Thursday, February 19, 2009

Update on the Reds

Dusty Baker was quoted in saying that Brandon Phillips will be batting cleanup this year. I find this problematic for a few reasons.
  1. Does that mean that you will bat Taveras, Bruce, Votto, Phillips? Righty, lefty, lefty, righty? Seriously? I guess it is not that big of a deal, but strategy wise it might be better to break that up a little bit.
  2. You are taking away Phillip's speed. You are forcing him to be a run producer and jamming up the base paths in front of him. Two years ago this was a 30/30 guy and they are trying to turn him into a 35/10 guy. Speed is a rarity in this lineup, don't take away a weapon in this guys arsenal. I saw this guy steal 2nd AND 3rd base in a single play, he just kept going, it was one of the coolest things i have ever witnessed, probably won't see that again.
  3. Good news for Encarnacion, he will get pitches to hit, because anyone would rather pitch to him than Phillips.
I stated in my last blog what the lineup would be if I were the manager, clearly the Reds will not be hiring me anytime soon. I guess it can be said that batting Votto in the 4 hole might be too much pressure on the 2nd year player, but this is a guy who looks more like a run producer to me. Plus it is not like this guy is a 23 year old kid, he is 25 and has a full year in the majors under his belt.

Hope this works.

Let's face it, it is defiantly no worse than batting Adam Dunn leadoff! (True Story)
 Batting 1st    17   15    70    56   16   12   0   0   7   12   11   0   18   3   0   0   0   0    2   0  .214  .371  .589  .961  .161   111 Batting 1st 
That stat line is from Basically what it is saying is that he played 17 games in the leadoff spot and he was HORRIBLE, as anyone would imagine.


Cleveland Andy said...

for the most part, i agree with you on part 3. However, i thought the science experiment of putting Dunn at leadoff was worth it. the most important part of leading off is getting on base, and Dunn had the best OBP by far on that team. he could even steal a few bases. ultimately it wasn't the best scenario, but i give them credit for challenging the status quo.

Moving on the the ghost of spring training present. Batting Phillips 4th would automatically put the Reds in the cellar. yes, for the reasons you mentioned, but keep this in mind too. Cleanup is obviously a power spot in the order. How good is Phillips really when he's trying to hit homeruns?...awful. He's best when hitting line drives in the gaps and setting the table for true power producers. then he lucks himself into 25-30 HRs, which is not meant to be negative. when he focuses on hitting for power, you get what Willie Mays Hayes does...pop ups and push ups.

on to the batting order. i won't give you 1-9 because for the most part, it doesn't matter. however, taveras is a given at leadoff. i would bat Phillips 2nd, Bruce 3rd, and probably Hernandez 4th when starting and Votto 5th (4th when Hernandez doesn't start.

I know you probably don't like seeing Hernandez in the middle of your order, but he's been a middle of the order hitter for years and has the experience to hit in the clutch at that position, at least for the first half of the year. I think relying on Votto or Bruce there would be a big mistake. they'll get here eventually, but it will take time.

PROBLEM: Hernandez will only play probably 4 out of every 5 games, or 5/6 at best...that's a problem because it will screw with the middle of your order on a continual basis. If he batted 7 or 8, no big deal, but in the NL where the bottom of the lineup is a black hole for scoring with the P at 9 (i know...the strategy is awesome!!!!), he'll be a big missing piece on his off days, and could be a momentum killer.

This caps off my come-to-Jesus discussion with you Reds fans. for the record, I'm a Tribe fan first, and a casual Reds fan second (there's no rivalry. let's not kid ourselves). I'm not trash talking or trying to bash the Reds because i hate them...i don't. All i'm giving is my objective opinion based on facts and without fanatical bias. End transmission.

George Herron said...

Dunn batting leadoff was just as bad as batting Phillips cleanup. Batting Dunn lead off will score you one run IF he hits one of those 40 home runs, if he hits it in the 3 or 4 hole you might get a few more.

You are right I DO NOT want Hernandez in the middle of that line up. The highest I could tolerate him is fifth and that is because at this point I think he would be better protection for Votto than Encarnacion.

Cleveland Andy said...

Here is the only question you have to ask yourself about the lineup. what players will scare opposing pitchers? i would guess you would say Phillips, Bruce, and maybe Votto. That's bad. Those guys will get nothing to hit and the production of the offense will be hinged on your marginal players.

I'm a moneyball guy and i dominate fantasy leagues, which doesn't mean that i'm a baseball genius. However it does mean that i'm pretty good at identifying scenarios where players produce.

with this mostly powerless offense, you'll have to rely on 2-3 hits in an inning to score. it's hard to score runs with singles and doubles. with little threat of power, pitchers will be aggressive on the corners and confident that most mistakes won't leave the park. the Reds have many "ifs" that need to go right this year for an above .500 season.

Lastly, allow me to retort about Dunn at leadoff. Despite the Ks, Dunn's OBP was top tier. Since most of his HRs were solo shots, that didn't matter much anyway. And the most important thing for an offense is that the leadoff hitter gets on base...doesn't matter how. it's proven that pitchers' batting avg against is much higher when there are men on base. Dunn's regularity for getting on base could drive that lineup to produce. also, remember that lineup was not the 2009 lineup. the experiment first reared it's head in 2003 (i looked it up). that lineup had the likes of Griffey, Boone, Jose Guillen, LaRue, Casey, and Kearns -- all guys that hit at least 15 HRs that year. add Dunn to that group and you had 7 guys with legitimate power. Dunn could be spared in the middle, especially when you've already stated that he couldn't hit a sac fly. a K means less with no one on base than with guys in scoring position.

I say all that to say this: it was worth a try and it made sense, just like it was worth a try to play Piazza at first base to try and get him more at-bats. ultimately, neither of them worked, but it's good to see thinking that challenges the status quo. If everyone used the same rules to fill out their lineup, we'd have only slap hitter with speed at the top. Guys like Grady Sizemore and Rickey Henderson would never have batted leadoff.

Stay tuned for my next thesis: Pitchers batting 8th.

George Herron said...

I like the idea of pitchers batting 8th, especially in a lineup like the Reds. Bat Harang/Volquez/Arroyo....whoever 8th and bat someone like Dickerson 9th. That way you have two speedsters batting back to back, get more people on base for later in the line up.

You will never convince me that it was a good idea to bat Dunn leadoff. He is a prototypical 4-5 guy. I understand thinking outside the box, and yes if you include the walks his OBP was pretty damn good, but his average and strikeouts prevent him from really being a good leadoff guy. And he proved that when the experiment failed, epically failed!

Cleveland Andy said...

George, i love a spirited debate. quickly until i have another post to read:

1. I'm not trying to convince you it was a good idea to bat Dunn leadoff. he failed, which proved it was a bad idea (for him). what i approve of is trying it. Ks don't matter for leadoff guys. you don't have to be a great hitter for average or a speed demon to be a leadoff just have to get on base. getting on base leads to runs, which is the point of the leadoff man. HRs don't matter either. great middle of the order guys are not just raw power guys, but guys who can hit with RISP. Rob Deer and Mickey Tettleton had tons of power, but were terrible cleanup guys because the sucked with guys on base.

More research: for his career, Dunn is a .225 hitter with men in scoring position and .214 with RISP and 2 outs. there is nothing prototypical about that. that's 25 pts lower than his career batting average. so his chances of driving in runs is awful. I could make a case the Sean Casey was a better 4-hole hitter than Dunn. why waste an at-bat in the middle of your order? why not let him get on base, which IS a strength and letter much more competent hitters drive him in?

Interesting stat: also his batting average sucks HARD with RISP, his OBP actually increases with RISP and even more with RISP and 2 outs. The better idea may have been to hit him 2nd. He has a career .440 OBP with men on and <2 outs. that's ridiculous. Bat him second and more often than not, he'll push the leadoff hitter to at least 2nd with a walk. than you've got 2 on, nobody out with 3,4,5 coming up.

it's unorthodox and weird, but not necessarily crazy. the same logic was used when team would walk Bonds with the bases loaded. on the surface, that makes no sense to just give the other team a free run, but the odds were that more damage would be done if you tried to get him out.

I'll have to think a little more about pitchers batting 8th. I won't go all Bill James on you, but i have to think about the pros and cons more closely. without doubt, that discussion will turn into AL/NL...DH or no DH?

website fodder: it's actually better that we have different, sometimes opposite viewpoints on these issues. that way, readers have to take a side.

I'll also work on my top 10 most hated lists of sports anchors, analysts, and commentators.

George Herron said...

All those point I have already made on Dunn ad nosium. Honestly the guy is terrible. I know he was a shoe in for 100/40/100 and that is nothing to sneeze at, but seriously, as you saw in the stats it was almost a meaningless 100/40/100, if there is such a thing. You are right maybe he was not the prototypical 4-5 guy, but nor was he a leadoff guy.

I do like your thinking of perhaps batting him in the 2 hole. Less pressure to produce runs that way?

What am I saying, I DON'T CARE!!! He is not the Reds problem anymore! I am looking forward to watching the Nationals outfield this year though; Kearns, Miledge, and Dunn. The most under performing outfield ever!

Pitcher batting 8th probably makes more sense in the AL during inter-league play and it also depends on the make up of your team. The Reds the last couple of years would not have been able to pull it off, but I think any team with with a lot of speed like the Dodgers or the Reds this year could pull it off.