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Thread: The offense: good, bad, ugly

  1. #1
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    The offense: good, bad, ugly

    The offense is doing pretty well by conventional measurements—middle of the pack in runs scored (4.47 per game) and OPS. There have been several positive surprises from hitters this year. Narron has shown he is quite adept in using his pinch hitters. The club hits home runs and steals bases.

    So why a thread about the offense?

    I can think of two reasons:

    1.) The Reds offense has been atrocious on the road. Like, .677 OPS baaaaaaaad. Only Griffey and AGon have OPSed .800 or better on the road. A team can’t expect to win road games hitting like that, unless it played its home games in Dodger Stadium in the 1960s. You get my drift.

    2.) I think that Runs Scored overestimates the quality of this offense because this offense just can’t consistently score runs on a nightly basis. Let me demonstrate.

    Here are the Reds’ runs scored for the ten-game stretch from 20 April through 1 May: 2, 1, 3, 10, 2, 5, 1, 8, 9, and 11. It’s almost like the offense is binary during this stretch: either 1 run scored or 10 runs scored. Only two games around the club average.

    Compare that with what Milwaukee’s offense did during the same stretch: 4, 5, 4, 3, 4, 1, 3, 7, and 12. Far less game-to-game variation, and much more consistency. Granted, Milwaukee’s offense averages half a run more per game, but the game-to-game variation is much lower. In statistical terms, the Milwaukee offense has a lower standard deviation in terms of runs scored per game.

    And that 10-game stretch is consistent with how each club has performed for the duration of this season. Below is a chart that illustrates my point.

    Code:
           R/G	SD	    <=2 runs	<=1 run
    Reds	4.475	3.136528	15	9
    Brewers	5.00	2.724161	4	2
    Dodgers	4.575	2.827407	12	4
    R/G = runs per game
    SD = standard deviation of runs scored
    <=2 runs = # of games scoring 2 or less runs
    <=1 run = # of games scoring 2 or less runs

    The Reds’ standard deviation of runs scored is significantly higher than either the Brewers or Dodgers (the Dodgers have scored more runs per game than the Reds, even though they sport a lower OPS).

    What’s the most damning about the data are the two right columns—the Reds have scored 2 or fewer runs in 38% of their contests. The club has scored zero or one run in almost a quarter of their games!!! I’m actually surprised the local media hasn’t made a bigger deal of this issue. And it matters quite a bit, because the only way a club can win if it scores one run is if it shuts out the other team. In a quarter of the games, the offense is giving no room for error on the part of the pitching staff.

    My point is that, with respect to winning and losing, the marginal value of the 10th or 11th run is far lower than the negative marginal value of only scoring zero, one, or two runs. And if the Reds are scoring either one run or ten runs on any given night. . . Well, this phenomenon might help to explain why the Reds have underperformed Pythagorean projections. The bullpen isn’t the only group at fault. It’s the offense, too.

    Looking at the above chart, using a home/road split, and the issue becomes a little more clear. The Reds offensive performance on the road has been much more volatile than it has at home.

    Code:
                     R/G	SD	  <=2 runs	 <=1 run
    Reds Home	5.00	2.790963	5	2
    Reds Road	3.95	3.389760	10	7
    So why the bad road splits, and why the high standard deviation of runs scored from game to game?

    My hypothesis is that the Reds are investing in marginal offensive players that perform well at home, but don’t do so well on the road. In other parks, they would be exposed for the weak hitters that they are. Second, the offense is very static: it wins by hitting HRs. It might steal a few bases or walk now and again. But the club is notably weak in batting average and doubles hitters. It really isn’t a dynamic offense. A high-average hitter (or two) with gap power might help to round out the club.

    [/longing for the days of Sean Casey and EdE]

    So, to sum up the offense. . .

    The good: Josh Hamilton, Dunn, Griffey. Lots to cheer about, generally speaking.
    The bad: the game-to-game offensive consistency.
    The ugly: the road offense.

    This is the first in a series of three articles discussing the Reds 2007 performance. Next up—the defense.
    Last edited by D-Man; 05-16-2007 at 09:16 PM.

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  3. #2
    Hey Cubs Fans RFS62's Avatar
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    Re: The offense: good, bad, ugly

    Excellent stuff, D-Man
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
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    The wino and I know bucksfan's Avatar
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    Re: The offense: good, bad, ugly

    Thanks for that summary. It's a good take on why seemingly above-average offensive performance (generally speaking) is still yielding below-average results. I'd be curious as to the typical spread of SDs for runs scored in a game over the entire league for full seasons. Are they all pretty tight or some wild outliers (signal of an offense "not in control"???)? How successful are the teams with the higher SDs when compared to the the lower? I am not asking you to do this work - just thinking out loud. 'Course if you wanna....
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  5. #4
    Please come again pedro's Avatar
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    Re: The offense: good, bad, ugly

    That's interesting D-Man.

    I think it might be interesting to see which starting pitcher the reds faced in each of those games. I wonder if there is a certain "type of pitcher" that the Reds do well/poorly against.
    Get your nunchucks and the keys to your dad's car. I know where we can get a gun

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    Re: The offense: good, bad, ugly

    Quote Originally Posted by bucksfan View Post
    Thanks for that summary. It's a good take on why seemingly above-average offensive performance (generally speaking) is still yielding below-average results. I'd be curious as to the typical spread of SDs for runs scored in a game over the entire league for full seasons. Are they all pretty tight or some wild outliers (signal of an offense "not in control"???)? How successful are the teams with the higher SDs when compared to the the lower? I am not asking you to do this work - just thinking out loud. 'Course if you wanna....
    I've thought about doing that kind of study, but I don't have the entire data set. It took me ~1/2 hour or hour to put this small sample together--I can't imagine how long a multi-year study would take.

    But I'm actually really curious about this stuff. I am interested in profiling an "out of control" team [nice term, thanks]. This Reds club seems to fits the bill. But I think you're right, there probably a lot of interesting data on the subject. I haven't seen any studies on standard deviations of runs scored. And I'm shocked BP doesn't keep this data on its stats page.

    If anyone has any ideas how to put a bigger study like this together, I would appreciate input. What tools could assist, a data set that doesn't need much formatting, etc.

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    Re: The offense: good, bad, ugly

    Quote Originally Posted by D-Man View Post
    I've thought about doing that kind of study, but I don't have the entire data set. It took me ~1/2 hour or hour to put this small sample together--I can't imagine how long a multi-year study would take.

    But I'm actually really curious about this stuff. I am interested in profiling an "out of control" team [nice term, thanks]. This Reds club seems to fits the bill. But I think you're right, there probably a lot of interesting data on the subject. I haven't seen any studies on standard deviations of runs scored. And I'm shocked BP doesn't keep this data on its stats page.

    If anyone has any ideas how to put a bigger study like this together, I would appreciate input. What tools could assist, a data set that doesn't need much formatting, etc.
    Great stuff, D-Man.

    I have a data set that may be able to provide some of the information you're looking for, at least as a starting point. Retrosheet has game logs available for every season, though it's a bit cumbersome to sort through, get stuff together in one sheet, and format in a somewhat readable form.

    Last year, I created an Excel sheet that included the game logs from every game from 2001-2005 for a different project, and I still have that original Excel sheet for those game logs. If you're interested, I can easily zip it up, upload it to another site, and toss you the link.
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    Re: The offense: good, bad, ugly

    Quote Originally Posted by pedro View Post
    That's interesting D-Man.

    I think it might be interesting to see which starting pitcher the reds faced in each of those games. I wonder if there is a certain "type of pitcher" that the Reds do well/poorly against.
    lefty's...offspeed specialists...aces...first-time starters...hmmm, who did I forget???

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  9. #8
    Please come again pedro's Avatar
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    Re: The offense: good, bad, ugly

    By my count the Reds have lost 25 games this year when they've scored 4 or more runs. 17 when they've scored 5 or more. So, while I agree that the offense is and has continued to be inconsistent, it appears that pitching is still what is killing this team.
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    Danger is my business! oneupper's Avatar
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    Re: The offense: good, bad, ugly

    IIRC in the first half of 2005, the REDS were outplaying their Pythag projections and the reason was that they were scoring a lot AND scoring very consistently. It was 5 or 6 runs per game instead of 11 one night and zero the next. (...and then the west coast happened). I remember even doing an analysis on it.

    This year, the offense's performance has been on the other extreme...expecially poor in high-leveraged situations. Heck the team scored 16 the other night, but hasn't been able to "tack on" late "claw back" when there is still time and "put away the opponent" when given the chance. (How's that for a list of clich&#233;s).

    While I must agree with pedro that pitching is still the weakest point, I don't think that these are totally independent variables (offense and pitching). Give a BP a 3 or 4 run lead to protect and they won't pitch the same way as if given a 1 run lead or tied game. (and IMO are more likely to do a bit more effectively).

    That said, the question would be why? As in why has this team's offense been so "clutchless".

    Without the info (or time) to analyze it, I'll state the obvious:

    Either

    1) The team is cursed and got the short stick in baseball's randomizer this year or...

    2) The team is full of "mistake" hitters, who feed on poor pitches but are unable to do much when faced with above average pitching.

    3) Poor lineup construction and/or "out hitters" sprinkled throughout the lineup allow opponents to get the matchups they want.

    4) A combination of the above (or something else).


    The one thing I do remember about the 2005 team that 1-8, there wasn't a really easy out in the lineup. This year...more holes that a well-aged swiss cheese.
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    2009: Fail Ltlabner's Avatar
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    Re: The offense: good, bad, ugly

    Quote Originally Posted by oneupper View Post
    2) The team is full of "mistake" hitters, who feed on poor pitches but are unable to do much when faced with above average pitching.

    3) Poor lineup construction and/or "out hitters" sprinkled throughout the lineup allow opponents to get the matchups they want..
    I'd say "bingo" to number 2. Dunn, Ross, Phillips, Gonzo, Javy and Conine thrive on crushing mistakes. That's 44% of the everyday line up and your alleged #1 and #2 bench guy. EE is a good hitter but still young so more liable to make mistakes, press too hard, etc. Freel is out but is also a feast or famine guy. Hopper is still learning. Moller and Castro can't hit period, mistake or not.

    Of those mentioned, Dunn is the only that suplants his EBH with walks. Phillips can at least hit a fair number of EBH but he's still a free swinger. Hatte is a more regular hitter, who can occasionally get one out of the park to the RF, but he's slow and isn't a long term solution anyway. Jr is Jr.

    Number 3 on your list only excaserbates the problems caused by #2.
    a super volcano of ridonkulous suckitude.

    I simply don't have access to a "cares about RBI" place in my psyche. There is a "mildly curious about OBI%" alcove just before the acid filled lake guarded by robot snipers with lasers which leads to the "cares about RBI" antechamber though. - Nate


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