Apr 24, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) and third baseman Todd Frazier (21) celebrate scoring after Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick (not pictured) hit a double against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the sixth inning at PNC Park. The Reds won 2-1. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Cincinnati Reds’ bats awaken from their winter slumber


One game seemingly flipped the script for Cincy’s offense.

Through the first 11 games of this 2014 season, the Cincinnati Reds owned a record of 3-8. I had even seen a few comments – I stress, a few – within social media circles already crying for the head of manager Bryan Price. How times have changed even within a small window of only 22 games.

There’s the first 11 and the next 11. The Reds offense has taken on a scorer’s mentality, of sorts.

Take a look at some numbers.

Reds BA OBP SLG HR R LOB RECORD
First 11 .219 .286 .336 8 26 81 3-8
Last 11 .289 .364 .442 12 62 84 8-3

There’s no comparison, is there? And that one game? It was a 12-4 win against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Reds had dropped the first two games of that series, losing by scores of 2-1 and 1-0. Since then, well, you see the results.

Let’s add this. Over those last 11 games, the Reds have failed to score at least four runs in every game only once. That occurred yesterday when they won 2-1 and finished off winning three of four in Pittsburgh. The Redlegs have also won their last three series after dropping their first three of the season. Two of the series wins were against rival Pittsburgh and the other was against the Chicago Cubs. Winning within the division is always a bonus.

The bats do bear a part in this early season turnaround.

I’m sure some of the kudos that Price will receive will be born from his un-Dusty Baker-like move in taking Joey Votto and slotting him in the lineup’s second spot. Don’t be fooled by thinking that alone has sparked this offensive switch. You’ll be leaving a few players out of the discussion that also deserve a mention or two.

1. Devin Mesoraco

Mesraco GP BA OBP SLG HR RBI R RECORD*
First 11 3 .455 .500 1.000 1 2 2 1-2
Last 11 10 .485 .526 .758 2 11 7 6-3

Mesoraco started the season on the disabled list and has done nothing but prove the front office made the right decision in dealing Ryan Hanigan. Yes, Off-season signee Brayan Pena has proven to be a nice addition as well.

Until yesterday, Mesoraco had collected a hit in every game in which he has played so far this season.

2. Jay Bruce

Bruce GP BA OBP SLG HR RBI R RECORD*
First 11 11 .158 .283 .368 2 8 5 3-8
Last 11 10 .324 .444 .514 1 5 11 7-3

Could have his season started any worse? He definitely struggled through the team’s first 11 games and Bruce started in all 11. We could even go through the team’s (and Bruce’s) first 14 games and some of the numbers don’t look any better (.152/.333/.348, 2 HR, 8 RBI).

A couple of days off (as planned by Price) and the ship appears to have been righted.

And when Jay Bruce gets on one his patented hot streaks, the entire league is in serious peril.

3. Ryan Ludwick

Ludwick GP BA OBP SLG HR RBI R RECORD*
First 11 9 .250 .286 .344 1 4 3 2-7
Last 11 8 .346 .433 .538 1 5 3 6-2

Ludwick was a question mark heading into this season. In 2012, he was a huge piece of the Reds offense. After returning from a shoulder injury he suffered on Opening Day 2013, he was not the same as the 2012 model. The 2014 version of Ludwick is looking a little more like that of the 2012 season.

He drove in the winning runs in yesterday’s win, accounting for 2 of those 5 RBI. Maybe the best part of Ludwick’s contribution is that his strikeouts have subsided. For the first 11 games (9 for him), he whiffed 10 times. Over the “second half” (8 for Ludwick), it’s down to 5.

4. Billy Hamilton

Hamilton GP BA OBP SLG HR RBI R SB RECORD*
First 11 10 .147 .194 .235 0 1 2 2 2-8
Last 11 11 .300 .326 .325 0 3 7 7 8-3

We can debate Hamilton being the guy atop the Reds batting order – or even a big leaguer – all we want. I’m sure we’ll hear this as long as the season continues. It is certainly a worthy discussion especially when you look at his stats through the team’s first 22 games.

But as you see in the table directly above, Hamilton has been a contributor over the last 11 games. Of course, the small difference in BA and OBP grabs your attention as there still is work to do here.

Last season, the Reds scored a lot, but most any Reds fan will tell you is that the offense of 2013 was inconsistent. Through 22 games last season, the Reds had scored more runs (112), had five games where the scored in double-digits and owned a record of 13-9. What makes this painful for the Reds faithful is that they are potentially two pitches to Ike Davis away from matching that same 13-9 record.

And if you think I’m discounting what the pitching from Johnny Cueto, Alfredo Simon, Tony Cingrani, and Mike Leake

For the next three games, this offensive revival will be put to the test as the Reds will visit Atlanta for three games. They will face the trio of Ervin Santana (5 GS, 2-0, 0.86 ERA, 0.810 WHIP), David Hale (3 GS, 0-0, 2.93 ERA, 1.630 WHIP), and Julio Teheran (5 GS, 2-1, 1.80 ERA, 1.000 WHIP).

And lest we forget, Atlanta owns one of baseball’s better bullpens.

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  • Ron Fulton

    Like I said before, you can blame the ST for the slow start. In ST you don’t give the starters near enough starts to get them ready. Hence, slow out of the box.

    • http://calltothepen.com/ Steve O.

      If the guys felt they weren’t getting enough AB, there’s always the minor league games in which they can get in some swings. Votto took that approach last spring and he still struggled out of the gate. They also could have said something to Price as well.

      Number of starts doesn’t correlate as much as feeling comfortable with your swing and at the plate. Another reason Votto took that approach last season.

      And look at the Reds spring training stats. Seven starters were among the top eight on the team in ST AB. The only starter that wasn’t: Mesoraco…and he was hurt during ST. He hasn’t gotten off to a slow start.

      The bench player that was (and also led the team in AB): Heisey with 58. The others had from 48-57 ABs.

      There are team’s hitting and scoring at a higher rate than the Reds that employed the exact same ST philosophy as the Reds. Most teams do.

      • Ron Fulton

        You are rationalizing. What you forget is that most players hate spring training an do as little as possible. I’m referring to the veterans. Pete Rose told me that himself.

        • http://calltothepen.com/ Steve O.

          And what you are forgetting is that Pete Rose was a different sort when it came to the game. His drive was, is, and will forever be unrivaled.

          • Ron Fulton

            My point exactly, if a guy with Rose’s ethic hated it, what do do think the average guy does. As little as possible.

          • http://calltothepen.com/ Steve O.

            But your point explains nothing other than Rose and his peers hated spring training and they wanted to do very little. Same does likely hold true today, but that doesn’t explain slow starts. Players have slow starts every year.

            And how would you then explain the hot starts of Chase Utley, Justin Morneau, Chris Colabello, and on and on and on?

          • Ron Fulton

            Maybe they worked at it harder. All I’m saying is when one or two players come out slow that is one thing, but when just about everyone comes out slow, it is a good possibility that too much time was given the minor leaguers and not enough to the starters. Won’t you concede that is a good possibility?

          • http://calltothepen.com/ Steve O.

            Maybe they worked at it harder? And maybe they didn’t either.

            I revert back to my original comment. The Reds handled their ST PA for starters no different than other teams. Look at the ST numbers for all of the other teams. Some a little more and some a little less. It was pretty consistent throughout the league.

          • Ron Fulton

            Just because other teams do it, don’t mean the Reds must do it. Maybe they come out of the box slow as well. I still think not enough at bats for the starters in ST.