Well, it’s the "half-way" point (although anyone with simple math skills knows that was really a week ago), and it’s been somewhat frustrating. Going into the season I figured we’d be about a .500 team, so in that context I’m not really surprised. The way we’ve gotten here, though, is:
1. Willy Taveras. No one in the majors with more than 145 AB at lead-off has a lower OPS than Willy’s .589, yet he has 252 AB there. Only Jimmy Rollins’s .275 OBP is lower than Willy’s .288 among such hitters.
2. Jerry Hairston, Jr/Alex Gonzalez/Paul Janish: Hairston’s been a slightly better hitter among the three, but Janish (according to UZR) has been a much better defender than either (and he’s been a better hitter than Gonzalez); enough better, in fact, that fangraphs thinks he’s been worth $1.1M while the other two have negative value. Guess who’s not getting any playing time, and will get sent down once AGon gets back?
3. Jonny Gomes/Laynce Nix: Why is this not the normal LF platoon?
4. Ramon Hernandez/Ryan Hanigan: One has an OPS of .693, has thrown out 34% of baserunners (career 30%) and was termed the "first half MVP"; the other has an OPS of .836, throwing out 44% of runners (39% career) and has been watching a bunch of games.
None of those things are the fault of the players, though; that goes on the back of ….
5. Dusty Baker: Batting lineups that put Taveras and/or Hairston at the top (the Reds are 30th in OPS and 29th OBP in all of baseball from lead-off and 27th/28th from the 2 hole); hitting BP 4th; hitting Hernandez 4th (the Reds are 10th in the NL from the clean-up spot): Jay Bruce having zero protection in the lineup; Janish and Hannigan with their pictures on milk cartons; not rescuing hitters before they get tossed by the umpire….the list goes on and on. I have completely and utterly lost all respect of Baker as a manager.
6. The struggles of Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion: Bruce is still young, but he obviously needs help. EdE played with a broken wrist that everyone evidently missed; have you noticed his OPS is 360 points higher after his DL stint than before? That being said, he has to start playing much better defense.
7. The rotation: Harang and Arroyo have struggled, which really throws things off. Volquez’s injury certainly doesn’t help
On the other hand, there have been some surprises:
1. Joey Votto: I heart Joey. While he doesn’t have the HR power you want from a 1B, he’s still 3rd in baseball among 1B in OPS (and 4th overall).
2. The bullpen: 3rd in the NL in ERA.
3. Homer Bailey: He has a 3.44 ERA and 1.20 WHIP since his return to the rotation. Just maybe…
4. The afore mentioned Hanigan: What else does he need to do to see PAs?
5. Chris Dickerson: While his SLG doesn’t approach last year’s, who’d have thought he could get on base at a .370 clip?
All in all, I’m really tired of this team right now. Again, generally it’s not the players’ fault; Dusty has clearly better alternatives than Taveras and Hernandez, yet refuses to play them.
Then, to compound the problem, he puts those players in places in the batting order where they can really kill the offense. Meanwhile, until and unless the top of the rotation performs better, it won't really matter.
In other words, the frustration is likely to continue.