Is the Reds' plate approach anything to worry about yet?

This is what you see if you're a Reds' hitter in 2012. It doesn't help that they're somehow seeing a profile view of pitchers.

In a word, "probablynot." Despite the hacking that's been happening at the plate, we're only 7 games into the season here. I don't expect Ryan Hanigan to keep a .267 OBP, nor Jay Bruce to slug .704 the rest of the season.

The Reds were seventh in the NL in BB% (and in pitches-per-plate appearance) last season, which helped them to finish fourth in the league in OBP. This year, they've have largely kept the same offensive personnel. While the team has a few regulars past their prime or getting close, patience is traditionally an age-resistant skill for hitters. Brandon Phillips, for one, has seen improvements in recent years.

They've also been facing some pretty good pitchers that stay in the strikezone, including Buehrle, Lohse and Garcia.

But there are a few reasons to be concerned. The team has started its first seven games with a .221/.281/.358 line. Basically, the team is cold - which happens. Still, it goes along with a 7.1% walk rate and 3.6 pitches per plate appearance (which would be last in the league in 2011).

It's no surprise the Reds' two most feared hitters, Jay Bruce and Joey Votto, are currently in the top 25 in P/PA, but most of the rest of the team lags behind.

It hasn't been pretty, but I'm not too concerned yet. Even though they've looked bad at the plate, Ryan Ludwick and Willie Harris historically walk significantly more than Chris Heisey and Brandon Phillips. Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce, meanwhile, have shown willingness to lay off the low stuff - even if Stubbs in particular has not be rewarded for it by the umpiring crew.

The biggest concern might be Scott Rolen. Last year, his walk rate plummeted to 3.7% and he's yet to draw a walk this season. Pitchers weren't in the zone a whole lot more than usual with Rolen in 2011, but he swung more than he ever has (at least since 2002). As a result, pitchers seem to be challenging him more this season. He'll have to prove they still need to paint the edges.

Beyond that, I'm more worried about what's happening when the Reds actually make contact. I don't think the team's .254 BABIP will stand, but they also desperately need to get production from left field and apply a fast-acting balm to Brandon Phillips hamstring.

The lack of discipline at the plate may be effecting poor pitch selection. We can only hope with warmer weather and more repetitions, their timing and offensive production will improve.


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