Ed: Please welcome Chase Howell to the Redleg Nation family. Chase will be posting occasionally here over the next few months (and maybe more), and we’re glad to have him.
With news coming yesterday that Brandon Phillips may be absent from the line-up (no word on how long yet), there obviously is some panic as to how the team will fare without its two stars. The Pirates are in town this weekend, so to not be at full strength could be detrimental to the RedsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ lead in the division.
The question is, how much of an impact is missing your two best players, and half your infield, going to hurt the scoreboard? For this, we turn to the numbers.
Phillips and Votto have combined this year to produce 25% of the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s runs, 24.2% of the hits, and 26.2% of RBIs. These seem like pretty daunting stats, but think about it for a second. Votto and Phillips produce roughly a quarter of CincyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s offense. Two guys, out of eight (forget the pitcher), produce 25%. All in all, that seems pretty fair.
Now, before anyone becomes alarmed thinking I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see the value Votto and Phillips bring to the club day in and day out, I am in no way discrediting the great season both are having. Votto has the 6th best WAR value in all of baseball, while Phillips has the 5th highest WAR among second-basemen.
What I am trying to say is, the team will survive without the two — temporarily. Cincy has a fairly balanced attack outside of Votto and Phillips, with Todd Frazier, Chris Heisey, Ryan Hanigan, and Drew Stubbs all posting 65+ hits this year. Zack Cozart and Jay Bruce (94 and 88 hits) will have to step up and produce decent numbers for the team to stay at or near the top of the division for the next few weeks.
The best news for the Cincinnati offense, ironically, comes from their mound. The RedsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ hurlers have the second best WAR (13.4) and ERA (3.36) in the National League, and that will likely improve with the arrival of Jonathan Broxton (2.27 ERA). As the pitchers continue to keep the score low, the offensive production of Votto and Phillips will not be as painfully missed.
The point IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m making to Redleg Nation is this: DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t panic. If either player is going to miss at all this year, it is better for them to heal and rehab now than in September/October. The Reds offense can survive, or at least stay afloat, without them for a few weeks. Bruce and Cozart (yes, Cozart) will have to be the go-to guys, but most of the players on this club have all shown this season that they are capable. In reality, the pitchers will be the ones with the greatest burden in Phillips and VottoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s absence, but if the rest of the season has been any indicator, the time for true worry has not yet begun.