Something I don’t talk about often is that I don’t really care for writing about baseball during the season. We all have such a tendency to overweight what most recently happened that we forget it’s a marathon and not a sprint. I prefer the offseason for writing. It’s a better time to reflect.

One of the things we all have to be wary of during the offseason is the power of sample size. Many of us – myself included – were worried about Joey Votto recently. But he’s spent the last couple of weeks being Joey Votto again and it seems reports of his demise have been somewhat exaggerated. So it goes.

We aren’t to the halfway mark in the season yet. Votto raised his OPS 71 points in 47 plate appearances. If I take away what seems – eyeballing it – to be his worst week of the season, he’s hitting .262 with a .372 on-base percentage (I don’t have the energy just now to figure his slugging percentage).

But you can’t DO that, you say! You can’t pretend that bad week didn’t happen. And you are correct. I’m not trying to. I’m just pointing out between that and his hot streak how big of a difference a little bit of being good or bad can make at this point in the season.

There are a ton of statistics out there and almost all of them are still in small sample size territory. I hear a lot about ground ball rates and fly ball rates, but those aren’t especially stable from season to season. Never mind month to month. We look at launch angle and exit velocity (which has only just now crossed the 50% threshold – you can account for half of the change you’ve seen in actual change in performance) and we assume they tell us something useful. And maybe they do. But we don’t KNOW, yet. We need years of data that we need to look at all the different ups and downs of a player’s career. We need to learn what’s normal variation and what’s not. We can see changes, but right now, we don’t know how significant these changes are.

I write these columns with a theoretical outlook on how the Reds are doing in terms of becoming a contender. But most of the time, the answer is I don’t know. I’d take Jose Peraza over Derek Dietrich, not because I haven’t loved watching Dietrich hit – he’s so much fun and one of my favorite recent finds – but because history tells me to bet on a 25-year-old coming out of a slump and not a 29-year-old who’s had the best two months of his life by a lot. That might be the wrong call. I don’t know. None of us do. We can guess. We can use the information at hand to make educated guesses but certainty only comes with time.

I think, right now, this is a pretty good baseball team. I think Joey Votto and Yasiel Puig will finish the year with solid numbers for them. I think the pitching staff is for real. I think Eugenio Suarez is gonna get real MVP votes eventually. I think Luis Castillo is gonna get real Cy Young votes this year.

But I don’t know.

10 Responses

  1. Darrin

    Peraza is a solid second baseman, he’s a subpar SS and outfielder.

  2. Joey

    That was a crazy read. I’m surprised that Reds site published this because it kind of shows the disfunction and ineptness of the front office as a whole in this organization. Almost a miracle we got Votto.

    • Doug Gray

      It shows the ineptness of the organization nearly two entire decades ago. Joey Votto was drafted in June of 2002.

  3. Stock

    Puig sucks

    He should be a part time player just like he was in LA. He has had 2.5 months to show us something but he has failed to do so. He is a me first player and that is not good for the team. He should be batting vs. pitchers he matches up with and sitting otherwise. Dave Roberts managed him masterfully in LA. Bell not so much.

    Dietrich should be in the lineup every day a RHP starts for the other team. He has dominated them and I am pretty sure his Road OPS vs. RHP was spectacular while he played for the Marlins.

    Winker should be in the lineup in place of Puig and Dietrich on days they sit. Maybe get more AB than Puig.

    Scooter should be in the lineup vs. RHP when he returns
    Farmer should be in the lineup vs. LHP right now.
    Farmer can spell Votto some days vs LHP and have Gennett start at 2B.

    Those are my 2B

    Peraza and Iglesias should share time at SS. Peraza should get most of the starts.

    Casali should be the #1 catcher. Barnharts Defense has regressed and Casali can hold his own behind the plate.

    Why Casali is not the #1 catcher I don’t know. Why Puig is getting everyday AB I don’t know. What I do know is that Bell is supposed to be a numbers guy. The numbers he is looking at are far different than the ones I am looking at.

    Iglesias complained publically about how Bell was using him in the bullpen early this year. Since then Bell has been using Iglesais like managers treat closers and his ERA is 0.00

    People were critical of Iglesias being upset and telling him to perform. Well used properly the last month he has performed.

  4. Dewey Roberts

    I saw a lot of players come through Pensacola. There were a few good pitchers— Mahle, Lorenzen, and Stephenson. There were just very few position players. I have said for years that the Reds were making a huge mistake in their drafts. They drafted pitchers that never when they should have been drafting position players. The starting pitchers for the Reds include only one farm grown pitcher—Mahle. Castillo and DeScalfani both came in trades. The future of the Reds is not much brighter than the past 20 years in my opinion. The 2010-2013 years don’t look like they will be repeated.

  5. Dave

    Jason, I love the deep understanding of the statistical significance of status at this point (half the change in EV and launch angle). Great read and it drew out a lot of excellent comments. This is what I come to this site for, thanks!

  6. Dave

    I agree with a lot of this, but I think you’re too harsh on ownership this year. Who should we have signed?

    Keuchel or another starter? Our rotation (and our pen, for that matter) has/have been great, even without Wood. Harper is a bad deal now, terrible in years 8-13, and can’t sell under armor in Cincinnati, even for 50 mill a year (he wouldn’t have looked here). Machado, maybe, would’ve been the only good add we missed. We’re second in the league (as of a week or so ago) in run differential. Scooter will replace a cooling Dietrich. The team is solid and this isn’t Ken Griffey, Jr. baseball, where you just trade for all the good guys or sign them (MLB the Show). This team, as Jason said, is a decent playoff contender with a bright future.

  7. Jeff Gangloff

    I get what you’re saying about Votto – but I think it’s time for us to admit that he’s a different player than what he used to be…and I’m not sure that’s necessarily the worst thing in the world.

    Yes, he did start the year poorly and he has played better as of late, but his decrease in power going back to the beginning of last year is something to raise eyebrows over. He had a career low .419 slugging % last year (down a significant .160 points from the year before) and hes on pace to be even lower this year (.379 as of right now). This is over a 162 game season.

    I think Votto still holds a lot of value as an on base/singles and sometimes doubles kind of offensive player and his skill set ages well, but he’s just not the same player he was a couple years ago.

    That’s not a criticism of Joey – it just kind of is what it is. He’s getting older and it happens. We are lucky he’s a good enough player to add value elsewhere, though.

  8. da bear

    You don’t spend up to the penalty point threshold. You spend only as much as is necessary to win. You spend as efficiently as possible regardless. You don’t become successful in any economic sense by overspending, by spending beyond your means, by having your expenditures exceed your revenues.

    The Pittsburgh Pirates have succeeded on the field compared to the Reds the past few years while spending a fraction of the Reds’ budget. They’ve been more efficient.

    The tide is turning for the Reds. Thanks to anti free market rules with respect to younger players the Reds have finally developed or acquired some cost controlled talent that bodes well for the near future. Castillo, Mahle, Garrett, Reed, Stephenson among the pitchers; Senzel, Winker, perhaps Trammel in the field. Add to them shrewd longer term signings such as Suarez & Gray and you have the basis of a team that has potential to compete.

    While the contracts of Votto and R Iglesias aren’t examples of efficiency in spending, both players may still contribute to a winning product.

    Management needs to be smart going forward to augment the base. That means continued bargain basement signings such as J Iglesias, Dietrich, Gennett (pre-arb).

    Most important will be the addition of another solid middle of the lineup bat and another Gray like bang for the buck pitcher to replace Roark next year. They tried to acquire Realmuto. Perhaps Casali is capable on more than a part time basis. A decent hitting outfielder will be a welcome addition.

    This team isn’t far away from contending next year.
    Spending unwisely will undo the opportunity that lies ahead.

  9. Lwblogger2

    Ok, yes, Castellini is making money and so is the rest of the ownership group. What we don’t know is how much? Although I think there is probably room for the payroll to go up without taking a “loss” on the ledger, I don’t think it can rise to the $200+ million you are talking about. Forbes does a fair job of crunching and estimating the numbers for each team and I’m just not seeing that much room in the budget.