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Thread: Why We Lose So Many One-Run Games

  1. #1
    SSG, Red Army Choir Guacarock's Avatar
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    Why We Lose So Many One-Run Games

    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.
    Last edited by Guacarock; 08-06-2011 at 12:42 AM.

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  3. #2
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    Re: Why We Lose So Many One-Run Games

    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.
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    Danger is my business! oneupper's Avatar
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    Re: Why We Lose So Many One-Run Games

    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.
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  5. #4
    Vampire Weekend @Bernie's camisadelgolf's Avatar
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    Re: Why We Lose So Many One-Run Games

    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.

  6. #5
    Member Captain Hook's Avatar
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    Re: Why We Lose So Many One-Run Games

    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.

  7. #6
    Member Ron Madden's Avatar
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    Re: Why We Lose So Many One-Run Games

    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.

  8. #7
    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Re: Why We Lose So Many One-Run Games

    Get a #4 hitter.
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

  9. #8
    The Big Dog mth123's Avatar
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    Re: Why We Lose So Many One-Run Games

    Quote Originally Posted by GAC View Post
    Get a #4 hitter.
    Yep.
    "All I can tell them is pick a good one and sock it." --BABE RUTH

    Having better players makes "the right time" or "the big hit" happen a lot more often. PLUS PLUS

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    Battle Toad Historian thatcoolguy_22's Avatar
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    Re: Why We Lose So Many One-Run Games

    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.
    "Last week I helped my friend stay put. It's a lot easier'n helpin' 'em move. I just went over to his house and made sure that he did not start to load **** into a truck."

  11. #10
    Haunted by walks
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    Re: Why We Lose So Many One-Run Games

    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.

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    Re: Why We Lose So Many One-Run Games

    Right-handedness. The team does not fare well against right handed pitching which is very prevalent in our division.
    Agree with this.
    "Baseball is a very, very complex business. It's more of a people business than most businesses." - Bob Castellini

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    Re: Why We Lose So Many One-Run Games

    Quote Originally Posted by Guacarock View Post

    (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.

  14. #13
    Haunted by walks
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    Re: Why We Lose So Many One-Run Games

    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.

  15. #14
    BobC, get a legit F.O.! Mario-Rijo's Avatar
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    Re: Why We Lose So Many One-Run Games

    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.
    Last edited by Mario-Rijo; 08-06-2011 at 09:27 AM.
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    Re: Why We Lose So Many One-Run Games

    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).
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