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View Full Version : Whatever happened to small ball??



joshnky
05-28-2006, 06:18 PM
Last 15 games:
5-10 record
5 sb and 4 cs
.33 sb/g

First 35 games:
23-12 record
38 sb and 6 cs
1.09 sb/g

Could this be the source of our recent swoon? I know OBP and other things play into this but these numbers are pretty clear. Also of note: 22 ABs for Freel during the last 15 games. Maybe its time to give him another extended chance till he breaks down again. Just my thoughts on our struggles.

Ron Madden
05-28-2006, 06:23 PM
Small Ball = fewer runs in the long run.

Raisor
05-28-2006, 06:25 PM
Just my thoughts on our struggles.


I ain't struggling. I'm as snarky as I ever was.

dougflynn23
05-28-2006, 06:28 PM
:) Answer - Chris Denorfia's in Louisville, Ryan Freel's clock seems to have struck midnight and he's turned into a pumpkin, and we start Adam Dunn, Jason LaRue, Junior, and Edwin Encarnacion every day. How can you play "Smallball" with that?

NastyBoy
05-28-2006, 06:30 PM
Small ball team the reds are not.

Raisor
05-28-2006, 06:31 PM
I think it was Confuscious that said "He who plays for one run usually only scores one run".

Or maybe it was Katie Holmes.

Something like that.

Ltlabner
05-28-2006, 06:32 PM
I was really pleased with Ross's approach to his AB in the 8th. Instead of trying to swing away, as the team hadn't had much luck doing all game (series) he lays down a great bunt and makes it to 1B. Hattiburg subsequently drives him home. I think it was the key play of the game and a smart one that ultimatley gave the Reds a chance to win the game.

Ron Madden
05-28-2006, 06:35 PM
Bunt singles and 2 run HRs do not add up to small ball. ;)

Newman4
05-28-2006, 06:36 PM
I don't think that stealing a lot of bases means you're a small ball team anyway.

KronoRed
05-28-2006, 06:36 PM
Bunt singles and 2 run HRs do not add up to small ball. ;)
Come on, a bunt is a bunt ;)

Ltlabner
05-28-2006, 06:37 PM
Bunt singles and 2 run HRs do not add up to small ball.

Never claimed that it did. I was just complimenting him on a smart play.

Ron Madden
05-28-2006, 06:39 PM
Never claimed that it did. I was just complimenting him on a smart play.

No harm intended. Sorry if you thought so.

Newman4
05-28-2006, 06:40 PM
Never claimed that it did. I was just complimenting him on a smart play.

It was a nice play. Anyone else think it would be nice to see Ross get more playing time and trade Larue?

dougflynn23
05-28-2006, 06:40 PM
I was really pleased with Ross's approach to his AB in the 8th. Instead of trying to swing away, as the team hadn't had much luck doing all game (series) he lays down a great bunt and makes it to 1B. Hattiburg subsequently drives him home. I think it was the key play of the game and a smart one that ultimatley gave the Reds a chance to win the game. :) Interestingly enough, two players who have absolutely no connection to the Reds organization before March of this year. In other organizations, you didn't have a leather pants clad idiot humping the leg of every "5-tool" player in the organization.

NastyBoy
05-28-2006, 06:40 PM
I do think the Reds try to blend in certain aspects of small ball... but their defense in its current state would never work with small ball.

Ltlabner
05-28-2006, 06:41 PM
No harm intended. Sorry if you thought so.

Not at all and you are right about one bunt does not a "small ball" team make. :cool:

People seem to be tense in here today. I was at the game and was suprised when I read the game thread. Did someone poop in somebody's wheeties or something?

Ltlabner
05-28-2006, 06:43 PM
In other organizations, you didn't have a leather pants clad idiot humping the leg of every "5-tool" player in the organization.

:luvu: for five toolers! hahahahaha

joshnky
05-28-2006, 06:48 PM
Maybe small ball isn't the best way to describe us but the numbers don't lie. When we were playing well we were getting on base and stealing bases. Now, we're getting on base (albeit at a slightly worse clip) but either not stealing or getting caught when we do. Just saying that getting some extra runners into scoring percentage (or not giving up a runner when caught) could have made the difference in a few games.

M2
05-28-2006, 06:53 PM
I've always disliked the characterization of stealing bases as "small ball."

Done right, it's big ball, in-your-face ball. The BRM ran, they weren't playing small ball. Whenever Earl Weaver had a guy who could run, he'd turn on the jets a bit. He wasn't playing small ball. And when the Reds were running earlier this season, it wasn't small ball either. It was just taking out another hammer and whacking the opposition with it.

I think a big part of why they haven't run as much lately has been Freel's hammy, but also because the team hasn't been in as many favorable running situations (in large part due to the hitters not achieving as many favorable running counts).

Raisor
05-28-2006, 06:54 PM
Maybe small ball isn't the best way to describe us but the numbers don't lie. When we were playing well we were getting on base and stealing bases. Now, we're getting on base (albeit at a slightly worse clip) but either not stealing or getting caught when we do.


Actually, the team's OBP is 30 points lower in May then it was in April, and it's SLG is 65 points lower.

That's why the offense is struggling.

deltachi8
05-28-2006, 06:57 PM
Very good analysis, M2.

I'd have to look at the numbers to be sure, but I wouldnt be suprised that the reds "slump" offensively also may correlate with accumulating fewer bases, not getting extra base hits.

deltachi8
05-28-2006, 07:00 PM
I think it was Confuscious that said "He who plays for one run usually only scores one run".

Or maybe it was Katie Holmes.

Something like that.

Raisor, would you just go back to your nobel prize winning work with pythons or theroies or somthin?

Highlifeman21
05-28-2006, 07:03 PM
It was a nice play. Anyone else think it would be nice to see Ross get more playing time and trade Larue?


Survey says: yes.

LaRue's worn out his overpaid welcome with me. He's slowing becoming Sean Casey, part deux.

Raisor
05-28-2006, 07:05 PM
Raisor, would you just go back to your nobel prize winning work with pythons or theroies or somthin?


8 of my 34 nobel prizes have to do with misquotations.

Highlifeman21
05-28-2006, 07:07 PM
Last 15 games:
5-10 record
5 sb and 4 cs
.33 sb/g

First 35 games:
23-12 record
38 sb and 6 cs
1.09 sb/g

Could this be the source of our recent swoon? I know OBP and other things play into this but these numbers are pretty clear. Also of note: 22 ABs for Freel during the last 15 games. Maybe its time to give him another extended chance till he breaks down again. Just my thoughts on our struggles.


Making outs is bad. Making outs without the ball being batted into play is even worse. It's kinda like missing a free throw in basketball. The clock's not running, you essentially get the opportunity for free points. Why in baseball would you want to make free outs for the other team?

Smarter baserunning will lead to more runs. Foolishly making outs, no good.

saboforthird
05-28-2006, 09:59 PM
Small Ball = fewer runs in the long run.

We should all be warm and cozy with that blanket statement you made. Sorry, but "small ball" is what separates winners from losers. Over the long run, those that play it base-by-base (as opposed to standing around waiting for the long ball or extra base hit) will squeak out the close wins, and win on the days that everyone else loses. Case in point: St. Louis

TeamBoone
05-28-2006, 10:43 PM
Question: Had he been managing at that point in the game, do you think JN would have pinch hit for Phillips today? For Ross?

Outshined_One
05-28-2006, 11:00 PM
I think people have certain ideas and notions of small ball that are problematic.

I'll come out and say it now. I'm a Cubs fan. Hate me, love me, whatever, I could care less. I enjoy this community enough to post here. There's plenty of good discussion going on, plus I really love baseball and seeing what other people have to say about it.

This season, the Cubs have been an absolutely abysmal offensive team. If you look at them statistically, they rank at or near the very bottom of every meaningful offensive statistic as a team...save for two categories: stolen bases and triples. This team has been absolutely woeful. They don't walk, they don't hit home runs, and they don't score much (contrary to what today's game against the Braves may lead you to believe).

This past offseason, the rallying cry for this team was to add defense and speed. People complained about the team hitting too many home runs and not playing small ball. Jim Hendry went out and looked for guys who could "catch the ball", to use his own words. Jacque Jones was given a 3/$15 deal, Neifi Perez was extended for two years, Henry Blanco was extended, and Juan Pierre was traded for. Thus far, it's been nothing short of a disaster.

So, I recently got into an argument with another Cubs fan on a different board that involved comparing the Cubs and the Athletics. He said that even though they were 5th in walks (at the time), they were 22nd in runs. According to the straw man argument he put into the mouths of other posters, if teams drew more walks, they'd score lots of runs. My response:


Total Plate Appearances
18) Oakland 1798
29) Chicago Cubs 1677

ABs
16) Oakland 1585
29) Chicago Cubs 1522

BBs
5) Oakland 183
30) Chicago Cubs 116

% of Walks Taken
Oakland: 10.2%
Chicago: 6.9%

OBP
22) Oakland .328
30) Chicago Cubs .301

Batting Average
27) Oakland .246
28) Chicago Cubs .245

Runs
22) Oakland 211
30) Chicago Cubs 167

If the Cubs had as many PAs as Oakland, they'd be projected as having ~179 runs. If the A's had as many PAs as Chicago, they'd be projected as having ~197 runs. They have comparable BAs...yet Oakland walks more and has more runs.

I'm seeing a correlation going on here. It helps to have a good BA, that much is obvious. But if one team gets more baserunners than the other, yet both have similar BAs, guess which team scores more runs?

Despite the fact that the Cubs have put together a small ball team, they don't walk much. They don't hit any home runs any more. This team relies heavily on contact and teams making mistakes in order to score. They bunt...constantly. Their pitching is mediocre overall, yes, but the lack of runs has just smothered this team.

Why am I saying all of this? Because this is the kind of team you want to avoid. I miss the days of home runs. Small ball has absolutely crippled the Cubs.

Offensively, baseball is about not wasting outs and scoring runs. Bunts are not conducive to that. There are better ways to advance runners than to lay down a bunt, even if you need one run. If teams don't work the count and walk, there won't be many scoring opportunities because there will be less guys on base. There are very few instances in which it is a good idea to bunt. Way too many people make a big deal about them. Stolen bases are problematic. The guys who tend to be any good at it tend to not be very good at much else. Players who are already productive are unlikely to be any good at it, themselves.

I know the Reds are a good walking team, but to sacrifice baserunners in order to score one or two runs tends to be counter-productive more often than not. Small ball requires a lot more than just bunting and stealing bases. Most of the time, it's just not worth it. Don't be fooled into thinking that a team of David Ecksteins will beat a team of Alex Rodriguezes.

The teams that win are the ones that get lots of baserunners and drive them in. Scoring one or two runs a game won't help that endeavor much.

savafan
05-28-2006, 11:03 PM
It was a nice play. Anyone else think it would be nice to see Ross get more playing time and trade Larue?

Ross's career numbers scare me.

James B.
05-28-2006, 11:34 PM
I think Freel not being in the lineup wrecking havoc has really hurt this team. They have also been going through a stretch where they are not getting clutch hits but every team goes through that in a 162 game season. What really worries me about this team is its defense. It is killing this team and I don't see it getting any better this year. In the ballpark they play in and with the average pitching that the reds have they cannot afford to give teams extra outs.

KronoRed
05-28-2006, 11:42 PM
Ross's career numbers scare me.
Valentins do the same for me.

I'd trade em all.

Ron Madden
05-28-2006, 11:57 PM
We should all be warm and cozy with that blanket statement you made. Sorry, but "small ball" is what separates winners from losers. Over the long run, those that play it base-by-base (as opposed to standing around waiting for the long ball or extra base hit) will squeak out the close wins, and win on the days that everyone else loses. Case in point: St. Louis

You are free to believe what ever you like.

Thousands no millions of fans agree with your point of view that's all well and good.

Many others disagree that too is all well and good.

I understand the value of outs and find it foolish to give them away. IMHO it's crazy to bunt a man from 2nd to 3rd.

The runner is already in scoring position, save your outs to score him and others.

M2
05-29-2006, 12:18 AM
IMHO it's crazy to bunt a man from 2nd to 3rd.

The runner is already in scoring position, save your outs to score him and others.

I don't mind that so much. If you're going to bunt, man on second no outs down one at home is the place to do it. IIRC, going from 2nd with no outs to 3rd with one out isn't a bad move if what you most care about is the one run (at least I think the odds work in the favor of that one run).

Bunting a man to third and then letting Rich Aurilia take the one-out AB against a RHP, I can't get behind that.

Ron Madden
05-29-2006, 12:26 AM
I don't mind that so much. If you're going to bunt, man on second no outs down one at home is the place to do it. IIRC, going from 2nd with no outs to 3rd with one out isn't a bad move if what you most care about is the one run (at least I think the odds work in the favor of that one run).

Bunting a man to third and then letting Rich Aurilia take the one-out AB against a RHP, I can't get behind that.

I understand your point.

I just hate to give outs away. :(

The plan might have stood a better chance of working if Dunn followed KGJ in the batting order today.

joshnky
05-29-2006, 12:36 AM
Actually, the team's OBP is 30 points lower in May then it was in April, and it's SLG is 65 points lower.

That's why the offense is struggling.
I think you're right but not completely. I ran the numbers per the stats at MLB.com and the Reds average 38.6 ABs per game when you include walks and sacs in the total ABs. 30 pts in OBP would amount to 1.16 more baserunners per game and 65 points of SLG would amount to 2.51 more bases. So we're missing about a little more than a double per game. Does that hurt? Sure that could lead to a run in some games. Combine that with the lack of stolen bases and the times caught and it hurts a little more. So you are kind of right but not entirely.

SteelSD
05-29-2006, 12:59 PM
I think you're right but not completely. I ran the numbers per the stats at MLB.com and the Reds average 38.6 ABs per game when you include walks and sacs in the total ABs. 30 pts in OBP would amount to 1.16 more baserunners per game and 65 points of SLG would amount to 2.51 more bases. So we're missing about a little more than a double per game. Does that hurt? Sure that could lead to a run in some games. Combine that with the lack of stolen bases and the times caught and it hurts a little more. So you are kind of right but not entirely.

Actually, Raisor is entirely correct.

Reds April: .363 OBP/.468 SLG- .831 OPS
Reds May: .330 OBP/.411 SLG- .741 OPS

That's a 90 point OPS differential. To demonstrate exactly what that means, let's take a look at the past three NL Seasons and find teams that produced a something close to a 90 point OPS differential versus the best NL offense for those seasons:

2005:

CIN: .785 OPS- 820 Runs Scored
WAS: .708 OPS- 639 Runs Scored

2004:

STL: .804 OPS- 855 Runs Scored
MIL: .708 OPS- 634 Runs Scored

2003:

ATL: .824 OPS- 907 Runs Scored
MON: .727 OPS- 711 Runs Scored

The worst NL offense in 2005 didn't produce as much as a 90-point OPS differential versus the best offense and we're still looking at a 180 Run differential. Over the long haul, you'll lose nearly 200 Runs per season if you post an OPS that's 90 points lower regardless of how many bases you steal. That's well over a run per game difference over the long haul and pretty near the Reds April/May differential (5.96 RS/G- April, 4.20 RS/G- May). Those OBP and SLG points are a big large huge deal.

Raisor
05-29-2006, 03:04 PM
Actually, Raisor is entirely correct.

.

I never get tired reading that.

saboforthird
05-29-2006, 03:54 PM
You are free to believe what ever you like.

Thousands no millions of fans agree with your point of view that's all well and good.

Many others disagree that too is all well and good.

I understand the value of outs and find it foolish to give them away. IMHO it's crazy to bunt a man from 2nd to 3rd.

The runner is already in scoring position, save your outs to score him and others.

That's only a small facet of "small ball". There's bunting to get on first, bunting to move the runner over, the pitcher actually making an EFFORT to get on base by swinging the bat (case in point: Kerry Wood just doubled for the Cubs against the Reds), there's sac-flying the man from third to home, there's the squeeze bunt to accomplish the same thing. One could go on and on.

Ron Madden
05-29-2006, 04:09 PM
Yea, we could go on and on but I'd rather not.

I'll just say I hate giving outs away an leav it at that. ;)

SteelSD
05-29-2006, 04:20 PM
That's only a small facet of "small ball". There's bunting to get on first, bunting to move the runner over, the pitcher actually making an EFFORT to get on base by swinging the bat (case in point: Kerry Wood just doubled for the Cubs against the Reds), there's sac-flying the man from third to home, there's the squeeze bunt to accomplish the same thing. One could go on and on.

And yet only one of those items (Sac Bunt) fits any kind of logical "smallball" definition. Bunting for a hit isn't "smallball" any more than taking a walk is. Nor is a pitcher swinging away. Ditto for a Sac Fly because it's a random occurrence. Suicide squeeze? Uh-uh. Any team in the league can do that and it's useful in so few situations that it's simply can't be part of some "smallball" plan. And before we go there, stolen bases are not "smallball" either. They're just good plain smart if successful often enough to pay dividends.

All we're left with is Sacrifice Bunts and groundouts to the right side with a runner on 2nd. And neither of those correlates with playing winning baseball. What does correlate with winning baseball is scoring a lot more Runs than you allow. Problem with "smallball" is that is suppresses Run scoring because it's a simple negative "Outs for Bases" tradeoff. For the most part, it's wheel spinning at best in all but the most extreme situations.

Johnny Footstool
05-29-2006, 06:38 PM
Maybe small ball isn't the best way to describe us but the numbers don't lie. When we were playing well we were getting on base and stealing bases. Now, we're getting on base (albeit at a slightly worse clip) but either not stealing or getting caught when we do. Just saying that getting some extra runners into scoring percentage (or not giving up a runner when caught) could have made the difference in a few games.

SBs are just one part of the offense's swoon. To say that the lack of SBs is actually the problem is not good logic.

joshnky
05-29-2006, 06:47 PM
SBs are just one part of the offense's swoon. To say that the lack of SBs is actually the problem is not good logic.
If you read the whole thread you'll see that what you're saying is exactly what I said. I realize OPS is a big part of our problem but the lack of stolen bases is also. I was just trying to throw out an idea I hadn't seen discussed as extensively as the OPS scenario.

Johnny Footstool
05-29-2006, 06:48 PM
We should all be warm and cozy with that blanket statement you made. Sorry, but "small ball" is what separates winners from losers. Over the long run, those that play it base-by-base (as opposed to standing around waiting for the long ball or extra base hit) will squeak out the close wins, and win on the days that everyone else loses. Case in point: St. Louis

Do a fact check.

The "base-by-base" Cardinals are 8-7 in one-run games this season. They were 21-25 last season.

The "non-small-ball" Reds are 11-5 in one-run games this season, 21-18 last season.

One-run games are decided by all kinds of factors, not just "small ball."

Johnny Footstool
05-29-2006, 07:33 PM
If you read the whole thread you'll see that what you're saying is exactly what I said. I realize OPS is a big part of our problem but the lack of stolen bases is also. I was just trying to throw out an idea I hadn't seen discussed as extensively as the OPS scenario.

I read your initial post which stated:


Could this be the source of our recent swoon? I know OBP and other things play into this but these numbers are pretty clear.

You were singling out the lack of SBs as the "pretty clear" cause of the recent swoon. In subsequent posts you gave a nod to OBP, but still seemed to be insisting that SBs were somehow key to the equation.

I think there are far more likely candidates than SBs. Doubles, for instance.

In April, the Reds were second in the NL with 57 doubles. In May, they were 15th with only 38 two-baggers.

I think it's interesting that the Reds aren't stealing bases as well now as they did earlier in the season. But I still think it's poor logic to pick that as the key stat in the offense's recent swoon.

saboforthird
05-29-2006, 09:14 PM
Do a fact check.

The "base-by-base" Cardinals are 8-7 in one-run games this season. They were 21-25 last season.

The "non-small-ball" Reds are 11-5 in one-run games this season, 21-18 last season.

One-run games are decided by all kinds of factors, not just "small ball."

And, I never said they were. Nice try. The theme of this thread implies that small ball is missing. Seems to me the thread was hi-jacked. Posters started saying that small ball isn't necessary. The bottom line, my friend, is that winning teams do use small ball as a part of their scheme, losing teams tend to be rather one-dimensional (the Reds).

Ron Madden
05-29-2006, 11:25 PM
And, I never said they were. Nice try. The theme of this thread implies that small ball is missing. Seems to me the thread was hi-jacked. Posters started saying that small ball isn't necessary. The bottom line, my friend, is that winning teams do use small ball as a part of their scheme, losing teams tend to be rather one-dimensional (the Reds).

I don't think the thread was hi-jacked it's only a discssion.

Seems some of us have differing ideas on what small ball really is and it's true value thats all.

Johnny Footstool
05-30-2006, 12:41 AM
And, I never said they were. Nice try. The theme of this thread implies that small ball is missing. Seems to me the thread was hi-jacked. Posters started saying that small ball isn't necessary. The bottom line, my friend, is that winning teams do use small ball as a part of their scheme, losing teams tend to be rather one-dimensional (the Reds).

You seem to be trolling for a confrontation. Nice try, indeed.

You explicitly stated that "base-by-base" teams will eek out close wins, and you used the Cardinals as your example. I showed some evidence that your assumption wasn't correct. Do you have any evidence to show that it is?

OldRightHander
05-30-2006, 01:06 AM
I don't really know if I like the term "small ball" because of many of the negative connotations associated with it. There are many instances where too much small ball can limit the number of runs scored in a particular inning, but there are times during a game where a little bit of execution can make the difference in the game. How often does this happen? Maybe not as often as we would like. A lot of people like to think that the Big Red Machine was a small ball team, but all they did was steal a lot of bases and pound the heck out of the baseball. That team didn't use the sac bunt that often because Sparky didn't like to give away outs. He was a big fan of the stolen base and the hit and run and he did like his players to be able to go the other way at times, but for the most part, the teams that pound the ball are the ones that score a lot of runs. I like to see a more balanced offense myself, but sometimes the term "one dimensional" can apply both ways, to teams that only rely on homers as well as to teams full of slap hitting, bunting speedsters.