Thursday, August 26, 2010
The Reds' amazing transformation
Dipping into the ye olde mailbagge ...
Noticed on your SweetSpot blog you said no one can match Pujols and Holliday in your argument for Cardinal supremecy over the Reds. I disagree with Pujols - Holliday part of the argument Joey Votto certainly has been every bit as good as Pujols this season at the plate. But Scott Rolen has also nearly matched Holliday(.383 to .384). Aside from that When comparing the rest of the roster the Reds have been a better offensive club by wOBA. Check it out on Fangraphs. I exported the current leaders and filtered to the Cards and the Reds. If you want to make an argument that the Cardinals will catch the Reds use the Carpenter/Wainright reason. And they have a better scoring margin than the Reds. If the Reds don't make the playoffs it won't be because they couldn't match Pujols and Holliday. It will be because their starting pitching faltered.
Scott (Oklahoma City)
Fair points, Scott. Regarding Pujols/Holliday vs. Votto/Rolen -- and you know I think the world of Scott Rolen, will happily support his Hall of Fame candidacy someday -- I will note that 1) the Pujols/Holliday combination has the higher WAR (10.6 vs. 10.2) and 2) if I'd asked you four months ago which pair you would rather have, I'm pretty sure you'd have taken the Cardinals' dynamic duo. And considering that all four of these guys are veterans, four months shouldn't really be enough to change our minds (absent injuries, of course).
But that's not really your point, is it? Your point -- and again, it's a good one -- is that it's nonsensical to look at pairs of players as if they're the only ones who matter. In real life -- as opposed to mere Sophistry -- all the players matter, because all the players play. And the Reds currently rank first in the National League in slugging percentage, second in on-base percentage, and (pay attention now, class) first in runs.
Dynamic duos, indeed.
How have the Reds done this? How have they gone from 11th in scoring last year to first this year? Obviously, a lot of it's Votto and Rolen (and since it's been a while, major kudos to Walt Jocketty for picking up Scott Rolen, a move that none of us really understood at the time). Some of it's Brandon Phillips. Some of it's the Cincinnati catchers; last year they finished with the second-worst OPS in the league, and this year they've got the second-best OPS in the league. And it's also Cincinnati's bench. Looking at their top five non-starters (including backup catcher Ryan Hanigan), all have been above-average hitters this season.
I'm just not sure that all of these things are sustainable. I'm not sure that we can expect an offense that performed so miserably just one year ago to continue performing so brilliantly this year. I think the true Cincinnati offense isn't quite this good, and that we'll see a small tick downward in September. Whether the Cardinals are good enough and lucky enough to take advantage ... Well, that's something nobody can know. Which is why we watch.