It’s no secret the Reds offense struggled in April.
Their batting average of .210 ranked last out of 30 teams (.244 league average). The Reds walk-rate was 8.5%, good for 20th out of 30 (9.1% league average). In power, the Reds .166 ISO was 18th (.175 league average). The Reds are 28 out of 30 in average Exit Velocity.
Overall, the Reds were 26th in Runs Created, with a 71 wRC+ (league average 100). That means the Reds offense was 29 percent worse than league average in April.
The main culprit was quality of contact. The statistic xwOBA stands for expected weighted on base average. It measures every ball actually put in play and assigns a linear weight for the expected outcome. It also accounts for walks and strikeouts. If you need a refresher on how xwOBA is built, I broke it down a couple years ago and Statcast has a useful explanation. The statistic measures talent independent of defense and luck.
The Reds xwOBA for April was .285, compared to league average .322. That put them 30th out of 30. Dead Last.
Let’s look at individual Reds players. The first column shows the career wOBA. The second column is wOBA for 2018. The third and fourth columns are from April 2019. wOBA(19) shows the actual outcome of batted balls. xwOBA(19) shows expected outcome. The difference between the last two columns is defense and luck. League average is shown in the bottom row.
- Jesse Winker and Derek Dietrich were a clear cut above the rest.
- Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto were second-tier, roughly at league average.
- Every other Reds hitter was WAY below league average (.322) in offensive performance. Tucker Barnhart, Yasiel Puig and Jose Iglesias were in a third tier.
- The worst hitters were Scott Schebler, Jose Peraza and Matt Kemp who was some kind of awful.
Looking at actual outcomes vs. luck/defense neutral measurements:
- Winker, who had the best actual hitting outcome (.355), actually deserved even better (.381).
- Dietrich, Suarez, Votto, Barnhart, Schebler, Peraza and Kemp basically got what they deserved.
- Yasiel Puig had terrible results (.239), deserved better (.286) but even at that rate was way below his career average (.336).
- Jose Iglesias was lucky. His quality of contact (.279) was right in line with his 2018 (.280) and career (.276) numbers. His actual results (.334) aren’t something we should expect to continue.
- In comparison to career numbers, Joey Votto’s 2019 (.319) was well below last year (.395) and his career number (.406). Yasiel Puig falls into the same category. Matt Kemp was like from a different planet. Jose Peraza (.230) was also substantially below 2018 (.309) and his career (.305).
Can the career numbers tell us anything?
- None of the Reds were significantly above their career performance.
- Winker, Dietrich, Barnhart and Iglesias were close to their career numbers in batting performance.
- Suarez was near his career average, but well below the better-hitting Eugenio Suarez of 2018.
- Votto, Puig, Schebler, Peraza and Kemp were well below their career numbers.
Important things to remember:
- This is only one month of data. Use it to understand what happened. But it’s not a reliable predictor looking forward.
- Using the turn of a calendar page as an endpoint is an arbitrary practice.
- Professional projections (ZiPS, Steamer, Marcel, etc.) that were formulated before the season are still far more reliable for the rest of the season than extrapolating from the first month.
- Age-related decline can be gradual or not-so-gradual.
[You can find more of Steve’s writing at Reds Content Plus.]