I had the pleasure of listening to Marty Brennaman and Jeff Brantley do the Reds vs. Rockies post-game show on the drive home from work Thursday. Towards the end of another long, unsuccessful season, and yet another losing road series this season, I wasn’t surprised to hear a list of complaints of what they thought was ailing this team.

Marty, especially, was very upset with the lack of team hitting with runners in scoring position, stating that they’ve been terrible in that scenario all year, and that they’ve been bad in that scenario for the past 4 to 5 years. The numbers reflect that outside of 2006, the Reds team batting average with runners in scoring position has been very similar to the overall team average.

Year Reds Avg Reds Avg Rank Avg w/no RISP Avg w/RISP w/RISP Rank Runs Per Game NL Rank
2009 0.242 16th 0.242 0.241 15th 15th
2008 0.247 16th 0.249 0.240 16th 12th
2007 0.267 9th 0.268 0.263 12th 7th
2006 0.257 15th 0.262 0.243 16th 10th
2005 0.261 8th 0.263 0.256 11th 1st

It seems to me that the problem has not been the Reds batting average with runners in scoring position, but the Reds hitting in general. Very lackluster, to say the least. So far this season, the Reds are tied for last place in the National League with a .242 batting average. It is true this year that their average with runners in scoring position is just .241, which is 15th in the NL, but that figure is nearly identical to their average without any runners in scoring position.

They aren’t hitting with runners in scoring position AND they are not hitting to put runners into scoring position.

Ironically, the Reds are doing all the things traditionally considered “the little things.” The situational hitting statistics at baseball-reference.com show that they have been above league average in most categories. They’ve been very good at sacrificing hitting, productive outs, and advancing the runner.

  • They’ve made the second most sacrifice attempts in the league this year
  • They’ve made more successful sacrifices than any other team
  • Sacrifice bunt success rate is 75%, which is 4th best in the league
  • Their productive out success rate is 6th in the league
  • The 4th lowest GIDP rate in the league
  • The 6th fewest strikeouts in the league
  • 2nd in the league in advancing a runner on 2B and nobody out
  • They are league average in scoring a runner on 3B and less than two out (50% of the time, which is saying something since they have the league’s worst batting average)

I know many of you prefer to look at newer statistics: OBP, SLG, and OPS of players and teams. And certainly, the Reds rank among the worst in the league in those statistical categories, too. But you don’t need complex statistics or situational statistics to see the primary problem with this team’s offense. With the weak overall hitting, the primary problem is not their batting average with runners in scoring position. It is a significant lack of base runners!

The Reds have had 3,096 base runners this season, which is 15th in the National League. The league average is 3,353 base runners. How can the Reds outscore the competition if they are only putting on base 90% of the runners of the league average team? Batting average with runners in scoring position is a highly irrelevant statistic if there is a scarcity of runners in scoring position.

UPDATE 8:45am: I’ve added 3 columns to the table to illustrate how the Reds have ranked in the National League in Avg, Avg w/RISP, and runs per game. I don’t see any correlation between Avg w/RISP and run production. In fact, the year the Reds led the league in runs, they had the 11th best batting average with runners in scoring position.

59 Responses

  1. Lou Doench

    I like the use of the raw baserunners statistic. It really highlights the disparity in offense the Reds suffer from.

  2. preach

    It’s easy to lead the league in sacrifice bunts when you have your number 2 hitter attempting so many of them.

    That speaks volumes regarding both strategy and personnel.

  3. GRF

    Just outstanding work Greg. Thanks for taking the time and sharing it.

  4. Sultan of Swaff

    Good point Preach, you beat me to it.

  5. Matt WI

    Greg, we needed this info in yesterday’s game thread (though due credit to Steve for posting similar BA RISP numbers at the time)… some of us were pointing out that it’s not lack of fundamentals that fails to bring in the runs, it’s lack of, well, everything you need to score… namely guys that can get on base. Your numbers REALLY show that.

    It’s not necessarily Dusty’s fault that Adam Rosales and Balentien can’t get the bat on the ball or take a walk. It’s kind of Dusty’s fault that they’re in the line-up (which, I’m just picking on yesterday’s game, I know the Reds are in somewhat of a “let’s see what people can do” mode, that’s fine) and it’s kind of Walt’s fault that these are the options Dusty has to work with in the first place.

    Good stuff. How is it that I get the feeling Marty would just shoo someone away if this was brought to his attention?

  6. Matt WI

    All of this is a great example of people complaining about a result they don’t like without being willing to fully examine the antecedents. Sort of like a parent who gets upset when their child misbehaves without thinking about whether the kid is appropriatley clothed, fed, and napped hours before hand. Yelling, “Just be good!” or “Just score runs” doesn’t really solve anything until you see the larger problem.

  7. brublejr

    I posted this yesterday but applies again today:

    Dusty says the team’s biggest problem is that they strikeout too much.


    Ok, the Reds have the 6th lowest SO total of all NL teams. But look at these numbers:

    OBP: 15th .311 – only SF lower
    SLG: 15th .385 – only SD lower
    OPS: 16th .691

    The top 6 teams in OPS:

    The only one of those teams not in a race is MIL and that comes down to their poor pitching. Reversely the only contender in the bottom 6 is SF due to their outstanding pitching.

    As you stated Greg, they simply are not hitting at all in any situation. To go with that, they are not getting on base or hitting for power at all. However, there is NO way that Dusty or Marty would be able to comprehend these statistics. They “go by what their eyes see” to decide what the problem is instead of looking in-depth to what the problem really is for the team…

  8. brublejr

    I find it hard to believe that this franchise can compete until they hire some people in high positions that can look outside the box instead of just looking at things the “old school” way like Dusty and Marty do oh so often. I see Walt looking at things the same way too, they need some new life in a management role explaining why these statistics are important and to find players that will help the team be successful.

  9. broadwaydave

    the bottom line is that dusty baker is a bad fit for this particular bunch of kids. that’s my story and i’m sticking to it.

  10. Dan

    Good points, all. I don’t have much to add — you’ve said it very well.

    I like the quote I heard recently (I forget where) — “Situational hitting is basically just hitting.”

  11. Chris

    Marty, Sheldon, Dusty, and everyone else close to the situation is simply trying to hard to figure out a very easy problem.

    They’re turning over rocks, looking for some magic “little thing” to explain a lousy team.

    But there’s a good reason they call them “big things.” They’re important, but also not easily fixed.

  12. Chris

    Great post Greg, by the way. Someone really should send this to Marty. I actually think he’d find it interesting.

  13. Shawn

    It is about fundamentals. Getting hits and drawing walks are very fundamental.

  14. tseramid

    Given the statistics, it would be hard to say that Marty was wrong in saying that the team has been terrible hitting with RISP. True that this is not the primary reason why the offense has stalled, but when you have trouble getting runners on and into position, in order to be successful, you must be able to drive them in at a high rate. They simply are not doing that.

  15. Joel

    @tseramid: Arizona has scored 77 more runs than the Reds and is batting .238/.335/.391 with RISP compared to the Reds .240/.325/.374. They’re scoring more mainly because they have many more base runners and they don’t waste a lot fewer outs on sacrifice hits. If you want to see how much better the Reds would be with better situational hitting, look at the Astros, who are the only team with fewer overall base runners than the Reds. They are hitting .275/.351/.445 with RISP and have scored just 20 more runs than the Reds. Honestly, I think we’d all much rather have the Diamondbacks offense than the Astros.

  16. Andy

    This has been a tenant of SABR for a while now. Historically speaking, you tend to bat the same in all situations, RiSP or not. Regardless, batting average is a relatively poor indicator of offensive performance. People don’t come up with new statistics like OBP and SLG to be obtuse, its because they’re better metrics.

    I think you stumbled onto this with the 2005 season. If the Reds were only 8th in hitting, how could they be first in runs scored? It’s because they were also 4th in OBP and 1st in SLG and 1st in OPS. They were the best at getting runners on base and advancing them via hit.

    The flaw in Marty’s thinking is that average with RiSP is not highly correlated to scoring runs or winning. The more opportunities you have with runners in scoring position, the more runs you are going to score, regardless of average.

  17. Dan

    @tseramid: You’re right that Marty is right — the team hasn’t hit well with RISP. No one can argue w/ that.

    But in my opinion the thing that’s “off” here about the way Marty (and a lot of people) view it is that they talk about it like it’s a separate skill. “He’s so clutch” or “that guy just isn’t clutch.” “We need guys who are better in the clutch.”

    I really think that is the thinking that is missing the point. Most guys hit just as well with RISP as they do without RISP. I’m sure there are some players who display some sustained differences, but they’re slight. “Clutch hitting” just doesn’t exist as a repeatable skill NEARLY as much as a lot of people think.

    So, while what Marty says is right, I don’t think the solution is “get guys who are better in the clutch” (which I think is basically what Dusty means when he says he wants RBI guys). I think the solution is “get guys who are better hitters, period.”

    I’d be pretty happy if the Martys and Dustys of the world could agree to that.

    (Personally, I’d be happy if the focus were a LOT more on OBP than on RBI’s, as many have pointed out, but I don’t think we’re going to win Marty and Co. over all the way to that thinking just yet…)

  18. Joel

    @Andy: I think one of Marty’s least favorite things is runners left on base. Nothing gets him more frustrated than that. Someone should tell him that the “all time” (for when the numbers are available) single season leader for most runners left on base was the 1976 Reds. You can’t score ’em all, but you will score a lot more if you get more on base.

  19. Dan

    @Joel: WOW! All-time leader? That’s a great stat, Joel. I’d never heard that.

  20. TylerS

    I know Bill James has said in the past that he HATES it when teams try to sacrifice outs to move baserunners. He says its detrimental to a team’s ability to score runs and a team wishing to optimize the amount of runs it scores should avoid sacrificing alltogether. I’ve never heard/seen his reasoning or proofs of those statements, but he has said such things in several books and interviews.

    I realize James isn’t the be-all-end-all in baseball statistical knowledge and game mechanics, but he’s generally been on the mark in his statistical findings in the past.

    Knowing that the Reds are doing so well in categories regarding sacrifices, and knowing that Baker has focused more on small ball moreso than Reds’ managers of the past, AND knowing that teams under Baker have struggled immensely to score runs, really gave me something to think about. (Not trying to bash anyone here, just looking at the situation and asking questions)

  21. CG Hudson

    @Dan: Given that the single largest black eye for Krivsky was the Kearns trade, which looks less and less disastrous in the rear view mirror, perhaps the biggest mistake the organization has made in the last five years was giving up on him too soon? As they say, the fish rots from the head.

  22. Joel

    @Dan: yep, though All Time actually means since 1960. According to the Retrosheet gamelogs, these are the top 5 since 1960:

    Year Tm LOB
    1976 CIN 1328
    1993 DET 1312
    1989 BOS 1308
    2006 BOS 1301
    2007 PHI 1295

    Every one of those teams led their respective league in scoring except for the 2006 Red Sox who were just 6th in the AL at 5.06 R/G.

    Also, the 1975 Reds were 17th all time at 1271 LOB.

  23. preach

    Sacrificing is an important part of the game, when used properly.

    It should only be used when playing for one run, a pitcher is at the plate, and if the hitter has a proficiency at laying one down. Your top of the order guys have rarely been asked to do such things at any point in their lives, so expecting them to be as good as a pitcher or a light hitting middle infielder is ridiculous. I’ve always felt a drag bunt could be much more effective than a straight sacrifice, especially when it often leads to rushed throws or catching a defense flat footed. I am a fan of teams practicing and being willing to show the butcher boy play just to keep those corner infielders off balance. I feel much better about sacrificing when there is a runner who you can put in motion. While I don’t mind a sacrifice, I prefer teams to put on plays like the drag, steal, buther boy, etc. that could lead to bigger and better things with a sacrifice being an acceptable, but not the desirable result. Yeah, I might hit into a few more DP’s my way, but I don’t think that it would be as many as just swinging away with your 8 and 9 hole hitters.

  24. brublejr

    Joel: @Dan: Every one of those teams led their respective league in scoring except for the 2006 Red Sox who were just 6th in the AL at 5.06 R/G.Also, the 1975 Reds were 17th all time at 1271 LOB.

    That is because they had better players and got on base more often; therefore scored more runs and left more on base as well.

  25. Andy

    Just for grins I looked up the Reds NL OPS ranks for the years mentioned above:

    2009 OPS – 16th Runs – 15th
    2008 OPS – 12th Runs – 12th
    2007 OPS – 7th Runs – 7th
    2006 OPS – 7th Runs – 9th
    2005 OPS – 1st Runs – 1st

  26. brublejr

    @preach: I agree, sacrifices are important to the game, especially in the NL. As you stated, most pitchers should sacrifice when needed, but other than that not so much. The only other exception is playing for 1 run late in the game…but even then it depends who is at bat because why give them an out when a ball in the gap might score him from first anyways?

    I think the real reason the Reds have so many sacrifices this year is because Dusty really doesn’t think they are able to score a big inning so he is always playing for that 1 run, hoping the pitching staff shuts out the other team. That all comes down to the players and where they are placed in the lineup (this is on Walt and Dusty on this one).

  27. brublejr

    @Andy: Yes, exactly, yet OBP/SLG/OPS is not important to Reds management.

  28. Greg Dafler

    Those are good numbers, Joel, Andy, & bublejr. Thanks!

    I agree with Marty that the Reds avg w/risp has been bad. They are 15th in the league in that split this year and 16th in the league last year. Their average overall has been bad. They aren’t hitting, period. A team isn’t magically going to be better hitters after a runner reaches 2nd base.

  29. preach

    “That all comes down to the players and where they are placed in the lineup”

    Buy that man a pony.

  30. Jimmy James

    I love this from Red Reporter:

    “With 22 games remaining, Adam Dunn is (again) on pace for just over 40 HRs. Plus ça change ….. The Nationals nearly blew a six-run ninth inning lead after a Matt Stairs grand slam, but with one out and runners on the corners, Ron Villone coaxed a GIDP out of Ryan Howard. A lesser player would’ve struck out there, but Howard is an RBI man.”



  31. Chris Garber

    I wish I could remember who first made the point about clutch hitting: “Show me a guy who’s better in the clutch, and I’ll show you a guy who’s not trying hard enough the other 3 at bats.”

  32. Greg Dafler

    @Chris Garber: That sounds about right. Analyzing clutch hitting also ignores clutch pitching and defense. Does the clutchest player win that battle or do the clutches cancel each other out?

  33. erik

    well done Greg

    I am getting real sick of the lame reasons the management and team analysts come up with for the team losing. The SABR generation has arrived and they continue to blatantly ignore it. I wouldn’t even consider OBP or OPS to be advanced statistics, yet they still can’t seem to grasp them.

  34. tseramid

    I’m not disagreeing with what anyone is saying here. I’m just not going to take what Marty said in that context and blast him for it right now. I did not hear the conversation, so if the question was raised, how is the team hitting with RISP, the answer is atrocious. The fact is that generally speaking the team’s hitting is also atrocious, which seem to go hand in hand with this club.

    Batting .241 in any split as a team in this era is insufficient, although given the Reds inability to get runners in scoring position, we may be dealing with too small a sample size to make a determination. 🙂

  35. Jeff

    What seemingly no one seems to understand is that hitting with RISP is not a skill that one can “improve” at by practicing harder. At least, it is no more a skill than hitting in general. So OF COURSE over the long run, a team’s batting average will be awfully close to its average with RISP. This is not “interesting” in the least. Anyone who thinks batting with RISP is some kind of skill needs to learn how to think.

  36. mike

    this is a great post and thread

    just some more fun info to go along with this

    can you name the Reds must clutch hitter this year?
    didn’t think so.

    and this seasons rough breakdown
    good in the clutch: Gonzo, Hernandez and Gomes
    average in the clutch: Phillips, EE, Balentien, Votto, Rosales and Taveras
    bad in the clutch: Janish, Stubbs, Bruce, Dickerson, Hanigan, and Hairston

    I put absolutely no weight on these # but found it interesting to add it to the conversation

    Votto, Phillips and Gomes have been our most productive hitters and happen to be among the most clutch. Surprise

  37. mike

    tseramid: Batting .241 in any split as a team in this era is insufficient,

    minor nit-pick

    first there are a lot of situations where average is meaningless and OBP/SLG mean a lot more

    second there are a number of split (aka situations) where batting .241 is well above average
    those situations/splits include

    pinch hitting
    a pitcher batting
    0-2 count
    1-2 count
    2-2 count
    runner on 3rd, 2 out
    2 outs, RISP
    hitting in the 9th inning

    if you hit .241 in any of those situations this seasons you’d be better than NL average and in about half those cases 50 points above average

  38. Mr. Redlegs

    All this peripheral statistical yammering and yet, Brennaman is right.

    Reds suck with RISP.

    Runners are in position to score, hit isn’t delivered. Pretty simple.

    Has nothing to do with OBP, has nothing to do with anything else. It’s a singularly focused topic: getting a hit with RISP. Means being clutch. Shortening your swing, if needed. Driving the pitch where it’s delivered, if needed. Putting the ball in play instead of a strikeout, if needed.

    Nothing more, nothing less. Real, live hitters—the good ones, at least—handle an at-bat differently with runners in scoring position or runners on late in the game than they do in other situations. You know this even if you played the game at the junior high level.

    Today the Reds went 2-for-12 with RISP. That stinks. Cost them another game. Been happening all year. That’s what Marty was referencing, and he was right.

  39. Mr. Redlegs

    Uh, OBP, SLG and OPS are not “new” stats.

    Branch Rickey was using OBP as a tool evaluating talent for the Cardinals in the 1930s and it has been a measuring device fairly regularly since the 1960s.

    Slugging percentage has been a fairly popular stat since the big-bat era of the 1950s and commonly used in the old Sporting News annuals, and OPS arrived in 1984, which, incidentally is the year OBP became an “official stat.”

    In fact, Bill James was talking about these measures in his Abstracts. That was 1985. Almost 25 years ago.

  40. RC

    Once more unto the breach…

    OK, I agree that the stats quoted above show that RISP is a useless measurement for team measurements – it all comes out in the wash.

    And I hate the word “clutch” as much as the next guy. It’s a shortcut word that promises more than it can ever deliver.

    But, Ramon Hernandez has a pronounced differential with RISP. Aberration? Regression to the mean just waiting to happen? Maybe, except he did the same thing last year. And the year before that. And the year before that.

    “Not trying hard enough the other three at bats?” Cute. Or maybe he knows where he is in the batting order – maybe he concentrates on putting the ball in play with RISP for the same reason he tries to hit it deep when nobody’s on: because the 7/8/9 hitters most likely ain’t knocking anybody in behind him…

    I’m not really particularly comfortable with that kind of mindreading. But I’m also unconvinced by that very, very SABR idea that RISP is an utterly meaningless stat in every case. I think occasionally y’all accidentally throw a baby or two out with the bathwater.

    Anyway, I mostly agree – RISP is usually a crap stat. Except when it isn’t.

  41. pinson343

    I agree with you about Ramon, I noticed that he’s a different hitter with a runner in scoring position.
    He goes with the pitch more, getting hits to right center field.

    I haven’t heard sabermetrics people say that clutch hitting is a total myth, more that’s it’s overrated because it’s unusual.

  42. pinson343

    Nice work, Greg, and you answered a question I had asked the other day: Where do we stand in terms of scoring a runner on 3B with less than two out, and specifically were we at 50% ? It’s interesting that we’re exactly at 50%. I had bet we were below 50%, I was wrong.

    Watching the Balentien/Rosales display yesterday affected my thinking perhaps.

    I’m not so impressed that we measure high in advancing a runner from 2nd with none out. That’s because Dusty too often sacrifices in that situation. Recently he did it when Arroyo was batting after the sacrifice bunt. I thought from there Dusty was going to be bold and have Arroyo squeeze, instead Arroyo pops out on the first pitch,
    and ultimately the runner was stranded.

  43. brublejr

    @Mr. Redlegs: If a guy can change his swing to work in that situation, why would he not do that ALL the time? If he hits .250 normally, changes his swing to hit .350 with RISP, why in the world would he ever swing like he does without RISP? It makes no sense at all.

    Yes, the team doesn’t hit with RISP, but they don’t hit ever, so why is that a surprise? I don’t think it is that hard to grasp.

  44. mike

    RC: But I’m also unconvinced by that very, very SABR idea that RISP is an utterly meaningless stat in every case.

    just to update stat-heads take on the idea of clutch. Which is somewhat the same as the avg w/RISP

    it is no longer thought that there is no such thing as clutch. It has been understood that some players seem to have short runs (half a year to a year) where they are better in these situations. But there are some problems still. It seems that the idea of clutch does not happen across years or careers and that nothing can seem to predict what direction a players clutch performance might go. Adam Dunn for example was great in the clutch in 2005 and bad in the clutch in 2008. Brandon Phillips was absolutely wretched in the clutch in 2007 (among the worst in baseball among regulars) but was excellent in 2006

    this has some have guessed and I think guess is the right word might have something to do with luck or in more scientific terms, BABIP.

    in other words I don’t think it is an excepted fact that stat-heads don’t believe in clutch.

    but wait, wait….that is NOT what my takeaway from this GREAT post by Greg was.
    it was sure, sure, we are bad in the clutch but we are also just BAD at hitting.
    How many bad hitters (ok a nicer term, low run production hitters) are good in the clutch??? I thought so. How many high run production hitters are good in the clutch? If the Reds get more hitters who produce we WILL be better in the clutch.

  45. Dan

    Mr. Redlegs: All this peripheral statistical yammering and yet, Brennaman is right.Reds suck with RISP.Runners are in position to score, hit isn’t delivered. Pretty simple.

    True, hard to disagree with this.

    The solution, though, is where I think some people have differing opinions.

    I think some would say, the solution is, we need hitters who are more clutch.

    I would say, the solution is, we just need better hitters.

  46. Dan

    By the way, I think there are some players who actually are, on average, a little better in the clutch than not. It’s a repeatable skill for some. I’m not going to say there is no such thing at all as clutch hitters.

    But I think there are not many of these “clutch” guys, and even for the truly “clutch” hitters, the differences (RISP vs. non-RISP) are pretty small.

    For the most part, the way guys hit with RISP is how they hit without RISP.

  47. erik

    Mr. Redlegs: Uh, OBP, SLG and OPS are not “new” stats.Branch Rickey was using OBP as a tool evaluating talent for the Cardinals in the 1930s and it has been a measuring device fairly regularly since the 1960s.Slugging percentage has been a fairly popular stat since the big-bat era of the 1950s and commonly used in the old Sporting News annuals, and OPS arrived in 1984, which, incidentally is the year OBP became an “official stat.”In fact, Bill James was talking about these measures in his Abstracts. That was 1985. Almost 25 years ago.

    I didn’t mean to infer that those are new stats, if you were replying to my comment. I probably should have disjointed the two sentences, since I was more referring to the fact that they don’t even use those simple stats when evaluating players (i.e. Willy Taveras, who’s sh*tty season was no surprise to a lot of us). I wasn’t saying those are SABR stats because they aren’t, I can see why that may have confused you, that is if you were replying to me.

    And sure our RISP stats suck, our hitters suck. We don’t need better run producers, we need better hitters. My argument would be what’s easier to do? Increase the amount of runners in scoring position with players within our price range? or find a “clutch” hitter within our price range? With guys like Votto/Bruce/Rolen/Phillips/Gomes(maybe) I think I’d look to fix the two hole.

  48. broadwaydave

    @brublejr: a hitter with two strikes should always shorten up his swing and try to hit the ball where it’s pitched. the great ones always do. watch jeter sometime. a shortened swing with RISP, specifically a runner on third with less than two out, gives the hitter a greater chance of driving the run in via sac fly or ground ball to the right side of the infield. reds hitters are far too aggressive, especially with two strikes. trying to hit it out of the park all the time when a nice lazy fly ball or soft single into right would do. dusty baker and brook jacoby have not educated these kids how to properly “hit” in the major leagues.

  49. brublejr

    @broadwaydave: That’s all fine and good, but he is a good hitter in any situation. Look at Ichiro for example, he shortens his swing, slaps it where people aren’t, and legs out infield hits. EVERY AB is like this, because he is more successful this way. I don’t disagree that guys should be swinging for the fences with two strikes and runners in scoring position, but to change your swing completely and be able to hit much higher than your average doesn’t make sense.

    For example, my point was that if you have a Paul Janish up (.210 hitter); you cannot expect just because there is RISP that he is magically going to change his swing to become a .300 hitter. He is just a poor hitter in any situation.

  50. GregD

    Mr. Redlegs: All this peripheral statistical yammering and yet, Brennaman is right.Reds suck with RISP.Runners are in position to score, hit isn’t delivered. Pretty simple.Has nothing to do with OBP, has nothing to do with anything else. It’s a singularly focused topic: getting a hit with RISP.

    Brennaman is right that the team sucks in the statistical category AVG w/RISP.

    As many others has said, the problem is that the Reds suck offensively, period. It’s not like they hit in other situations but then fail all of sudden when runners get into scoring position.

  51. Mr. Redlegs

    I didn’t mean to infer that those are new stats, if you were replying to my comment. I probably should have disjointed the two sentences, since I was more referring to the fact that they don’t even use those simple stats when evaluating players (i.e. Willy Taveras, who’s sh*tty season was no surprise to a lot of us).

    Erik, how do you know the Reds don’t use these figures in evaluating talent? Have you heard this from Terry Reynolds or Chris Buckley? The stat community seems to think that player evaluation is as simple as looking at a couple of columns on a spreadsheet.

    Look around, ask around. No team—none, not even Oakland—uses stat evaluations as its sole or even definitive measure. It’s a tool, an element, that fits into the overall evaluation of skill sets. If a team likes a player’s skill sets, his stat line isn’t going to scare them off.

    On Taveras, here’s exactly what the Reds saw: They needed a center field/leadoff type to bridge them two years to get to Stubbs, who, if he didn’t/doesn’t pan out, they know they have to go shopping. But they needed time. They didn’t trust Dickerson’s 4-6 weeks of last year. Taveras would help them defensively and with some speed, which they needed, and any offensive shortcomings like his OBP could be worked on, as suggested by new evaluator Mike Squires, who came from the Rockies.

    To the braintrust, Taveras’ pros overlapped his cons as a stopgap. That’s how they were thinking.

    As for his contract, they gave him the amount ($6.25 mil) over two years what he would have received at arbitration for one year if the Rockies hadn’t non-tendered him. On that level, it looked like a bargain—to the Reds. They reacted too fast. They should have allowed Taveras’ market to play out. And then, perhaps, passed.

  52. broadwaydave

    @Mr. Redlegs: and like so many times before, over and over again, their thinking stunk to the high heavens. that seems to be the point of many of these posts: the reds braintrust is lacking the brains part.

  53. Dan

    @Mr. Redlegs: Taveras made $1.975M in Colorado his last season there. He batted .251/.308/.296 and got non-tendered. If they had offered him arbitration, Colorado probably would’ve been on the hook for a 1-year deal at, I guess, about the same amount, about $2M. (He probably merited a slight decrease in pay, I would think, but I don’t think you can decrease someone’s pay through arbitration by more than 10%. So let’s just say, he’d make about the same.)

    So, in my view, the Reds offered Willy a tad more than he would’ve gotten through arbitration for year 1… and in addition (with Dickerson having been very good for a month, and with former 1st rounder Stubbs starting the year in AAA) guaranteed Willy a SECOND year at about a 75% raise over year 1! Guaranteed it! Coming off .251/.308/.296 with half his games in Coors.

    Now I certainly don’t claim to know what goes into decisions made in an MLB front office. I don’t claim to. I don’t have access. I’m just a dude commenting on a blog.

    But even with my simplistic information, that strikes me as a blatantly stupid move, and I called it that (as did many others) at the time of the signing.

    I’m sure the Reds have tons more information than we do. Tons. And I’m sure they analyze these things long and hard, and considered a lot of things we never did.

    But in the end, they still signed him, for 2 years guaranteed, with a guaranteed built-in 75% raise for year 2, with Dickerson and Stubbs already in the system and as close to ready as they’re going to get (at least by 2010). It’s turned out very badly in this case.

    How can we have faith in the decision-making of this organization? We lowly blog-dudes, with far less information (basically just whatever I can find on baseballreference.com and thebaseballcube.com, in my case), actually do seem to be reaching better conclusions at times (not always, of course, but sometimes) than the Reds are. How can this happen?

    And how can we believe that they’re heading a good direction overall?

  54. erik

    @Mr. Redlegs:
    Fair enough. I probably shouldn’t go as far as saying they don’t look at those stats at all, obviously they do, this isn’t news to me, neither is the A’s not using them all the time. What troubles me is they ignored how poor his basic stats had been over the course of his career. And if they just needed defense in CF then Dickerson would have been fine. Even if his bat struggled, he’s had a fairly good OBP in his minor league career. They could have even played for a Dickerson/Stubbs platoon around the middle of this year if CF def was their primary goal. In my opinion, they overpaid for the SB, when they already had players close to or in the majors with better overall skills. Plus his defensive stats were pretty average when he was in CO (UZR: -4.7, -2.2 in his two years).

    I’m no expert on arbitration hearings, but I also am not sure he would have received 6.25 mil in one. For that to happen you would need similar players to make that much, and while his SB total & Def would have jumped it some, his lack of power, walks, and BA should have negated it heavily. I can’t think of a player like him that is making that kind of money (if you’ve got an example, by all means let me know). Over two years in 2 arb hearings? that might equal out to 6.25, maybe slightly higher. All this is of course opinion, but it didn’t look like much of a deal at the time to me.