18 Games at a Time - Capsule 2

See how much happier everyone is when the Reds just take my advice and win some games? 

Before we get into this glorious stretch of numbers, I thought I'd open up a bit, and let you know a little more about the inner riverfront76.

First, Chris Heisey is my favorite player of all time, on account of: a) he plays for the Reds; and b) we went to the same college, albeit some 93 years apart.  This may skew my analytical coverage to a Pravda-esque degree; I find it's important to be up front about one's biases.

Second, in the privacy and sanctuary of my own mind, I do the following every time Mike Leake pitches and does well: throw my arms up in the air, and say "Mike Leake!", in a manner reminiscent of Steve Holt from Arrested Development.  It's important to note that I do not do this out loud, but inside my brain, I really let loose and shout it.

Now that we know each other a little bit better, let's crunch some numbers, which are shown through Saturday's games...

2010 Reds, Capsule 2

Overview:

Wins/Losses: 13 - 5 (PSA), 20-16 (YTD)

Strength of Schedule: .490, YTD (11th most difficult in NL; 21st most difficult in ML) [Prev: .487 YTD SOS, 11th most difficult in NL; 20th most difficult in ML]

RPI (ESPN): .508, YTD (8th best in NL; 15th best in ML)

[Prev: .462 YTD RPI, 14th best in NL; 27th best in ML]

Baseball Prospectus playoff odds (based on team stats, YTD): 24.9% [prev: 4.5%]

Baseball Prospectus playoff odds (based on ELO concept): 30.6% [prev: 5.3%]

Baseball Prospectus playoff odds (based on team stats + PECOTA projections): 22.8% [prev: 5.3%]

Offense:

  • .273/.345/.445 (AVG/OBP/SLG) for the team, compared to NL average of .258/.331/.403
  • The eight regulars, defined by players with the most plate appearances over the 18 game stretch, were exactly the same as in Capsule 1. They are who you think they are.
  • One of the reasons the Reds won so many games in this stretch is that 6 of the 8 regulars were better than average (as measured by OPS or RC/G), and of the two that didn't meet that threshold, Drew Stubbs (224/284/433) did some positive things with the bat, such as hit three home runs and drive in 12 runs, both stats good for 2nd on the team over the period. For the second capsule in a row, Orlando Cabrera (Death Cab?) had a sub-700 OPS, but when your shortstop fields as well as he does, anything you get with the bat is pure gravy.
  • In addition to the eight regulars, the Reds employed two primary backups: Ryan Hanigan and Laynce Nix. One played the role of destroyer (Hanigan: OPS of 972), and one played the role of anti-destroyer (Nix: OPS of 538).
  • While on the subject of destroying catchers, both Hanigan and Hernandez tore it up at the plate with Hernandez showing deference to symmetry by achieving both a .500 OBP and a .500 slugging percentage.
  • Three players have appeared in every game so far: Votto, BP, and Jay Bruce. Votto has been vottomatic, and BP has been his typically enigmatic self. Jay Bruce, however, suddenly and abruptly turned his fortunes around by hitting 344/452/541. And that's with just one home run in the 18 game stretch. If and when the balls start landing on the other side of the fence, the offense might have the 2nd superstar it very much needs.
  • Chris Heisey was called up, and hit for a commanding line of 273/333/545, despite looking juuuuuust a bit overwhelmed in his first game action. Still, a debut OPS of 879 while dealing with the Cincinnati media onslaught? This is truly glorious production, comrade.

Pitching:

  • The pitchers proved equal to the bar set by the offense, pitching to a 3.43 ERA over the 18-game span, compared the NL average of 4.11.
  • Top billing will be shared by Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake (Mike Leake!) who combined for a 5-0 record and a 2.35 ERA over 7 starts. Both showed themselves to be basically unhittable (opponents hit .186 and .185 against them, respectively), while Cueto displayed a little extra wow with 19 K and 3 BB in 20 IP.
  • Mike Lincoln and Arthur Rhodes combined for 12.1 scoreless innings over 16 appearances.
  • Aaron Harang pitched better (4.02 ERA over 24.2 IP), but his cumulative season stats are...weird: On the one hand he has 41 strikeouts and 10 walks across 46.1 innings. This is good. He has allowed 9 dingers as well. That's bad. What's baffling is the 59 hits allowed, meaning his BABIP is a fairly high .347. I could see a case that his stuff isn't that good anymore, but the high K rate suggests otherwise.
  • Dusty kept the Nick Masset faith and was justified: 10 innings over 10 games, and three runs allowed. His YTD ERA still rests at a lofty 7.00, though.
  • Too soon to raise the red flags on Francisco Cordero? His ERA remains respectable, and his 12 saves reflect what he's being paid to do, but over the last 18 games, CoCo posted a 6/5 K/BB ratio over 10.2 innings. Batters haven't been fooled of late. The Reds will need vintage Cordero to continue upon this pace or anything similar.
  • Defensive efficiency is back in vogue in Cincy. The team's DER for the period jumped to .710, and the YTD rate of .691 is good for 9th best in the NL, 17th best overall. Perhaps the "don't let them hit it to SS" strategy is finally taking root.

The next 18:

  • 10 games at home, 8 on the road
  • 13 of the 18 against divisional opponents
  • 4 of the 18 against 2009 playoff teams
  • Interleague play. Yay.
  • .453 average winning percentage (2010) for the teams in the next 18 games.
  • The Reds only play one team with a winning record over the upcoming stretch (St. Louis for four games), and at press time, the hometown heroes had already kicked the Redbirds' ass in one of the crucial meetings. The summer months will step up the quality of opponent, so the Reds have a critical opportunity to build some momentum, and some breathing room (!) atop the NL Central.
  • I'm watching Homer Bailey with interest. If he can turn the corner for good...
  • Putting my GM hat on, the Reds have just spot which can be termed a weak link in any absolute manner: shortstop. The only shortstop worth a damn currently playing for a team that might be thinking "Sell" in the near future is Stephen Drew. Would Alonso + Maloney get it done? Alonso + Maloney + Frazier?
  • Free Chris Heisey!
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