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Making contact with the 2009 Reds is not so easy

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I know the season is early and all that, but let me ask you a couple of questions:

  • Which team leads the NL in walks per plate appearance?
  • Which team leads the NL in pitches per plate appearance?

Would you believe that your Cincinnati Reds are the correct answer to both of those questions?  I didn't believe it until I saw it.

Then again, there's always a reason for these types of things.

Reason number one is that the pitchers that the Reds have faced so far have had a hard time hitting the strike zone.  The Reds have seen the 2nd fewest number of strikes per pitch in the NL, ahead of only Philadelphia.

The second reason that their pitches per PA rate is so high is that they've also had the highest rate of swings-and-misses in the NL, tied with Milwaukee at 21%.  Their overall contact rate is just 73%, which is why they are 3rd from the bottom at putting the ball in play - 4% below the league average.  This also explains how they can be second in the league, while swinging at the first pitch 33% of the time and still go deep into at bats.  They just can't make enough contact to end the at bat quickly.

As you would guess from all of this information, they have the fourth highest strikeout rate in the NL.

So, this team may not be hitting the cover off of the ball, but at least they are making pitchers work to get through the innings.  Heck, that's a lot more than I would have expected from the offense.