[Pinch hitting for Mike Maffie who is back on thesis-defense vacation.]
As of yesterday (not counting last night’s game) the Reds have played 70 of their 162 games. Let’s take a look at how the first-team hitters are doing. These tables are based on their stats compiled through Wednesday night’s game.
- Batting average (AVG)
- Walk-rate (BB%)
- On-base Percentage (OBP)
- Strikeout-rate (K%)
- Isolated Power (ISO)
- Hard-hit Ball Percent (Hard)
- Run Contribution (wRC+) – 100 points is league average
- Batting average on balls in play (BABIP)
- Wins Above Replacement (WAR) – average of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference, includes defense
For each player, here are their 2015 stats, their career stats and the NL average. We’ll go in position number order:
Pena is having a good year by his own career standards. He has dramatically increased his OBP with both components, batting average and walks. He has cut back on strikeouts. PeÃƒÂ±a’s one area of decline is power, as indicated by his ISO and hard-hit ball percentage. For whatever reason, his power is about half of what it was during his career. His power number is lower than Billy Hamilton’s. PeÃƒÂ±a has basically become a slap hitter. You have to think his batting average may be due for a little decline if his BABIP returns to his career norm.
Joey Votto is having a typical healthy Joey Votto season. No apparent age-related decline. If he hadn’tÃ‚Â lost his wallet for a month, Votto’s numbers would be above his career average. I’m feeling pretty good about my pre-season prediction.
As Nick wrote Wednesday, Brandon Phillips is having a good year from the standpoint of batting average but not power. His walk-rate and strikeout-rate are both down, indicating he’s swinging earlier in the count. Phillips’ swing rate is up a little bit, but so is his contact rate. He’s swinging at fewer pitches outside the strike zone. Goes without saying, Phillips’ contribution to scoring runs would improve a lot if he took more walks. Jay Bruce has walked 37 times, Brandon Phillips only 12.Ã‚Â Every walk in 2015 has been worth .687 run.
Post-mortem. Cozart was having the best hitting season of his career when he busted up his Ã‚Â knee. His numbers had improved across the board – batting average, power, plate discipline, strikeouts. And his BABIP indicates it wasn’t luck-based. Cozart’s increase in run contribution was striking. Remember that before he got hurt, Bryan Price had Cozart batting fifth.
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. There was nothing about his 2014 season that indicated we should expect this breakout at age 29. Last year, his home runs were up by 10 but his doubles were down by 7. That hinted at a regression on the long ball number. Yet, he’s almost already matched his 2014 HR and 2B figures – both way up. And with 8 already, Frazier has a shot at stealing 20 bases again. Best of all, his BABIP indicates it isn’t luck. Frazier ÃƒÂ¼ber alles. Oh, and #VoteFrazier.
Byrd has overcome his hoooooooooooorendous April to pull his numbers back into (slightly) positive territory. Instead of comparing his 2015 season to his career, the second line is an average of his last two seasons. That’s because Byrd has radically changed his approach so a comparison to his career numbers isn’t helpful. Remember when Byrd didn’t walk the entire month of April? Well, his BB% is now above league average! And he’s lowered his strikeouts a bit. The BABIP number indicates he’s been pretty unlucky so far, so expect positive developments in his AVG. One big problem – his defense (range, arm) has been so atrocious, it neutralizes his offensive contribution.
It’s becoming pretty obvious that the hoped-for improvement in Billy Hamilton’s offensive contribution hasn’t shown up. He’s basically the same player he was last year. Yes, that’s a on-base percentage of .268. Of the 161 qualified hitters, Hamilton’s OBP is #147. It’s hard to fathom a player with his speed can have a BABIP of .258. His walks haven’t gone up. His strikeouts (and power) have declined a little. One big bright spot is his stolen-base success rate, which has increased from 71% last year to 87.5% this year. His defense remains a strongly positive factor even though his arm-ratings are neutral or negative.
Bruce got off to a bad (unlucky) start but for the past two months he’s achieved well above his career numbers. In April, you could tell from his peripherals (BABIP, hard-hit balls, average fly-ball distance) that he wasn’t going to keep hitting .180 and he didn’t. The line drives started to fall in and a few of the warning track fly balls went over the fence. One big positive sign is that Bruce’s walk-rate is way up at the same time his strikeouts are down. Defensive shifts may prevent Bruce from ever hitting much more than .250, but playing the 3B in right field doesn’t stop walks or extra-base hits. Every one of those 37 walks is .687 of a run.