As I sit here contemplating what in the world Wayne Krivsky must be thinking by not cashing in certain chips, and also contemplating what in the world Wayne Krivsky sees in Jorge "Out Machine" Cantu, I got to thinking about Wayne Krivsky and on-base percentage. And I've also noticed one disheartening trend since Krivsky was hired, and now I'm wondering where in the world this future offense could be headed.
The National League has hovered around the .330 to .334 mark for on-base percentage during the last two plus seasons. In 2005, the Reds were well above average with a .339 on-base percentage. During the first half of 2006, the Reds were still well above average with a .342 on-base percentage.Code:On-Base Percentage Reds NL Full Yr 2005: .339 .330 ---------------------------- 1st Half 2006: .342 .334 2nd Half 2006: .328 .334 Thus Far 2007: .324 .330
But something happened last July, and it's still happening now: this team just flat out cannot get on base anymore.
The Reds' on-base percentage during the second half of 2006 dipped all the way down to .328, below league average, and it's dropped even further down to .324 thus far in 2007. Granted, the National League on-base percentage also dipped a tad from .334 last season to .330 this season, but it's a bad sign when a team's fuel for an offense is disappearing into thin air. If a team isn't getting on base, then it's choking its own ability to score runs and win games. Usually where on-base percentage goes, run scoring soon follows.
What's happened? Well since the beginning of 2006, here's some notable lost on-base percentage ...
Austin Kearns: .351 on-base percentage in 2006 1st half
Felipe Lopez: .355 on-base percentaeg in 2006 1st half
Rich Aurilia: .349 on-base percentage in 2006
Chris Denorfia: .356 on-base percentage in 2006
Those four players combined for around 1,350 plate appearances in 2006, and their combined on-base percentage was up over .350. All of them are gone now as a result of trades or free agency.
Now, I'm not highlighting those four players and criticizing Krivsky over getting rid of those players. Even if the move is wholly necessary, such as letting Rich Aurilia walk after last season, the main point is when you lose such a key ingredient to run production and team success as on-base percentage, you better figure out a way to replace it. What we're seeing now is with the departure of those players above, there has been very little in the way of replacing all that lost on-base percentage.
How about the future? Well, this is interesting ...
Ken Griffey, Jr.: .386 on-base percentage
Scott Hatteberg: .406 on-base percentage
Adam Dunn: .361 on-base percentage
Their combined on-base percentage for 2007? Try a whopping .382 over 1,166 plate appearances. And those 1,166 plate appearances represent nearly 30 percent of the Reds' total offensive plate appearances.
Now what's the team on-base percentage excluding those three players? Did you guess a dismal .300 on-base percentage? Doubtful, but that's what it is. Pretty ugly, eh?
But here's the ugly aspect, which is what do those three players have in common? The answer is they're all likely to not be in Reds uniforms and/or playing key roles for the Reds by 2009.
Griffey is 37-years-old, and I can't see this team picking up his $16 million option in 2009 when he'll be 39-years-old. He's likely gone.
Hatteberg is also 37-years-old, and with a combination of Joey Votto pushing him from the minors, his age, and only having a team option for 2008, it's not likely he'll be around in 2009 either.
And Adam Dunn, well apparently Krivsky's been trying to trade him for quite some time now. Fortunately he hasn't yet done so, but given his contract status I'd still be shocked if he's around in 2009 (the Reds should make sure he is around then, but that's another topic).
Now I'm high on both Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, and I like them as hitting prospects, but this team really has little to no other means of hitting in its upper minors. Plus, those two players alone won't encompass 30 percent of the team's total plate appearances, and if anybody is expecting them to combine for a .382 on-base percentage, then they'll just be setting themselves up for disappointment. They could both hold their own very well early in their big league careers and still only toss up .350ish on-base percentages. And that means this offense is going to need significantly more on-base percentage help than just Joey Votto and Jay Bruce.
Wrap all the above together, and what we know is within 18 months that fuel for the team offense is likely gone. That big .382 on-base percentage from three guys who represent nearly 30 percent of our offense will no longer be around. And this is on the heels of losing other key on-base contributors in the last 12-13 months.
Wayne Krivsky has found a few guys under rocks who have worked out well, but he needs to stop screwing around with high out machine stiffs such as Jorge Cantu and start focusing on finding guys who have an ability to get on base. The on-base percentage void has already appeared with a 15-20 point drop since the first half of 2006, and if the on-base abilities of Dunn, Griffey, and Hatteberg are all gone by 2009, then that team on-base percentage void will grow even larger. And as much as I like Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, they won't come close to filling that massive void by themselves.