We know the Reds offense has been struggling all year long. We also know that FanGraphs plus stats make it very easy to compare lots of fun metrics to league average. Just like weighted runs created plus (wRC+), anything less than 100 is below average (good for strikeouts, bad for walks, etc.) and anything greater than 100 above average. Let’s take a look at which players stand out, both good and bad.
BB%+ and K%+
Scott Schebler (remember him?) may have had a short run with the Reds this year but he sure was taking a lot of walks. His BB%+ leads the team by a longshot at 168, well above Tucker Barnhart (136) and Joey Votto (134). Curt Casali and Josh VanMeter are also doing well, both at 126.
The worst culprits who are not taking walks are the usual suspects; Jose Peraza (45) and Jose Iglesias (41) are to be expected with Kyle Farmer (44) also underperforming. Freddy Galvis is down at 34 but is very early in his Reds career and has been excelling at pretty much everything else, so we will cut him some slack there.
Moving on to strikeouts, the five “J”s have all been above average. Josh (VanMeter, 99), Joey (Votto, 95), Jesse (Winker, 72) and both Joses (Peraza – 71, Iglesias 63) may not be lighting the world on fire at the plate, but they are at least striking out less than league average.
Kyle Farmer and Freddy Galvis have been strong underperformers (136) in terms of strikeouts. Farmer will need to improve his plate discipline going forward if he is going to be an above average hitter. Eugenio Suarez is pretty high at 128, with Casali, Barnhart, Dietrich and Aquino rounding out the rest of notables who are above 110. One surprise to me is Aquino with a 106 BB%+ and a 111K%+. The Reds will certainly take those numbers if he can keep harnessing his power like he has.
AVG+ and OBP+
Batting average doesn’t tell the whole story, but there are some interesting stat lines to call out here. Three players have an AVG+ greater than 100 but a wRC+ below 100. They are Jose Iglesias (113, 89), Nick Senzel (101, 92) and Joey Votto (101, 98). Eugenio Suarez (99, 116) and Derek Dietrich (80, 118) fall into the opposite category. This feels about right for Dietrich and Suarez, who have utilized their power to make up for below average contact ability. For Senzel and Votto, the Reds will be hoping they can improve their walk rates and power rather relying on batting average to drive production. Jose Iglesias definitely fits the profile of a high average, low on-base and power guy, which is exactly who he has been for the Reds this year.
OBP+ highlight some of the Reds struggles this year. There are only five players with an OBP+ greater than 110 and they all have relatively small samples. They are Freddy Galvis (133), Michael Lorenzen (120), Aristedes Aquino (116), Phillip Ervin (116) and Josh VanMeter (115). It is no wonder the offense struggled in the first half before these guys started getting playing time. The only full season starters who are above average are Jesse Winker (107), Joey Votto (106) and Eugenio Suarez (102).
On the flip side, none of the regulars are egregiously bad, with Kyle Farmer and Jose Peraza bringing up the rears down at 86 and 87. So while the new/young players are the only ones with good numbers, there are only a few liabilities in terms of getting on base, which is encouraging.
If someone had told me the three Reds players with the highest ISO+ on August 23rd would be Aquino (269), Ryan Lavarnway (236) and Freddy Galvis (166), I really am not sure I would have signed up for this season. Once you look past the small sample sizes though, Dietrich (162), Suarez (142) and Puig (118) make a bit more sense at the top of the list. The frightening numbers are looking at the bottom three regulars, two of which are obviously Iglesias (68) and Peraza (58), but which also includes Votto (79). Votto has clearly struggled at the plate this year and his power outage is a huge reason why. This also makes a case that Iglesias and Peraza can’t/shouldn’t be in the lineup together. Once you add in the pitcher, that is three guys who are not going to hit for much, if any power.
Batting average on balls in play can be attributed to several factors (luck, shifts, etc.) but it does provide some additional insight since we know that extreme numbers are not sustainable. For example, Freddy Galvis’s 182 BABIP+ is driving some of his hot start with the Reds and will eventually cool off as balls stop falling in for hits. Phillip Ervin (136) and Josh VanMeter (122) are two other who are sporting well above average BABIPs, and could be inflating their current numbers a bit.
Dietrich (118 wRC+, 65 BABIP+) and Aquino (194 wRC+, 87 BABIP+) are two Reds who have had good overall success despite well below average BABIPs. They also have two of the lower ground ball rates on the team, which is a big contributor to that. Keeping the ball off the ground is almost guaranteed to improve offensive production, especially when you have power like those two.
GB%+, FB%+ and LD%+
Speaking of ground ball rates, two Reds that have higher than ideal GB%+ are Winker (114) and Senzel (113). Winker makes up for it with a good LD%+ (121) but Senzel is below average in both line drives and fly balls, so from that perspective it makes sense why he has been struggling a bit. On the other hand, Votto has a seemingly strong batted ball profile (113 LD%+ and FB%+, 82 GB%+) but not as productive overall numbers. Still, it is a good sign that Votto is keeping the ball off the ground.
Other players with low GB%+ that have seen better success include Ervin (91), Suarez (88) and VanMeter (85). It is nice to see some younger getting the ball up as much as possible. If they can continue with strong approaches and good contact, there is a good chance some will be key contributors to the offense next year.