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nate
06-20-2009, 02:24 PM
Check (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/sophomores-the-nl-central) it:


Cincinnati Reds

In any other year, Joey Votto (http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=4314&position=1B) would have had a legitimate shot at the Rookie of the Year award in the National League. Last season, the first baseman hit .297/.368/.506 with 24 homers and 84 RBI in 526 at-bats. He also posted a walk rate of 10.1% and a strikeout rate of 19.4%. This season, Votto has dealt with some medical concerns, but he's still hitting a robust .357/.464/.627 with eight homers and 33 RBI in 126 at-bats. His strikeout rate is virtually the same, but the 25-year-old Canadian has increased his walk rate by almost five percent.

It's funny how baseball works. Outfielder Jay Bruce (http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=9892&position=OF) was the most highly-anticipated rookie of the year at the beginning of 2008, but his rookie season ended up being pretty average. Now 22, Bruce spent the first 48 games of the season in triple-A before his promotion. In the Majors, he hit .254/.314/.453 with 21 homers in 413 at-bats. He also had a walk rate of 7.4% and a strikeout rate of 26.6%. This season, he's hitting just .217/.306/.469 with 16 homers in 226. On the positive side, his walk rate has increased by three percent and the strikeout rate is down four percent. After posting a .298 BABIP last season, Bruce's BABIP is a ridiculously low .206. His line drive rate is down seven percent from the 21.1 LD% he had last season. Right now, he's kind of looking like a cross between Austin Kearns (http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=332&position=OF) and Adam Dunn (http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=319&position=OF), which isn't really a good thing. At least he's still very young.

The only bigger enigma in the Reds' system is right-hander Homer Bailey (http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=8362&position=P). The 23-year-old pitcher has very good stuff, but consistency is not his strong suit. After a disappointing nine starts in 2007, Bailey returned to the Majors for part of 2008 and posted a 7.93 ERA with 59 hits in 36.1 innings. He posted a 4.21 BB/9 rate, as well as a strikeout rate of just 4.46 K/9. This season, Bailey has made just one (poor) MLB start while spending the majority of his time in triple-A. He has a 2.83 ERA with 81 hits allowed in 82.2 innings. He has a walk rate of 2.72 BB/9 and a strikeout rate of 8.06 K/9.

Johnny Cueto (http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=6893&position=P) was mostly an unknown prospect prior to the 2008 season but he made a name for himself pretty quickly. Overall, the right-hander was 9-14 with a 4.81 ERA and he was inconsistent all season. However, he still struck out more than 150 batters (8.17 K/9) while keeping the walks to a modest number (3.52 BB/9). This season, the 23-year-old has been even better with a 2.17 ERA and 68 hits allowed in 87 innings. He's decreased his walk rate by almost one full walk per nine innings, but his strikeout rate has also dropped. Cueto's ground-ball rate is also up, though, and he's becoming more of a pitcher and less of a thrower.

Interesting stuff. Thoughts?

RedEye
06-20-2009, 02:31 PM
Bruce is "a cross between Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns"? I'm assuming that's a combo of Dunn's power with Kearns' OF defense... but neither of those guys started out in the majors so OBP-challenged as Jay. That's my main worry about Bruce right now, actually--he seems to be veering pretty close to Francoeur land with his combined offensive game.

nate
06-20-2009, 02:37 PM
Bruce is "a cross between Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns"? I'm assuming that's a combo of Dunn's power with Kearns' OF defense... but neither of those guys started out in the majors so OBP-challenged as Jay. That's my main worry about Bruce right now, actually--he seems to be veering pretty close to Francoeur land with his combined offensive game.

If he could start getting some of those shots to hit grass rather than leather, he'd be OK.

Mario-Rijo
06-20-2009, 03:18 PM
I'm not sure what to make of the Bruce situation. Here is a kid who before the season expressed out of his own mouth in detail what he had to do to be succesful at the plate. So he definitely knows what to do at the plate, no question about it. I certainly understand what it is he is doing as well. What I can't quite figure out is why his BABIP is so low. What I mean is usually a guy just doesn't strictly have bad luck, it's usually accompanied by poor execution. Granted he has been lunging at some balls and perhaps that's the answer. Often times what happens when you lunge is you short yourself in the power and maybe loft departments. You tend to hit more pop ups and your line drives hang up a bit, they don't have that good top spin to direct them to the ground faster. Yet he continues to hit lasers all over the place but people just so happen to be there (that is the part the baffles me most because he hits to all fields).

If he stays back more he'd probably fix a little of that problem and likely also decrease his K's. Because he has a tendency to swing and miss at the breaking pitches, he doesn't miss a whole lot of fastballs. This is my thinking on Bruce hope it makes sense. I'm not even sure if it's the problem but nothing else is standing out to me.

*BaseClogger*
06-20-2009, 06:10 PM
Bruce is "a cross between Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns"? I'm assuming that's a combo of Dunn's power with Kearns' OF defense... but neither of those guys started out in the majors so OBP-challenged as Jay. That's my main worry about Bruce right now, actually--he seems to be veering pretty close to Francoeur land with his combined offensive game.

The reason Jay Bruce isn't getting on base is because of his ridiculously low BABIP. He has walked in 11% of his PAs. Jeff Franceour doesn't get on base because he only walks in 5% of his PAs...

Cedric
06-20-2009, 06:14 PM
Bruce is going to struggle if he keeps trying to pull everything. Simple but obvious. He rolls over or pops up any pitch that isn't middle in.

*BaseClogger*
06-20-2009, 06:22 PM
Bruce is going to struggle if he keeps trying to pull everything. Simple but obvious. He rolls over or pops up any pitch that isn't middle in.

Yeah, he's got plenty of home runs, but he's not getting the kind of liners that fall in for hits...

Joseph
06-21-2009, 10:34 AM
Bruce is going to struggle if he keeps trying to pull everything. Simple but obvious. He rolls over or pops up any pitch that isn't middle in.

Frank Robinson expressed this same sentiment last night during the game. Soon as someone gets JB to stop jerking everything, he'll explode again just like when he came up last season and no one could get him out for that first week or two.

RedEye
06-21-2009, 10:36 AM
The reason Jay Bruce isn't getting on base is because of his ridiculously low BABIP. He has walked in 11% of his PAs. Jeff Franceour doesn't get on base because he only walks in 5% of his PAs...

That's a good point. I suppose a .300-ish OBP is pretty darn good when you are only hitting .215. I think he'll come around--I just wish he'd already done it!

nate
06-21-2009, 12:22 PM
I think another problem with Bruce is that he's seeing major league breaking pitches for the first time. To me, it's another reason for him to work through the problem with the big league team rather than at AAA. He's not going to see those kinds of pitches in Louisville.

And I agree with 'clogger about the walk rate.

RedlegJake
06-21-2009, 01:39 PM
Jay is getting a lot thrown his way this year and the learning curve is steep. There is no protection at all for him and pitchers can thrown junk, nibble and avoid too many fastballs to him because there's no one to fear behind him. He'd get a lot of that anyway but its magnified by the lack of protection. Then he presses because he's needed and knows it and he's supposed to be the future superstar. Add fairly low discipline, which many warned about when he came up, a rather unlucky BABIP rate and you have a really young kid struggling a bit. I'm wowed by his continuing power through this whole ordeal and think he'll eventually get more balls falling in, learn how to handle the better off speed stuff he sees in the majors, and learn he doesn't have to yank everything to get the long ball.