Brutus

06-28-2009, 06:09 PM

As a rule of thumb, I've always tried not to get too high or too low in any stretch in baseball. It's truly a marathon sport, and not a sprint. And as my signature suggests, the best teams lose a third of their games and the worst win a third. It's the in-between that matters.

So I say this, as a preface to my next statement: this offense has a different feel to it this week.

Sure, it's an offense that, at its current personality, might not perform much above an average offensive unit. However, even despite a 3-3 road trip, and a pair of subpar offensive showings, with Joey Votto back, I feel like the bats are about to go on a tear.

Even despite the loss of Adam Dunn, and some noticeable and hotly discussed lethargic production this season, the offense has not really been too much worse than last season.

2008 .247 / .321 / .408 / .729

2009 .245 / .320 / .391 / .711

Consider that the difference in slugging and OPS would actually have been made up with merely a full season of Edwin Encarnacion in the lineup thus far and not having Joey Votto miss even half the number of games he's missed.

The team has picked up the slack of Dunn in a number of ways:

1. Most shocking of all, last season Dunn was worth right around 100 runs created over 600 plate appearances. He actually had roughly 77 in 464 PA's for the Reds. Before Sunday's game, the LF platoon of Nix and Gomes has created 41 in 251 PA's - worth around 97 in 600 total PA's. Factor in the defense, and the Reds have actually upgraded that position thus far for less than a quarter of the price.

2009 LF .287 / .359 / .534 / .893

2008 LF .233 / .377 / .528 / .905

(Note: these numbers reflect only Nix-Gomes and Dunn)

2. Over the course of 600 plate appearances, the tandem of Hernandez and Hanigan have been 11-12 runs better offensively than the 2008 three-headed monster of Ross, Valentin & Bako. Nevermind how much better they've been defensively.

3. Votto, over a full season, would be worth an extra 40 runs more (approximately) than Votto of 2008. Of course, because of the time he's missed, that will not hold steady. Still, the difference has been significant.

4. Brandon Phillips has increased his OBP by more than 40 points from last season and increased his slugging by more than 60 points. That figures to translate to nearly 20 extra runs for the Reds this season if he continues at that pace.

5. I mentioned getting Encarnacion back. Here are the rates of Rosales & Hairston this year thus far versus what Encarnacion did in 2008.

2009 3B .235 / .309 / .368 / .677

2008 3B .251 / .343 / .466 / .810

That, over a full season, takes the Reds' 3B production from being nearly 20 runs below average to almost 10 full runs above average. That's 30 net runs, approximately, which is almost an extra three wins. Though it's not a ton, those three extra wins right now would have the Reds in first place.

It's my opinion that with Votto back, Phillips being much, much improved, Encarnacion coming soon and presumably a bat coming at some point, the Reds offense feels like it can do just enough to keep this team in contention. If Jay Bruce goes on a tear, as it feels like he's on the brink of doing, suddenly the lineup is formidable. On days where Chris Dickerson is in center and Ryan Hanigan is behind the plate, you have a team with a slightly above-average on-base percentage.

Get either an offensive/defensive upgrade for Encarnacion at third or a legit shortstop, and I think the Reds are right where they'd need to be about the halfway mark of the season.

For now though, it seems like the offense is about to turn the corner. It might not happen. But it does feel like it.

EDIT: (I should add that some of these lines are almost a week old for a few of the positions in 2009. I had saved some of the stats this past week and had not updated them before making this post. So if a few of the rates seem off a tad, that's the reason)

So I say this, as a preface to my next statement: this offense has a different feel to it this week.

Sure, it's an offense that, at its current personality, might not perform much above an average offensive unit. However, even despite a 3-3 road trip, and a pair of subpar offensive showings, with Joey Votto back, I feel like the bats are about to go on a tear.

Even despite the loss of Adam Dunn, and some noticeable and hotly discussed lethargic production this season, the offense has not really been too much worse than last season.

2008 .247 / .321 / .408 / .729

2009 .245 / .320 / .391 / .711

Consider that the difference in slugging and OPS would actually have been made up with merely a full season of Edwin Encarnacion in the lineup thus far and not having Joey Votto miss even half the number of games he's missed.

The team has picked up the slack of Dunn in a number of ways:

1. Most shocking of all, last season Dunn was worth right around 100 runs created over 600 plate appearances. He actually had roughly 77 in 464 PA's for the Reds. Before Sunday's game, the LF platoon of Nix and Gomes has created 41 in 251 PA's - worth around 97 in 600 total PA's. Factor in the defense, and the Reds have actually upgraded that position thus far for less than a quarter of the price.

2009 LF .287 / .359 / .534 / .893

2008 LF .233 / .377 / .528 / .905

(Note: these numbers reflect only Nix-Gomes and Dunn)

2. Over the course of 600 plate appearances, the tandem of Hernandez and Hanigan have been 11-12 runs better offensively than the 2008 three-headed monster of Ross, Valentin & Bako. Nevermind how much better they've been defensively.

3. Votto, over a full season, would be worth an extra 40 runs more (approximately) than Votto of 2008. Of course, because of the time he's missed, that will not hold steady. Still, the difference has been significant.

4. Brandon Phillips has increased his OBP by more than 40 points from last season and increased his slugging by more than 60 points. That figures to translate to nearly 20 extra runs for the Reds this season if he continues at that pace.

5. I mentioned getting Encarnacion back. Here are the rates of Rosales & Hairston this year thus far versus what Encarnacion did in 2008.

2009 3B .235 / .309 / .368 / .677

2008 3B .251 / .343 / .466 / .810

That, over a full season, takes the Reds' 3B production from being nearly 20 runs below average to almost 10 full runs above average. That's 30 net runs, approximately, which is almost an extra three wins. Though it's not a ton, those three extra wins right now would have the Reds in first place.

It's my opinion that with Votto back, Phillips being much, much improved, Encarnacion coming soon and presumably a bat coming at some point, the Reds offense feels like it can do just enough to keep this team in contention. If Jay Bruce goes on a tear, as it feels like he's on the brink of doing, suddenly the lineup is formidable. On days where Chris Dickerson is in center and Ryan Hanigan is behind the plate, you have a team with a slightly above-average on-base percentage.

Get either an offensive/defensive upgrade for Encarnacion at third or a legit shortstop, and I think the Reds are right where they'd need to be about the halfway mark of the season.

For now though, it seems like the offense is about to turn the corner. It might not happen. But it does feel like it.

EDIT: (I should add that some of these lines are almost a week old for a few of the positions in 2009. I had saved some of the stats this past week and had not updated them before making this post. So if a few of the rates seem off a tad, that's the reason)