clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

18 Games at a Time - Capsule 3

Selective endpoints on the 2016 Reds.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Milwaukee Brewers
"We'll get through this together, buddy"
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

There is a special kind of cruelty that comes with being a sports fan. You experience positive moments about 10% of the time, while spending the other 90% stressing about it all unraveling, while somehow trying to stay optimistic through the implosion. Your team could have a truly magical season, only to see it end in a disastrous fashion by the smallest thing going wrong. If you happen to be a fan of the right team, they can bounce back quickly and let you taste the elation that comes with winning again. The rest of us fans have to wait a while, watching our favorite teams go through a drought that we hope doesn’t take as long to get out of as the last time. Yet somehow through all of that, we keep coming back.

The margin for error is paper thin in the game of baseball, as it is with any sport. One injury to a key player here, an off year by another there and a team's season can quickly turn from one of promise to one of dread. When you're dealing with a rebuilding team, that paper thin margin pretty much disappears. There is no margin for error because as you're watching the games, it seems that all you have is error. When you combine a rebuilding team with the injuries that have plagued the Reds this season, dread doesn't even begin to describe it.

It's hard to find much else to say about this team at the moment. We knew this had the potential to be bad, but this bad? The losses were certainly going to pile up, but eleven in a row? For a while there I was sure I was going to be writing "1-17" in the record line down below. We knew the team would struggle, but we didn't expect our first baseman who was just finished 3rd in MVP voting to post the 2 worst months of his career. Pitching was going to be rough, but we couldn't wait to see what Raisel Iglesias and Anthony DeSclafani could do in their second years. Instead, we get to watch guys who don't have those names get pummeled on the mound night after night.

And that is what is amazing, and almost psychotic, about being a sports fan. Even in a season where we know that on-field success won't be there, we keep watching out of hope and optimism for success that might not ever happen. But that's why we keep watching, because even though you know and understand this in the back of your mind, when that success you've been waiting for finally comes around, it tastes that much sweeter.

Here are the stats and numbers through Wednesday's games:

2016 Reds: Capsule 3

Record: 4-14

Strength of Schedule: .573 (2nd hardest in NL (ATL); 2nd hardest in MLB)

RPI (ESPN): .473 ( T-13th NL; T-27th MLB) [Previous: .506, 5th best in NL; 12th best in MLB]

Baseball Prospectus post-season odds: 0.0% (Previous 0.8%)

Baseball Prospectus division odds: 0.0% (Previous 0.0%)


  • .232/.280/.395 for capsule 3, compared to a NL average of .245/.311/.394. We actually hit for better average and got on base more in this period, believe it or not (.222/.274/.399 for capsule 2).
  • The regulars, as defined by plate appearances: Barnhart, Votto, Phillips, Cozart, Suarez, Duvall, Hamilton, Bruce. No changes on that front.
  • I was having trouble singling out somebody to call, for lack of a better term, the "Offensive MVP" for this capsule because a few guys hit pretty well, so I am going to single out the outfield. Jay Bruce, Billy Hamilton, and Adam Duvall all had great 18-game stretches in their own way. Bruce had the best overall line, hitting .333/.386/.698 with 6 home runs and 11 RBI. He’s up to .271/.321/.559 in a season which had many once again questioning whether he can produce at a high level again. A hot Jay Bruce is so much fun to watch, and hopefully we can continue to get this production out of him and enjoy the time he has left with this team, however long that may be.
  • Keeping up with the outfield, Billy Hamilton had another solid period, going .286/.322/.375. That makes 2 stretches of these selective endpoints where he has put up an OBP over .300 (.306 last time around), which puts his season OBP at exactly .300. I know we all would like this to be a little higher, but when comparing it to the Billy we have seen the last 2 seasons, this is a welcome sight that we can only hope will continue.
  • Another note on our speedy center fielder, he is narrowing the gap between his lefty and righty splits at the plate, which could be a major factor in his recent success. For the season, he is now .252/.298/.364 from the left side of the plate, compared to .265/.306/.412 as a righty. Compare that to 2015, where he hit .220/.276/.257 from the left side and .241/.270/.371 from the right. Now, the sample size is small and it is still early, but those 2015 numbers were enough for all of us, including Billy, to wonder if he should just give up hitting from the left side. This could be a huge turnaround for Billy, made even bigger by the fact that he he pretty much has triple the amount of plate appearances from the left side compared to the right (116 vs 37).
  • Last but not least for the strong hitting outfield is Adam Duvall. While his overall line for this period isn't as pretty as the others' (.254/.257/.627), dude is knocking the absolute crap out of the ball. He smacked 7 dingers and drove in 18 over the 18 games. He also owns the 5th best slugging % for the season at .573 and is tied for 4th in dingers at 13. Most concerning for Duvall, however, are his lack of walks and abundance of strikeouts. Over this capsule, he struck out 20 times and didn't register a single base on balls. That's bad, right?
  • Zack Cozart had another solid stretch at the plate, going .274/.388/.452. He notched his highest base on ball total for these 18 game capsules at 4, while striking out only 8 times. While we'd obviously like to see him improve his walk rate (tied for lowest on the team at 3.4% with Duvall), he is doing well about attacking the good pitches. He is seeing 55.6% of pitches in the zone, while making contact with 91% of those pitches when he swings.
  • Eugenio Suarez was still on the struggle bus this go around, hitting a paltry .194/.250/.381 while striking out 27 times. He had a .250 BABIP during this period, so he was slightly unlucky, but the biggest issue is the fact that he isn't making contact with the ball. He had a 56.7% contact rate over the last 18 games. To put that in perspective, the next lowest contact rate for a regular was 67.2% (owned by Joey Votto, crazily enough). He has certainly looked lost at the plate for most of the month of May, so hopefully he can turn that around soon.
  • Speaking of Mr. Votto, he struggled again through this capsule, hitting .194/.289/.448. He struck out 22 times over this period, which has been concerning all season. He is also still hitting the ball hard at a higher rate (44.9%) than he has over his career (37.0%) and still sports a BABIP (.259) around 100 points lower than his career (.354), so he is still unlucky on the balls he is making contact with. While the strikeouts are concerning, if there is one person in baseball that can turn this around, it's Joey Votto.
  • Ivan De Jesus, Jr. was our best bat off the bench, going .292/.320/.292 over the 18. While he didn't hit for any power, he still got on base and showed some encouraging signs of turning it around after his slow start.


  • 6.45 team ERA for the 18, compared to NL average of 4.04. Our season ERA sits at 5.73, which is worst in the majors, a whole 60 points behind the next worse team which plays half of it's games at altitude.
  • If you're wondering how we managed to have an 11 game losing streak with improved offensive numbers from most of the regulars, the above numbers tell the tale. I mean, what else is there to say? Until we get our regular starters back, this is about what we can expect. Thankfully, Anthony DeSclafani is set to make one more rehab start before possibly returning to the rotation in the next week or so. That should help.
  • This is the part of the article where, after looking at the numbers, I just wanted to skip it and talk about something else. What I would talk about, who knows? But the numbers are horrible, so pretty much anything else would fill this space better than what our pitching staff has done. However, for the sake of being informative and bringing you guys information, I will talk about our pitching staff. You're welcome, I think.
  • Brandon Finnegan and Dan Straily were once again our most consistent pitchers. Finnegan posted a 3.60 ERA, giving up 8 earned runs in 20 IP in 3 starts. He posted arguably the best start of his young career in this stretch, throwing a complete game against the Dodgers opposite one of the best pitchers we will ever see in Clayton Kershaw. It was also the Reds' first complete game of the season. His control issues are still worrisome, as he walked 8 batters against only 12 strikeouts. That has to improve if he hopes to continue to be a rotation piece as injured starters come back, whenever that may be.
  • Dan Straily was solid again, posting a 3.38 ERA in 24 IP over 4 starts. He gave up 9 ER in those starts while striking out 26 and walking 10. This late off-season signing continues to look better and better.
  • Ross Ohlendorf somewhat quietly had by far the best stretch of anyone in our bullpen. He gave up only 1 earned on 5 hits, only walked one and struck out 6 over 7.0 IP. It's a slight breath of fresh air to see numbers like that coming from someone that is a relief pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds.
  • This is the part where you can choose your own adventure. I tried to keep the beginning of this section positive, so now you can skip this next part and read about the next 18 if you please. For those that decide to read on, I'll try to be brief for your (and my) sanity.
  • Alfredo Simon gave up 17 ER in 13.1 IP over 4 starts. He also walked 6 while only striking out 4. I literally just double checked baseball-reference to make sure my math wasn't off. It wasn't.
  • John Lamb also gave up 17 ER, but at least spread it out over 20.2 IP. He thankfully had a solid 7 IP, 1 ER start at Coors on Saturday, which is no small feat. He also walked 9 and struck out 9, which isn't great.
  • Jon Moscot returned from his left shoulder injury and got hammered for 7 ER over 2 IP in an absolute dingerfest at Coors. At least he doesn't have to pitch there again this year.
  • The next best bullpen piece over this period after Ohlendorf: Blake Wood, with his 4.95 ERA over 9.1 IP. He gave up 5 ER over those 9+ innings while walking 6 and striking out 11. I won't get into the rest of the bullpen, because the fact that he had the second best performance shows you how bad things got.
  • Our DER (Defensive Efficiency Rating) dropped from .711 to .686, good for 9th in the NL and 19th in MLB. We made 18 errors over this period, up from 7 in the last capsule. That gives us 42 on the year, which is 14th in the NL and 29th in MLB, besting only the Cardinals who have made 46 on the season.

The Next 18:

  • 9 games at home, 9 on the road.
  • 3 of the 18 against NL Central opponents.
  • 7 of the 18 against 2015 playoff teams.
  • 4 of the 18 against American League teams, all of which involve the DH.
  • .487 average winning percentage for teams in the next 18, weighed down heavily by the Atlanta Braves.
  • Note for optimism: We finally get to play a team with a worse record than us! In a home ballpark where they are 6-22! Also, Anthony DeSclafani possibly returning should help as well.