Apr 7, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart (2) hits a one run single off of St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal (not pictured) during the ninth inning at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Reds 5-3. (Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

The Cincinnati Reds offensive offense

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Eleven games into this season and the Cincinnati Reds offense has been pretty paltry as far as production. This offense has yet to click.

Yesterday, manager Bryan Price made a move that former Reds skipper Dusty Baker never considered: moving Joey Votto to the 2-hole. It proved fruitless yesterday as the Reds dropped a 1-0 decision to the Tampa Bay Rays. Over the first two games of that three-game set, the Reds have pushed one run across home plate.

One. And that came on a Votto HR, his first of the season.

Matt Snyder of CBS Sports tells Reds fans not to worry of the dreadful start to their 2014 campaign. There are some factors that work into Snyder’s proclamation such as Homer Bailey isn’t as bad as his first two outings would indicate (he’s the only starter that has seemed to struggle), injuries to the likes of Aroldis Chapman and Mat Latos, and Billy Hamilton isn’t as bad as his small sample size numbers would have you believe. There’s a couple more, but I think you get the point.

As far as moving Votto up a spot in the order, one theory suggests that nowadays you have your best hitter batting second in the lineup. Potentially more opportunities at the plate.

That would be grand for the Reds putting Votto there. Give him a chance to be “more productive”. Despite what you might hear from some fans, Votto is productive. He doesn’t (and won’t) possess the high RBI numbers because opposing teams refuse to let Votto be the one guy on the Reds roster that beats them. It doesn’t matter where you put him in the order, opponents will find the means to pitch around him.

All teams deal with injuries. We know that for a fact. Thing is, the Reds are missing their #1A in Latos and one of baseball’s bet closers in Chapman. Add Jonathan Broxton (who just returned) and Sean Marshall to this mix. The bullpen was missing its entire backend. And let’s not forget that Bailey missed some time during spring training due to a groin issue.

The silver lining isn’t so much that these guys should return soon (or already has in Broxton’s case), but Latos’ “replacement” of Alfredo Simon has been magnificent in his two starts. He’s been awarded a pair of harsh losses despite

Back to the offense though…

Billy Hamilton’s start to the season has been nothing like his spring.

ST: .327/.381/.527, 6 BB, 9 SO in 63 PA
2014: .147/.194/.235, 2 BB, 9 SO in 36 PA

Yes, there was the game in St. Louis where we all dropped our jaws when Hamilton scored on the extremely short fly to right field.

But the Reds have received very little from the lineup’s top spot. In fact, Reds leadoff hitters (it’s not just Hamilton either) have crafted a putrid triple slash of .136/.224/.205, all of which rank last in baseball. Not just the NL, but the entire MLB. There’s more.

In 81 AB (100 PA) with runners in scoring position, Cincy has been hitting at a .198 clip. With RISP and 2 outs (36 AB, 42 PA), that average drops to .111. And, as you might guess, the higher the leverage, the poorer the results:

Split G PA AB R H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+
High 11 119 102 14 15 2 14 11 26 .147 .233 .235 .468 .171 51 37
Medium 11 182 162 12 34 5 12 14 47 .210 .278 .364 .642 .259 106 78
Low 11 103 96 2 30 1 2 7 24 .313 .359 .396 .755 .408 143 118

(table originated from Baseball Reference)

The club’s triple slash of .219/.286/.336 has them ranked as follows: 26th/25th/28th. The Reds average of 2.55 runs per game ranks last, tying them with the San Diego Padres. The team’s OPS+ of 72 ranks 29th just above the Friars as well.

With the talented bats the Reds do have, it’s hard to imagine they would go the entire season with these numbers. One would be unwise to think so. Take Jay Bruce for example. He has proven he can be either streaky good or streaky bad. His early-season struggles haven’t helped either. Streaky bad.

There’s no tonic for this. Either the bats get going or ti will be a long season for Reds fans.

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