In 2009, Chris Heisey was named the Reds minor league player of the year after hitting .314/.379/.521 with 22 HR between AA and AAA (posted a 180 wRC+ at AA, 115 wRC+ at AAA).

Heisey was called up to the Reds in May of 2010, and was used as a backup outfielder and pinch hitter for the remainder of the season.  In 2010, the Reds had outfielders Jay Bruce (124 wRC+), Laynce Nix (114 wRC+), Drew Stubbs (105 wRC+, 3.6 WAR), Jonny Gomes (101 wRC+), and even Jim Edmonds for 13 games.  Despite limited and sporadic playing time, Heisey hit .254/.324/.433 with 8 HR, and 102 wRC+ in 226 PA.

The Reds outfield was a little less crowded in 2011.  Laynce Nix departed in the off-season, and Jonny Gomes struggled and was eventually traded in July.  This gave Heisey a chance to play more regularly, and he sure didn’t disappoint.  Heisey showed impressive power, hitting 18 HR in just 308 PA.  Heisey’s 15.5 AB/HR rate was the 4th best among all NL players with 300+ PA, and his 113 wRC+ was the fourth best on the Reds in 2011.



Going into the 2012 season, it finally looked like Chris Heisey was going to get a shot as the full time LF, but a month before spring training started, the Reds signed Ryan Ludwick.  Heisey was still supposed to be the Reds primary guy in LF, but Ludwick had a surprisingly great offensive season (.275/.346/.531, 26 HR, 134 wRC+) and took over as the Reds everyday LF.  In June, Heisey was able to get 15 starts in CF for the struggling Drew Stubbs, but he had a bad month (.228/.265/.316).  Drew Stubbs got hot for a week in July, and Heisey would only get 33 starts from July-September (0 starts in the five game NLDS).  Despite completely outperforming Drew Stubbs in 2012, Dusty Baker decided to go with Stubbs.  It certainly didn’t help the Reds, as Stubbs reached base just 4 times in 19 PA in the NLDS.



Then came the 2013 season.  The Reds gave Ryan Ludwick a 2-year, $15 million deal following his resurgent 2012 season.  Ludwick got hurt on opening day, and would miss at least half of the season.  It finally looked like Heisey was going to have his first legitimate chance to play everyday, but he strained his hamstring in late April.  He wouldn’t return until June 25th, and could just never get on track offensively.  Heisey finished 2013 with his worst professional season, as he hit .237/.279/.415 with a 89 wRC+ in 244 PA.  The one thing that he did show is that he still had the power he showed in 2011.  After having an AB/HR ratio of 15.5 in 2011, he saw a major drop to 49.6 AB/HR in 2012.  In 2013, his AB/HR was at 24.9 (MLB average was 35.5 in 2013).

The Reds LF and backup CF/RF situation in 2014 has been all over the place.  When healthy, Hamilton and Bruce have started everyday in CF and RF, and rightfully so.  In LF, Ludwick has made 48 starts, while Heisey has made 11, and Schumaker has made 8.

starts in LF

Now, among backup outfield starts at all three positions behind Ludwick, Hamilton, and Bruce has been puzzling.  Heisey has made 23 starts, Schumaker has 20 starts, and Bernadina has 11 starts.  Keep in mind, with injuries and so forth there have been times where these guys have started in the same game, but Schumaker didn’t make his first appearance in 2014 until May 3rd.

backup OF

The recent usage in LF is even more puzzling, as Skip Schumaker has started in 8 of the last 17 games (since June 30).

june 30

Now that you know the playing time given in the Reds OF, let’s compare Heisey, Ludwick, Schumaker, and Bernadina in 2014:


As you see, Ludwick has been hands down the best offensive player (look at OPS and wRC+).  However, you see that Heisey has been worth a full win, and the other players have all been worth a negative amount of wins.  Heisey has been below average offensively in 2014, as he has posted just a 75 wRC+ (100 is average).  We aren’t even halfway through the season though, and we are cautioned not to use small sample sizes to draw conclusions.  Let’s look at the the four players between 2010-2014, when Heisey first reached the majors.



As you see above, Heisey has been worth nearly twice as many wins as Ludwick, and has blown Bernadina and Schumaker out of the water.  The offensive difference between Heisey and Ludwick over the last 4+ years is pretty small too.  Ludwick’s OPS is only 18 points higher than Heisey.  So why is Heisey worth so many wins?  The answer is simple: defense.



The two stats used above, DRS (defensive runs saved) and UZR/150, are the best advanced stats at measuring fielding.  As you see, Heisey is far and away the best fielder.  Defense is an important part of baseball.  Saving a run in the field is just as important at producing a run at the plate.  The best thing about Heisey is that he has dramatically improved defensively since entering the big leagues in 2010.

heisey d

Heisey leads all MLB LF in 2014 in UZR/150 at 70.7, with the next closest player being Alex Gordon at 42.8 (min 100 innings). Among all Reds fielders in 2014, he has the most defensive runs saved (DRS):

Heisey 8
Cozart 7
Hamilton 6
Votto 4

Those are certainly very small sample sizes for defensive numbers, but it does show that Heisey is still playing a high level of defense.


Heisey has proven through over 1200 career PA that he is a below average hitter.  What he has proven is that he is a valuable player, and the Reds best option in LF.  You can make a case that LF isn’t one of the most crucial positions defensively, and Ludwick’s slightly better offensive abilities make him a better option (especially since he has been swinging a hot bat of late).  I would certainly disagree with that however.  I believe Heisey’s overall value in the field, his speed, his power, and that he is much six years younger than Ludwick with more upside would help the Reds win more games over the course of the season.

What there is no debate about is that Heisey is a far superior player to Skip Schumaker, and there is no reason for Schumaker to ever gets starts over Heisey.  Schumaker (who bats left-handed) isn’t even better offensively than Heisey (who bats right-handed) against right-handed pitchers. Schumaker has a .571 OPS against RHP in 2014, while Heisey has a .672 OPS.

There have been two myths about Heisey that should be disposed of:

1) He is only a good pinch hitter.

Career as starter: .250/.305/.417

Career as sub: .253/.308/.456

2) He has had his chances to start

Heisey has NEVER started more than 19 games in a month in his career.  There are only three months in his entire career that he has more than 15 starts.


Here is who Chris Heisey compares to using WAR since 2010 (despite less games and PA):

Heisey compare


Despite limited playing time , Heisey’s 1.0 WAR in 2014 is higher than fellow LF Matt Holliday (0.8), and *gulp* Shin-Soo Choo (0.5).

64 Responses

  1. Frank Bush

    I have said for a long time now that if the Reds ever trade Chris Heisey he will come back to haunt them. He has never been given a legitimate chance. No more then they play him it`s impossible for him to find his hitting groove.

    • Nick Kirby

      I agree. I’m just waiting for a team like the A’s or Rays to trade for him, and we will be kicking ourselves.

      • Jim Reed

        Love your stuff, Nick. Reds need to squeeze the most out of both of them this year and then wave good bye to Ludwick after this year. Sean Marshall is one of the worst deals ever and now he’s on the 60 day DL? I don’t think he’ll ever pitch for the Reds again and Walt Jocketty better not give him another dime!

  2. WVRedlegs

    A perfect example of making stats support the story line. Chris Heisey has no business starting any game in the OF for the Reds. He has had several chances at it and has flopped each time. Heisey with a 6.2 WAR is very laughable. Heisey and Ludwick are similar in that they both make the routine play look extraordinary. Heisey’s stats have seriously deteriorated from the 2011 season. He isn’t getting any better.
    If the Reds were to shop Heisey and advertise him with a 6.2 WAR, they would get sued for false advertising. Get off the Heisey bandwagon. That is a ride that is going nowhere, except below the Mendoza Line.

    • charlottencredsfan

      Yep, the eyeball test kills it for me, he just isn’t a good hitter. Really poor fundamentals at plate. IMO, play the hot hand and Ludwick owns it at the moment. Heisey has fooled me one too many times. As a back-up, he is fine.

    • lwblogger2

      So you don’t think that Heisey is significantly better defensively than either Schumaker or Ludwick? You also claim that given significant playing time, he’d likely hit near the Mendoza line? Sometimes your eyeballs and my eyeballs agree but they don’t in this case. I’m not sure that Heisey is an MLB starter but he is a good 4th OF and he never, ever, really has been given consistent playing time as a starter. 19 starts in a month is the best he’s had. That during a stretch where his hamstring may or may not have still been acting up. Only three months in his entire career, so roughly half a season over his entire career, where he’s been given more than 15 starts in a month. I would stay with the hot hand and hit Ludwick at the moment but Heisey is the best 2nd option at any of the 3 OF positions and Jason certainly has a case the he may be the 1st best option in LF, even if I don’t quite feel the same way.

      • WVRedlegs

        Lawrence, Heisey is hitting .218. He is approaching the Mendoza Line at Mach 2 speed. He hit .226 in May, and through over half of June Heisey is hitting a robust .071.
        I am not disputing him as a 4th/5th OF, pinch-hitter, late inning replacement. Just not a starter. And I am not saying Ludwick or Schumaker is better either. For me, the Reds really don’t have anyone on the 25-man roster I’d run out there as the LF starter every game. Except Mesoraco on days that Pena is the starting catcher. But that is a whole different discussion.

      • lwblogger2

        Yeah, I kind of like the Mesoraco idea, assuming he’d be up for it. It’s not something I’d want to do mid-season though. Have you seen Zimmerman play LF for the Nats yet? Yikes!

      • WVRedlegs

        Maybe that is why Heisey only has “a whopping 14 at bats” in June. Ludwick only has 31 AB’s, but is hitting .419 in June.
        As Bob Uecker would say, “Juuuuust a bit outside” of Heisey’s .079. Heisey only need to look in the mirror for the reason of his predicament in which he finds himself.

      • jdx19

        Oh, if only everyone understood sample size. What a world we would live in! 🙂

    • jdx19

      You do realize it is 6.2 WAR since 2010, right? And you do realize baserunning and defense matter, right?

      So, how is it so laughable that someone suggest a player with VASTLY superior basrunning and defense and only marginally worse hitting would be a decent alternative to Ludwick?

      • Greg Harris

        Your definition and my definition of Marginally must not be the same .220 and .270 are not marginally different. That’s like saying a .300 hitter is marginally better than a .250 hitter. Huge difference, and very uncomparable.

      • Nick Kirby

        Heisey’s OPS is only 18 points lower than Ludwick’s and his AVG is only 3 points lower than Ludwick since 2010.

      • jdx19

        Oh, current year batting average. Great statistic. Especially after a Ludwick hot streak.

      • Greg Harris

        So current BA is irrelevant?…. What about the fact that Heisey CANNOT hit a breaking ball? That have any relevancy?… Heisey is hitting .220 what is the excuse for that? Lets be honest LF has been an open audition for three years now, don’t you think thats plenty of time for a guy like Heisey to take advantage of the situation. He has clearly not impressed anyone but you two. You two would start a .220 hitter over a .270 hitter, you can’t make sense of that.

  3. Scott Carter

    I feel that one of the reasons his BA, OPS is low is that most of time he only gets 1 AB per game. Only a select few excell at coming off the bench cold and hitting. Particularly if they have not been getting any regular ABs. Heisey may never be a great player but he gives it his all every night.

    • sultanofswaff

      I would argue the opposite, that Heisey’s numbers are better than they should be because he has only been used in matchups favorable to him.

      • preacherj

        I agee. Furthermore, since he has most often been the primary right hander off the bench, he tends to be used in situations where he can do the most damage. He’s a great guy to have available, but the 4th oufielder role has his uniform number written on it.

      • preacherj

        I also agree, as well as agee…….

  4. Davis Stuns Goliath

    I still feel bad that Heisey didn’t get a shot in ’12, and who knows whether he would have sunk or swam. Interesting that his “bad” month, though, was in line with Stubbs’ averages. No question based on the #’s that he should have been getting more looks down the stretch and into the playoffs. Was hoping he’d make the most of ’13, but injuries are a pain (insert drum fill).

    A few years back, I took the fam on a day trip to San Diego. We had bleacher seats behind RF, where Heisey started that day. He was initially getting heckled in the usual good-natured visiting team manner, but he made a couple of killer plays early on and the heckling didn’t last long.

    • Eli

      The problem with having the same numbers as Stubbs in his “audition” time in ’12 is that Stubbs was/is considered to be a much better defensive fielder in center than Heisey. I like Heisey, but Ludwick is clearly a better hitter.

  5. Richard Fitch

    Lot’s of fine work here, Nick. I have long felt that Chris Heisey has never gotten a fair chance and have written about it here and other places. You’ve carried my argument a step further with your in depth numbers. They won’t get much traction with some folks because people can’t eyeball test fielding and if they are saber-adverse to begin with, they will merely note that defensive metrics are cloudy and dismiss them out of hand. When you see that injustice done with a great player like Mike Trout whenever the MVP debate cranks up–you can bet folks won’t give the argument for Heisey so much as a sniff.

    That’s too bad. People don’t value defense. We’ve seen that in the outrage over Cozart’s offensive numbers–as if he isn’t contributing on defense as one of the 4 or 5 best defensive shortstops in all of baseball. We give lip service to defense. We ooh and ahh over Brandon Phillips’ prowess with the glove. But, the true value of an exceptional defense behind a pitching staff is never given its do. All people see in the final analysis are offensive numbers–and only the brutish ones at that.

    But, what’s worse, is that the Reds clearly don’t believe in Chris Heisey or they would have given him the job long enough to come to some reasonable conclusions about his total game. They let Jonny Gomes twist in the wind for 3 months in LF, but won’t even put Chris out there for a 6 week tryout.

    Anecdotally, I’ve always believed that Heisey–who never had particularly good plate discipline–was hampered by Baker’s decree that his hitters be aggressive at the plate and look for reasons to swing the bat. This decree may not have affected players like Phillips, who already subscribes to the Swing-Batter-Batter Approach, or to Votto or Bruce, whose jobs were safe, but for young un-established players like Frazier and Heisey, there had to be an inordinate amount of pressure to buy into Baker’s approach to hitting if they wanted to see playing time.

    You look at the work Don Long and Frazier have done together–the rewards it has reaped–and you wonder if that kind of change in plate philosophy could have occurred under Baker.

    And I will always wonder what would happen if they’d put Heisey out in LF and say: the job is yours for awhile. Let’s see what you can do. I wonder if Chris would no longer look over his shoulder and worry about playing time should he go 0-12. To feel free to take the walk and pass the baton to the next hitter, rather than MAKE something happen now because who knows how many days he’ll sit before his next start. I wonder if he’d feel free to experiment with his ABs and find a comfort zone that would allow him to become the hitter we’ve only seen glimpses of.

    But with Ludwick here, that will never happen. Aroldis Chapman is not the only player the Reds have mis-used.

    Free Chris Heisey.

    • lwblogger2

      Some of us, especially live at the game, do have a pretty good eye for defense. I also am statistically inclined but tend to be dismissive of defensive metrics aside from large samples and when defensive metrics agree with each other. Then, if my eye doesn’t agree, I will tend to look for something I may be missing and I may or may not find it. The defensive metrics to me are secondary to my eyes, especially for players I see a lot live. To a good eye, watching games live, Heisey is a plus defender, especially at the corners. He gets very good jumps, takes good routes to the ball, and has enough speed to get to a lot of stuff that other corner OFs, especially LFs don’t get to. His arm is good enough, especially for LF and he throws the ball where he should be throwing it. I think when all the stadiums get the new technology that I think you wrote about, more people may be able to tell just how good of a defensive OF Heisey is. I’m not quite convinced he’s a starter or the best option at the moment, but I do feel he should get a shot at some point, with somebody.

    • gosport474

      Totally agree with what you just wrote. One other thing about Heisey, and I say this as one who tends to the sabr side of the argument, I have never seen him dog it on the field. He always plays hard. I also remember Chris Welsh recently said that Heisey is probably the second fastest player on the team after Billy the Kid. Take that for what it is worth.

      • Davis Stuns Goliath

        The fact that he’s fast makes me wonder why Dusty didn’t use him more. I’m thinking there’s something to Richard’s theory about “being aggressive at the plate.”

        And of course, right on cue, Schumaker gets the start in left tonight.

      • lwblogger2

        Ludwick is hitting right now and is actually, in my opinion, a better LF than Schumaker… Why is Price doing this?

      • charlottencredsfan

        Yes indeed. Why??? Ludwick is smoking hot as I’m not so hot on Bryan Price and this is precisely why (shades of Baker).

    • SrRedFan

      Agree100%with Mr.Fitch. Heisey should be called the”Unknown Ballplayer” because he was not given chance to play, as Stubbs and Ludwick were.

    • preacherj

      I have a great value for defense. I know that a huge part of Heisey’s value comes from the glove. I know he is a plus defender…….because I can eyeball test fielding. I think defensive metrics are cloudy. And I (pretty much) dismiss them out of hand, at least for players which I have a good body of experience observing.

    • Nick Kirby

      Thanks Richard. It is amazing that a team and fan base that appreciates defense so much (with Phillips) hates on Heisey and Cozart. I don’t think Heisey is ever going to get a chance in Cincinnati (borrowing something miraculous). Even if the Reds fall out of contention this year, I’d assume Ludwick would get the majority of the playing time in LF as they will be evaluating whether or not to pick up his option him next season. Even if they do cut Ludwick, I’d guess the Reds will bring someone in for LF next season.

      • Groujo

        They appreciate Phillips’ showmanship and flash, not his defense. Maybe if Heisey dove to catch a few or grabbed a ball between his legs, we’d be praising his “defense”, too. Phillips’ defense is spectacular, to be sure, but not particularly helpful to the bottom line, according to the stats.

    • Daytonnati

      Thank you, Richard. I’ve never felt that Heisey has been given a fair, no-looking-over-your-shoulder, shot. I could be wrong, but I seem to remember Dusty sitting him the night after he homered three times against the Yankees.

  6. Drew

    When it comes to looking at the Reds 40 man roster and who could help and who couldn’t and who is on there and who isnt. Can anyone help me understand the value of these guys?

    Jack Hannahan
    Neftali Soto
    Yorman Rodriguez
    Chad Rogers
    Curtis Partch
    Brett Marshall
    Ismael Guillon
    Daniel Corcino
    Carlos Contreras
    Nick Christiani
    Trevor Bell

    • lwblogger2

      Not sure why Hannahan isn’t on the 60-day DL. If he is, he isn’t currently actually using a spot on the 40-man… Soto has some power and would probably be claimed if exposed. Rodriguez is one of the club’s top OF prospects and would certainly be claimed if removed from the 40-man. Rogers, Partch, Marshall, Corcino, Contreras, Christiani, and Bell are all pitching prospects. The Reds see value in them and Cornino and Contreras both have a lot of potential if they can put it together. Christiani has a really good arm and I think he’ll be a good bullpen hand at some point. Trevor Bell I’m not a big fan of but again, I think a case could be made for him to go on the 60-day DL. The Reds could figure something out to free up a spot on the 40-man if they wanted to add someone. If I were to expose anyone, I’d probably try to trade Soto and if that didn’t work out, I’d probably go ahead and let him walk and get a shot elsewhere.

    • gus0341

      Please add the great Sean Marshall who for the last three years I always hear “oh when they get Sean Marshall back”… he is just awful.

      • CincyTWW

        Three years? This is his third year with the reds. He was very good in 2012 and only pitched 10.1 innings in 2013 (although he put up great numbers in those innings.) So this is the 1st year he’s been bad

  7. Ryan

    I don’t believe in a lot of what dusty baker ever said but one thing I truly believe is “give a bench player 500 at bats and I will show you exactly why he is a bench player”. Heisey is not good enough to play ahead of Schumacher or ludwick. Numbers in this article have been manipulated for the writers argument. You say he doesn’t have enough plate appearances to gauge his abilities, well that works both ways. More at bats maybe be proves he can play or he proves he cant(which is much more likely) and a treat that is in a pennant race can’t just say “oh, you have never gotten a chance lets see what u can do” that is what spring training is for. Play better when u get a chance and maybe be would play more. He has 1 RBI as a starter this season.

    • jdx19

      RBI!!! Finally, a stat that makes perfect sense!

      Cut Heisey now!

  8. Jason

    I have two points:

    1. Ludwick is the better hitter, and the biggest weakness on this team is hitting…especially the ability to get on base and hit situationally. Heisey has shown flashes but, to me, he is an all-or-nothing type of hitter. Ludwick has shown the ability to hit for average and power, and get on base at a better clip. This offense needs more of those guys.

    2. The reds invested more in Ludwick, and those guys will always win the PT when all is said and done.

    • muttonlettucetomato

      I don’t see where Ludwick has more power than Heisey these days… That may have been true in the past but to me Ludwick is not a power bat anymore. If he was, I this team would arguably have a better record, especially when Votto and Bruce were out. That being said, he is having a nice run of it now and I hope he keeps it up.

    • jdx19

      The biggest weakeness is not winning enough games. This is caused by not outscoring the oponent.

      Runs can be saved in the field just as easily as they can be created at the plate.

  9. gosport474

    What this shows is that Reds management wasted money on Ludwick’s last contract. Which I said at the time. They could have had just as good a player in that position with less dollars. And anyone that thinks that Heisey and Ludwick are comparable defensively and at baserunning sure aren’t watching the same games I do. Ludwick is slowwwww.

    • Matt Dalton

      ludwick maybe slow but heisey loses time because he is a terrible baserunner. he has been picked off more than any other red in the last three years and he only plays some of the time

  10. sultanofswaff

    This much I know, Heisey won’t be with the Reds much longer. His production will not justify his arbitration-fueled salary and the Reds will have to cut him loose.

    His ship hasn’t sailed, but it’s leaving the harbor.

    • ohiojimw

      The fact he has fallen out of the rotation in LF after it was declared just underscores this, aside from the fair/ unfair, rightness/ wrongness

  11. Redgamer

    Clearly, Heisey should have played CF in 2012. It probably would have been worth the risk to not resign Ludwick before 2013 and started Heisey in CF and Choo in LF. When this didnt work out, there would have been money for a trade.

    But, right now Heisey is lost at the plate, which may be explained by having the hottest hitter in spring training sit the first 7 days of the season. He really is just a guaranteed weak out for a MLB pitcher.

  12. Nick Kirby

    Thanks for all the feedback and conversation about this post. To those of you who are against playing Heisey more, I would like to see someone make a case for why Schumaker should play over him. Schumaker is starting tonight for the 10th time in the last 18 games (Heisey has stared twice over that stretch).

    • jdx19

      You won’t get a reply, Nick. I think that’s the point, right? 😉

    • TC

      I don’t see Heisey as a starter, but I do think he is better than Shoe and Bernie. I’m not going to make that case. This team has a platoon situation is left. They do not have a starter until Jesse is ready.

      • TC

        Always atleast one typo per reply. That’s how I roll.

  13. gus0341

    How is Cozart a good base runner? I’m sorry but there is a guy that has had his many chances, and his terrible at bats are just demoralizing. Fortunately, Price is at least smart enough to put him 8th instead of leadoff or 2nd like Dusty.

  14. Nick Kirby

    Heisey had great defensive numbers last season too, when he had well below average CF in Choo.

  15. vegastypo

    Just saw the post on Heisey, thanks for doing that. I’ve been a big proponent of seeing what he could do, given a solid block of playing time. Funny, I’m by no means a numbers guy, but I do understand the concept of 19 games being the most he has started in a month. In 2011, Gomes was swinging at pitches in the opposite batter’s box but he was the go-to guy.

    … It’s hard to argue with playing Ludwick while he’s not, but if he struggles or gets hurt, I’d hope for more Heisey than Schumaker. By the way, regarding Schumaker, he can’t go back on flyballs, so he plays deep, and that has allowed some pop flies to turn into singles. I’d think Heisey could have caught those.

    Just my 2 cents, but thanks again for that post.

  16. enigma

    Heisey is not a starter and isn’t that good. When will Reds fans get it through their head? He is a pinch hitter, that’s it.

  17. Eric nyc

    As for debunking the “myth” that Heisey is a better sub than starter, why do you suddenly resort to using just a slash line when the rest of the article relies on advanced stats? As a starter, Heiesy has a wRC+|of something like 90. As a PH it is closer to 110. I have no idea what accounts for that difference, but he has had enough PA’s in his career for those numbers to be relevant. Pretty selective back of the baseball card logic you’re using there.

    • MrRed

      It’s already been suggested in other comments but the difference in wRC+ is that he is being put in more favorable situations and matchups when he pinch hits.

  18. TC

    He’s had his opportunities and blown them. I like Heisey but is seems to do better off the bench. When he starts (other than against the Yankees I guess) he can’t seem to buy a hit. Perhaps if he was given the same rope others have been given (e.g. Hamilton, Stubbs, Taveras, Patterson, Freel) perhaps he would have blown out of the funk he finds himself every single time he’s given a chance.

  19. Vicferrari

    Take out 2011 and I am curious to what those numbers look like. Curious time to make a case for Heisey with Ludwick hitting, curious to use 2014 stats for Shumaker who an OPS around .330 last year by far his lowest since 2006. Probably his best game of the season as a Red last night, To me Heisey has blown his chances but maybe Fitch’s point is valid. Admire sticking up for a player when the conventional eyeballs say he is done.

  20. David Eberly

    This is a good and interesting post — well done.

    My only quibble is that I don’t completely trust the more advanced fielding statistics. I agree that Heisey is a much better fielder than Ludwick. He is a much better baserunner, too.

    What I am skeptical about is whether those differences make up for the offensive difference. Let us face it – we are pretty good at properly evaluating the differences between hitting numbers (I am a true believer in offensive WAR) but UZR and defensive WAR are based upon factors which are less reliable. I am not saying they are “wrong” — just that we are not sure they are perfectly “right” either.

    But the overall conclusion is excellent. Hard to argue against the premise that the 4th OF should “always” be Heisey. Especially in a spacious LF like PNC park.

  21. Chris Garber

    Heisey is 29 years old. He’s most likely past his prime. He’s had almost 1300 PAs at the major league level. He is what he is. A average 4th OF with a good glove.

    I’m not real receptive to arguments that he’s been treated unfairly, and “Free Heisey” is pretty darn ridiculous.

    • ohiojimw

      If they could, what they should put in Baseball Reference for the player most like Chris Heisey is Javier Hernandez, aka Chicharito, of Mexico and Manchester United in international soccer.

      Spotted correctly, both these guys are often valuable game changers; and the work they do in this role generates eye catching stats. Yet when they are consecutive starters, they tend to disappear. Celebrate their skills and success at what they are and don’t try to make them experience shows they aren’t quite.

  22. Eric the Red

    Excellent post. Wherever one comes down on the “Heisey debate”, this is a clear article with plenty of arguments supported by facts. People can disagree about the conclusions, but this post is highly informative and is a credit to the author and the site. Thank you for taking the time.

    I have to admit, while I’m a Heisey fan I’ve kind of understood Price’s idea of starting Schu vs RHP. Maybe I was so happy to see some attempt to unlock more production in LF and some attempt to improve on Ludwick’s defense that I wasn’t digging into the numbers closely enough. You–and watching Schumaker–have convinced me that maybe giving Schu all of those starts isn’t such a great idea.

    I think we can all agree: Schumaker should never face LHP, and Ludwick should never play defense after the 7th in a game the Reds are leading.