Up Next: Cincinnati Reds

Synopsis

The Reds are in disarray, languishing in last place in the NL Central and having already ousted General Manager Wayne Krivsky in favor of former Cardinals' taskmaster Walt Jocketty. Despite the best efforts of manager Dusty Baker, none of the Reds' pitchers have had season-ending arm injuries and the offense is in the middle of the pack in team walks. Not exactly the Elysium that Baker had envisioned when he took over this past offseason, but he least he no longer has to worry about Barry Bonds clogging up the bases all the time. Or, you know, winning baseball games.

Record

NL CENTRAL W L PCT GB HOME ROAD RS RA Streak Last 10
St. Louis 22 14 .611 - 14-7 8-7 166 142 Lost 2 6-4
Chicago Cubs 19 15 .559 2 11-6 8-9 195 151 Lost 1 3-7
Houston 18 16 .529 3 11-5 7-11 162 152 Won 5 6-4
Milwaukee 16 17 .485 4.5 7-6 9-11 144 161 Lost 5 3-7
Pittsburgh 15 19 .441 6 9-7 6-12 171 192 Won 3 6-4
Cincinnati 14 21 .400 7.5 8-9 6-12 146 170 Won 1 4-6

W L RS RA W1 L1 W2 L2 W3 L3
14. 21. 146 170 15.0 20.0 16.3 18.7 17.3 17.7

W1 and L1 are the expected wins and losses based on runs scored and runs allowed.
W2 and L2 are the expected wins and losses based on BP's equivalence runs scored and allowed.
W3 and L3 are similar to W2 and L2 but adjusted for strength of schedule.


Neither their record nor their run differential is impressive, but if we consider equivalence runs scored and allowed (i.e. expected runs based on offensive components like OBP and SLG) and adjust for the strength of the Reds' opponents this year, their computer-ized record is much closer to .500. None of this changes the fact that the Reds have *actually* lost 60% of their games this year, but it might portend a smoother ride in the weeks ahead.

Starting Rotation

Player W L ERA IP H/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 SNLVAR VORP
Aaron Harang 1 5 3.09 55.1 7.81 7.64 2.11 0.81 1.6 14.2
Bronson Arroyo* 1 4 8.63 32.1 13.92 8.07 3.62 2.23 -0.8 (-13.9)
Johnny Cueto* 2 3 5.27 41.0 8.34 9.00 1.76 1.54 0.3 0.4
Edinson Volquez 5 1 1.06 42.1 5.95 11.06 5.10 0.21 2.3 20.7
Matt Belisle* 1 2 6.91 14.1 15.70 4.40 1.26 1.26 -0.2 (-3.9)
Josh Fogg 1 2 9.27 22.1 11.69 6.85 3.22 2.01 -0.5 (-10.7)

* asterisks denote probable starters vs Mets
() parentheses denote negative numbers
italics denote left-handed pitchers


Reds' starters are averaging an absurd 8.48 strikeouts per nine innings. Averaging! For the sake of comparison, Mets starters are averaging 7.01 strikeouts per nine innings, good for fifth in the National League. They have one starter -- Johan Santana at 9.13 -- who is averaging more than Cincinnati's entire rotation. Santana's the only Met starter averaging better than 7.5 whiffs per game, and on a given day whomever the Reds throw out there will strikeout an extra batter on top of that.

Unfortunately, the Reds' starters have the fourth-worst aggregate ERA and have allowed the fourth-most homeruns in the NL.

Aaron Harang is having another nice year, peripheral-wise, even though his record hardly reflects that. His strikeouts are down a bit relative to his recent seasonal numbers, but he is hardly walking anyone and is 1-5 on the season thanks to his offense only scoring 2.76 runs per game.

Rookie Johnny Cueto has struck out exactly a batter per inning and is walking fewer than two every nine innings, leaving him with a remarkable strikeout-to-walk ratio that ranks among the best in the league. Like the rest of the Reds' staff, Cueto has been burned by the long ball, coughing up seven in just 41 innings of work this season. Overall he has been their most well-balanced starter, a fact that belies his pedestrian 5.27 ERA.

Edinson Volquez was the key to the deal that sent Josh Hamilton to the Rangers last offseason, and his statistical profile this season is fascinating. Volquez is leading the National League with a 1.06 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 42.1 innings. He is also fourth in the league in walks (42) and has allowed just one homerun so far. He throws four different pitches: a 93 MPH fastball (57.6%), an 83 MPH slider (7.9%), a 77 MPH curveball (7.7%) and a 77 MPH changeup (26.8%). An expansive repertoire, though the Mets are fortunate to avoid it this series.

Bronson Arroyo has been dreadful this season, but much portion of his struggles can be attributed to horrible luck and a penchant for the longball. Arroyo has a solid strikeout rate and a passable walk rate, though his homerun rate -- 2.23 per nine -- is cartoonishly bad. His .403 BABIP is extraordinarily high, and this is where luck seems to have played a part in his rough go of it. The league average BABIP is around .300, so Arroyo is allowing hits on balls in play about a third more often than the rest of the league. He *is* giving up a lot of line drives, but I would expect both of those to come down over the course of a long season. Of course, his 8.63 ERA isn't the sort of thing that keeps a pitcher in the starting rotation for a whole season. See: Zito, Barry.

Matt Belisle is a 28-year-old righty with good control and a career 92 ERA+. He was handed his spot in the rotation by Josh Fogg and his 9.27 ERA. And that's the story of Matt Belisle.


WPA Top Two
Edinson Volquez, 1.06 WPA
Aaron Harang, 0.70 WPA

WPA Bottom Two
Bronson Arroyo, -1.53 WPA
Josh Fogg, -0.90 WPA

Starting Lineup

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG HR BB SB CS EqA VORP NL Rank
*Paul Bako C 96 .310 .375 .552 4 9 0 1 .290 8.0 6/31
*Joey Votto 1B 105 .302 .362 .583 7 9 1 1 .270 9.8 6/20
Brandon Phillips 2B 143 .276 .315 .493 6 8 5 2 .261 8.5 3/31
Jeff Keppinger SS 142 .292 .336 .392 2 9 2 0 .254 6.5 9/24
Edwin Encarnacion 3B 139 .258 .360 .492 7 19 1 0 .287 8.0 5/18
*Adam Dunn LF 133 .219 .376 .429 6 27 1 0 .272 4.0 9/28
*Corey Patterson CF 105 .200 .260 .421 4 8 5 2 .237 (-0.6) 15/23
*Ken Griffey Jr. RF 142 .244 .317 .378 4 13 0 1 .237 (-2.1) 18/19

* asterisks denote left-handed batters
# pound signs denote switch-hitters
rankings are based on VORP for players with at least 100 PA


Joey Votto was a second-round pick of the Reds back in 2002 and after impressing in limited action last season has been one of the Reds' best hitters this season. His .583 slugging percentage is tenth-best in the National League, and he blasted three of his seven homeruns on Wednesday against the Cubs. He has completely displaced Scott Hatteberg as the Reds' starting first-baseman.

Paul Bako, 36-year-old catcher and a career .237/.309/.326 hitter is hitting .310/.375/.552 this season. He was signed as a free agent after leaving the Orioles following the 2006 season, and will make a million bucks or so this year. The Mets probably could've had him for Lastings Milledge if they had asked really nicely.

Ken Griffey Jr. is stumbling towards 600 career homeruns. He has been mostly miserable at the plate this year, but expect the load to lighten a bit once he hits his milestone. He's not the player he once was, but he was quite good as recently as last season, so unless he pulls a Carlos Delgado there's no reason to believe that he will regress into obsolescence so precipitously.

Former Met Jeff Keppinger has hit pretty well at short for the Reds, though his .254 EqA is nothing to write home about. He had a nice little run last season but still profiles as more of a utility infielder than a starter. That notwithstanding, hHis 6.5 VORP actually places him in the top ten among NL shortstops, so as long as he keeps hitting the Reds could do a whole lot worse.

Adam Dunn is a free agent after this season, but his .219 batting average and .429 slugging are going to be tough sells in left or at first base, the two weakest defensive positions on the diamond and historically the easiest positions at which to find offense. The Mets could very well be buyers at both positions next offseason, and Dunn might be a less expensive (albeit still expensive) alternative to Mark Teixeira.

Despite the low average -- and Jeff Brantley's infamous proclamations of non-clutchiness -- Edwin Encarnacion has turned into one of the better offensive third-basemen in the league. He is drawing walks and hitting for power, which is more than I can say for...

Corey Patterson has a .260 on-base percentage. Try to wrap your head around that.

Brandon Phillips rounds out the starting eight and, despite being allergic to walks, has shown very good power and is one of the best offensive keystoners in the National League. His six homeruns would tie him for the team lead were he on the Mets, and gives him exactly six more homeruns than Luis Castillo will hit in the next four years.


WPA Top Two
Edwin Encarnacion, 0.66 WPA
Joey Votto, 0.45 WPA

WPA Bottom Two
Adam Dunn, -0.53 WPA
Brandon Phillips, -0.47 WPA

Bullpen

Player ERA IP H/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 WXRL VORP
Francisco Cordero 2.08 13.0 6.23 8.31 6.92 0.00 1.243 5.1
*Jeremy Affeldt 3.07 14.2 7.36 11.05 4.91 0.61 0.219 4.2
Jared Burton 4.02 15.2 9.77 12.64 2.87 1.72 -0.189 0.8
Mike Lincoln 3.60 15.0 9.00 5.40 1.20 0.60 0.595 2.4
*Kent Mercker 3.86 11.2 9.26 4.63 5.40 0.77 -0.174 2.3
David Weathers 3.86 9.1 10.61 2.89 7.71 0.00 -0.494 1.9

The Reds have an interesting mix of arms in their 'pen. They have two guys who have struck out more than eleven batters per nine innings -- Jared Burton and Jeremy Affeldt -- and two more who have struck out fewer than five -- the elderly Kent Mercker and David Weathers.

Big-money closer Francisco Cordero has been effective, but he has walked almost seven batters per nine innings, dishing out ten free passes in thirteen innings so far. The Reds have him for four years and $40-something million, so while his 2.08 ERA looks nice now, if he keeps walking the ballpark he could be in big trouble soon. And by "trouble" I mean "bad ERA but still making a poopload of money".


WPA Top Two
Francisco Cordero, 1.05 WPA
Mike Lincoln, 0.37 WPA

WPA Bottom Two
David Weathers, -0.66 WPA
Jared Burton, -0.44 WPA

Bench

Player Pos PA AVG OBP SLG HR BB SB CS EqA VORP
David Ross Bench1 13 .167 .231 .250 0 1 0 0 .153 (-1.1)
#Javier Valentin Bench2 31 .207 .258 .241 0 2 0 0 .163 (-2.0)
Jerry Hairston Bench3 32 .345 .367 .517 1 1 1 1 .260 2.7
*Scott Hatteberg Bench4 47 .128 .255 .179 0 7 0 1 .154 (-5.0)
Ryan Freel Bench5 75 .304 .347 .362 0 5 4 3 .250 1.2

One look at Scott Hatteberg's numbers and it's no wonder Joey Votto is starting at first now. Hatteberg has a great eye at the plate, and could be a nice right-handed complement to Carlos Delgado were he available on the cheap.

Jerry Hairston is off to a great start in extremely limited action. Javier Valentin is Jose Valentin's brother. Ryan Freel runs into walls. David Ross has a boring name.


Managerial Tendencies

Strategy # Times NL Rank
Pinch Hit 55 12/16
Stolen Base Attempts 33 7/16
Sacrifice Bunts 17 2/16

Not listed here: young arms destroyed, guys who bled internally and runs scored on walks.


Key Injuries

Norris Hopper
Alex Gonzalez
X
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