool jam from my favorite band, Red Wanting Blue.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Game 3 Breakdown (Get it?!)

Wow. I actually had to nap that one off today. I'd like to take a little responsibility for the loss, in anticipation of the win, I had begun writing a blog post talking about the Reds sweep. Mentioned how they've won 6 of 7 and with the Cardinals off had moved 2 games out. Yeah I had to delete that. As heart breaking as today was, its something that's gonna happen. I think 9 times out of 10 the Reds win that game, today was just that 10th game unfortunately. A few thoughts:

  • That pitch, ugh that pitch! Bad calls are a part of the game, just ask Armando Galarraga, but you hate to see something that obviously bad effect the game in that way. Three strikes = 1 out. Unless you're Tim Welke. Here's the pitch location according to PitchFX:
And here's a screenshot of "strike 3" from the Giants' broadcast. Keep in mind that at this point the ball has already crossed the plate and was obviously a sinking fastball:

  • Despite the ball call, the blown save, and the loss, today was actually a picture perfect day. I say that because, with the way our bullpen has been all year, a 2-run lead (at least) going into the 9th is exactly what you want. I'll give Marshall a free pass on that one. Even the best closers are going to blow a save.
  • I hate the NFL Draft. I hate the way people treat the NFL Draft. For the past few weeks I've been hearing about how this team needs to have a good draft and how we're gonna grade our team's picks and other ridiculous things. How can you grade a draft when not ONE player drafted has played a single second of NFL Football? Grading drafts shouldn't be done until the following year. Then you've had a whole year to see the draft picks perform. So yeah, all next week we're gonna hear how the Bengals or Browns got a B+ from Adam Shecter or whatever his name is and its just total garbage. Remember when the NFL wasn't something we had to talk about year round? I miss those days. Take a look at yourself and ask yourself if you've fallen for the year-round NFL hype machine.
  • The Houston Astros are coming to town! That's a good way to ease our troubles after a big let-down today. I just wish we were missing Wandy Rodriguez. I'll be there on Saturday for anyone who's heading down to the ballpark.
  • If you're into beer as much as I am, Jungle Jim's is hosting a tasting on May 18th featuring one of the best Ohio breweries: The Brew Kettle. If you've never had their White Rajah IPA, you really should check it out. One of my top 5 beers of all time. The Kroger in Hyde Park usually has it.
  • I was at both Tuesday and Wednesday's wins over the Giants. Didn't go today. I find it no coincidence that the Reds lost.
  • Buying a beer for: Logan Ondrusek. The big man was lights out today. Pretty obvious choice here but being from Shiner, TX, I'll buy him a Shiner Bock. Until next time folks!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Game 2 Recap: Here Comes the Rain Again...

Wow! Just got back from a wet, wet night at GABP. Through about 6 innings I was sitting there wondering why I had made the trip down to the ballpark tonight. The rain was cold, like the Reds offense for most of the night. But just like the Reds offense, the rain was also relentless. This was a great win for the Redlegs, and it was an awfully satisfying to boot. A few thoughts:

  • Barry Zito was no joke tonight. I was a bit suspect of his numbers coming into the game, small sample size and all, but he certainly lived up to his 2012 billing. I bet Giants fans are wondering where this Barry Zito has been for the past 5 years.
  • Arroyo did not have his good stuff tonight, but like a true veteran, he was able to limit the damage. Only 2 runs (1 earned) on 9 hits is a pretty decent night when you know you don't have it.
  • Drew Stubbs continues to hammer the ball. Only 1 for 3 tonight, but he was also robbed of a hit on a great diving catch by Angel Pagan. No strikeouts tonight either. He has only struck out 6 times in his last 36 plate appearances, and hasn't struck out more than once in any game since April 13th. Say it with me now, small sample size, but I would love to see this trend continue.
  • Speaking of Angel Pagan, what was he doing on that Joey Votto RBI double? I was sitting in front of the power stacks in CF and thought for sure that ball would be caught. He seemed to take a bad line or the ball got him turned around or something.
  • A less than stellar Reds debut for JJ Hoover, but you have to figure he was pretty nervous for his Major League debut. I'll give him a mulligan. At least he didn't give up any runs.
  • More booing for Willie Harris tonight. Classy.
  • Chapman is awesome, even when he doesn't have his best stuff. What a catch he had too.
  • Sean Marshall was NASTY tonight. I feel like he is starting to really heat up after looking pretty ordinary in his first 2 appearances or so. 
  • While we're talking relievers, Jose Arredondo is starting to look like a very reliable arm out of the pen. Last year at times he struggled with control, but he was coming off Tommy John surgery. You have to think he is feeling much better this year. A very underrated piece of the puzzle for the 2012 Reds. I feel like he could have a huge impact, especially after Chapman moves to the rotation.
  • Maybe Scott Rolen still has some gas left in the tank? Lets hope. I'm not of the opinion that Rolen HAS to do much for this team to be good, especially considering what the Reds have gotten out of the SS position so far. But I am of the opinion that any offensive pop he provides this season is going to be icing on the cake.
  • "When I come home cold and tired, it's good to warm my bones beside the fire." - Pink Floyd
  • Buying a beer for: Scott Rolen. A lot of Reds fans had already written him off as not having it anymore. Well, he may not, but he certainly contributed tonight, and I feel he has some part to play yet. Being from Indiana, I'll buy him a great Indiana beer from Three Floyds Brewing. How about a Dark Lord Russian imperial stout? After all, Dark Lord Day is this Saturday. Until next time....

Game 2: Soft-Tosser Special

Barry Zito vs. Bronson Arroyo

Curveballs for days

Tonight's game matches up two soft-tossing veterans in Arroyo and Zito. The former Cy Young Award winner Zito has had a pretty rough go of things from the moment he moved across the bay from Oakland to San Francisco. His ERA jumped almost a full point from 3.55 over his 7 years with the A's, to 4.48 in his 5+ seasons with the Giants. Zito has shown some glimpses of his former self over his first 3 starts of 2012 though. Over 21 innings pitched, he has given up only 4 earned runs, and walked only 4 batters. He's currently sporting a WHIP of 0.857. The good news is, quite a few Reds have had success against Zito the past few seasons.
  • Jay Bruce: 4 for 6 with a double and a HR
  • Brandon Phillips: 3 for 5 with a double
  • Scott Rolen: 1 for 2 with a double
  • Drew Stubbs: 3 for 5
  • Todd Frazier: 1 for 2 with a HR
  • Ryan Ludwick: 3 for 13 with a HR
On the other side of things, Bronson Arroyo hasn't even faced the Giants since 2009, when most of the current Giants weren't even with the team. Pablo Sandoval (0 for 3), Nate Schierholtz (2 for 4, 2 doubles), and Barry Zito (0 for 4) are the only guys that will see action tonight that were with the team then. Angel Pagan (4 for 18 lifetime) and Aubrey Huff (12 for 23 lifetime) have seen some success vs. Arroyo in the past with other clubs. Huff has not faced Arroyo since 2006 though. It should be interesting to see if Arroyo, who gave up the most HRs in the majors last year, but has only given up 1 in 3 starts this year, can keep the ball inside the ballpark now that the Reds are back in GABP and the balls seem to be flying a bit more.

 Swing Away Drew!

Drew Stubbs continues to impress. Small sample size is something you must keep saying to yourself over and over until about the end of May, but I like what I've seen from Drew the past week. He is swinging earlier in counts which helps him two-fold: 1) He is making contact early in at-bats and getting hits. And 2) He isn't looking at strikes early in the count and getting behind which leads to strikeouts. Look at these freaking career numbers for Drew Stubbs with different counts:
  • First pitch - .424 AVG, .421 OBP, .706 SLG, 1.128 OPS, 12 HRs
  • 0-2 count - .059 AVG, .066 OBP, .067 SLG, .133 OPS, SEVEN hits in his career with an 0-2 count. 87 strikeouts.
  • 1-2 count - .121 AVG, .129 OBP, .211 SLG, .340 OPS. 134 strikeouts
  • 2-2 count - .158 AVG, .165 OBP, .246 SLG, .410 OPS. 129 strikeouts
  • 3-2 count - .220 AVG, .455 OBP, .296 SLG, .751 OPS. 89 strikeouts and 80 walks
Now, this isn't some strange phenomenon that plagues only Drew Stubbs. Look at the count splits for any major league batter and you're going to see batting average decline the more strikes there are in the count. But rarely do you see numbers so small with an 0-2 count. And it should be pretty clear to Drew that patience at the plate is something best left up to guys like Joey Votto (for comparison, Joey Votto bats .206 with an 0-2 count, and OPS .494). Drew Stubbs should go up there and swing at the first strike he sees, and he seems to be doing that and the results are more hits and less strikeouts. Isn't that somethin'?

Other ins, outs, and what-have-you's:
  • Yahoo! Sports highlighted Zack Cozart this morning. It's a pretty bad article if you ask me, but hey, any accolades Mr. Cozart gets is well deserved and good for this team. You can read the "article" here.
  • For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about UK being honored at last night's game, nary a boo was heard by me when they introduced Mr. Calipari. Looks like the UK-haters were all bark and no bite (Bark in the Park joke!)
  • Ryan Ludwick has shown some power and I hope he gains some confidence from that. Last night's HR was a no-doubter.
  • Red Wanting Blue, an awesome band out of Columbus is at Bogart's on May 12th. You should for sure go see them.
  • MLB Trade Rumors reported that the Reds were close to trading Chris Heisey and Juan Francisco to the Braves for Jair Jurrjens and Jairo Asencio. Consider that bullet dodged.
  • I caught some flack on Twitter last night for saying sacrifice bunts are dumb. Someone even said I "don't know baseball". If you want some good reading on why sac bunts are stupid and are only excusable in a few very specific scenarios, check out this article which is a lot easier to understand than the other one I posted.
  • If you don't already follow me on twitter, you can click the link on the right side of the page to follow me. Also, leave comments! Tell friends! I enjoy feedback!
  • Lastly, check out this Yu Darvish pitch from last night. 94mph 2-seam fastball. Look at that freaking movement (.gif once again courtesy of the goons over at Something Awful's Sports Argument Stadium)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Reds vs. Giants Game 1 Recap

Better now than Latos

What a game last night. I was actually able to make it out to the ballpark for my first game of the year (other than the Futures game) and boy was it a doozy. It sure is more fun watching Reds games when they're launching balls all around the ballpark isn't it?
  • Boy oh boy did the Reds really do a number on Matt Cain. The numbers alone won't tell you the whole story. 6.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 7 K, 2 BB. A solid night for any pitcher right? I know most would've taken that from Mat Latos going into the night. But the thing that really did Cain in was his pitch count. He threw nearly 40 in the first inning alone, and from then on was really laboring. The Reds made him work hard for every out, something that they (frustratingly) have not done a lot this year. This is a pitcher who coming into the game had a 0.500 WHIP (Walks + Hits/ per inning pitched), 3.4 H/9 (hits per 9 innings), and 1.1 BB/9 (walks per 9 innings). Maybe his numbers were a little inflated after facing an awful Phillies offense, but the guy is an elite pitcher nonetheless, and Reds batters have struggled against him.
  • What a night from the Reds offense! I knew coming back home to GABP would help some of these guys but I didn't think they'd all respond so quickly! Those of you who have read the blog the past few days may notice that the four players I mentioned yesterday (Brandon Phillips, Ryan Ludwick, Scott Rolen, and Jay Bruce) combined for 8 of the Reds' 9 RBI. I'm not trying to toot my own horn or anything but I am TOTALLY trying to toot my own horn. 
  • I met Dallas Latos, wife of Reds pitcher Mat Latos, before last night's game. If you don't already follow her on Twitter, you should (@DallasLatos). The woman was as kind and personable as you hope she'd be, and her and I talked baseball, and Mat, and the Giants for a few minutes. I'm not trying to toot my own horn here but I totally told her that Mat was going to dominate a pretty bad Giants offense who he's owned so far in his career. After the win I tried to convince her to meet me for drinks before all of Mat's starts but I don't think she's having any of it.
  • Oh yeah, how about her husband, Mat Freaking Latos? Dude was pitching like a boss last night. Let runners advance to third in each of the first two innings but really cruised after that until the 6th. Up until the 6th he was averaging less than 10 pitches per inning. He was good, he was pitch efficient, and he got us the win. THAT is why we traded for him.
  • I tweeted last night that the ribbon scoreboards along the first and third baselines, and the one right below the Kroger Bleachers now show OBP and SLG for every batter. Pretty awesome for all those sabermetricians out there.
  • Willie Harris got booed last night at the ballpark. His own ballpark. I understand some are disappointed in his play so far this year or perplexed as to why he is on the roster, but the dude is playing his butt off and had a pretty good game last night. Cut him a break and insult him in the privacy of your own homes, not at the ballpark.

  • Buying a beer for: (I'll try to make this a regular feature after every Reds game. Sort of a player of the game type thing) Mat Latos. Sure, the offense went off last night, but we also saw from Mat Latos last night exactly what we needed, and wanted, to see from him: a 1/2 level pitcher who can give us 7 good innings. Being that Mat spent so many years in California, I'm totally buying him a west coast style IPA. Drink up, Mat.

Homestand: Game 1 vs. Giants

Matt Cain vs. Mat Latos

When it comes to how many T's are in a pitcher's first name, less is more.

Well, the Reds are back in the Queen City to start a 9 game home stand against the Giants, the Astros, and the Cubs. I urge all of you out there in Redsland to not overreact to Tuesday's game. Matt Cain is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball and the Reds bats may not be up to the task this early in the season. The good news is we're missing Tim Lincecum, who after a slow start had a much better outing in the first half of the Giants double-header Monday vs. the Mets. The bad news is that Barry Zito seems to have found the fountain of youth so far in 2012. Ryan Vogelsong is not an elite pitcher like Cain, but he is a very good young pitcher as well.

The Reds don't have great career numbers against Matt Cain, but they didn't see him at all in 2011. Some of the more notable numbers against Cain:

  • Ryan Ludwick: 6 for 16, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB
  • Brandon Phillips: 4 for 13, 1 HR, 1 RBI
  • Scott Rolen 3 for 7, 1 2B, 1 3B
  • (No longer a Red) Laynce Nix: 7 for 13, 1 HR (sigh)
I didn't really include any other numbers because they are all much much worse. Yep.

With a return to GABP, I think the Reds bats will come alive as much as they can against some solid SF pitching. No Red is probably more glad to be home than Jay Bruce, whose Home/Away splits for his career are pretty striking:
  • Career at GABP: .279 AVG, .352 OBP, .543 SLG, .895 OPS, 64 HRs
  • Career Away: .233 AVG, .307 OBP, .404 SLG, .710 OPS, 39 HRs
I think this is something that will even out a bit over the next few years as Jay continues to learn to hit the ball the other way. He has already had 2 opposite field hits this season after only 15 all of last year.

Some other random thoughts:

  • Remember when everyone thought we should trade for Jair Jurrjens? Welp, he got blown up last night in LA. 4.0 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 0 SO. Last night during the broadcast, Dodgers announcer Vin Scully reported that Jurrjens recorded only 2 (TWO) swing and misses all night. Jurrjens was sent down to AAA after the game.
  • RedsFacts tweeted today that Adam Dunn is OPSing .916 for the season. Dinger Dunn is back.
  • It's been reported that JJ Hoover (who you'll remember the Reds acquired in the Juan Francisco trade from the Braves) has been called up to the major league club. Not sure who he's replacing, at first I thought maybe they were going to DL Bill Bray because he is broken, but that would leave us with no LOOGY in the bullpen. (LOOGY = Lefty One Out GuY) My guess is Alfredo Simon, who for what its worth, hasn't been terrible since his first outing. (Edit: After I wrote this it was confirmed to be Bill Bray)
  • If you're mad that UK is being honored at tonight's Reds game, pour gasoline on yourself and light yourself on fire because I'd rather waste the oxygen combusting your dead corpse than have you continue to breathe it. Oh yeah, and I hate UK.
  • The bigger thing to be angry at is that it's Bark in the Park night at GABP. If you've never been to Bark in the Park and you're a dog lover, you're missing out. If you're like me and you hate dogs, (or more accurately, dog owners) its great to go to the game and watch all the pathetic humans treat their mangy animals like they have souls. Bonus points for guessing which emotional void the dog owner is trying to fill in their lives with the artificial love of a dog.
  • Jon Jay has a separated shoulder per the STL Post-Dispatch. You may remember he injured it on Drew Stubbs' HR on getaway day in St. Louis. Being one of the Cardinals' better hitters so far, this could be a good time for the Reds to make up some games.
  • Lastly, this Rangers fan is awesome (courtesy of the Something Awful Sports Argument Stadium)

Monday, April 23, 2012

It's Only April...

Hello all those out there in Reds country. This is my first attempt at a blog, so by all means feel free to rip me apart the way you've been ripping Willie Harris apart.

Last week drove me nuts listening to Reds fans. Enduring the past few weeks of baseball out of our beloved Redlegs was no doubt difficult, for me included, but the phenomenon known as small sample sizes will save us all from oblivion come October. Its been said all over the blogosphere that we're only 10% into the season. I hear some say "It doesn't matter how early it is, the games all count the same." So which is it? Is it too early to make any definitive claims, or is it justified to be worried, because the games all count the same? Well its a bit of both. A 7-9 stretch (or more accurately, the 5-8 stretch prior to the Cubs series) has never won or lost a championship. Think of it this way: would you freak out if the Reds were chugging along in first place and had a 7-9 stretch prior to the All-Star Break? After reading Reds message boards and tweets all week, the answer is probably still yes, but the point is that it doesn't seem as bad when you have no other stretch to measure it against. So why shouldn't you freak out? Here's why:

  • Small sample sizes, offense: FanGraphs has a great article that breaks down how many plate appearances are required before the sample size is large enough to actually take seriously. Here's the breakdown
      • 50 PA: Swing%
      • 100 PA: Contact Rate
      • 150 PA: Strikeout Rate, Line Drive Rate, Pitches/PA
      • 200 PA: Walk Rate, Ground Ball Rate, GB/FB
      • 250 PA: Fly Ball Rate
      • 300 PA: Home Run Rate, HR/FB
      • 500 PA: OBP, SLG, OPS, 1B Rate, Popup Rate
      • 550 PA: ISO
    • So the Red with the most plate appearances so far is Joey Votto with 72. The rest of the lineup ranges anywhere from 27 PA on up. Two of the offensive metrics that are taken most seriously by serious baseball minds are On Base Percentage (OBP) and Slugging Percentage (SLG). Notice we're still more than 400 PAs away from having an accurate snapshot of what these players can do. That's more than a lot of these part time players will even get this year. It's an eye-opening fact, but it really preaches for us to be patient and not look too much into numbers at this point in the year.
  • BABIP: an acronym you need to know! You remember during the first 10 games or so, you felt like whenever the Reds got a bat on a ball, they hit it directly at somebody? Did you know that there's an actual stat to describe this phenomenon? And it was abnormally low before the Cubs series.
    • BABIP stands for Batting Average on Balls In Play. The statistic ignores any result that does not end with a ball in the field of play. So basically taking out home runs and strikeouts, and counts what percentage of balls that are in play end up being hits.
    • BABIP has a normal range, usually falling somewhere between .290 and .310. Up until the Cubs series, the Reds' team BABIP was hovering around .240, which is abnormally low. That meant that more than likely what seemed like bad luck, may have been just that. Lo and behold, during the Cubs series, balls started falling where they hadn't before, and the Reds have raised their team BABIP to .269, a sign that things should still continue to get better.
    • Big League Stew over at Yahoo! Sports has a great breakdown of BABIP that you can read here.
    • If you want to track the Reds' BABIP from game to game, check out this page on FanGraphs.
  • A few extras for you:
    • Justin over at Redsfacts has a couple cool desktop themes that track the Reds records and results. There's also a bunch of funny memes and facts (some even being written by yours truly) that should make you ROTFL or whatever you young kids are saying these days.
    • Be sure to follow me on Twitter @joeyvottosbat
    • Also, if you'd like to leave a comment with compliments, complaints, or suggestions please do so. This was just a dry run at a blog, and I hope to continue blogging throughout the season. Knowing people like what I write would certainly keep me motivated. See you all at the ballpark tomorrow night!