In this morning’s post, the case was made that the Reds should look at on-base percentage (OBP), walk-rate (BB%) and isolated power (SO) as three important numbers for judging possible new players.

To provide context for what elite, good, average and poor rates are for those stats, let’s look the numbers for major league baseball in the 2014 season.

146 players had enough plate appearances (500) to qualify for the batting title. That’s about five per team. The tables below break down those 146 players into performance percentiles. Keep in mind these are averages etc. for regular players. There are many more major league players last year who were worse than these who did not make it to 500 at bats. But since the Reds will presumably be looking for a regular LF this winter, it seems most relevant to look at criteria compared to regulars, not all players, from the previous year.

Also, for each statistic, the Cincinnati Reds players who had at least 220 plate appearances are placed in the appropriate category.

First, let’s look at on-base percentage:

OBPTable

Joey Votto is the only Reds player with an elite (defined as top 10 percent) on-base percentage. Devin Mesoraco made the top 20 percent and Todd Frazier’s OBP was well above average for regulars. Other than those three hitters, the team OBP numbers are calamitous. Five of the Reds eleven players were in the bottom ten percent.

Next, let’s look at walk-rates:

BBTable

Votto, again, is the only Reds player in elite territory. In fact, Votto’s 17.3 percent would have led the majors in walk-rate. In 2013, Votto and Shin-Soo Choo placed first and second in walk-rate in the majors. Devin Mesoraco has a good walk-rate and Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier and Frazier are right around major league average. Again the Reds are well-represented in the bottom 20 percent.

Finally, let’s look at isolated power:

ISOtable

Devin Mesoraco’s ISO was elite in 2014. Todd Frazier was next, falling just outside the top 20 percent. The Reds had several hitters in the middle third, mostly toward the top of that group. Once again, five Reds players finished in the bottom 20 percent.

Conclusion

On Friday, we start looking at the available options, beginning with free agents. An ideal package of target numbers appears to be a .330 OBP or better, an 8 percent walk-rate and an ISO above .125. Obviously, you’d be willing to accept a lower ISO if the batter had an extra-high OBP and vice versa. And there are other factors, such as defense and cost, to consider as well.

More discussion of all that on Friday.

24 Responses

  1. WVRedlegs

    I expect Bruce to rebound to an avg. OBP, a little above avg. BB%, and a top-10% ISO next year. Plug Jose Bautista’s numbers into a Reds lineup and one guy could cure most of what ails the Reds offense. He is signed for $14M next year with a team option for 2016 ($14M). He’ll be 34.
    Toronto has a surplus of OF’s, a black hole at 2B and needs pitching.
    Toronto broke out some new red unis this year and Bautista looked awful good in red. And those stats could be even higher hitting behind Votto and having 81 games in the GASP.
    Wishful thinking, yes, but not pie in the sky.

  2. doublenohitter

    On the thank God front…
    Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Reds are expected to decline Jack Hannahan’s $4 million option for next season.
    There’s no official decision yet, but it’s a relatively easy call. Hannahan missed most of 2014 recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and ended up batting .188/.220/.250 over 50 plate appearances. The Reds can buy out the option for $2 million.

    • VaRedsFan

      If true, That’s the 1st good news of the off season. Do the same with Schumaker and the team is already better.

  3. Dale Pearl

    Seems to me the elephant in the room right about now is how well do these guys recover from their 2014 injuries. What are the odds that all of the pitchers and all of the everyday players come back to be at least equal to their abilities prior to injuries? How many major league players >28 ever come back to their expected form after substantial injuries that keep them out of the lineup for 6 weeks or more. Seems like we are all expecting Marshall, Bailey, Bruce, Votto, and Latos to come back to their 2013 form and though I wish and hope that happens I just don’t think the odds are in our favor. I think age is going to play a significant role here. Latos is the youngest so I would think that though his injuries were significant that he has a very good chance of bouncing back to 2013 form. Bailey and Bruce about 50-50 chances since they are at the 28 age window. Votto and Marshall are both over 31 and I see almost no chance of a full bounce back. Just not realistic to expect otherwise. I think Votto can still be very effective, perhaps even an all-star, however, I don’t think that Marshall will be able to endure a full season again.

    • ohiojimw

      I think everyone who follows the team regularly pretty much figures that Marshall is a sunken cost at this point and anything positive they might get from him will be a pleasant surprise.

      Votto will get whatever there is to get out of his body. I find it encouraging that there have been some suggestions of how he might modify his physical batting stance and swing to reduce the strain on his knee but still hit with some power. I don’t think he is too proud or too stubborn to try them if he sees things going south again.

  4. Thegaffer

    Its time for the reds to value more than just defense. You cant have 3 holes in the linueup. While we will of course have hamilton next year, i cant see paying 3 million for cozart to not hit. Also, phillips is going no where but also offers no offense. If we could get an offensive 2B, Brandon could move to SS. He may not like it, but what can he do?

    • Thegaffer

      No matter what, the offense needs to be the priority. Figure out where they play later.

    • ohiojimw

      I doubt that Phillips could play an even average SS at this point given his age and that it is going on a decade since he played the position

      • ohiojimw

        But I do agree very strongly with your premise that they’ve gone too far in the direction of favoring defense over offense.

        Except for the games they managed to steal from the Indians (which in the end went a long way toward dooming the Indians play off hopes), the Reds were hopelessly outgunned versus AL teams, especially in the AL home parks. The same was largely true versus top flight NL competition.

      • Michael Smith

        The numbers do not match up to your assesment of the reds against top flight NL comp. Below is how the reds did against the 5 teams that played in NL playoffs including play in game.

        San Fran: 5-2
        Pitts: 12-7
        Wash: 3-3
        LA: 3-4
        Stl: 7-12
        Total: 30-28

        The reds were very good in limited sample size against the Giants, great against the Pirates, average against the Nationals and Dodgers and were curb stomped by the Cardinals.

  5. droomac

    Among the “other factors” to consider is positional flexibility. I would value an outfielder who can play center and the corners much more than one that plays only the corners (or only LF). I have long liked the idea of having four capable outfielders (with Heisey as the fifth) with three of the four essentially splitting time across CF and LF. However, given Bruce’s problems, I think it is even more important to have depth in the outfield as opposed to just one stud hitter to play LF (assuming that such a player would even be available). Also, any player who fits the offensive bill who could fill in at SS to ensure that Cozart plays no more than 120 games or so would be great as well.

    I am very curious about the targets identified on Friday. I am especially curious about the cost projections among the FAs as well as any trade ideas that you may have. Thanks for the good work, Steve. It is always an interesting read.

  6. redmountain

    I just want someone who gets some hits,walks, homers. The solution at SS and 2nd is Negron. Who knows, he might be the regular SS. In addition, there may be three viable OF available in Louisville next Spring

  7. ohiojimw

    From the tables in the post, I see reason for optimism where Bruce is concerned because in what was considered a disastrous season for him he was in the average range for ISO and BB rate.

    I see reason for caution where Frazier is concerned because in what was supposedly a breakout season, he was very average except for his ISO. He is a solid piece but not nearly in the same class as (a healthy) Votto or Meso. The Reds need to be cognizant of this lest he show up down in the bottom of their similar charts 5 years from now as he plays out a long term big $$ deal much as BP is now.

    • tct

      I think Frazier’s value comes from the fact that he is a pretty well rounded player who is at least average or slightly above average at every facet of the game. He has above average power, average plate discipline, he’s always put up good base running values and this year added some steals to his value, and he has become a really good defender at third. He gives you value at everything he does, and doesn’t hurt you anywhere. That’s a solid player, and those are the kind of players that are often under rated. He’s not as good a hitter as Votto or Meso, obviously, but he doesn’t have to be. He was about twenty percent better than the average hitter this year and that made him close to a five win player.

      • tct

        Also, as it relates to Frazier, the reds have him under control for the next three years at arbitration prices. Those are his age 29-31 seasons. So the reds would probably be smart just to go year to year with him because any extension would start at his age 32 year, which would probably be the start of decline.

      • ohiojimw

        This was my point. He is a lot of the same package Phillips was at the same age, including the popularity with the fans. The Reds have the advantage of the arb years thru his age 31 season. Don’t make the same mistake at the end of his arb time.

  8. GreatRedLegsFan

    That’s salt in the wound…

  9. redsfan06

    Here’s a link to an interesting article from Verducci at SI.com about the similarities between the Giants and the Cardinals. Between them, they have won the last 5 NLCS.

    Later in the column, Verducci questions the importance of seeing a lot of pitches. All 4 remaining playoff teams ranking in the bottom half of baseball in this category.

    http://www.si.com/mlb/2014/10/08/giants-cardinals-orioles-royals-alcs-nlcs

    • VaRedsFan

      Good article. I’ve never been a totally on-board with taking so many pitches. Especially strikes right down the middle. There are good strikes (pitcher’s pitches) and bad strikes. (hanging curves and middle in straight fastballs). Early in the count, I’m fine with taking the good strikes, but it kills me to see takes on the bad ones.

      What it comes down to, is pitch recognition. The Reds seem to be awful at it…taking pitches down the middle, only to swing at balls in the dirt, down and away. It is my opinion that most of them are “guess” hitters. Maybe all MLB players guess at the plate. If that’s the case our guys are just poor guessers.

      I doubt pitch recognition is a skill that can be learned easily. It would have to be instilled into players at the the early minor league level.

    • charlottencredsfan

      Both teams rank near the top in opposite field batting average. Hum, who would have thought that. I’d bet lunch the Reds are either last or 14th. Three words that I think describe that: smart hitting approach.

  10. sultanofswaff

    After the start that Jesse Winker had to the AFL yesterday, I wonder how much he could shift the Red’s thinking with a ridiculous month of hitting.

  11. lwblogger2

    Pitch recognition actually comes before the early minor leagues. You can get slightly better at it with practice as you get older but the ability is inborn and not learned. One of the big keys is being able to wait as long as possible before committing on rather or not to swing. The other big thing is eye-sight.

    • VaRedsFan

      As Joe Morgan said during a game this year in the booth…Hitters need to be geared for the fastball, and adjust to the breaking ball. Drive the ball with an up the middle approach.

      Many of our hitters look competent when the take the ball up the middle and opposite field (Cozart, BP, Bruce, Todd) It baffles me that they don’t make a concerted effort of this approach more often.