Nick Kirby gives us a nice breakdown of every possible scenario from this weekend's key NL Central matchups. The Reds are in a position to make up a good deal of ground in the division race if they can win their series against the Dodgers. Los Angeles has cooled off somewhat since their historically hot stretch in which they went 42-8, but have still won eleven of their last fifteen games and six of their last seven. Fortunately for the Reds, either the Pirates or Cardinals have to lose at least two games this weekend since the two teams are playing a three-game set in St. Louis. Personally, I'd like to see the Reds sweep the Dodgers and the Pirates sweep the Cardinals. Cincinnati still has six games remaining against Pittsburgh so there's time to make up the deficit with the Pirates. Right now though, I want to leave the Cardinals as far back in the rear view mirror as possible.
Dave Cameron looks beyond this weekend to the end of the season to look at some possible free agents. He counts five marquee free agents who will almost certainly receive and turn down the qualifying offer: Robinson Cano, Shin-Soo Choo, Brian McCann, Hunter Pence, and Jacoby Ellsbury. Cameron then goes through a list of free agents to determine whether their teams should make the qualifying offer.
I was hoping that this article might yield an interesting target for the Reds this offseason, but it doesn't seem like anyone listed -- Carlos Beltran, Curtis Granderson, Mike Napoli, Nelson Cruz, and several infielders -- is a good match. Beltran would be an interesting acquisition if the Reds didn't already have Ryan Ludwick locked up for next season. Ellsbury makes the most sense, but I don't think the Reds want to spend that much money.
Jonah Keri lifts up a paean to the Big Donkey. Adam Dunn is a flawed ballplayer. His defense is terrible even if I think the advanced metrics' estimation of his worth is outlandish*. However, Dunn has knocked the cover off the ball for thirteen major league seasons. Yes, his batting average is a mere .239, but he has averaged 108 walks per 162 games for a healthy on-base percentage of .367. His isolated power** mark of .257 is 22nd all-time, ahead of Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, and Ken Griffey, Jr. Some people in the Cincinnati media would have you believe that Dunn hasn't been a clutch player. That's bogus. Dunn's career line is .239/.367/.496. His career line in high leverage situations is -- drumroll please -- .244/.386/.525.
*For example, in 2009 Dunn was 43 runs below average according to defensive runs saved while playing first base, left field, and right field. I have a very difficult time believing that a corner outfielder/first baseman can cost a team that many runs. According to Tango Tiger, a single is worth 0.47 runs, or about half a run. Dunn supposedly gave up an extra 91 singles in 1,225 innings in the field. That's not 91 extra singles compared to Keith Hernandez, Jesse Barfield, or Jay Bruce; that's 91 singles compared to the average fielder. That's an extra single in two out of every three games.
**Isolated power (ISO) is calculated as a player's slugging average minus his batting average. It gives you an idea of his true power as a good singles hitter may appear to have more power than he does if you just look at his slugging average. For example, Player A hits .300 with a .400 slugging average. Player B hits .250 with a .400 slugging average. Who has more extra base power? Player B of course. The major league average in 2013 is .144.
Colin Wyers gives us some insight to BPro's thought process as the site reworks its player value metric in an ongoing series. Some of this article is on the technical side, but it also has a nice breakdown of run expectancy by the 24 base-out states (RE24), which I think is a very helpful and underused metric.
I, for one, am glad to hear this news. I know that St. Louis is Cincinnati's rival, but I want the division race to be determined by the best players playing at their best rather than by injuries.