Last night the Cincinnati Reds 6-game winning streak came to an end with a loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. It dropped the Reds to 6-2 and now they have just the second best record in baseball, a half-game worse than the 7-2 Los Angeles Dodgers. After not getting the start in center field on Friday, Nick Senzel returned to the lineup on Saturday and he picked up right where he had left off. After starting the season 0-7 with three walks in the first four games, Senzel went 3-4 last night to bring him to 8-13 in the last four games. He also has as many walks in those four games, two, as he has had strikeouts.
The 25-year-old outfielder leads the National League in runs scored with nine. He’s been on base 10 times this season and he’s scored nine runs – that’s got to be coming close to some sort of record, right? He’s currently hitting .400/.520/.500 on the season.
Tucker Barnhart and only hitting left handed
Last season saw Tucker Barnhart make the decision to give up hitting from the right side of the plate. He had always struggled from that side of the plate, dating back to his time in the minor leagues. This year is the first full year he’s only hit from the left side of the plate. So far, so good. Barnhart hasn’t drawn a walk yet this season, but he’s also 9-22 with four doubles and a home run. He’s hitting .409/.435/.727. Against lefties he’s gone 2-3 thus far. Those two hits represent more hits than he had against them last year in 22 trips to the plate.
Mike Moustakas is controlling the zone
For his career, Mike Moustakas has been a guy who has made plenty of contact for a guy with some pop in his bat. His career strikeout rate is 15.9%. But along with his contact rate he’s never been a guy that’s walked that much. It wasn’t until 2019 that he walked over 8% of the time in a single season in his career. In 2019 his walk rate jumped to 9.1%, and then last year it jumped up to 11%.
This season he’s taken both the contact rate and the walk rate to new levels early on. He’s struck out just once this year, good for a 2.9% strikeout rate. He’s also walked seven times, good for a 20.6% walk rate. His outside of the zone swing rate is down at 20.6% – significantly lower than his career rate of 35%. He’s also swinging a lot more in the zone right now. His career zone swing rate is 70.4%, but this year he’s swung at pitches in the zone 81.5% of the time. Interestingly he’s making a lot less contact in the zone when he swings. Small sample size for all of this, of course, but he’s at a 79.5% zone contact rate this season, while he’s been at 88.6% for his career. All said, Moustakas is hitting .360/.500/.600 on the year through 34 plate appearances.
The team as a whole has been handling the strikezone fairly well early on. The Reds have the 6th best strikeout-to-walk ratio in baseball. Only the San Diego Padres have struck out less frequently. Cincinnati’s walk rate so far is middle of the pack as they sit at the 15th spot in baseball with a 9.2% walk rate as a team.
NL Central Standings and Playoff Odds
As we head into play today the Cincinnati Reds are still atop the National League Central at 6-2. Their playoff odds via Fangraphs dropped after their loss, and now they are one again behind the Milwaukee Brewers within in the division in the projected records and playoff odds (by 0.4 games). Sure, it’s the second week of April, but if you can’t have fun watching and following baseball, especially when your team is doing well, what are we doing this for? Let’s look at the standings and playoff odds via Fangraphs.