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 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!