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View Full Version : Why We Lose So Many One-Run Games



Guacarock
08-06-2011, 12:19 AM
The Reds are now 16-26 in one-run games this season. If we had reversed that win-loss differential and were currently 26-16 in one-run games for 2011, we'd be atop the NL Central, sporting a sweet 64-48 record. If we want to improve in 2012, we must identify what's causing us to fall short in so many close games and move decisively to correct the problems.

I'm sure all of you have different ideas for why this is happening. Here are the two chief culprits, as I see things.

On the offensive side of the ledger, the 2011 team has shown a tendency to choke in high-pressure situations. All of our team batting stats (OBP, SLG, RISP, etc.) are fine overall, but when the games get close, especially in late or extra-inning affairs, we often see hitters going cold, pressing, striking out, aiming for the fences, grounding out or popping out on first pitches, in other words, the antithesis of patient, productive "clutch" hitting. This has led to stranding many base runners, even when our lead-off batter reaches scoring position, or we load the bases, with zero or one out.

Not everyone can be Reggie Jackson or Kirk Gibson, but we need to find a few players for 2012 who can dial up their level of performance when games are on the line. We must seek out more professional hitters who know how to work counts, execute hit-and-runs, deliver sac flies -- all the crucial skills, in addition to hitting a home run, that can turn the tide when it matters the most.

I'm encouraged by what I've seen so far from Cozart, Alonso and Frazier --for being newbie prospects, they have already demonstrated valuable plate discipline and a mature, offense-oriented skillset. But Jocketty has to supplement them and also give Votto some flanking support. At the minimum, we need at least one more productive vet, preferably a position player, but if our budget limitations won't allow us to add one through trade or the free-agent pool, then Walt should at least grab a seasoned, reliable batsman for the bench.

Now, the second broad area we have to address: the failings of our bullpen. This is the one area that's been more frustrating to watch as it plays out in 2011 because the chief source of the problem isn't owing to a lack of talent on the part of our individual relievers. Check out the respective ERAs of our guys -- Lecure, 2.42; Arredondo, 3.45; Bray, 2.04; Chapman, 3.62; Cordero, 2.56; Masset, 3.71; Ondrusek, 2.12. Collectively, they're as tough and efficient as any bullpen in the NL.

As can be expected, these relievers run hot and cold, but I submit that the biggest shortcoming doesn't relate to individual swings in performance, but rather stems from the seriously flawed and inefficient manner in which our bullpen is being used. We now have three relievers who have already appeared in 55 or more games -- Ondrusek and Masset, at 55 apiece, and Bray, with 57 appearances. All three are among the ten most used relievers in the NL. No other squad comes close to matching that level of use, except the Braves, who have ridden the arms of Kimbrel, Venters and O'Flaherty just as hard. That much use, I would argue, amounts to abuse, leading to unnecessary wear-and-tear and increasingly flagging results as the season enters the dog days of summer.

As proof, ponder these stats: Ondrusek's ERA has ballooned from 1.64 to 2.12 because of a 4.91 ERA over his last 10 appearances. Masset has a 8.53 ERA over his last 10 appearances, pushing his season total from 3.03 to 3.71. Cordero's ERA is 6.10 over his last 10 appearances, altering his once-stellar 1.49 ERA to a less eye-popping 2.56. There are exceptions to this trend, notably Chapman, who has pitched a lights-out 1.69 ERA since rediscovering his groove and returning from his exile in Louisville. Still, there's ample evidence that our relievers as a group are tired and not currently operating at the peak of their game.

They didn't have to be rendered this impotent this early in the season. But it happened because our manager and coaches:

* Failed to designate anyone in the pen as a long man to save the arms of everyone else in slop games. Since July 1, no one has pitched more than a two-inning stint out of the pen. In my book, that's crazy and verging on the criminal. Even the Braves recognize that, holding Proctor and Martinez in reserve, who've both gone 3-6 innings when needed. Or look at the Diamondbacks, who are charging hard now and challenging the Giants for supremacy in the NL West. Their effective pen is one of the reasons why, a pen made all the more dominant and refreshed by our discard, Micah Owings, who has twice pitched five-inning stints over the last two weeks. Originally, it looked like Lecure would be our long man, but he's not been handed that assignment, and neither has anyone else in his stead. That's an inexplicable oversight.

* Besides not having a clearcut long man, we often don't even trust our relievers to pitch a complete inning. In close games where our opponents might use 2-3 relievers, we sometimes haul 4-5 into the action. That's not only inefficient, it's risky business, like playing Russian roulette, leaving us vulnerable to the performance of our weakest link. We can have four guys come out of the pen and hold the opposition scoreless, but if the fifth guy surrenders 1-2 runs in his partial inning: Guess what, we can expect to lose a heart-breaking, nail-biting cliffhanger.

This has happened time and time again in 2011 and goes a long way toward explaining our 16-26 record in one-run games. There are different goats different nights, so it's not ultimately the fault of the individual reliever who gets tagged. Instead, it's an outgrowth of an over-orchestrated and agitated bullpen management strategy.

I don't know who's the mastermind behind this micro-managing of the pen (whether it's Dusty doing or pitching coach Bryan Price or bullpen coach Juan Lopez), but it has to stop if we're ever going to increase our odds of winning close games. There are LOOGY situations where it's justified, or cases where you want to yank a pitcher after they have faced one tough batter, say a Pujols or a Fielder. But these kinds of situations should be rarities, the exceptions and not the rule. To the extent that the Reds go against the rule, they are gambling against the house and playing with fire. We have done that a lot this season and we've been burned.

So, there you have it, my theories behind our collapse in close, one-run games. Would be interested to hear what other fault lines other RedsZoners might have spotted. All losses are frustrating, but these losses are the ones that sting the most and stick in one's craw the longest.

Slyder
08-06-2011, 12:49 AM
I can answer you in one line.

Why did the 2010 team seem to always win the close ones? Part luck, part talent. This year we just aren't getting the breaks or the career years from guys like we did last year.

oneupper
08-06-2011, 01:09 AM
I have a few more.

1) Right-handedness. The team does not fare well against right handed pitching which is very prevalent in our division. Guys like Stubbs and Phillips don't hit RHP well.

2) Tweaking. Yes, lineups,pinch hitting for pitchers, not making outs on the bases and so on. Lineups don't matter MUCH, but when a little more production can make a BIG difference, it becomes important .Twenty more runs in those close games, gives you a ton of them


Last year Drew Stubbs lead off in only 34 games and most were either at the beginning of the year or at the end. This year, its EVERY game and its apparent that it doesn't work. Stubbs has a .310 OBP vs. RHP. But he leads off every day.
Joey Votto has had 59% of his ABs with the bases empty. in 2011 it was 53%. No one ahead is getting on.

Small differences, yes, but a few runs here and there and the team would have been a contender.

camisadelgolf
08-06-2011, 01:19 AM
In theory, a .500 team should win 50% of 1-run games. The Reds are 16-26, but they should be 20-22, which would put them a lot closer to 1st place. Like it's already been said, talent is the biggest part of it, but at a certain point, you have to acknowledge that "luck" is also a big portion.

Captain Hook
08-06-2011, 04:17 AM
Dusty got a lot of credit last year for pushing the right buttons at the right time.He seemed to have a good feel for the team and a knack for making the correct decisions when it counted most.Not so much this year.When a team is scoring more runs then they're allowing I don't think you can point to talent as the main reason the team is loosing.The way that talent is being managed in those close games has to be questioned imo.I don't think Dusty is terrible but he seems as lost with some of the decisions he's making as his players are lost on the mound,in the field and at the plate.Also,as far as the players go,it's too bad he never got fed up with the guys and their play on the field like he did last year during that SD series and really ripped the team like he did then for their uninspiring play.Oh well, I guess there's always next year.

Ron Madden
08-06-2011, 04:51 AM
In 2010 the Reds won a lot of one run games many in walk-off fashion. We heard it was because of the veteran leadership of Scott Rolen, great clubhouse chemistry and the wisdom of Walt and Dusty.

The cast and crew of 2011 is pretty much the same as it was in 2010.

All of this leads me to believe what I've suspected for a while now... veteran leadership and clubhouse chemistry is very over-rated if not a myth to begin with. The manager gets far to much credit in good times and more of the blame when times are bad. Luck does play a very huge roll in the game of baseball.

GAC
08-06-2011, 05:50 AM
Get a #4 hitter.

mth123
08-06-2011, 06:16 AM
Get a #4 hitter.

Yep.

thatcoolguy_22
08-06-2011, 06:56 AM
Maybe they are not that good? I see a lot of streaky hitters and Votto. On the pitching side the Reds have one dominate SP and a collection of bullpen arms that can be very hittable for stretches.

Luck probably has a lot to do with it, but I think its easier to recall the times a ball landed just fair or a call was blown to lose a game, than to win it.


edit: How about we come together to figure out how gave Bronson mono and procede to Bartman them? Easiest way I know to get the frustration out.

BCubb2003
08-06-2011, 08:32 AM
It's a good point that the total numbers don't reflect the decline of the bullpen. The bad starting pitching early on took its toll. I'm not sure I can blame Dusty for how he tried to cope. Trying to cover the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth every night is tough.

The rotation is much different now and much better. Cueto and Bailey are actually pitching into the eighth and ninth. But the bullpen is cooked.

Oddly, a lot of the one-run games are often due to an offense that, even when it isn't hitting well, still seems to be able to score a couple runs in the eighth and ninth. You know how it goes: Get behind early because of the pitching, the offense comes back a little, the starter settles down, the offense goes to sleep, the bullpen gives up insurance runs, the offense comes back but falls short.

lollipopcurve
08-06-2011, 08:34 AM
Right-handedness. The team does not fare well against right handed pitching which is very prevalent in our division.

Agree with this.

PuffyPig
08-06-2011, 08:55 AM
(1) Not everyone can be Reggie Jackson or Kirk Gibson, but we need to find a few players for 2012 who can dial up their level of performance when games are on the line.

(2) I'm encouraged by what I've seen so far from Cozart, Alonso and Frazier --for being newbie prospects, they have already demonstrated valuable plate discipline and a mature, offense-oriented skillset.

(1) Since "clutch" is not a repeatable skill, how should we determine which hitter will randomly be clutch next year?

(2) Shouldn't we wait for Cozart to get his first major league walk before we proclaim him as demonstrating a mature, offense-oriented and disciplined skillset? When Cozart's BABIP returns to normal levels, and it will, his offense won't look so mature. And it's looked the opposite of disciplined.

I would generally believe that a team that suffers an inordinate amount of one run loses as being unlucky. I see nothing in this team to suggest anything that differs from the norm.

Loook for bounce back next year, if not before, in this random stat. Bill James has a whole article writen about teams which have very poor 1-run loses in a given year. They are huge bounce-back candidates. And vice versa.

BCubb2003
08-06-2011, 09:11 AM
Teams who play a lot of one-run games tend to have good pitching and weak offenses. One-run games are more likely to be low-scoring. Add an unreliable bullpen and a one-run win becomes a one-run loss.

Mario-Rijo
08-06-2011, 10:20 AM
I think everyone on this team knows they aren't quite as good as they had hoped they would be and they have done an awful lot of pressing. That goes for most every guy on the roster. Few of them have played within themselves and have taken advantage of this situation to focus and improve key facets of their game.

Who is to blame? Everyone from Bob on down. Don't want to spend money? That effects your GM's ability to fortify the team, which in turn gives more opportunities to a Manager to play a sub par player over and over again. Which in turn forces the players to try to do more to "pick up their sub par teammates". Which results in mental lapses, crappy mechanics (both pitching & hitting), lack of time to fix your own individual issues, etc.

Strikes Out Looking
08-06-2011, 11:10 AM
Many of the one run games shouldn't have even been one run games to begin with. How many games have the Reds left a ton of runners on base -- how many innings have they had 2 or more runners on the bases with less than one out and scored one or less runs? I think that has been the problem this year, not scoring enough runs in those one-run games to begin with (and yes, I know they are among the leaders in runs scored -- but they seem to either lose 4-3 or win 9-3).

GAC
08-06-2011, 11:18 AM
1) Right-handedness. The team does not fare well against right handed pitching which is very prevalent in our division. Guys like Stubbs and Phillips don't hit RHP well.

Yeah, but won't that number most certainly improve now that we've gotten of Gomes? :mooner:

PuffyPig
08-06-2011, 11:26 AM
Teams who play a lot of one-run games tend to have good pitching and weak offenses. One-run games are more likely to be low-scoring. Add an unreliable bullpen and a one-run win becomes a one-run loss.


Yet we are at the top or near top all year in producing runs, and near the bottom in preventing runs.

forfreelin04
08-06-2011, 11:55 AM
Surely, there are multiple reasons for their lousy record in one run games

I'd list them as follows:

1) Hitting with RISP with 2 outs
2) No protection for Joey Votto and nobody getting on base in front of him
3) Dusty's poor decision making when it comes time to pull a starter
4) Poor starting pitching in the first three months of the year
5) The magic that is Orlando Cabrera
6) Scott Rolen's shoulder
7) Walt J asleep at the wheel during the winter
8) Too many Johnny Gomes AB's with runners on
9) Ryan Hanigan with RISP 2010 > 2011
10) Jay Bruce's horrible acting in Penn Station commercials

mth123
08-06-2011, 01:57 PM
Its too easy to pitch around the middle of the line-up. The middle is thin, the top is spotty and many days the bottom is non-existent. The team plays a man short in the 3, 4, 5 positions every day. Pitch around Votto, go after (usually successfully) the clean-up guy and bring Bruce up knowing its up to him or the huge drop-off after him is unlikely to get it done. Bruce, tries to chase or tries to pull and gets himself out a lot. Many times after that a RH pitcher would have Gomes/Hanigan/Janish/Pitcher coming up. The pitcher's spot is probably most likely to be sucessful against a righty in that stretch. Add a legit number 4 guy and it won't be so easy to pitch around Votto and the guy who was cleaning up would probably be hitting after Bruce. Suddenly the opposition doesn't get the free pass it has gotten so often this year.

RedsManRick
08-06-2011, 02:44 PM
Magic. Last year we had magic on our side. This year the clutch fairies got stuck in San Fransisco.

GAC
08-07-2011, 08:08 AM
Magic. Last year we had magic on our side. This year the clutch fairies got stuck in San Fransisco.

I've always believed that there are "intangibles" that also contribute to a winning season.

Good karma last year. Bad karma this year.

‪Major League - Due religioni diverse‬‏ - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4accpvRuf0)

PuffyPig
08-12-2011, 09:30 AM
Its too easy to pitch around the middle of the line-up. The middle is thin, the top is spotty and many days the bottom is non-existent.

How does a lineup with a spotty top, a thin middle, and non-existent bottom (sounds kinda like Julia Roberts?) spend the season either first or second in producing runs?

HokieRed
08-12-2011, 10:28 AM
Its too easy to pitch around the middle of the line-up. The middle is thin, the top is spotty and many days the bottom is non-existent. The team plays a man short in the 3, 4, 5 positions every day. Pitch around Votto, go after (usually successfully) the clean-up guy and bring Bruce up knowing its up to him or the huge drop-off after him is unlikely to get it done. Bruce, tries to chase or tries to pull and gets himself out a lot. Many times after that a RH pitcher would have Gomes/Hanigan/Janish/Pitcher coming up. The pitcher's spot is probably most likely to be sucessful against a righty in that stretch. Add a legit number 4 guy and it won't be so easy to pitch around Votto and the guy who was cleaning up would probably be hitting after Bruce. Suddenly the opposition doesn't get the free pass it has gotten so often this year.

Agree 100% and there is one straightforward solution, at least a temporary one, that is immediately available and as simple as telling the MVP to get a left fielder's glove and go catch some fly balls.

Johnny Footstool
08-12-2011, 10:38 AM
Houston is 14-18 in 1-run games. They are 38-80 overall.

Kansas city is 20-23 in 1-run games. They are 49-69 overall.

Baltimore is 14-12 in 1-run games. They are 45-70 overall.

What are they doing that the Reds aren't? Nothing. Those teams are genuinely terrible.

All teams tend towards a .500 record in 1-run games. The smaller margin of victory means that luck tends to have more impact on the outcome. The Reds have just been extremely unlucky this season.

Blaming the offense or the bullpen for losing 1-run games is misguided. Chances are, the offense and the bullpen are the reasons the Reds have played in so many 1-run games.

Doing things like adding another bat and shoring up the bullpen might not have any impact at all on their record in 1-run games. However, those things will probably lead to the Reds winning a lot more 3-run and 4-run games, which will lead to a better record overall.

Cooper
08-12-2011, 11:44 AM
Anybody think they might have a run to get within 3 or 4 games? I do.

The Brewers RS vs RA is lower than the Reds.

The Reds luck with 1 run games might improve even if they don't play better.

The Reds BABIP is low and that could even out.

I'm not at all saying they could win the thing - 2 teams to overcome is impossible -but i sure as heck do not think the Brewers have this thing taken care of.

The only thing that is due for an adjustment on the Reds is the BP. Coco has an adjustment coming -that BABIP is waaay too low.

Come on- hope a little :)

klw
08-12-2011, 01:12 PM
Can anyone do a search of how teams with positive run differentials but losing records in 1 run games and/or losing records tend to perform the following season? I think I remember season this underperformance was a sign of bad luck and a decent predictor of a bump in wins the following year.

klw
08-12-2011, 01:15 PM
http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/ten-things-about-one-run-games


In a nutshell, James found that there is some evidence that some teams display an ability to perform better or worse in one-run games independent of their overall talent level. The teams that show this ability have two fundamental traits: they play small ball (sacrifice hits, stolen bases, fewer home runs, etc.) and have good pitching. However, you have to apply this finding VERY carefully.


Here are the headers for the 10 things in the above article, with numbers added:


1 Won/loss records are primarily driven by a team's average number of runs scored and runs allowed.
2 Run distribution patterns explain only some of the unknown variance.
3 The rest of the variance is explained by the outcomes of close games.
4 The 2003 Detroit Tigers, one of the worst teams in history, won over 50% of their one-run games.
5 Good teams win more one-run games.
6 You might say that some teams seem to have a particular talent for winning slightly more one-run games.
7 Bullpens may have an impact, too.
8 A single run scored in an inning may be more valuable than one of the runs in a two-run or three-run inning.
9 But if you play for one run, you will only score one run.
10 There will always be a lot of fog.

mth123
08-12-2011, 08:37 PM
How does a lineup with a spotty top, a thin middle, and non-existent bottom (sounds kinda like Julia Roberts?) spend the season either first or second in producing runs?

They play in GABP and the NL central. The offense isn't as good as it appears and the pitching isn't as bad. They are 8th in the NL in runs scored on the road. They beat up on lefties with an .822 OPS (number 1 by far), but against RHP, the OPS is only .713 and 9th in the league. Most games are against RHP and on those days the line-up is thin. Sometimes GABP helps them out, but the talent needs improved.

camisadelgolf
08-13-2011, 06:54 AM
It's pretty simple: the tighter the margin of victory, the more 'luck' is a factor.