First, the links. Those are easy enough.
Beyond The Box Score looks at Chrisses Heisey, Carter, and Denorfia. While I miss Denorfia and don't need a high-K 1b, Heisey's valuation is the most interesting. Decent power and baserunning and an ability to play three positions is all very nice, and there's surely someone who covets that and wants to give Heisey 600 at-bats. That said, I'm not sure the Reds would trade him and just simply hope that Billy Hamilton will be fantastic with only Derrick Robinson to back him (and a fragile Ludwick) up. Heisey will stay unless someone blows the Reds away.
Y'all remember when we looked at the list of minor league free agents with lascivious lips and hopeful glee? Thank goodness we don't have to do that anymore. The good folks at Fangraphs look at what makes a successful minor league free agent. I won't spoil it for you, but it's a 28-year old defensive specialist who gets BABIP lucky or a 28-year-old lefty with decent location. The Reds will probably pick up their share of Greg Reynolds-types for us to pea-shoot at freight trains, but I don't think they'll pick up anyone that'll push Robinson for playing time. For what it's worth, here's the Baseball America list. I'll miss Phipps because I'm weird, but there's lots of sad stories on that list, like Matt LaPorta and Andy Marte.
Speaking of Baseball America! They have the Reds' top 10 list for the year! The accompanying text is dreary as heck, but I'm not too disappointed. The list is somewhat A-ball heavy, but there's a ton quick-risers in there, and I wouldn't be surprised to see everyone on the list in AAA by next year (and Billy doing his thing in the bigs). Is it too early to start salivating for Travieso/Lively/Cisco?
Quick hits: Our 5th-favorite Kentuckian Hunter S. Thompson's sportswriting, reviewed. Joe Posnanski writing thousands of words on Pete Rose is always fun. ScoutingNY went hunting for the apocalypse and found it right near Citi Field in Queens, where he photographs the part of New York not connected to public services.
~*~ AnD nOw ThE mAiN eVeNt ~*~
One of my favorite arguments of every offseason is who will bounce back or not. Because we don't really know. But since we have data through which to read looking for hints at who will improve, and we prefer poking through data than augury in this day and age, it's what we do. So lets look through and see who had the wildest fluctuation of a season, and wonder what that means for next year.
- Joey Votto is fine. His HR/FB numbers were about normal (18%), but he hit many more grounders than usual (43.7% to a career ~40%). His BABIP was at .360 this year, which is probably more realistic than 2012's .400, but Votto is still hitting the ball very, very, hard. We cool.
- BP's K% was its highest since 2008 and his BABIP the lowest since 2009. He's safely past-prime, but I think he'll have a bounce-back season or two. It looks like he may be doing it in a different uniform, but he's still a 2-3 win pivot.
- Todd Frazier is never going to be a high-BABIP guy because of his fly-ball swing. That said, .269 is still awfully low. If his defense is legit and his bat comes back (which it should), he could put up a 4 or 5 WAR season. A .270/.340/.500 season or two would fit in with his aging curve, and paired with his defense? Yeah. That would be very, very, nice. And not insane, either.
- This is who Zack Cozart is. That's not bad at all. He's gonna pop the ball up a bunch and ground to short as well. Bat him 8th and let him play D.
- This year's .264 BABIP beats 2012's .234 BABIP for Mesoraco, but he still is incredibly lucky for how level his swing is and how hard he hits the ball. His walk rate dipped from 10% to 7%, but if he keeps up a solid approach, it'd go well with his defense (for all we talk about Hanigan, it's not like the pitching slipped a notch without him). I have no idea how the catching situation will be sorted out, but I really want to keep Mesoraco around.
- Jay Bruce's walks went down a touch, but he's only getting stronger. He "is who he is" as far as AVG is concerned, but the slugging oughta increase the next couple years. Whoo-wee!
- Chris Heisey is gonna pop the ball up 1/5 at bats but hit some solid dingers. Whatever. Hannahan and Paul aren't going to be much better than they were last year and likely worse.
- The sad news: Cingrani had a .246 BABIP and stranded 82% of runners. That won't last, even if he does develop a changeup.
- Alfredo Simon's .236 BABIP is also a bit eye-popping. I would love if some team bought high on him.
- Hoover was at .246, Cueto was at .236, and Leake was at .285, all of which is very, very, low. Leake is always going to have an ERA that's directly correlated to his BABIP, but Hoover and Cueto are high enough K/9 guys to get away elsewhere. The awfulness of how Cueto's season ended obscures how great he was during the season (and I hope we don't have to see replays every ding-dong start), but everything about this team screams for starting pitching and relief depth. Then again, they screamed after 2012, and look what happened.
- If Chapman does move to starting, basically every bullpen role is up for grabs as we wait to see how Marshall and Broxton come back from injury and how LeCure and Hoover shuffle around the order. For as much as Price's role in revamping the rotation has been bandied about, I am very curious to see his bullpen usage. There are lots of fun pieces there (especially if Parra comes back; he's a free agent), but I am not sure precisely how to put them together. I'd prefer another dependable lefty besides Marshall in there.