Bowtie McFunnypants checked in on several teams in his latest roundup, focusing largely on the Braves and Rays and saying astute things like Dan Uggla "was on a Hall of Fame track" prior to joining Atlanta. He did, however, give some insight into Reds CF Billy Hamilton's offseason plans, since he's apparently interested in being a better and more frequent bunter (yay). Also included are some awkward quotes from Brandon Phillips, who basically says that he's one of the best players in baseball and once Hamilton figures out how great he can be, he can be, too. Oh, Brandon. Hopefully this just means Billy will show bunt and pull it back before the first pitch of every at bat from now on.
Speaking of which, Phillips has a .687 OPS and 91 OPS+ over his last 1100 PA and 1000 AB. Three years, $39 million. Double Woodford on the rocks please, barkeep.
Here's FanGraphs' Dave Cameron muddying the waters about On Base Percentage again. Cameron gets a Dusty Baker Honorary High-Five for writing an article about base clogging without actually saying the phrase "base clogging," but he makes a very solid observation regarding the speed of players once they reach base and how that relates to overall runs scored. The theory, of course, is that runs are ultimately what determine whether a team wins or loses, and while OBP is generally required to make said runs happen, having David Ortiz on 1B from a walk versus having Billy Hamilton on 1B from a walk is a scenario that creates markedly different results from a runs perspective. So, a walk is a walk is not a walk is a single is not a single is a walk, essentially, and it may mean that picking up an RBI batting behind Hamilton's .300 OBP may actually be just as easy as getting one behind Ortiz and his .360 OBP.
Hamilton has scored 41% of the time he's reached base so far in 2014, which ranks as tied for the 2nd most frequent in the National League among players with at least 550 PA (behind only Anthony Rendon and tied with Dee Gordon). Considering how many times he's been thrown out while trying to steal, that's pretty impressive with how sub-mediocre the rest of the Reds offense has been. To connect the dots, here's where ESPN's Christina Kahrl notes that the success rate on trying to bunt for hits has been as low as 22% league-wide for a decade, and Hamilton's 2014 mark was roughly 31% when this was written in late June.
Over at Redleg Nation, Doug Gray wonders why the recent September call-ups haven't yet seen the light of day. It's baffling, as he notes, that Donald Lutz has never in his now two year Reds career started two games in a row. It would be one thing if the veteran regulars had been producing at a reasonable clip and playing the call-ups would risk deflating the team's ability to the point of offering a decided advantage to the teams playing the Reds now as opposed to two weeks ago, but I'll reiterate what was discussed in last night's game thread: since the All-Star break (now nearly 50 games), the Reds rank dead last in all of baseball in runs, hits, total bases, RBI, batting average, on base percentage, slugging, and OPS (duh), and "lead" many of those by quite a wide margin. The team as a whole has a .605 OPS since the break, well ahead (behind?) the New York Mets and their 29th ranked .640 mark. So if playing the whippersnappers doesn't really make the team worse, why act like it?
Finally, the Enquirer's John Fay took a quick peek at the idea of trading starting pitching for hitting this offseason, opining basically that Johnny Cueto is amazing and TINSTAAPP. He makes some sound points, too, considering the rise of the wealth of pitching within the organization has synced exactly with the recent run of success, and deviating significantly from that path may not necessarily be as obviously successful as many seem to think. In a perfect world, I think signing Cueto takes the crown as the offseason's top priority, followed closely by trading Mike Leake for a pre-arb bat of some distinction. Why Leake? Well, a trade of Mat Latos this winter would be a sell-low move, for one, but I also think that there's a greater chance that Latos would decline a qualifying offer after the 2015 season than there is that Leake would, so I'd swap Leake for a hitting prospect at net a draft pick (and one more season) out of Latos. But, as 2014 has taught us all, the world is far from perfect, so who the hell knows what we'll see.