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membengal
06-19-2009, 12:12 PM
It's obvious, but, the pitching has been good. It is the reason this team is still relevant, and why we can maintain some hope that if Joey V and EE ever get back and another bat is found, there still might be some interest in this season come August.

It is the reason that this thing has not cratered yet. Despite taking the mound for about a month now knowing that giving up more than three runs likely means losing, and despite not having Volquez for a long stretch now, they have carried this team to a degree that I have not seen in a few decades.

The team ERA stands at 3.89, good for sixth in MLB (5th in the NL). They are just a hair behind the Cards (3.86) and Cubs (3.84), so are within shouting distance of top 5. Their success has been something of a puzzle, as they BB a few too many for comfort (given up 247 walks, 8th most in the major leagues), and don't miss as many bats as you would expect (19th overall). Perhaps part of the reason for this is they are giving up a few less homeruns to date than in the past (13th overall in MLB right with 69 allowed), but a little closer look reveals the main reason for the improvement...their hits allowed. It ain't much. Right now they have only allowed 553 hits, 26th fewest in all of baseball. Wow. That helps.

So, through June 19, 2009, their pitching improvement has been real, and is largely tied to a rather impressive rate of hit suppression to this point. That has allowed them to walk a few more than you would expect, and has allowed them to benefit even more from a slight improvement in the home run allowed rate.

Is this sustainable? I don't know. I worry a bit that some balls will start to fall in at a greater rate, and that they could use a few more missed bats. Then again, EV's return (knock on wood) would help with that. And, we have to ask ourselves, is there a change with this staff that is allowing fewer basehits? Cueto, for one, seems to be thriving with getting more ground balls than I recall, and that may help. Owings, when he is on, also keeps the ball on the ground.

The other factor here, certainly, is an improved defense. I hate Alex G's bat, a lot, but he is a vast improvement defensively at SS over what we had their last year. When Dickerson is in CF, their D is good, and Bruce over Jr. is a quantum leap forward defensively in RF. Since Nix has gotten more playing time in LF, we have seen a decided improvement there as well. Add in that Hanigan has been an assassin at wiping out baserunners from behind the plate, and an improved D clearly has helped the pitching numbers. As uneven as EE is, we have seen worse defense in his absence at the hot corner, and getting him back should help, as should getting Votto back at 1b.

In short, I am hoping the return of Volquez along with decent gloves in EE and Votto will off-set any hit luck normalization to help keep the ERA around where it is now.

And IF the team's pitchers and defense can sustain this, then with some offense, from somewhere (Dickerson in CF? Find a bat for LF? Get Votto back? Get EE back?), we still have a shot to see this team relevant in the WC and Divisional chase into the dog days.

It is a bit of a "hold your breath" situation, but, so far so good. And it is nice to know that they can have as offensively incompetent a series as they just had against Atlanta and find a way to take two of three. Let's cross our fingers they can keep this up...

lollipopcurve
06-19-2009, 12:18 PM
Nice post.

Lately, it's seemed to me that almost every out, every scoreless inning recorded by the pitching staff is heroic. The mound is a steep hill they climb.

LincolnparkRed
06-19-2009, 12:54 PM
It is a great post.

Is there some kind of stranded runner stat that might go with this? I have not really searched it out but it seems we strand quite a few opposing batters almost every inning.

backbencher
06-19-2009, 01:01 PM
Great post.

And the next question: in looking for another big bat, how imortant is the glove that comes with it?

The 2010 Reds say "very."

Mario-Rijo
06-19-2009, 01:10 PM
It is a great post.

Is there some kind of stranded runner stat that might go with this? I have not really searched it out but it seems we strand quite a few opposing batters almost every inning.

Good observation. Tied with Philly, LA and Chi for 2nd in the NL at 75% of runners LOB, S.F. is 1st at 76%. Washington is the worst at 66% and league average is 72%. No one in the american league is above 74% and their league average is 71%.

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/teams/

membengal
06-19-2009, 01:59 PM
Good observation. Tied with Philly, LA and Chi for 2nd in the NL at 75% of runners LOB, S.F. is 1st at 76%. Washington is the worst at 66% and league average is 72%. No one in the american league is above 74% and their league average is 71%.

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/teams/

Thanks, I didn't have time to check into where the bullpen has excelled. That's pretty stout as well. Is it sustainable? Don't know...

TheNext44
06-19-2009, 02:19 PM
It's obvious, but, the pitching has been good. It is the reason this team is still relevant, and why we can maintain some hope that if Joey V and EE ever get back and another bat is found, there still might be some interest in this season come August.

It is the reason that this thing has not cratered yet. Despite taking the mound for about a month now knowing that giving up more than three runs likely means losing, and despite not having Volquez for a long stretch now, they have carried this team to a degree that I have not seen in a few decades.

The team ERA stands at 3.89, good for sixth in MLB (5th in the NL). They are just a hair behind the Cards (3.86) and Cubs (3.84), so are within shouting distance of top 5. Their success has been something of a puzzle, as they BB a few too many for comfort (given up 247 walks, 8th most in the major leagues), and don't miss as many bats as you would expect (19th overall). Perhaps part of the reason for this is they are giving up a few less homeruns to date than in the past (13th overall in MLB right with 69 allowed), but a little closer look reveals the main reason for the improvement...their hits allowed. It ain't much. Right now they have only allowed 553 hits, 26th fewest in all of baseball. Wow. That helps.

So, through June 19, 2009, their pitching improvement has been real, and is largely tied to a rather impressive rate of hit suppression to this point. That has allowed them to walk a few more than you would expect, and has allowed them to benefit even more from a slight improvement in the home run allowed rate.

Is this sustainable? I don't know. I worry a bit that some balls will start to fall in at a greater rate, and that they could use a few more missed bats. Then again, EV's return (knock on wood) would help with that. And, we have to ask ourselves, is there a change with this staff that is allowing fewer basehits? Cueto, for one, seems to be thriving with getting more ground balls than I recall, and that may help. Owings, when he is on, also keeps the ball on the ground.

The other factor here, certainly, is an improved defense. I hate Alex G's bat, a lot, but he is a vast improvement defensively at SS over what we had their last year. When Dickerson is in CF, their D is good, and Bruce over Jr. is a quantum leap forward defensively in RF. Since Nix has gotten more playing time in LF, we have seen a decided improvement there as well. Add in that Hanigan has been an assassin at wiping out baserunners from behind the plate, and an improved D clearly has helped the pitching numbers. As uneven as EE is, we have seen worse defense in his absence at the hot corner, and getting him back should help, as should getting Votto back at 1b.

In short, I am hoping the return of Volquez along with decent gloves in EE and Votto will off-set any hit luck normalization to help keep the ERA around where it is now.

And IF the team's pitchers and defense can sustain this, then with some offense, from somewhere (Dickerson in CF? Find a bat for LF? Get Votto back? Get EE back?), we still have a shot to see this team relevant in the WC and Divisional chase into the dog days.

It is a bit of a "hold your breath" situation, but, so far so good. And it is nice to know that they can have as offensively incompetent a series as they just had against Atlanta and find a way to take two of three. Let's cross our fingers they can keep this up...

Outstanding post. Thanks for giving me hope for this season. I think that if this team can make the post season, they have a decent shot of going far, due to the pitching. The key to doing well in the post season is a few hot starters and a great bullpen.

:thumbup:

Scrap Irony
06-19-2009, 02:20 PM
Great post.

And the next question: in looking for another big bat, how imortant is the glove that comes with it?

The 2010 Reds say "very."

Good point, there. What team has a guy who packs both a good bat and a better glove that's also available? I'd guess not many are available.

And as for being able to sustain these numbers, it's possible. Volquez's return will certainly help, as would the minor league depth of starters. (Bailey's recent minor league dominance means there's at least two guys who may be able to help.)

Also, Arroyo should improve as Cueto comes back to earth a bit.

The question, IMO, is whether the pen can sustain its dominance. That's certainly more difficult to do and those guys have major questions, from the closer down.

Mario-Rijo
06-19-2009, 02:31 PM
Thanks, I didn't have time to check into where the bullpen has excelled. That's pretty stout as well. Is it sustainable? Don't know...

Actually that's the whole staffs LOB%. Is it sustainable, I don't know but I'd lean towards probably not. We've had a handful of the staff pitch about as well as they are capable and very few who haven't. Although if Homers recent transformation can help him at the next level and Micah starts to go down hill we might find an improvement there.

Pitched as well as they likely can:
Cueto
Owings
Rhodes
Weathers
Cordero
Herrera
Masset

Haven't:
Volquez
Arroyo
Burton

Have pitched pretty much on par with what they are:
Harang

Not Sure who they are:
Lincoln

VR
06-19-2009, 02:36 PM
Critical to the pitching, has been the defense. There have been a freakish amount of extra outs via CS/ Pickoffs/ DP's/ Outfield assists......all of which are WELL above previous years.

Add to that the limited bases acquired because of increased coverage in the outfield, fewer SB attempts, fewer PB's.....and the pitching has benefited greatly. I have really enjoyed that about this year's team......giving away fewer outs and bases. Over the course of the year....those numbers will be staggering.

I've always thought there should be an 'unforced error' stat, similar to what tennis uses, that could reflect these performances. Many NBA Arenas track 'hustle points', which includes blocked shots, steals, etc...the little things that add up and impact the final score.

backbencher
06-19-2009, 02:59 PM
Add to that the limited bases acquired because of increased coverage in the outfield, fewer SB attempts, fewer PB's.....and the pitching has benefited greatly. I have really enjoyed that about this year's team......giving away fewer outs and bases. Over the course of the year....those numbers will be staggering.


An interesting point that might explain the strand percentages. A runner on first is more likely to be stranded than one on second or third.

membengal
06-19-2009, 04:18 PM
There has felt like there have been more runners cut down trying to score at home plate this year than in the last few years. Not sure if reality meets perception there, but plays at the plate have been friendly to the Reds in 2009. Having Bruce's gun in RF helps a ton on that score, as does having catchers who can, um..."catch" the throw and make the tag at the plate.

That has to help as well.

Scrap Irony
06-19-2009, 04:34 PM
I, too, think the Reds have done well in OF assists this season as opposed to season's past. They seem to have played with a higher baseball IQ for the most part.

Though I think that may be more perception than reality and almost impossible to quantify.

When I was a kid, my high school baseball coach had a category called "boneheads" in his book. Whenever we took a called third strike, didn't get down low enough on a ball, threw to the wrong base, walked a guy hitting below the Medoza line, or gave up an 0-2 hit, we got one. For each "bonehead," we ran.

If one of us had swung 3-0 without his express permission, he may have murdered us.

Still, it seems as if the current Red team has less boneheads than previous teams.

membengal
06-19-2009, 10:53 PM
Arroyo joins the pitching parade, with 6 2/3 innings of two run seven K baseball. Good night from him and three runs overall from the pitching staff, which will lower their ERA. Only allowed four hits on the night too, adding to their steller "hit suppression" work.

Will M
06-20-2009, 12:18 AM
ERA+ would be a better stat to compare the Reds pitching/defense to other teams.

(NL only)
Dodgers 118
Giants 116
Reds 115 (tied for 3rd in NL)
Cubs 115
Cards 109
Braves 104
DBacks 102
Rockies 102
Mets 101
Brwers 98
Pirates 97
Astros 96
Marlins 93
Phillies 91
Nationals 84
Padres 83

FYI:
2008 Reds 99
2007 Reds 94
2006 Reds 103
2005 Reds 83