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Caveat Emperor
05-14-2006, 04:08 AM
I was watching Lieber pitch tonight and noticing how he seemingly refused to move the ball off the plate. He pounded the zone with stirkes and induced contact early in the ABs. When Reds batters tried to take pitches (as Felipe Lopez did in his first two ABs), they quickly found themselves behind on called strikes.

It got me thinking -- the Reds thrive on patience at the plate, and they seem to get all sorts of confused when the opposing pitcher doesn't let them take pitches and work the count. So, I went and picked out the last few losses that've been hung on the Reds with low run totals:

5/13 (0 runs): John Lieber: 0 walks (0 total for the game)
5/5 (1 run) Brandon Webb: 0 walks (0 total)
5/3 (0 runs) Jeff Francis: 1 walk (2 total)
4/22 (0 runs) David Bush: 2 walks (2 total)

The common theme in all these games, especially the last two, are pitchers that pound the zone with strikes and don't let the Reds sit back and remain patient.

Now, how about a couple games where Reds dominated the opposing pitching:

5/10 (9 runs): Livan Hernandez: 4 walks (9 total)
5/7 (9 runs): Orlando Hernandez: 4 walks (5 total)
5/4 (7 runs): Josh Fogg: 5 walks (7 total)
4/23 (11 runs): Doug Davis: 9 walks (13 total)

You want to know the problems with the Reds offense? Look at the number of batters taking free passes vs. the number of batters hacking away early in the count. If opposing pitchers want a blueprint on beating the Reds, it starts with not beating themselves.

The Baumer
05-14-2006, 04:14 AM
The common theme IMO is that the Reds are fouling off the pitches they are supposed to put in play, taking too many strikes, and swinging at low junk in the dirt.

2001MUgrad
05-14-2006, 05:31 AM
Exactly.

The Reds depend on walks to produce runs. When they face pitcher that throw stikes they are doomed. Look at the history this year. When they don't get help they suck.

GAC
05-14-2006, 07:36 AM
Exactly.

The Reds depend on walks to produce runs.

What team doesn't?

Are you contending that they are overly relying on the BB to the detriment of the offense?

So you're saying they need to sacrifice some of that high team OB% for a little more free swinging?

I keep getting all types of mixed signals from this forum.

I hear guys complaining about the Reds swinging at the first pitch (which alot of times is the best pitch), and that they should take a pitch or two (make the pitcher work).

Then I hear they are taking too many pitches.

This offense was on fire in April, and no one could expect them to keep producing runs (around 7/game) like they were. They are a good offense, but just came back to earth somewhat.

Lieber threw a gem at us last night.

The ones who ought to be shaking their heads are the Phillies who couldn't hit Williams, and allowed him to go into the 9th only down 1-0. ;)

traderumor
05-14-2006, 08:05 AM
I agree with what CE said, and I don't think that is a big duh. But it does need to be taken one step further. A pitcher who pounds the zone has been successful when he is also doing the age old pitching success concepts known as keeping the ball on the corners and keeping the ball down.

Where I have seen the Reds failing in such instances is that they fail to make the in-game adjustment to counter the scouting report. A good example is Griffey's hit last night. Lieber dropped a good fastball on him, one that he had success with all night, about knee high on the outside corner. Whereas Lopez, et al were standing there watching that pitch and getting behind in the count, Griffey went with the pitch.

That seems to be the next step in the maturation process of the young hitters--the ability to tailor their approach to take what the pitcher is giving on any given night. Lieber was taking great liberty on the outside corner to get ahead in the count and rarely, if ever, coming inside. So, scootch up a little bit and take it to the opposite field.

Spring~Fields
05-14-2006, 08:57 AM
I just don't think that the Reds hitters are as good as some of their numbers might make them look because they have such a tough time against good pitchers. So their defense and especially pitching will be crucial for them game after game.

RANDY IN INDY
05-14-2006, 09:07 AM
I agree with what CE said, and I don't think that is a big duh. But it does need to be taken one step further. A pitcher who pounds the zone has been successful when he is also doing the age old pitching success concepts known as keeping the ball on the corners and keeping the ball down.

Where I have seen the Reds failing in such instances is that they fail to make the in-game adjustment to counter the scouting report. A good example is Griffey's hit last night. Lieber dropped a good fastball on him, one that he had success with all night, about knee high on the outside corner. Whereas Lopez, et al were standing there watching that pitch and getting behind in the count, Griffey went with the pitch.

That seems to be the next step in the maturation process of the young hitters--the ability to tailor their approach to take what the pitcher is giving on any given night. Lieber was taking great liberty on the outside corner to get ahead in the count and rarely, if ever, coming inside. So, scootch up a little bit and take it to the opposite field.

Really good post, traderumor. The ability to make adjustments during a game or even a particular at bat is what sets a good player and a great player apart. If you see that a particular pitcher is pounding the strike zone, you can't sit there with the bat on your shoulder waiting for him to go deep in the count. It just isn't going to happen, and you'll be walking back to the bat rack. If you approach the next at bat in the same way, you'll probably be on your way to 0-2.

Steve4192
05-14-2006, 09:42 AM
I just don't think that the Reds hitters are as good as some of their numbers might make them look because they have such a tough time against good pitchers.
Everyone has trouble against 'good pitchers'. That is why they are called 'good pitchers'.

GAC
05-14-2006, 09:46 AM
Everyone has trouble against 'good pitchers'. That is why they are called 'good pitchers'.

True. And yet we have beaten some good ones this year too. You can't beat'em all. The offense has days, just like a pitcher will.

smith288
05-14-2006, 10:44 AM
I agree with GAC.

I think the Reds would have destroyed Lieber in April. But this month their bats seem to be a tad slow or just off enough to foul off pitches that makes their eyes look like dollar coins.

Just one of those streaks where the ball looks like a BB rather than a beachball.

PuffyPig
05-14-2006, 11:35 AM
Gee,l we get 10 walks and we put up lota of runs, and get no walks and struggle.

Tell me what team doesn't?

Baserunners means lots of runs, and the converse is true also.

If the ball is put into play. the BIPBA shows us luck plays a large part as to whether or not those balls in play will result in hits or outs. Last night, they resulted in alot of outs. It happens. When a pitcher Lieber is on his game, he'll pitch a very good game.

Tony Cloninger
05-14-2006, 11:41 AM
I am in agreement with traderumor.
The problem is you have a majority of young hitters who are still learning how to do the in game adjusting. They do not seem to be doing a very good job of it still. This has been going on for the last several years...... scary that they are still this good offensively.

Lieber pitched a similiar game in the BB "era"...... where it looked like the hitters could not wait to get out of Chicago. I think Jon threw under 90 pitches in that game.

westofyou
05-14-2006, 11:54 AM
The Reds averaged 1 BB every 7 ab's in April, this month it's been 1 every 9.34 ab's.

Add that to a 20 point drop in batting avaerage and you get less baserunners per game, throw in a 70 point drop in slugging percentage and you get the current situation.

However this is using 1/2 the data of May compared to all April (402 ab's to 850 ab's) The Reds aren't hitting the ball hard or not at someone, less baserunners from walks and diminished BA means less pitchers pitching from the stretch, meaning less pressure on the defense and a net result of less runs per game.. the Reds are first in the league in Runs and are pace for 831.

But their leadoff hitter have to improve on this .233/.354/.288/.642 that's only good for 12th in the league in ops (but 4th in ob%) while the OB is good and prefered, the slugging percentage tells me that it's fueled on walks (1st with 23, 13th in hits, no HR's no 3b's) That has to improve.

Falls City Beer
05-14-2006, 11:57 AM
This is why it was important for this club to get Griffey back--he's an excellent "hard-contact" hitter. No one on this club hits strikes better than Griffey. And yet he's patient enough not to ground out on every strike he sees.

remdog
05-14-2006, 12:19 PM
GAC and Traderumor have pretty much summed it up. Good work guys.

Rem

PuffyPig
05-14-2006, 12:44 PM
GAC and Traderumor have pretty much summed it up. Good work guys.

Rem
I agree also with GAC and Traderumour, and therefore, also with you.:thumbup:

Cyclone792
05-14-2006, 12:58 PM
I was watching Lieber pitch tonight and noticing how he seemingly refused to move the ball off the plate. He pounded the zone with stirkes and induced contact early in the ABs. When Reds batters tried to take pitches (as Felipe Lopez did in his first two ABs), they quickly found themselves behind on called strikes.

Excellent post, CE, and I had the luxury (or misery) of sitting behind the dugout to watch it all. By the sixth inning and seventh inning I pulled my phone out and began taking pictures just in case there was history to be witnessed.

Lieber was just on last night, and there's no other way to describe it. Seemingly everytime I looked up at the scoreboard, Reds hitters were already behind in the count 0-2 or 1-2. He was getting good pitcher's pitches over, locating everything exactly where he wanted and quickly getting ahead. There's not much more you can do about that than commend the opposing pitcher on a fantastic game.

Mario-Rijo
05-14-2006, 01:05 PM
GAC and Traderumor have pretty much summed it up. Good work guys.

Rem

Agreed. I have felt for quite awhile now the same thing, some teams actually have a game plan vs. particular pitchers. I remember when they faced the Rocket for the 1st time they were very patient when it came to not swinging at the ball down in the zone for fear that it would be the splitter and the bottom would obviously drop out. They worked him to death that day for several walks because the ump wasn't calling low strikes due to good 'ole questec. However when they aren't facing a particularly dominant pitcher they seem to take the approach that their usual approach is good enough.

I heard both Welsh and Marty say before the game got underway that Leiber will pound the zone (I frankly didn't recall Leiber being so good at it) and I got to thinking that if that's the case then they should be coming in with the idea of attacking if they get something good to swing at! And then I see that they have no plan except for the usual, I was in disbelief. Of course I understand he is a GB pitcher and you still have to wait for a mistake as much as possible. Then when I saw that Jr. wasn't in the lineup I was furious. Why in the world would JN play Jr. yesterday vs. a young inexpierenced LH when he knew that Leiber would be pitching the following day, if he knew that he was going to sit him one of the 2 days why not vs. Hamels. Very foolish IMO, as is the Red's lack of having a game plan vs. every pitcher they face.

ochre
05-14-2006, 01:44 PM
I remember the first couple of innings last night. All I could think was that the Reds were swinging too early in the count against a guy that thrives on that. They needed to take more pitches last night. They definitely weren't working the count the first few innings like they usually do.

Sure Lieber works the zone well, but that doesn't mean players should chase HIS pitches early in the count.

TeamBoone
05-14-2006, 02:26 PM
The common theme IMO is that the Reds are fouling off the pitches they are supposed to put in play, taking too many strikes, and swinging at low junk in the dirt.

Actually, most of those pitches in the dirt are not junk. And they don't look like junk to the batter either.

In fact, they're very good pitches, designed to fool the batter... and they do.

The Baumer
05-14-2006, 07:38 PM
Actually, most of those pitches in the dirt are not junk. And they don't look like junk to the batter either.

In fact, they're very good pitches, designed to fool the batter... and they do.

Junk as in breaking pitches.

saboforthird
05-14-2006, 09:57 PM
What team doesn't?

Are you contending that they are overly relying on the BB to the detriment of the offense?

So you're saying they need to sacrifice some of that high team OB% for a little more free swinging?

I keep getting all types of mixed signals from this forum.

I hear guys complaining about the Reds swinging at the first pitch (which alot of times is the best pitch), and that they should take a pitch or two (make the pitcher work).

Then I hear they are taking too many pitches.

This offense was on fire in April, and no one could expect them to keep producing runs (around 7/game) like they were. They are a good offense, but just came back to earth somewhat.

Lieber threw a gem at us last night.

The ones who ought to be shaking their heads are the Phillies who couldn't hit Williams, and allowed him to go into the 9th only down 1-0. ;)

I do believe so. You simply can not sit there and rely on walks to drive the offense. Nor can you wait for the perfect strike. If you're not pushing runs across the plate, you EXPAND the strike zone and SWING. Just as a three-point shooter doesn't get out of funks by waiting for Christmas to roll around, they shoot and shoot until they find their rhythm again. Hell, it can't be any worse than taking strike three on a continual basis.

saboforthird
05-14-2006, 10:00 PM
This is why it was important for this club to get Griffey back--he's an excellent "hard-contact" hitter. No one on this club hits strikes better than Griffey. And yet he's patient enough not to ground out on every strike he sees.

Junior is awesome, no doubt. He defies age with that beautiful swing. I was just playing around in the computer room the other day, trying to emulate his swing. I didn't come close. ;) If the other guys can't get on base, though, it's going to be tough trying to win four run ballgames.

GAC
05-14-2006, 10:17 PM
I do believe so. You simply can not sit there and rely on walks to drive the offense. Nor can you wait for the perfect strike. If you're not pushing runs across the plate, you EXPAND the strike zone and SWING. Just as a three-point shooter doesn't get out of funks by waiting for Christmas to roll around, they shoot and shoot until they find their rhythm again. Hell, it can't be any worse than taking strike three on a continual basis.

You take what the pitcher gives you, while also making adjustments. Some of our younger players are still learning this.

I don't think swinging away is what gets you out of slumps; but it can result in some very bad habits.

From watching these last couple of weeks, especially at the top of the order (1 thru 3), it comes down to pitch selection and players making bad decisions. They are swinging at bad pitches and getting behind in the count, which then places them at the pitcher's mercy.

Just my observation.

Betterread
05-14-2006, 10:18 PM
Actually, most of those pitches in the dirt are not junk. And they don't look like junk to the batter either.

In fact, they're very good pitches, designed to fool the batter... and they do.

But there is premium junk and there is just plain old junk..and good hitters don't chase plain junk.

Patrick Bateman
05-14-2006, 10:51 PM
I do believe so. You simply can not sit there and rely on walks to drive the offense. Nor can you wait for the perfect strike. If you're not pushing runs across the plate, you EXPAND the strike zone and SWING.

If you're not hitting the strikes, what makes you thuink you're going to hit the balls?

Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint.

You don't need huge adjustments every game.

If the Reds keep doing what they have been doing, they will be successful.

They've hit the ball harder and more often than the Phillies the last 2 nights. Bat luck resulted in the Phillies scoring more runs. It will eventually average out.

KronoRed
05-14-2006, 11:14 PM
If you expand the strike zone you are going to make the pitchers day, that's what they want you to do.

membengal
05-15-2006, 08:45 AM
After reading this thread and random others after being away from a computer for a few days (and at GABP for Friday and Saturday's debacles), I am amazed at how easy some of the posters here think hitting is...this isn't like playing a game on the Play Station, you don't simply "expand your strike zone". The Reds' approach in working counts is sound. If a pitcher is on and pounding the strike zone, that's going to be a handful for any team in baseball to deal with. Recommending they swing more or better or whatever it is that people think should happen is ludicrous.

This slump, too, shall pass. A good way to extend the slump? Follow half-assed baseball advice from Narron about swinging at pitches out of the strike-zone.

GAC
05-15-2006, 09:02 AM
Stay the course - this offense is gonna come out of it. They'll heat up when the weather heats up.

The problem is - will our pitching still be there? ;)

traderumor
05-15-2006, 09:05 AM
After reading this thread and random others after being away from a computer for a few days (and at GABP for Friday and Saturday's debacles), I am amazed at how easy some of the posters here think hitting is...this isn't like playing a game on the Play Station, you don't simply "expand your strike zone". The Reds' approach in working counts is sound. If a pitcher is on and pounding the strike zone, that's going to be a handful for any team in baseball to deal with. Recommending they swing more or better or whatever it is that people think should happen is ludicrous.

This slump, too, shall pass. A good way to extend the slump? Follow half-assed baseball advice from Narron about swinging at pitches out of the strike-zone.

I'm not sure who "some of the posters" you are referring to are, but I'm not sure the solution of throwing up one's hands and saying "well, the guy is pounding the zone and is on, so we're done" is a solution at all. Yes, the Reds' hitters collectively are excellent at making a pitcher throw strikes and making him pay when he does. In other words, when a bad pitcher is not pitching well or a good pitcher is not pitching well and does not hit good spots, this team makes them pay and puts up impressive numbers.

But, when a bad pitcher or good pitcher is pitching good and hitting their spots, which will encompass a good number of games, I submit that the approach must be tailored to get some guys on base. Adjustments must be made, such as determining to take the guy the other way if he's going to work that outside corner religiously. Sure, some nights, a good pitcher is going to shut down a good offense. Sometimes it can encompass several games ( a "slump"). But, in a game of minor adjustments spelling the difference between success and failure, our young hitters must learn to do so in the face of a pitcher who is pounding the zone. Nothing in that suggestion requires a change in one's overall approach to hitting.

GAC
05-15-2006, 09:18 AM
But we have to be doing something right to be tied for 1st in the NL with a .350 OB%, and 8th overall.

We are tied for 1st in Runs with 196, 4th in RBIs with 180, and in TBs 568.

In fact, when you look at offensive categories, we are in the top 5.

So do we critique this team on what has happened over the last 7-10 days, or over the long haul?

Lets don't pull a "Dave Miley" and get all nervous and panicky. ;)

UPRedsFan
05-15-2006, 10:21 AM
In the 3 game sweep by the Phillies Griffey, Dunn, Kearns and Encarnacion were a combined 5 for 46. It won't be very often that the big 4 will get shut down at the same time like that. I expect they'll rebound this week. Just hope the pitching continues.

membengal
05-15-2006, 10:37 AM
TR, I was summing up from a quick scan of three days of "sky is falling" type posts, and don't feel it is right to call people out.

In general, I think the nature of this board is to over-react (and, actually, perhaps, the nature of fans anywhere) to the good or the bad as it is happening. An off couple of weeks from the offense, which is what this has been, doesn't exactly call for an overhaul (or even a tweak) to their team approach to working counts and getting base. They put plenty of bats on balls against Lieber the other night, it's just that the balls they hit didn't go anywhere with any auhority. They swung early in counts, late in counts, whatever, it didn't matter, he was on his game and hitting his spots. It happens.

They are in a slump. It will end as all slumps do. But I do submit that generally calling for them to "expand the zone", whatever the hell that means, is less than smart advice, wherever it comes from. Hitting is about finding a pitch you can harm, and harming it as much as possible. If they are swinging at whatever, whenever, the result may be fewer strikeouts, which will apparently make some people happy, but it will also be more weak groudouts and pop outs, IMO.

It will sort itself out, and they will hit and hit a lot, like they did earlier in the season, as long as they don't start altering their basic approach.

traderumor
05-15-2006, 11:09 AM
TR, I was summing up from a quick scan of three days of "sky is falling" type posts, and don't feel it is right to call people out.

In general, I think the nature of this board is to over-react (and, actually, perhaps, the nature of fans anywhere) to the good or the bad as it is happening. An off couple of weeks from the offense, which is what this has been, doesn't exactly call for an overhaul (or even a tweak) to their team approach to working counts and getting base. They put plenty of bats on balls against Lieber the other night, it's just that the balls they hit didn't go anywhere with any auhority. They swung early in counts, late in counts, whatever, it didn't matter, he was on his game and hitting his spots. It happens.

They are in a slump. It will end as all slumps do. But I do submit that generally calling for them to "expand the zone", whatever the hell that means, is less than smart advice, wherever it comes from. Hitting is about finding a pitch you can harm, and harming it as much as possible. If they are swinging at whatever, whenever, the result may be fewer strikeouts, which will apparently make some people happy, but it will also be more weak groudouts and pop outs, IMO.

It will sort itself out, and they will hit and hit a lot, like they did earlier in the season, as long as they don't start altering their basic approach.


But the point many of us are raising has nothing to do with this slump. It is to a general trend that I had noticed long before this thread started. If a guy can actually throw quality strikes consistently against the Reds, they are done offensively. I consider that to be a problem that needs some coaching on what to do in such situations since I don't think it is advisable to just write off those games as "one of those nights." It has nothing to do with changing their approach in general, but about attempting to be smart hitters that can be one step ahead of a scouting report.

Honestly, I think your conclusions are missing the point. I would not agree with "expanding the zone" and never suggested a thing (yes, I realize you were not referring specifically to me). I am talking about recognizing what a pitcher is conceding on any given night and attempting to exploit it. An example? The other night, BT showed how the Braves beat up on Dontrelle Willis by taking him the other way. As he continued to stay away on the outer half of the plate, they simply took him to the opposite field. They could dive out over the plate because he would not come inside. They showed Pendleton cheering in the dugout in an obvious response to his hitters taking a dead-on scouting report and executing it. Now, how would doing such a thing require anyone to alter their approach?

membengal
05-15-2006, 11:46 AM
TR, if a guy can throw "quality strikes" against any team, they are usually done. That isn't specific to the Reds.

traderumor
05-15-2006, 12:43 PM
TR, if a guy can throw "quality strikes" against any team, they are usually done. That isn't specific to the Reds.You're dealing in the nebulous "the pitcher was just on." I'm hoping the Reds coaching staff do not take such an approach but attempt to assist their players in helping them to understand how to recognize a pitcher's game plan and make the appropriate adjustments to their gameplan (within their own approach) to counteract that. And if all a pitcher has to do is throw "quality strikes" to shut down another team's offense, then that offense is in a world of hurt.

What you seem to be arguing is that if a pitcher is throwing strikes other than down the middle of the plate, most offensive teams don't have a chance. In other words, the Reds offensive success is dependent on pitchers who cannot throw strikes on a consistent basis, and when they do hit the zone, they are in prime hitting zones. Further, that is common to the success of all offenses in the league.

Some nights, I would agree with you, it still might not matter. But, as I see a trend developing, it will be interesting to see if they simply continue to take the generic approach that you seem to be promoting, and stubbornly saying "this is my approach, and it exposes my weakness, so I'm just going to take my lumps tonight" or to say "ok, within my approach, what can I do to get to this guy." I think that the Reds' best hitters' approaches are flexible enough that they can make game by game adjustments when necessary. And identifying an adjustment to games thrown by a guy like Lieber's outing on Saturday may be the difference between being at or below .500 on the season or being in the race.

Caveat Emperor
05-15-2006, 02:58 PM
In general, I think the nature of this board is to over-react (and, actually, perhaps, the nature of fans anywhere) to the good or the bad as it is happening. An off couple of weeks from the offense, which is what this has been, doesn't exactly call for an overhaul (or even a tweak) to their team approach to working counts and getting base. They put plenty of bats on balls against Lieber the other night, it's just that the balls they hit didn't go anywhere with any auhority. They swung early in counts, late in counts, whatever, it didn't matter, he was on his game and hitting his spots. It happens.

They are in a slump. It will end as all slumps do. But I do submit that generally calling for them to "expand the zone", whatever the hell that means, is less than smart advice, wherever it comes from. Hitting is about finding a pitch you can harm, and harming it as much as possible. If they are swinging at whatever, whenever, the result may be fewer strikeouts, which will apparently make some people happy, but it will also be more weak groudouts and pop outs, IMO.

It will sort itself out, and they will hit and hit a lot, like they did earlier in the season, as long as they don't start altering their basic approach.

My original point in starting the thread was to highlight something I've noticed for the past couple weeks: The Reds do not play well when the opposing pitcher forces them to put a pitch in play. That's not to say the Reds are a poor hitting team -- far from it -- but the Reds seem to play much better when they CHOOSE to put a pitch in play (generally, a hitters count pitch) as opposed to when they're forced to do so due to being down in the count early.

The two best examples I've seen were Brandon Webb and John Lieber; pitchers that pound the zone with low strikes and force you to swing or fall quickly behind in the count. Neither pitcher is going to get down 2-0 and have to come back over the heart of the plate with a fastball, as evidenced by their low walk totals. They completely defy the Reds gameplan, which is to be patient at the plate, wait for hitters pitches, and run pitch counts high to give the starter an early exit.

These pitchers reveal a flaw in Reds hitters, which is that many of them have difficulty covering the entire strike zone. Virtually all of them can burn you when they get "their pitch," but that's true of most big league hitters. The next step for stars like Adam Dunn and Felipe Lopez, as well as emerging stars like Edwin Encarnacion, is to work with coaches to get better at hitting any pitch in the zone as opposed to being forced to take called strikes or swing into low-value contact on a pitch that is in the zone that they don't like. It's not about "expanding the zone" or swinging at balls: it's about improving plate coverage to improve hit quality on pitches in all parts of the strike zone.

That's my observation, at any rate. Feel free to yell, scream, and critique.

Falls City Beer
05-15-2006, 03:01 PM
I see your point, CE. You're looking for the proverbial two-strike hitter. Larkin was your classic two-strike hitter; Griffey as well, IIRC.

PuffyPig
05-15-2006, 03:08 PM
...but the Reds seem to play much better when they CHOOSE to put a pitch in play (generally, a hitters count pitch) as opposed to when they're forced to do so due to being down in the count early.


So, you think that the Red's hitters do better when they swing at hitters counts vs. pitchers counts?

I can't imagine you would find anyone on this planet who wouldn't agree with that.

And for the record, all hitter do better when hitting in favourable counts.

It's why successful pitchers try and get ahead of hitters on the first pitch. And it's why sometimes a hitter has to go up there with the thought of hitting the first pitch, as it might be the best one he gets.

lollipopcurve
05-15-2006, 03:15 PM
to get better at hitting any pitch in the zone

Bit of a holy grail. Some guys have better plate coverage than others, just like some pitchers have better control than others. If a pitcher is hitting corners with all his pitches and moving the ball up and down well, he's going to be effective, partly because those pitches are harder to hit and partly because it's harder to predict them coming. Good pitching beats good hitting.

I agree that teams may have decided it's best to pound the zone against the Reds. Get strike one. That's what advance scouting is for. Look at Oakland's offense, famous for working walks. They're about 10th out of 14 in the AL with a team OBP of .327. My guess is that the league knows those hitters like to see pitches, so pitchers attack the strike zone and get ahead in the count. The pitchers may end up throwing a high number of pitches/hitter, but they're likely trading that for outs. Pitchers, if they execute, control the ballgame.

RedsManRick
05-15-2006, 03:20 PM
I'm curious, what is our team BABIP during this slump? Last night we had multiple balls die at the wall, a few stung but right at people. What happens when a pitcher pounds the strike zone is that BABIP variability and contact rate plays a greater role.

Dunn, Kearns, and EE are solid plate discipline (not swinging at balls) but average contact (hit when you swing) type guys. When they face a guy like a Lieber or Radke, there's more variability.

The one thing Casey added to our lineup that we sort of have with Hatteberg is the guy who can consistently put the ball in play when the pitcher hammers the zone. As it is, this team is geared to kill bad pitching through power and discipline and be very streaky against good pitching. That amounts to a very good offense overall, but one that is liable to suffer through a few dead periods. We don't have any Sorianos or Vlads. While you don't want to watch strike 2 because it's not a perfect ball for you to hit, you also don't want to swing at ball 3 just because you haven't see a better pitch.

At the end of the day, the offense isn't the problem. If we can simply get the pitching we've been getting, the wins will come.

harangatang
05-15-2006, 03:23 PM
I think what we've been seeing with the lack of walks leading to a shutdown of the offense is why the Reds have have been trying to teach this to our pitching staff. Unforunately in years past the Reds have had horrible pitchers which make the system look bad. With a little more talent now in the Reds pitching we are starting to see results as they are improving. The Phillies are showing the pound the strike zone is very effective but you have to have at least some talent in the pitching department.

Cyclone792
05-15-2006, 03:25 PM
Take this for what it's worth ...

In 2005, the National League average OPS for hitters in a two-strike count was .544. Here's the career numbers for Reds hitters, plus other notables (obviously the league average OPS with two strikes over several seasons isn't exactly .544, but it's a good ballpark point of reference).

All stats are pre 2006 and do not include this season's totals:


OPS with two-strikes
Player OPS

Barry Bonds .775
Albert Pujols .812
Alex Rodriguez .703
Frank Thomas .702
Jeff Bagwell .722
Bobby Abreu .703
Brian Giles .722
Vladimir Guerrero .693

Adam Dunn .586
Austin Kearns .538
Ken Griffey, Jr. .663
Felipe Lopez .561
Ryan Freel .598
Scott Hatteberg .570
Edwin Encarnacion .495
Rich Aurilia .603
Jason LaRue .479
Javier Valentin .531

Sean Casey .635
Wily Mo Pena .410

2005 AL Average .564
2005 NL Average .544

westofyou
05-15-2006, 03:26 PM
The one thing Casey added to our lineup that we sort of have with Hatteberg is the guy who can consistently put the ball in play when the pitcher hammers the zone.

Yep, thats' why the Reds didn't chase Carlos Pena, that's why they dumped Branyan... that's why they like Aurilia. In a perfect world I like to see a couple of BA driven guys in a lineup, guys that might hit less HR's and strike out less. They tend to be streaky though and often their approach doesn't favor taking walk too often. That's all fine and dandy as long as they don't end up paying out the nose for it. Otherwise you might end up with a Adrian Beltre season (.255/.303/.413) for 12 million bucks.

And that hurts.

Caveat Emperor
05-15-2006, 03:29 PM
I see your point, CE. You're looking for the proverbial two-strike hitter. Larkin was your classic two-strike hitter; Griffey as well, IIRC.

Yes and No. I'm not looking for the guy that can hit in pitchers counts (admittedly, that would always be nice to have), I'm just looking for the team to get a little bit better on ANY count (0-0 to 3-2) at recognizing what a pitcher's gameplan is and making the adjustment at the plate to counter it. If the pitcher isn't going to throw a hitter a pitch that he likes, the hitter has to do something at the plate to create quality contact. Good plate discipline helps this, which the Reds already have...good plate coverage is the next step. I suspect, although I'm not certain, this is something that will come with age and experience for a lot of the Reds hitters.

And yeah, it is a bit of a Holy Grail of hitting...but for a team that's already beyond patient at the plate, it's the next step logical step in their development.

Cyclone792
05-15-2006, 03:35 PM
Yes and No. I'm not looking for the guy that can hit in pitchers counts (admittedly, that would always be nice to have), I'm just looking for the team to get a little bit better on ANY count (0-0 to 3-2) at recognizing what a pitcher's gameplan is and making the adjustment at the plate to counter it. If the pitcher isn't going to throw a hitter a pitch that he likes, the hitter has to do something at the plate to create quality contact. Good plate discipline helps this, which the Reds already have...good plate coverage is the next step. I suspect, although I'm not certain, this is something that will come with age and experience for a lot of the Reds hitters.

And yeah, it is a bit of a Holy Grail of hitting...but for a team that's already beyond patient at the plate, it's the next step logical step in their development.

Same chart as the post above, except this one has OPS by pitcher's counts instead of two-strike counts. Again, take it for what it's worth:


Pitcher's Count OPS
Player OPS

Barry Bonds .703
Albert Pujols .785
Alex Rodriguez .738
Frank Thomas .694
Jeff Bagwell .670
Bobby Abreu .645
Brian Giles .688
Vladimir Guerrero .717

Adam Dunn .481
Austin Kearns .490
Ken Griffey, Jr. .692
Felipe Lopez .512
Ryan Freel .596
Scott Hatteberg .520
Edwin Encarnacion .468
Rich Aurilia .583
Jason LaRue .538
Javier Valentin .406

Sean Casey .675
Wily Mo Pena .419

2005 MLB Average .547

Falls City Beer
05-15-2006, 04:00 PM
Yes and No. I'm not looking for the guy that can hit in pitchers counts (admittedly, that would always be nice to have), I'm just looking for the team to get a little bit better on ANY count (0-0 to 3-2) at recognizing what a pitcher's gameplan is and making the adjustment at the plate to counter it. If the pitcher isn't going to throw a hitter a pitch that he likes, the hitter has to do something at the plate to create quality contact. Good plate discipline helps this, which the Reds already have...good plate coverage is the next step. I suspect, although I'm not certain, this is something that will come with age and experience for a lot of the Reds hitters.

And yeah, it is a bit of a Holy Grail of hitting...but for a team that's already beyond patient at the plate, it's the next step logical step in their development.

Then you're looking for better reading of pitchers' sequences, then? I agree with this; I said a similar thing about the Cards a while back--they seem to know which pitch to swing at even before the pitcher goes into the windup. But that's just doing your homework.

But I think Cyclone's posts are instructive of my earlier point.

HermW
05-15-2006, 05:00 PM
I was watching Lieber pitch tonight and noticing how he seemingly refused to move the ball off the plate. He pounded the zone with stirkes and induced contact early in the ABs. When Reds batters tried to take pitches (as Felipe Lopez did in his first two ABs), they quickly found themselves behind on called strikes.

It got me thinking -- the Reds thrive on patience at the plate, and they seem to get all sorts of confused when the opposing pitcher doesn't let them take pitches and work the count. So, I went and picked out the last few losses that've been hung on the Reds with low run totals:

5/13 (0 runs): John Lieber: 0 walks (0 total for the game)
5/5 (1 run) Brandon Webb: 0 walks (0 total)
5/3 (0 runs) Jeff Francis: 1 walk (2 total)
4/22 (0 runs) David Bush: 2 walks (2 total)

The common theme in all these games, especially the last two, are pitchers that pound the zone with strikes and don't let the Reds sit back and remain patient.

Now, how about a couple games where Reds dominated the opposing pitching:

5/10 (9 runs): Livan Hernandez: 4 walks (9 total)
5/7 (9 runs): Orlando Hernandez: 4 walks (5 total)
5/4 (7 runs): Josh Fogg: 5 walks (7 total)
4/23 (11 runs): Doug Davis: 9 walks (13 total)

You want to know the problems with the Reds offense? Look at the number of batters taking free passes vs. the number of batters hacking away early in the count. If opposing pitchers want a blueprint on beating the Reds, it starts with not beating themselves.

You mean that the Reds score few runs against a pitcher who is pitching well? Sorry if I am missing something here.

I am not trying to be cute about it, but when a guy has good movement, is keeping it down and is painting the corners, no one is going to hit him. That's just good pitching.

RedsManRick
05-15-2006, 05:00 PM
Very intersting table Cyclone. I wonder how that maps against overall contact rate. Interestingly, most of your 'notables' are .300 hitter types reknown for their plate coverage.

Meanwhile, a guy like Dunn who doesn't handle "bad strikes" as well suffers greatly in pitcher's counts. I think this is the where the fringe complaint with his approach lies. He seems too willing to take the boderline strike. Some would argue that he takes the pitch because he knows he can't do anything with it (very well may be true -- you never hear about Dunn's bat control), others seem to suggest that he is just too patient.

I would argue that Dunn lacks the ability (call it bat control) to really make the best of a borderline pitch by swinging. That he went with a pitch the other way with runners on a week or so ago was the exception that proves the rule. He knows it's a weakness, but he mitigates it by not swinging at anything outside the zone and usually keeping the count in his favor, thereby preventing all but the best pitchers from painting the corners on him.

What makes Bonds Bonds, or Pujols Pujols is their high contact rate (if they swing, they make contact) and superior plate coverage (if it's a strike they NEED to swing at, ie. 2 strikes already, they can put good wood on it). The Reds lack this complete hitter, as do most teams.

It would be an interesting exercise for us to have our own little scouting section where we could rate the players on more specific batting skills using the standard 20-80 scale. I would define the skills as:

Eye/Discipline: The ability to recognize strikes vs. balls and avoid swing at bad pitches.
Plate coverage: The range of locations in which the player is able to reliably make productive contact.
Contact: The frequency at which the player makes contact when choosing to swing.
Power: The ability to drive the ball hard when contact is made

Combinations of these things make for different types of hitter. Each skill is more or less valuable in certain situations and I think the overall profile of the team would suggest weakness when behind in the count. Keep in mind that these don't have equal weight by any means. An "average" of these would be meaningless. Perhaps this approach could appease those who hate relying on the "math".

(and these are 100% up for negotiation to get the discussion going)
Player: Eye/Coverage/Contact/Power
Dunn: 75/60/55/80
Griffey: 65/65/60/75
Hatteberg: 70/60/70/50
Bonds: 80/70/70/80

I'll be the first to admit I'm no scout. I also know there's already a site which has fans scout the players. Anyways, just trying make sure the "scouting" approach gets a fair shake.

saboforthird
05-15-2006, 05:24 PM
You take what the pitcher gives you, while also making adjustments. Some of our younger players are still learning this.

I don't think swinging away is what gets you out of slumps; but it can result in some very bad habits.

From watching these last couple of weeks, especially at the top of the order (1 thru 3), it comes down to pitch selection and players making bad decisions. They are swinging at bad pitches and getting behind in the count, which then places them at the pitcher's mercy.

Just my observation.

"Making adjustments" is a very ambiguous form of action taken to "adapt". Swinging more frequently at strikes would make for a great adjustment, if you will. It seems to me that the entire lineup has been getting behind on counts because it takes pitches that should be swung at. No pitcher is going to throw balls if he figures he'll get you into an 0-2 count (or something like that) everytime.

saboforthird
05-15-2006, 05:25 PM
If you're not hitting the strikes, what makes you thuink you're going to hit the balls?

Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint.

You don't need huge adjustments every game.

If the Reds keep doing what they have been doing, they will be successful.

They've hit the ball harder and more often than the Phillies the last 2 nights. Bat luck resulted in the Phillies scoring more runs. It will eventually average out.


They're not hitting the strikes, because they're not swinging at them. They're taking them. That gets them into 2-strike situations, where they are more likely to swing at balls. Seems pretty simple to me. ;)