The Cincinnati Reds were one of the surprises of the 2010 season,
winning 91 games and taking the NL Central crown by 5 games over the
Cardinals. Are the Reds going to defend their division title, or will
2010 prove to be a fluke?
Ramon Hernandez is way past his prime. But if Hernandez, who will turn 35 in May, can stay healthy and make one last push in his contract year with the Reds, he will be a catcher on some big league team next year. Is that motivation or what? Hernandez has to better than he did in 2010. Hernandez hit .297 with a .364 OBP and 18 doubles, but he hit just 7 homers and drove in just 48 runs in 97 games. He was bothered by lower back and knee soreness in the second half of the season. In his 352 plate appearances, Hernandez was apparently lucky, having a .332 BAbip (batting average on balls in play) compared to the 2010 average of .297, but he did have a 21% LD% (line drive percentage) compared to the 19% league average, and a 74% IP% compared to the 69% average. Hernandez was even lucky in terms of hitting homers, posting a 6.1% HR/FB (percentage of fly balls to the outfield that went for homers; MLB average 7.7%) compared to his 8.3% career average. When he was healthy, Hernandez played well, but he couldn't help the Reds when he was out due to injury. Hernandez was also as good as ever defensively, posting a .994 Fld% and a 34% CS% in 91 games at catcher. The 1-time AL passed ball leader also allowed just 2 passed balls. But again, those great stats didn't help anywhere near as much as it would have if Hernandez was healthy. If Hernandez can put up similar numbers both offensively and defensively in 2011 while staying healthy, I'm sure some team will sign him to be a starting catcher, maybe even to a multi-year contract. Will he? I would seriously doubt it, but again Hernandez is very motivated. Ramon Hernandez is playing for his baseball future in 2011, so you have to expect some great effort from him. But, he needs more than great effort for the Reds to be happy with his performance- he needs to stay healthy.
Hernandez will be backed up by Ryan Hanigan. Hanigan, 30, had a very good season as Hernandez's backup and injury replacement, hitting .300 with 11 doubles, 5 homers, 40 RBI, and a .405 OBP in 70 games. Hanigan did have a .313 BAbip, but he had a 22% LD% and a 74% IP%, so by no means was he lucky. He was good defensively as well, posting a .991 Fld% with a 34% CS% and just 2 passed balls (although those stats pale in comparison to his '09 stats, when he posted a .998 Fld%, tops among NL catchers, a 43% CS%, and 3 passed balls). But, you probably noticed that Hanigan played in just 70 games even though Hernandez played in just 97. He missed all of June with a thumb fracture. Hanigan, just like Hernandez and every other player, needs to stay healthy to be an effective player. If Ryan Hanigan can stay healthy, he'll be a very good backup for the Reds, and potentially a pretty good starter at catcher if Hernandez gets hurt again.
It's always nice to have the MVP of the league. Ever since reaching the big leagues as a 24 year old in 2008, there have been big expectations for Joey Votto. Votto finished 2nd in the NL Rookie of the Year in 2008 to Geovany Soto, hitting .297 with 32 doubles, 24 homers, 84 RBI, and a .368 OBP in 151 games. But in 2009, something was wrong with Votto. Votto by no means had a bad year, hitting .322 with 38 doubles, 25 homers, 84 RBI, 82 runs, and a .414 OBP in 131 games. Those are great stats, but Votto got very lucky in 2009, especially when compared to 2009. Votto had an abnormally-high .372 BAbip in 2009, compared to .328 in 2008. His LD% did go up to 25% in '09 after being at 24% in '08, but his IP% shot down from 68% to 62%, and his HR/FB went up from 10.6% to 11.8%. Those aren't encouraging numbers, but either way he was putting up great stats. But, Votto missed a lot of time in May and June of '09 with multiple problems: a respiratory disease, an ear infection, and then worst of all, a depression problem. Votto's future was in question. He clearly had the skills to be a superstar, but could he handle the mental aspect of the game? In 2010, he answered that question. Votto finally became the player that people thought he would become, hitting .324 with 36 doubles, 37 homers, 113 RBI, 106 runs, even 16 stolen bases (he had 11 combined in '08 and '09), and an NL-leading .424 in 150 games. He also led the NL in slugging percentage (.600), OPS (1.024), and OPS+ (on-base percentage plus slugging adjusted to ballpark; 174). It was an incredible season, and Votto won the NL MVP by a landslide over Albert Pujols, among others. Did Votto blossom into a superstar who will certainly experience continued success as long as he stays healthy, or was he just really lucky again in 2010? I don't want to say it, but Votto was awfully lucky in 2010. He had a .361 BAbip despite career-lows in LD% (23%) and IP% (60%), and he had by-far a career high in HR/FB, 16.3%. Entering 2010, he had a 10.9% HR/FB. He was extremely lucky. But where Votto wasn't lucky was in terms of walk rate. He walked in a career best 14.0% of his plate appearances, leading to his .424 OBP, but also decreasing his IP%. He was lucky in terms of homers, but even so, if he can maintain his walk rate and stay at his career 12.6% HR/FB, he could potentially hit 30 homers and post a .400 OBP for a long time. However, he's been lucky in terms of BAbip, so there's no reason to think he'll continue to hit .320, but he could still maintain maybe a .305 BA. Votto also had a nice defensive season in '10, posting a .996 Fld%. No matter how you slice it, Joey Votto is a great player for the Reds.
Votto will be backed up by Miguel Cairo. Cairo, who turns 37 in May, actually had a pretty good season as a backup in 2010, hitting .290 with 12 doubles, 4 homers, 28 RBI, and a .353 OBP in 91 games. He did have a .320 BA, but he had a 22% LD% and a 75% IP%. Cairo, who will play primarily 1st, 2nd, and 3rd base for the Rays in '10, but will also cameo at shortstop, left field, and right field, is above-average defensively at 2nd (.984 BA, 5.21 RF/9 [range factor per 9 innings]) and 1st (.992 BA, 9.59 RF/9) , but is below-average otherwise. He's still a good backup.
After three 20-20 seasons in a row from '07 to '09, Brandon Phillips under-performed a bit in '10, hitting .275 with 33 doubles, 18 homers, just 59 RBI (he averaged 86 from '06 to '09), 100 runs, 16 stolen bases (career-high 12 CS), and a .332 OBP in 155 games. Phillips will turn 30 in June, and 2011 is the last guaranteed year on his contract (2012 is a team option). Will Phillips be able to rebound in 2011? Phillips was not unlucky in terms of BAbip in '10, posting a .293 BAbip that was actually his highest since '07. He had an 18% that's exactly his career average and a 77% IP% that was better than his 75% career average. But BA wasn't Phillips' problem. He hit .275 and he owns a .267 career BA. His problem was that his homers and stolen bases were down. For his homers, Phillips had a 7.4% HR/FB, his lowest for a full season since 2003, and quite a bit below his 8.6% career HR/FB. If he can post an 8.6% HR/FB in 2011, he should be able to hit 20 home runs. The lack of stolen bases wasn't Phillips being unlucky- it was him not receiving enough chances to steal more bases. Phillips was just 16 for 28 in stolen base attempts, his worst percentage for a full season since 2003. He was successful on 78% of his stolen base attempts from '06 to '09. He also averaged 33 stolen base attempts per season. Phillips only attempted 28 attempts in 2010, his fewest since '06. After he hit a cold streak, he didn't attempt enough stolen bases (or the Reds' coaches didn't let him attempt enough steals), and he never got a chance to turn his low success percentage around. After Phillips was 10 for 18 in the first half of the season, he attempted just 10 more stolen bases the rest of the season. Maybe if he attempted a few more, he could have at least managed 20 stolen bases. Look for Phillips to turn that bad stolen base percentage around and steal 20 bases in 2011. He's too talented of a player not to. Defensively, Phillips was a Gold Glover, and rightfully so, considering he posted a .996 Fld% with a very good 4.81 RF/9. He'll be backed up by Cairo. Brandon Phillips was a bit of a disappointment in 2010, but look for him to rebound and be a great player for the Reds again in 2011.
Somehow, some way, Scott Rolen continues to be a very good major league player at he ages. Rolen who seems like he???s been around forever yet will turn 36 in April of 2011, was considered to be a huge injury risk after he played in just 56 games in 2005 because of shoulder surgery. But since then, while Rolen hasn???t been completely healthy each season, he has played in 112 or more games each of the five seasons since then. In 2010, Rolen hit .285 with 34 doubles, 20 homers, 83 RBI, and a .358 OBP in 133 games. His .497 slugging percentage and .854 OPS were his highest since 2006. He had an awfully good year. Defensively, Rolen, an 8-time Gold Glover, wasn???t the best defender at third base in the NL, but he was still up there, putting up another ridiculous year defensively, posting a .977 Fld% compared to the league average of .950 and a 4.87 RF/9 compared to the league average of 2.54. As long as he continues to stay healthy, Scott Rolen will continue to be a very good player for the Reds.
Rolen will be backed up by Cairo, Juan Francisco, and starting shortstop Paul Janish. Francisco, who may only be on the team while Fred Lewis is injured, hit .286 at Triple-A with '10 with 24 doubles, 18 homers, 59 RBI, and a .325 OBP in 77 games. Francisco, 23, certainly a good hitter, but if he's a good hitter, why don't they keep him at Triple-A for his first full season there rather than bring him up? Also, Francisco needs work defensively (he posted just a .927 Fld% in 62 games at third, .917 in 5 games in left field, and .967 in 3 games at first). I would have brought up Hermida while Lewis is injured, but I guess it should be a nice experience for Francisco. With Cairo being joined by Francisco, the Reds have good depth behind Rolen.
Paul Janish has done everything for the Reds the past couple years, playing some shortstop, some third base, some second base, and even pitching in a couple games. But in 2011, Janish finally has the chance to start. Janish hit .260 in ???10 with 10 doubles, 5 homers, 25 RBI, and a .338 OBP in 82 games (229 plate appearances). Janish has a .226 career batting average after 210 major league games, so you would expect that he was unlucky in 2010 in .260. Of course though, since I???m bringing this up, he was. Janish had a 22% LD% in ???10 with a 73% IP%, yet he had a .283 BAbip. Janish also has a positive trend going for him in terms of hitting homers. Janish???s homer count quintupled from 1 to 5, but he wasn???t lucky to do so. His HR/FB began reverting to neutral, going from just 1.0% to 5.6%. Maybe with regular playing time, Janish could be a pretty good offensive player for the Reds. Defensively, Janish is an outstanding defensive shortstop. He owns a .985 career Fld% at the position compared to the league average of .973, and a 4.73 RF/9 compared to the league average of 4.36. In 2010, he wasn???t as ridiculous as he was in ???09 defensively (.991 Fld%, tops among NL shortstops, 4.89 RF/9), but he still had a great defensive year, posting a .981 Fld% and a 4.47 RF/9. He also has been perfect defensively in 13 games at third base and 7 at second base, although while he posted an extremely above-average 3.33 RF/9 at third, he posted a very below-average 3.71 RF/9 at second. There???s no question that Janish is a great defensive player. Paul Janish is a great defender and he also has the potential to be a pretty good offensive player, so he should be a good player for the Reds in 2011.
But if Janish fails, there???s always World Series MVP Edgar Renteria. Renteria, signed to a one-year, 2.1 million dollar contract this offseason, wasn???t very MVP-like during the regular season, hitting .276 with 11 doubles, 3 homers, 22 RBI, and a .332 OBP in just 72 games for the San Francisco Giants. Renteria struggled to stay on the field because of injuries, most notably a biceps strain, a hamstring strain, a groin strain, and elbow soreness. The first three of those injuries each put Renteria on the 15-day DL, while the elbow soreness kept him on the Day-to-Day DL for 13 days. He missed a total of 78 days due to injury over the course of the season. And until his dominant World Series performance (.412 BA, 2 homers, 6 RBI, 6 runs), Renteria wasn???t so great when he was on the field. He needed a .323 BAbip to hit .276, and he was very lucky to have such a high BAbip, considering he posted just a 16% LD%, by far the lowest of his career (he had never previously been under 20%), and his 74% IP% was still above-average, but it was tied for his career-low. Maybe it was a small sample size (267 plate appearances), but even so, it???s unlikely Renteria ever returns to his career averages of a .287 BA, 28 doubles, 9 homers, 59 RBI, and a .344 OBP per season, especially since he???ll turn 35 in August. Defensively, Renteria actually posted an above-average .983 Fld%, but it came with Jeter-esque range as he posted just a 3.73 RF/9. It???s surprising that the Reds gave Renteria 2.1 million dollars. Nevertheless, Renteria should be a good backup for the Reds, who have the luxury of having a decent player with great experience to back up Janish.
Going into spring training, it seemed likely that the Reds would have an old-fashioned platoon in left field, with
Jonny Gomes splitting time with either Fred Lewis or Jeremy Hermida.
Gomes, now 30 years old, has always been a player with some pop,
considering he had turned in three 20-homer seasons entering 2010, but
in 2010, he finally became more of a complete player. Despite hitting 20
homers 3 times, Gomes??? career-high in RBI???s was just 59. He certainly
changed that in 2010. Gomes hit .266 with 24 doubles, 18 homers, 86 RBI,
77 runs, and a .327 OBP in 148 games (571 plate appearances). Gomes did
have a .311 BAbip compared to his career BAbip of .297, but his career
BAbip is weighed down by a .244 BAbip season in 2006 and a .198 BAbip in
2008. He posted a .352 BAbip in 2005 and a .325 BAbip in 2007, so he
certainly has been a lot luckier than he was in 2010. But in reality,
Gomes wasn???t really lucky at all in 2010. He tied his career-high with a
23% LD% and easily set a career-high with a 66% IP% (his career IP% is
just 58%). And, although Gomes hit just 18 homers in 2010, he might be
bound to hit more if he receives regular at-bats in 2011. He had just a
7.9% HR/FB compared to his 12.0% HR/FB. Gomes is a good offensive
player. Defensively, Gomes isn???t so great, considering he posted a .981
Fld% compared to the league average of .987 Fld% for left fielders with a
1.76 RF/9 compared to the league average of 1.82. Still, he???s a pretty
good player overall. But, he did hit .285 against lefties in ???10
compared to .257 against righties, and for his career he???s a .276 hitter
against lefties compared to .233 against righties, so he could be part
of a platoon and succeed. But could Lewis or Hermida step up?
Lewis, another 30 year old who the Reds inked this offseason to a one-year, $900,000 contract, had a pretty good season for the Toronto Blue Jays in ???10, hitting.262 with 31 doubles, 8 homers, 36 RBI, 5 triples, 17 stolen bases (6 CS), and a .332 OBP in 110 games. But, you have to be worried about Lewis because he had a .325 BAbip in ???10 despite a 19% LD%, a 67% IP% and an almost unbelievable 17% IF/FB (percentage of fly balls that stayed on infield ground [i.e. popups]). But, maybe Lewis would be bound to have a much worse year if he was a full-time starter again, but maybe he could succeed as a platoon player. Lewis, a lefty batter, hit .266 versus righties in ???10 compared to .247 versus lefties, but he has a much wider split for his career, .280 versus righties compared to .244 versus lefties. Maybe playing against pretty much only righties could help him. Defensively in left field though, Lewis is pretty awful, considering he posted just a .978 Fld% with a 1.61 RF/9. In spring training, Lewis hit just .205 with 1 homer, 11 RBI, 3 stolen bases (3 CS), and just a .294 OBP.
Hermida is a bit younger than Gomes or Lewis at age 27, but he doesn???t have as good of a pedigree. Hermida was a 1st round pick by the Marlins in 2002, but was a big disappointment since getting to the majors. His best year was in 2007, when he hit .296 with 18 homers and 63 RBI, but he owns just a .259 career BA. In 2010, Hermida hit just .216 with 12 doubles, 6 homers, 29 RBI, and a .268 OBP in 73 games between the Red Sox and Athletics. He missed nearly all of June and July after colliding with Adrian Beltre. In reality, Hermida wasn???t as bad as he seemed when he was on the field in '10. Hermida had a .300 BAbip, slightly above the league average, but that was despite an incredible 27% LD%. With average luck, Hermida should have had at least a .320 BAbip. He also had a decent 67% IP% and an 8% IF/FB, so those weren???t his problems. He was just really unlucky that many of the line drives he hit were caught. Defensively in left field, Hermida is pretty awful, considering he owns just a .976 Fld% at the position, including .956 in 47 games there in ???10. Hermida, another lefty batter, has hit .267 versus righties compared to .232 against lefties, so he could be a pretty good platoon player. Hermida had an awesome spring, hitting .342 with 3 homers, 6 RBI, and a .458 OBP.
From these stats, it appears that Gomes should platoon with Hermida, although I'm sure that Gomes will get some starts against righties. But, Lewis could still make the team as a backup outfielder. His competition would be Chris Heisey. Heisey, 26, had a decent rookie year as a backup for the Reds in '10, hitting .254 with 10 doubles, 8 homers, 21 RBI, and a .324 OBP in 97 games. Heisey also put up those numbers while posting a .312 BAbip, but he was actually pretty lucky to put up such a BAbip, considering he had a 19% LD%. He also had just a 61% IP%, which isn't a good combination with his average line drive rate. For his 8 homers, Heisey was extremely lucky, posting a 10.7% HR/FB. (Keep in mind that Heisey hit double-digit homers only twice in the minors.) But, I could be wrong has hit 5 homers and driven in 13 runs in spring training (he's hitting .354 with a .404 OBP). Still, he might be bound for a bit of a worse season offensively in 2011. Defensively though, Heisey is amazing in both centerfield and left fielder, posting a perfect Fld% at both positions, and showing above-average range. He did post just a .957 Fld% (2 errors) in right field, although he showed above-average range there as well. Heisey is good backup. He might have been sent down to the minors at least to begin the year, but you have to think that he's a better backup than Lewis. The Reds would likely try to trade Lewis, and somebody will be a taker, and Heisey should have his backup spot back. Overall, the Reds would have a pretty good situation in left field, with Jonny Gomes and probably Jeremy Hermida playing only to their strengths and good depth behind them in either Fred Lewis or Chris Heisey.
But that's just what I would do. The Reds made a decision Sunday, sending down Hermida to minor league camp, at least to begin the year. Gomes will start in left field, with Lewis and Heisey serving as backups. Lewis is currently out with an oblique injury that will allow Juan Francisco to at least temporarily make the team. The Reds still have a pretty good situation in left field.
26 year old Drew Stubbs, a first round pick by the Reds in 2006, spent his first full season in the majors in '10, and he was about as good as anybody could have expected, hitting just .255, but with 19 doubles, 22 homers, 77 RBI, 6 triples, 91 runs, 30 stolen bases (6 CS), and a .329 OBP in 150 games for the Reds. Is Stubbs going to be as good if not better in 2011? Stubbs had a .330 BAbip. It's bad enough that he needed a .330 BAbip to hit .255, but he also put up that number while posting just a 16% LD% and just a 57% IP%. Also, Stubbs had a very high 12.9% HR/FB. Was Stubbs just really lucky in 2011? No. Both of those questions on Stubbs have reasonable answers. Stubbs had just a 16% LD%, but he ranked among the league leaders with 27 infield hits. When he hit ground balls, he was able to beat more out for singles then the average major league player, and accordingly had a higher BAbip. In terms of the high HR/FB, first of all, Stubbs had a 12.3% HR/FB in 42 games in '09. Secondly, there is no available stat for fly balls hit by a player in the minor leagues, but other stats we can use are X/H% (percentage of hits for extra bases) and XBH% (percentage of hits for extra bases among plate appearances). Those stats also take into count that Stubbs has become more of a power hitter as he has advanced through pro ball. In 2010, Stubbs had a 36% X/H% (compared to the league average of 34%) and an 8.1% XBH% (compared to the league average of 7.7%). In 2009, Stubbs had just a 27% X/H% and a 6.4% XBH%, and he posted just a 29% X/H% and a 7.1% XBH%. So wouldn't those stats appear to show that Stubbs was very lucky in 2010? No. Those stats show that Stubbs was very unlucky in 2009. But for his minor league career, he had a 32% X/H% and a 7.5% XBH%! But those numbers were weighed down by his numbers in '10 and his numbers in '06 (30% X/H%, 6.3% XBH%). He put up numbers that were much closer to his 2010 numbers in '07 and '08. In '07, he had a 34% X/H% and an 8.0% XBH%, while in '08 he had a 35% X/H% and an 8.4% XBH%. In 2010, he put in all together and was able to replicate those numbers at the major league level. Stubbs could have an encore of his 2010 numbers in 2011, and even better if he can improve his walk rate. Maybe around 20-30 is the best he can do in terms of homers and stolen bases, but he could certainly improve his BA and OBP. Defensively, Stubbs posted a below-average .987 Fld%, but he posted an incredible 2.83 RF/9 compared to the league average of 2.17. He also had 7 outfield assists. Stubbs will be backed up by Lewis and Heisey. Drew Stubbs is a very good player for the Reds.
Jay Bruce, who will turn 24 on April 3rd, is already entering his 4th season in the big leagues. 2010 was his finest effort. Bruce hit .281 with 23 doubles, 25 homers, 70 RBI, 5 triples, 80 runs, 5 stolen bases, and a .353 OBP in 148 games. Every single stat I mentioned was a career-high for Bruce. Is Bruce finally becoming the great player the Reds thought he would be when they drafted him with the 12th overall pick in 2005, or is he about to become a huge bust considering the huge extension (6 years, 51 million dollars) that the Reds just gave him? In 2010, Bruce had a .334 BAbip. That was because of a 21% LD%, although he did have a 62% IP%. Those seem fine. But, you have to realize that after posting a 22% LD% in 2008, he posted just a 14% LD% in 2009. How can the Reds be so sure that Bruce won't experience a similar decline in 2011? No, because LD% isn't the only factor. In 2008, he had that 22% LD%, and he also had a 44% GB% (ground ball percentage), and a 34% FB% (fly ball percentage). In 2009, his FB% shot up to 48%, but his LD% of course shot down to 14%. His GB% also decreased to 38%. After being more of a balanced hitter in 2008, Votto tried to become a pure power hitter in 2009, and although he hit 22 homers, his BA fell to just .223. So in 2010, Bruce reverted to being the hitter he was in 2008, becoming more balanced between ground balls, fly balls, and line drives, posting percentages of 36%, 43%, and 21% respectively. (Due to somewhat of a discrepancy between the stats on baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.com, all of the preceding percentages might be up to 1% off, but they're all that same amount off, so they can still be compared.) As long as Votto remains a balanced hitter, he should be OK. Defensively, Bruce is outstanding. He posted a .992 Fld% compared to the league average of .986, and he did show while showing a 2.44 RF/9 that was third-best among NL right fielders. He also had 7 outfield assists. Jay Bruce isn't even 24 yet and he's already a great player. As he progresses as a big league player, he should be worth those 51 million dollars the Reds are giving him, if not more.
It took Bronson Arroyo 11 seasons in the majors to finally post ERA's under 4.00 two seasons in a row and to win 17 games. Now that he's accomplished those 'feats', is he finally, at age 34, going to be a pretty good pitcher, he can give the Reds some quality innings season after season? The Reds thought so, giving him a 3-year, 35 million dollar extension. Will he be that guy? In '10, Arroyo went 17-10 with a 3.88 ERA and 121 K's compared to 59 walks in 33 starts and 215.2 IP. He allowed 188 hits, a good 7.8 H/9, and 29 homers, a bad 1.2 HR/9. It certainly wasn't a great season, but Arroyo certainly was a dependable season for the Reds considering he threw 200 innings with an ERA under 4.00. It was his 6th straight 200 inning season. Is there any reason that Arroyo won't be as good in 2011? Well, Arroyo actually had just a .241 BAbip, the lowest of his career for a full season. His career BAbip is .286. Is Arroyo bound for a bad season in 2011 as his BAbip returns to neutral? But, maybe his BAbip will never return .286. He had a good 18% LD% against him in 2011, and while he allowed quite a few balls in play (75% IP%), many of them were infield popups (15% IF/FB). He also had a pretty good 43.4% GB% against him. Arroyo was also apparently unlucky in terms of HR/FB (8.8%), but that was because he pitches in Great American Ballpark. He's had an 8.7% HR/FB on the Reds compared to 7.8% for his career. He's a pretty pitcher, and he should be able to be a pretty pitcher for at least the next couple of years. Arroyo was a halfway-decent hitting pitcher in '10, posting a .147 BA with a homer. 8 RBI, and 6 sac bunts. But Arroyo's 'hidden value' to the Reds might be his fielding. He won a Gold Glove in '10, posting a perfect 1.000 Fld%. Arroyo isn't a true ace for the Reds, but he's certainly a good innings-eater.
Edinson Volquez was an awesome pitcher for the Reds in 2008, going 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA and 206 K's, but he underwent Tommy John surgery in June of '09. After coming back in July of '10, Volquez made 12 starts, returning in July, two weeks after his 27th birthday, and he wasn't the same pitcher, posting a 4.31 ERA. Will he return to glory in 2011, or will he be just another great pitcher who got injured and was never the same? In an attempt to determine that, let's see if Volquez's 2008 season was a fluke and then let's compare that season to his numbers in 2010 and 2009 (when he posted a 4.35 ERA in 9 starts before getting hurt). Just to list his full '08 stats, he went 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA, 206 K's, 93 walks, 167 hits allowed (7.7 H/9), and 14 homers allowed (0.6 HR/9) in 32 starts, a relief appearance, and 196 IP. He allowed a .303 BAbip, and that was despite an 18% LD% and a 46.3% GB% against him. He also had a great 59% IP% against him, and a 14% IF/FB. There doesn't appear to be any flukes there. However, he did allow a 6.0 HR/FB, so maybe he was a bit lucky in that regard. Still, from those stats, you would think that as long as Volquez didn't get hurt (but of course he did), he would be a fine pitcher for the Reds in the coming years. But let's compare those stats to Volquez's starts in '09 and '10. Volquez went 8-5 from '09 to '10 with a 4.33 ERA, 114 K's, 67 walks, 93 hits allowed (7.5 H/9), and 14 homers allowed (1.0 HR/9) in 21 starts and 112.1 I P. He actually was much luckier than he was in '08, posting a .282 BAbip. That was despite a 19% LD%, but a 50% GB%. He also allowed a 58% IP%. So that leaves homers allowed. The reason why Volquez was much worse from '09 to '10 than he was in '08 was because he had a 9.1% HR/FB compared to 6.0% in '08. So what can we expect going forward? I think that it's pretty unlikely that Volquez will ever be as good as he was in 2008 again, but he's too talented of a pitcher to not manage an ERA in the 3.00's range. I would predict an ERA around 3.70 because of a BAbip around .290, a HR/FB around 8.0%, and close to a 48% GB%. Volquez actually hit a career-high .118 in '10, but he had no RBI's and just 3 sac bunts. He did not make any errors one year after posting just an .846 Fld%. Edinson Volquez may not be able to be the great pitcher people thought he would become after an outstanding '08, but he's still a pretty good pitcher for the Reds.
Reds starters Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey will miss the start of the season will shoulder injuries (inflammation and impingement respectively).
Cueto, a 25 year old right-hander, had a good season in 2010, going 12-7 with a 3.64 ERA and 138 K's compared to 56 walks in 31 starts and 185.2 IP. Cueto allowed 181 hits, an 8.8 H/9, and 19 homers, a 0.9 HR/9. When he gets healthy, will he be just as good? Well, it's a good sign that he pitched well despite a .295 BAbip. At least you would think so. But really, that was not the case- Cueto pitched well because of a .295 BAbip. Cueto actually allowed a bad 20% LD% and a 41.7% GB% that was decent at best. He also allowed a 70% IP%. He certainly should have had a BAbip over .300. But Cueto wasn't just lucky in terms of hits allowed. He allowed a 6.6% HR/FB, which you compare to the 9.8% HR/FB he allowed his first 2 major league seasons. Cueto was really lucky in 2010. So what can we expect from Cueto in 2011? Well, we can certainly expect a drop off. With a BAbip over .300, Cueto would certainly allow over a hit per inning, and with a HR/FB of at least 8, he would allow a HR/9 of at least 1.1. Those aren't enormous differences, so I would give him the benefit of the doubt and have him with an ERA just under 4.00. The projection system Marcel has him posting a 3.97 ERA, and I think that's about right. Even so, Cueto would be a pretty good pitcher for the Reds, but he it would certainly be a step back. You have to hope that Cueto will outperform his statistical trends and end up as the very pitcher he has the potential to be, but it doesn't seem that that's going to happen in 2011. Cueto hit just .111 in '10 with RBI, although he did have 8 sac bunts. Defensively, Cueto posted a .952 Fld% that was actually the highest of his career. He's a pretty bad fielding pitcher. Expect a step back from Johnny Cueto in 2011.
Bailey's shoulder injury might be a bit more worrisome. He missed from late-May until mid-August in 2010 with shoulder inflammation. When he was healthy, he was unimpressive, going 4-3 with a 4.46 ERA, 100 K's, and 40 walks in 19 starts and 109 IP. He allowed 109 hits, exactly a hit per inning, and 11 homers, a 0.9 HR/9.But, those full season stats don't tell the full story. Before his first shoulder injury, Bailey, who will turn 25 in May, was pretty awful, posting a 5.51 ERA in 9 starts, but if you take out a May 12th complete-game shutout of the Pittsburgh Pirates, he had a 6.70 ERA. But when he came back, he was certainly much better, posting a 3.55 ERA in his final 10 starts. The craziest part about Bailey's 2010 season was that he actually had a .309 BAbip against him before he got hurt compared to .325 after. Bailey's results in his final 10 starts are very encouraging, but you it's hard not to worry about his second shoulder injury in as many years. But even if he can remain healthy, can he be a consistent pitcher? Before the injury, Bailey had a 7.3 K/9, a 3.7 BB/9, and a 19% LD%, while after the injury he had a 9.1 K/9, a 2.9 BB/9, and a 21% LD%. There was a trade off. If Bailey puts in all together, striking out a batter per inning, walking one only every three, and allowing under a fifth of the balls in play against him to be line drives, he'll be a great pitcher. The Reds obviously hope he can do that when he comes back in 2011. Bailey is also a decent hitter, considering he hit .212 in '10 with 2 RBI and 4 sac bunts. He did post just a .955 Fld%. If Homer Bailey can stay healthy and pitch to the best of his ability, he'll be a great pitcher for the Reds in 2011.
For one magical night, Travis Wood was unhittable. On July 11th against the Phillies, in just his third major league start, Wood went 8 perfect innings, but gave up a double to Carlos Ruiz to lead off the 9th. Wood went 9 innings, allowing that 1 hit and striking out 8. The Phillies won 1-0 in 11 innings. Wood wasn't quite as good over the course of the season, but he showed that could be a good pitcher. The 25 year old southpaw went 5-4 with a 3.51 ERA, 86 K's, and just 26 walks in 17 starts and 102.2 IP. He allowed just 85 hits, a great 7.5 H/9, and 9 homers, a 0.8 HR/9. Can Wood be that good over the course of a full season in 2011? You would obviously hope so, but there are some clear red flags. First of all, Wood allowed just a .261 BAbip in 2010. He did that while allowing a 20% LD% and an awful 30.5% GB%. He's an extreme fly ball pitcher who allows too many line drives. That doesn't sound like a good combination. He also allowed a league average 69% IP%, so it's not like those percentages mean less because he didn't allow very many balls in play. In addition, Wood allowed just a 5.1% HR/FB in '10, so he was lucky in that regard as well. When everything evens out, it would seem that Wood will have a significantly worse season in 2011. But, Wood was actually unlucky in another regard: LOB%, also known as strand rate, which is the percentage of base runners allowed by a pitcher that are stranded on base. Wood had just a 68.4% LOB% in 2010, compared to the league average of around 72%. Wood had a 72.0% LOB% in the minors, including 73.0% at Triple-A in '10, 79.0% at Triple-A in '09, and 82.8% at Double-A in '08. If Wood can start putting up strand rates more like that at the big league level, he could probably maintain a mid-3.00's ERA. Wood isn't a great pitcher, but he certainly could be a good 3rd starter for the Reds for a while. Wood isn't an awful hitter, considering he hit .189 with a homer and 3 RBI while laying down 5 sac bunts. However, he's an awful fielder, considering he posted just a .769 Fld% in '10, and just .913 in the minors. Unless he worked very hard in PFP (pitchers' fielding practice), he'll still be a bad fielder, but I'm sure he'll be able to get his Fld% into the .900's in '11 and it won't be too much of a problem. Travis Wood should be a pretty good pitcher for the Reds in his first full season.
Mike Leake was the 8th overall pick in the 2009 draft, but the first to make the majors, becoming the first starting pitcher since Jim Abbott to skip the minor leagues entirely and beginning the 2010 season in the Reds' rotation. Things began very well for the 23 year old rookie right-hander. On June 5th, Leake was 5-0 with a 2.22 ERA in his first 11 starts and seemed like the front-runner for Rookie of the Year. But in his next 11 starts, Leake struggled mightily posting just a 5.60 ERA. After 2 awful relief appearances (8 ER allowed in 2.2 IP), Leake was shut down for the rest of the season because it was his first pro season and they didn't want to start him off with too much of a workload. On the year, Leake went 8-4 with a 4.23 ERA (3.78 as a starter), 91 K's, and 49 walks in 22 starts, 2 relief appearances, and 138.1 IP. He allowed 158 hits, way over a hit per inning at 10.3 per 9, and 19 homers, an also bad 1.2 HR/9. But, there is certainly hope for Leake to still be a great pitcher, not only because he's just 23 years old, but also because of several stats. Leake allowed a .320 BAbip in '10 (that was made into more of a problem because of a 72% IP% against him) despite allowing a good 19% LD% and a great 50.2% GB% against him. But also, Leake allowed a 9.3 HR/FB. When everything evens out, Leake could become that great player that he has the potential to be. But, there's a big problem for Leake right now- he's the 6th starter that I've listed here. Once Cueto and Bailey come back, Leake will either have to moved to the bullpen or sent down to the minor leagues for the first time in his career. That is, unless he shows flashes of being the pitcher he was at the beginning of 2010. Because of the injuries, Leake has an opportunity. He better take advantage. Leake, who hit .299 in 3 seasons as a part-time outfielder at Arizona State, actually was a good hitter in '10, hitting .333 with 3 RBI, 6 sac bunts, and even a .407 OBP. He did post just a .930 Fld%. Mike Leake has a very good chance of a rebound in 2011, but in order for that to happen, he needs to reestablish himself as a very good starter at the beginning of 2011.
Sam LeCure also has an opportunity because of the injuries. LeCure who will turn 27 in May, went 8-3 at Triple-A Louisville in '10 with a 3.67 ERA, 86 K's and just 26 walks in 15 starts and 98 IP. He allowed 98 hits, a hit per inning, and 8 homers, a 0.7 HR/9. He pitched pretty well despite allowing a .323 BAbip. He also made his major league debut, going 2-5 with a 4.50 ERA, 37 K's, and 25 walks in 6 starts, 9 relief appearances, and 48 IP. He allowed 50 hits, a 9.4 H/9, and 6 homers, a 1.1 HR/9. He wasn't great, but he was certainly decent. It was a very small sample size, so we'll have to see how he does in 2011. It would be awfully tough for him to remain in the rotation after Cueto and Bailey come back, but there's a possibility that he could remain on the roster as part of the bullpen. LeCure hit just .091 in '10 with 1 sac bunt, while he posted an 1.000 Fld%. LeCure is a decent pitcher for the Reds, and he could be a valuable player for the Reds in 2011 between being a starter and being a reliever.
Aroldis Chapman excited the baseball world from the moment he came up, pitching 103 MPH fastballs at will and finishing with a 2-2 record, a 2.03 ERA, 19 K's, just 5 walks, and 4 holds in 15 relief appearances and 13.1 IP. He allowed just 9 hits, 6.1 per 9, and not a single homer. The 23 old lefty also did so while pitching in high-pressure situation, ending up with a 1.6 aLI (average leverage index- average amount of pressure is on per game in a season, 1.0 is average pressure). Chapman actually allowed a .333 BAbip, but that was completely negated by a 53% IP%. Chapman allowed very little hard contact, as opposing batters had just a 14% LD% against him and an unbelievable 73.1% GB%. Also of course, he had a 0.0 HR/FB against him, just a 2% XBH%, and just an 11% X/H%. He was just plain awesome. For a pitcher like Chapman, the league is either going to figure him out or not, and if they don't, he'll be dominant for a while unless he gets hurt. Chapman is nearly unhittable. Maybe he won't be quite as great in 2011, but people would be shocked if his ERA is above 2.50. It's almost a waste having Chapman in the bullpen, but not as the closer, rather than being a starter. Aroldis Chapman is just an amazing relief pitcher for the Reds.
Nick Masset, a 29 year old right-hander reliever, didn't quite turn in his best effort in 2010, but he was as durable as anyone in the majors, appearing in 82 relief appearances, going 4-4 with a 3.40 ERA, 85 K's, 33 walks, 20 holds, and 2 saves in 76.2 IP. It certainly wasn't as good of a season for Masset as 2009, when he posted a 2.37 ERA and 20 holds in 74 relief appearances. But, he had a higher aLI in 2010 than in '09, 1.3 compared to 1.1. Maybe the additional pressure was one of the reasons for Masset's worse performance in 2010. He allowed a .295 BAbip compared to .251. Your first inclination would be to say that that was just his BAbip returning to neutral, but it was more than that. Masset allowed a 65% IP% in '09, with a great 13% LD%, and a great 54.1% GB%, but in 2010, while he allowed a 60% IP%, he allowed a bad 21% LD%, and a 47.2% GB%. His strand rate also went down from 80.5% to 76.0%. Masset essentially traded more strikeouts (10.0 K/9 compared to 8.3) for more hard-hit balls. But, at least he still had a good year. If Masset can put everything together, that would be the best case scenario, but the Reds would hope that he can allow fewer line drives, even if it costs him a few strikeouts. Whichever happens, Masset will be a durable pitcher for the Reds.
Bill Bray was a decent reliever for the Reds in 2010 after coming back from Tommy John surgery, going 0-2 with a 4.13 ERA, 30 K's, just 10 walks, and 2 holds in 35 relief appearances and 28.1 IP. The 27 year old left-hander allowed 21 hits, just 6.7 per 9, but 4 homers, a bad 1.3 HR/9. Still, considering he was coming back from Tommy John, that was pretty impressive. Bray did allow just a .236 BAbip, but there was a very simple reason for that: his LD%. He allowed just a 6% LD%. In a baseball world where 12% is amazing, that's ridiculous. But how did he allow a 1.3 HR/9? He was unlucky in terms of HR/FB, 10.3%. If I left you with just those stats, I might have been able to lead you to believe that Bray is going to be the second-best lefty reliever in baseball behind Chapman in 2011. But, I didn't. In Bray's comeback from surgery, the Reds used him in so few pressure situation, and he had just a .72 aLI. In Bray's only season with above-average leverage, 2006, he has a 4.08 ERA for the Nationals. He did have a 2.87 ERA for the Res with a .92 aLI in 2008. Still, if Bray is going to be the Reds' lefty specialist (with Chapman being a primary setup man), he's going to have to be better under pressure. Lefty Bill Bray is somewhat of a question mark for the Reds.
26 year old Logan Ondrusek had a decent year for the Reds in 2011, going 5-0 with a 3.68 ERA, 39 K's, 20 walks, and 6 holds in 60 relief appearances and 58.2 IP. He allowed 49 hits, a good 7.5 H/9, but 7 homers, a 1.1 HR/9. But, Ondrusek allowed just a .243 BAbip. Without looking at any other stats, you would obviously think that he was very lucky in '10, but even so, he put up a 3.68 ERA. But, although Ondrusek allowed a 72% IP%, he allowed just a 15% LD%, a great 18% IF/FB and a 48.0 GB%. He was even lucky in terms of homers allowed, allowing a 9.3% HR/FB. But, Ondrusek pitched under situations with such little pressure, finishing the season with a .87 aLI. If Ondrusek is just a decent pitcher when he's in situations with little pressure, imagine how he'll do if the Reds put him into more pressure situations? Unless Ondrusek steps up when he's put into a bigger role in 2011, he seems bound to be that last reliever in the bullpen who's only used when the Reds are way behind or way ahead. Logan Ondrusek is a decent reliever at best for the Reds.
Because of all the injuries, Matt Maloney and Jared Burton managed to make the Reds' bullpen out of spring training.
Maloney, 27, went 10-7 at Louisville in '10 with a 3.34 ERA, 104 K's, and just 28 walks in 23 starts, 1 relief appearance, and 134.2 IP. But, he allowed 132 hits, an 8.8 H/9, although he did allow just 9 homers for a 0.6 HR/9. He allowed a .300 BAbip, but he did have just a 66.7% strand rate. Maloney also appeared in 7 major league games, 2 of which were starts, going 2-2 with a 3.05 ERA. He actually had a .92 aLI, so those numbers are pretty impressive. Maloney doesn't have too much upside anyway, so the Reds decided to bring him up to the big league bullpen, at least for the time being. If his 2010 numbers are any indication, he'll be a decent reliever for the Reds.
Burton, who will turn 30 in June, had a very good year as a reliever in Louisville in '10, going 3-2 with a 2.61 ERA, 34 K's, 16 walks, and 4 saves in 33 relief appearances and 38 IP. He allowed 29 hits, a 6.9 H/9, but 4 homers, a 0.9 HR/9. He also allowed just a .240 BAbip and had a 79.2 LOB%, so those are signs for concern. He missed quite a bit of time with a thyroid problem and an oblique strain. Burton was perfect in 4 major league appearances spanning 3.1 IP, but he had just a .5 aLI. Burton was actually a pretty good reliever for the Reds from '07 to '09, going 10-3 with a 3.47 ERA, 139 K's, 70 walks, and 29 holds in 154 relief appearances and 161 IP. He allowed 145, an 8.1 H/9, and 13 homers, a 0.7 HR/9. He allowed a .286 BAbip mostly due to a 17% LD%, and he also allowed a good 66% IP%. However, he was lucky to post that 0.7 HR/9, allowing just a 5.7% HR/FB. He was certainly a decent reliever, but he just could stay completely healthy, missing time due to hamstring, lower back, upper back, shoulder, and asthma problems. If he can stay healthy (and remain on the roster), there's no real reason that he can't post an ERA in the high-3.00's for the Reds out of the bullpen. Jared Burton is a decent reliever for the Reds, and if they elect to designate him for assignment after Cueto and Bailey come back, some team will certainly want him and put him in their bullpen.
Francisco Cordero might be in the most precarious position of any closer in the big leagues right now. Cordero, who will turn 36 in May, not only has Aroldis Chapman breathing down his neck, but also, he posted his worst ERA since 2001 in 2010. Cordero went 6-5 with a 3.84 ERA, 59 K's, 36 walks, 1 hold, and 40 saves (8 BS) in 75 relief appearances and 72.2 IP. He allowed 68 hits, an 8.4 H/9, and 5 homers, a 0.6 H/9. Another than the 40 saves, his numbers were pedestrian at best. But, you have to understand the circumstances. Cordero was on a playoff team for the first time in his career. He had been on Brewers teams and Rangers teams that were at least playoff competitors, but nevertheless, he had never been on a playoff team. With the Texas Rangers in 2004, Cordero had a 2.28 aLI, and on the Brewers in 2007, he had a 2.01 aLI, but he hadn't over 2.00 any other time until 2010, when he posted a 2.09 aLI. Cordero also appeared in 75 relief appearances the second-highest total of his career, trailing just 2006. But here's the question: at this point of his career, will Cordero be able to adjust to being a closer for a playoff team, or will he continue to struggle? You can add onto the drama that 2011 is Cordero's last guaranteed year on his contract (2012 is a team option). Will he come through, or will Chapman take his place? Looking at the stats, I would say that Cordero will falter. It's not like he was unlucky in '10, having a .296 BAbip despite a 21% LD% and allowing a 67% IP% that was his highest since 2002. He also had a 5.0% HR/FB right around his career average of 4.8%. But what do these stats really mean? Nothing. If Cordero can adjust to life as a closer on playoff team, when the pressure is on every single game and one blown save could be the difference between making the playoffs and heading home, he will be successful. If he is unable to adjust and continues to have that lacadasical attitude that some closers on losing teams have (that they want to do well, but some blown saves aren't the end of the world because their team is going to miss the playoffs by a landslide anyway), then he can say goodbye to the Reds. Obviously, Cordero has been a proven closer for a long time, and some team would certainly trade for him if given the right opportunity. But if he wants to continue to keep his value at its highest and be able to show the baseball world that he can help any team in the late innings, he has to succeed in 2011, and if he is traded, it would only be because Chapman was just too impressive to stay as a setup man. 2011 will be a big season for Francisco Cordero. He better step up.
The Reds are pretty much the same team they were last year, and that was enough to win the NL Central. Their offense and defense are awe-inspiring, but their pitching holds them back. Their rotation is a huge question mark, and their bullpen may be as well. The Reds will still be a good team in 2011, but I think that they'll bound to take a bit of a step back.
2010 record: 91-71
Prediction: 89-73, 2nd in NL Central (in fight for NL Wild Card)
The Reds may win the NL Wild Card anyway, but they'll certainly make the playoffs if... Hernandez stays healthy, Phillips rebounds, Bruce takes another step forward, the rotation ranks in the top half of the league in ERA, the bullpen, and more specifically Francisco Cordero step up to the plate (figuratively obviously, I would that they don't have to often) and pitch at least pretty well.