Previously, I took a look at how each individual player fared this season relative to 2017. Today, we will focus on the overall team performance relative to the rest of the National League.

As the Reds sputter towards the finish line of the 2018 season, it may seem like years ago that the offense was playing playoff caliber baseball. Fast forward to the past two weeks and the bats have gone historically silent.

Recency bias aside, the Reds experienced some positives with younger players getting playing time and developing, as well as some negatives through injuries, regression and aging. All teams have to deal with these, so let’s see how the Reds compare to the rest of the league over the course of the full season.

Earlier this year, I posted about how the Reds offense appeared to be rebuilt based on a strong trend of improvements since 2014.While there were some major question marks heading into 2018, such as replacing Cozart’s production and Scooter Gennett’s follow up to his miraculous year, the prospect of adding Jesse Winker and Nick Senzel provided a healthy dose of optimism as well.

Things did not go quite as planned but all-in-all it could certainly have been much worse for the Reds offense. Injuries to Winker and Senzel were not ideal and Joey Votto had a bit of a power outage, none of which helped. But Peraza improved and Scooter kept on hitting and the end result was slightly less production than the team got a year ago.

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The interesting part is not that the Reds took a step backward, but rather they did so despite being better at getting on base. If I knew going into the season the Reds would be 4th in the NL in OBP, I would certainly think they would have landed higher than 8th for OPS. But, that is where we are as the importance of power really rears its head as a drop in slugging and ISO made this club less of a threat at the plate.

Plate discipline was also a bit hit or miss. Despite improving overall OBP, the team’s walk rate rank decreased from 5th to 7th, but strikeout rate improved from 6th to 4th. Again, ISO takes the big hit, falling from 7th to 12th, leading only the Padres, Giants and Marlins.

 

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Digging into this more, it’s hard to find anything conclusive, as the Reds Swing% and Contact% are essentially the same as last year. The biggest change is in HardHit%, which increased significantly, jumping from 29.4% (14th) to 35.7% (8th). It is strange that this did not result in more power for the team but it could mean that the overall approach is sound and the results just were not there.

Although base running does not have near the same importance has actual hitting does, it can provide teams with an extra advantage, all of which add up and can make the difference between October baseball and the off-season. Even with the speedy Billy Hamilton, the Reds are still not getting that edge on the base paths.

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Led by nearly a 50% (59 to 32) drop in stolen bases from Billy, while also getting caught more frequently, the Reds fell to the middle of the pack in the NL. However, their overall BaseRunning Runs rank remained the same, below league average at 11th. Despite Riggleman’s focus on the fundamentals, the data does not show any improvements that were the result of better base running.

That brings us to overall production, which depending on the metric either stayed the same or took a slight step backward.

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Nothing too exciting about this. The offense is certainly not the issue with this team, though it could stand to make another push into the top tier of the league, considering the pitching will need all the help they can get.

There are a fair share of questions and concerns going forward, but while Votto does not have youth on his side almost everyone else does. The team’s lineup was the 3rd youngest in the NL, coming in just over 27 years old. Assuming injury concerns are behind Winker and Senzel, they will continue to help that number. If the young players keep developing and the Reds do not do anything too reckless, one would not have to squint too hard to see a really potent lineup in place for 2019.

17 Responses

  1. doctor

    I agree 2019 offense could be strong, especially if the theoretical OF of Winker/Schebler/Senzel happens/is viable thus remove weak bat of Billy Hamilton. Reds survived with Choo in CF for a year, cant see how Schebler would not be better than that on defense.

    However, as posted by others, its going to come back to pitching. What front line starter can the Reds trade for to fill the gap(the supposedly rejected Bruce/Wheeler trade as a hindsight example) and who among young guns steps up.

  2. BigRedMike

    OBP is important in regards to winning baseball. If you look at the top 14 in MLB in Team OBP, the Reds are the only awful team. The Nationals and Rays are the only non playoff contender.

    To your point, the Reds have the same Team OBP as the Yankees and have scored 122 fewer runs. The Yankees have hit 87 more home runs than the Reds, which is the driving force.

    Votto’s drop in power and very little power in the lineup is an issue in regards to how baseball is played today. The Reds are in a hitting ballpark and have built a small ball team for some reason.

    This is good example of why Hamilton is such an awful fit for the Reds. The Reds essentially have 3 positions of out 9 with no power. Votto’s power drop hurts and very little power in the OF.

    • roger garrett

      OBP is as you said is very important but power especially in GABP is just a must if you want to be a winner in today’s game.Just won’t be able to compete going forward with as you said 3 guys in the order with no power at all.We don’t have a true power hitter to being with but what we do hit are a product of our park.Imagine what a legit power hitter or two would do in the middle of this line up.Taek a guy that hits 20 somewhere else could hit 30 here and a guy that hits 40 could hit 50.Martinez,Davis or Stanton may hit 60 here.Its so tough when visitors come in and just beat us to death with homers.

  3. Scottya

    It’s like a late season “depression” for Reds hitters the last two season’s.

  4. Scott C

    It is amazing that the ISO is down this year, because outside of Votto’s decrease in power and the loss of Cozart across the board the power numbers have been pretty similar. Duvall hit 20 in the first half of the season and the previous two seasons his power numbers tanked. Suarez and Gennett have pretty much combined for same amount of home runs. Haven’t checked the OPS for either but would assume about the same. Schebler due to injuries is down some, Barnhart and Hamilton are not considered home run hitters anyway. And Casali as Tuckers backup was certainly better than anything backing him up last year. So the question is: Is this just a result of fickle statistics or something else? One thing for sure you need both OBP and ISO.

  5. Jim Walker

    I singled them out because they figure to be the 2 highest OBP guys and represent a significant portion of the Reds aggregate on base events.

    It is not their OBP which concerns me, it is the fact it typically takes 3 additional positive events to move them from 1st to home (or 2 to move them from 2nd to home) after they reach unless one of those following positive events is a double or greater.

    I agree that the Reds have a number of guys who are not very good base runners. However I do not believe it is totally about speed. As suggested up this thread, a large portion of it is about reading situations, getting jumps and having the mindset of taking the “extra base”. I recall when Scott Roland came to the Reds in the down side of his career, no longer a speedy runner, that one of the things he prided himself over was instilling the mindset in the team to take the extra base.

    To be clear, a walk is always better than an out but a single is better than a walk; a double better than a single etc. I am NOT saying I’d rather see them make an out chasing bad pitches. I am saying if they can’t take the extra base in the situations I named, that places a greater burden on the offense to score them than if they did take the extra base. Matt highlighted that the Reds were top 5 in OBP but deep on the pack in scoring. The inability to take extra bases almost certainly figures prominently in that.

    As for Hamilton, no argument there. He should have been gone except possibly as a specialty player several yesterdays ago.

    • Jim Walker

      I will modify my statement to it is my belief it typically takes 3 positive events to move Votto from 1st to home because I do not have access to the sequential data to absolutely establish that.
      For my purposes “positive events” include such things as errors, wild pitches, even so called “productive outs”

      I am considering any activity which advances the runner with the inning continuing as a positive event. For example a lead off walk followed by a single which advanced him to 2nd, a DP attempt which resulted in only 1 out and advanced him to 3B and a following Sac fly to score the runner would be 3 positive events to get him from 1st to home. If on the other hand, this runner had gone 1st to 3rd on the single and scored on a completed DP, the cost of scoring him would have still been 2 outs but only also only 2 versus 3 positive events.

      We are going to have to agree to disagree on this unless you have the data to establish my view is incorrect.

  6. doctor

    JREIS, it was more than Reds missing Duvall. Around the same time, both Schebler and Winker got hurt. So a relatively deep lineup got short and offense fell off. Then add in Votto getting drilled in leg as well.

  7. Kettering Reds Fan

    Offering a very difficult to express hypothesis…….and perhaps an uncalculable one to boot:

    (1) Use of shifts continues to increase.
    (2) As the younger Reds gain exposure, shifts are built to contain them.
    (3) The critical assumption is that the shifts are oriented toward containing OBP – converting singles and doubles into outs. After all, if you hit one over everyone’s head over the fence, the shift can has no -direct- outcome.
    (4) The second critical assumption is that Reds’ batters, either on their own initiative, or, as coached, are trying to adapt to the shifts based on OBP as the governing rule.
    (5) And now (drum roll) the question: Do these attempts at adaptation, whether successful or not, disproportionately compromise power generally? This may affect us more than many other teams due to the known GABP reinforcement/selection for home run power.

  8. Scott C

    Both these figures and the ones posted below by WVRedlegs are very helpful in understanding the picture.

  9. Ed

    I agree about the base running. Hamilton has tremendous speed but doesnt read pitchers well. Has not been aggressive at all this yr. Peraza is clueless on bases as is votto. I agree with you on duvall. He had a tremendous rbi rate to his abs. Low average beside. Reds dont situation hit well at all and dont drive in runs in leverage situations. All that being said the reds need starting pitching. They sure the hell cant draft it or develope it. All the stats aside pitching wins championships. The losing culture the reds have is palpable. It starts at the very top. Ownership and front office. Until that changes stop talking about managers and the players hes given. The reds will remain a mess!

  10. roger garrett

    Would be interested to know if there is any data that says how many runs we have scored via the home run?I would suspect it is a very high percentage of our total runs scored.If so it would tell me we have built a small ball lineup which is not good at playing small ball and still relies on the home run to score but doesn’t hit enough in a park known for the wall scraping front row homer.In conclusion we need more power.

  11. Ed

    Hey jim scott rolen was not a speed murchant. He was by far the best bese runner we have had in a long time. Pete rose was another. Votto has terrible base instincts. Peraza is 2nd fast runner on team and is clueless. So good base running is more instinctual than speed. Winker is a single hitting base clogger. Also a bad defender.

    • Jim Walker

      Winker slugged .529 at MLB is 2017. To me that seems enough to overcome his shortcomings in the field and on the basepaths.

      He dropped off to .431 this year. Depending who else is available that may not get the job done. However we don’t really know what was going on with his shoulder much of the time this season. It was reported as “bruised” or some such for a period before the injury which ended his season.

  12. roger garrett

    You are correct and Indy and I have been talking about our lack of power from the beginning.I have never been sold on this line up as being good enough to begin with because of that reason.Two weeks ago we were second in the league in OBP and held that spot for a long time until we fell of the cliff.The game has changed and you better be able to out slug some people and then come playoff time(PLAYOFFS WHAT DO YOU MEAN PLAYOFFS)the game changes and the odds of stringing hits together go down and way down so you better be able to score with one swing.