The Cincinnati Reds ended the first half of their 2015 season by being gored by a Miami Marlins team devoid of its franchise superstar (Giancarlo Stanton), its other 2015 All Star (Dee Gordon, at least for part of the series), Jeff Conine, or big off-season addition Mat Latos.
At least, I'm pretty sure they didn't have Jeff Conine.
That the Reds out-meeked one of baseball's most consistent meek franchises is a story we've been tracking religiously since the disastrous end of the 2014 season, and we'll pick back up with that by the time the Reds get back on the field on Friday. For the time being, we'll use this handy dandy weeklong break in the action to look at some of the interesting statistics the Reds have posted through the first half of the year (the first of which being that it's not actually 'half' of the year since they've logged 86 of a likely 162 games, but you probably knew that already).
There's probably not a better place to start than 'at the top,' so we'll begin with the Cincinnati leadoff position. So for, the collective .594 OPS the team has received from the top spot in the order is dead last in all of baseball, as is their .275 OBP. Interestingly, you're allowed to hate on the leadoff spot whether you're a saber-head or a tHom disciple, since the 19 runs batted in by Reds leadoff hitters is also dead last in MLB. Billy Hamilton's struggles to start the season and the subsequent takeover up top by Brandon Phillips were both well documented, but the similarity between their performances has surprisingly been rather glossed-over. Hamilton posted just a .280 OBP in his 167 PA batting leadoff, but Phillips hasn't fared much better at all, as he's managed just a .282 OBP in 164 PA hitting there.
What may be more provocative than the similar on-base ability is this, though: Hamilton produced 27 runs scored from the leadoff spot, while Phillips has managed just 19.
Joey Votto has spent the bulk of his 2015 hitting second in the batting order, and he, too, has compiled a few interesting statistical tidbits that won't exactly show up on the back of his card. The Reds' resident on-base machine has kept right on on-basing so far this year, and he's been remarkably consistent in doing so. His OBP in home games: .391; his OBP in road games: .393. How he's reached those percentages, though, come with two completely different stories. In GABP - a park that's notoriously conducive to dingers and oppressive to doubles - Votto has just 2 doubles in 169 PA, and you'll likely remember that this is the same guy who was on-pace to break the MLB single-season record for doubles prior to his knee injury in 2012. On the road, however, he's hit 13 doubles in 201 PA, which seems much more in line with the gap-to-gap power he possesses in spades.
Baseball Reference lists Todd Frazier's middle name as just "B.," which will never not remind me of this. Todd Bee Frazier, by the way, has had a whale of a first half. His 26 doubles lead the NL, as do his 52 extra-base hits. His proliferation of nabbing multiple bases when he puts the bat on the ball is also on a historic trajectory, as the 98 extra-base hits he's on pace for (52 divided by 86 times 162) would be a Reds single-season record. Currently, the legendary Frank Robinson's 92 extra-base hits in 1962 are the club record, and if Todd manages to up his rate enough to get to 100 extra-base hits on the season, he'd join a super exclusive group. Only 15 times in major league history have players topped 100 extra-base hits, and the list of those who have is a veritable 'Who's who' of Cooperstown lore (or a Coors Field hero): Lou Gehrig (2x), Chuck Klein (2x), Todd Helton (2x), Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Jimmy Foxx, Hank Greenberg, Albert Belle, Stan Musial, Sammy Sosa, Luis Gonzalez, and Rogers Hornsby.
Yikes. Fortunately for Todd, the Reds have more home games left on the schedule than road affairs, since Frazier's splits are pretty jaw dropping: 1.117 OPS in 173 PA in GABP against just a .756 OPS in 201 PA away from home.
Jay Bruce knows a little something about that, too. Bruce has long been a player whose sweet lefty swing fits better in GABP than in other stadiums, and 2015 has been no different. Bruce's .897 home OPS dwarfs his .726 road mark, but that's almost all in the slugging portion since he's been getting on base regardless of venue. In fact, his current .341 OBP would tie his career high from 2010 if the season ended today, and that's gone a long way to help re-establish that Bruce is a quality big league bat whose disastrous 2014 season can be chalked up to a bum knee. His season OPS+ from the four years prior to 2014: 124, 118, 121, 120. His season OPS+ so far in 2015: 120. Welcome back, Jay.
Finally, remember Devin Mesoraco? Sure you do! He was the Reds 4th string pinch hitter for nearly two months earlier this year! Jokes aside, Mesoraco blasted more dingers than any other catcher in any league in 2014, and constituted the bulk of the 27 dingers hit by Reds catchers last year. That, by the way, was the most from any team in all of baseball. Mes's absence has hit the stat books hard, as neither Brayan Pena or Tucker Barnhart has been able to replicate any part of his power. Cincinnati catchers have hit just 3 dingers so far in 2015, which is tied with Philadelphia for the 28th most in the game this year. Only Boston and St. Louis (ha, Toilet!) have hit fewer, with both teams having smacked just 2 homers.
Win, Kevin Gregg, or draw, the Reds still have 76 games to go in 2015, and while the early returns haven't been much to look at, at least there are a few statistical anomalies worth keeping an eye on.