Series Record: 9-2-7
Pythagorean Record: 26-27
Extrapolated Record: 89-73
Record if win half of remaining games: 84-78
Runs Scored: 263 (5th, 5.o r/g)
Runs Allowed: 266 (11th, 5.0 r/g)
May Record: 12-16
May Series Record: 3-1-6
May Pythagorean Record: 12-16
May Runs Scored: 114 (4.1 r/g)
May Runs Allowed: 135 (4.8 r/g)
May was a frustrating month for the Reds. After a record April that left the Reds in a tie for first place, the Reds were dreaming of playoffs and feeling near-invincible. Unfortunately, after a thrilling two-game sweep of the Cardinals to put them into first place, the Reds proceeded to win only 10 of their next 26 games. They lost series to the Diamondbacks (twice), Phillies, Pirates, Tigers, and even the Cubs. While they didn't undo all the good they did in April, the Reds will need to put things back together if they are going to make any sort of playoff run.
While the offense had been the strength of the team during April, the team was comparatively anemic in May, scoring only 4.1 runs per game -- almost 2 runs fewer per game than in the first month. No Reds hitter managed to break the 0.900 OPS barrier after four Reds did so in April. Even more infuriating, this dearth in offense coincided with slight but substantive 0.4-run improvement in the pitching.
Nevertheless, there are still a lot of positive signs for the team. Most notably, the starting pitching seems to finally be fairly solid. Arroyo continued his excellence, while Harang really picked it up a notch and Milton returned from the disabled list with two superb starts in three tries. Perhaps best of all, Elizardo Ramirez came up from AAA and turned in solid start after solid start. E-Z's emergence as a solid option at the back of the rotation allowed the team to cut its losses with Dave Williams, meaning the only pitcher who was really struggling in our rotation was the puzzling Brandon Claussen. If the starters can continue their excellent work, it's only a matter of time until the offense returns.
The bullpen continues to be a work in progress. At the end of May, Todd Coffey was finally crowned the closer, pushing Weathers back into the set-up role that he is better-suited for. Chris Hammond quietly turned in an amazing month after his difficult April, and seems poised to take over left-handed relief duties for the struggling Kent Mercker. Unfortunately, several other members of the Reds' bullpen are struggling badly, most notably the miserable Rick White. Krivsky's trade at the end of the month for Estaban Yan might produce an answer there, but Yan could easily be a bust as well.
Statistical Hitter of the Month: Felipe Lopez - 0.391 OBP, 0.789 OPS, 8.1 VORP in May
Honorable Mentions: Austin Kearns, Adam Dunn
Felipe Lopez was my selection for hitter of the month because, quite frankly, he was one of the very few Reds' hitters to actually improve their performance compared to April. Furthermore, at shortstop, his VORP was almost twice that of our next-best hitter, Austin Kearns. Lopez seems to have undergone something of a transformation this year. While last year he slugged his way to a 0.486 clip, his power has been down this year. Instead, Lopez has really embraced his role at the top of the lineup, with an outstanding 0.391 OBP in May. Furthermore, he has increased his productivity on the bases, stealing 16 bases in 20 tries (80% success rate). While I'd like to see a bit more power from him, I will gladly take a 0.390 OBP from a shortstop.
Impact Hitter of the Month: Ken Griffey Jr. - 150.7% WPA in May, 0.429 OBP and 0.828 SLG with RISP for season
Honorable Mentions: Javier Valentin, Edwin Encarnacion
Even though Griffey hasn't hit much this year, including a very un-Griffey-like 0.767 OPS in May, he has been at his best when it counts. His best game in May was his return from the disabled list on May 11th. The Reds were coming off a series loss in Arizona and were down 2 runs in the bottom of the 11th in the rubber game of a three-game series against the Washington Nationals. But after some superb at-bats by Ray Olmedo, Felipe Lopez, and Edwin Encarnacion, the Reds managed to get the potential winning run to the plate in Junior. He responded by launching a huge 3-run walk-off home run to centerfield, changing what would have been the second consecutive losing series into a victory for the Reds. Griffey was really picking it up near the end of the month, so I'm looking forward to a big June from The Kid.
Statistical Pitcher of the Month: Bronson Arroyo - 2.79 ERA, 3.15 FIP, 14.3 VORP in May
Honorable Mentions: Aaron Harang, Todd Coffey
While Arroyo's ERA went up in May, his FIP actually went down, thanks in large part to his continued low walk rates and a freakishly low 0.43 HR/9. While the latter number figures to rise in coming months, it is very reassuring to see Arroyo continue to do well in his second month with the Reds. No matter what Wily Mo Pena ends up doing, if we can have thing close to this sort of production out of Arroyo over the next three seasons, it will be an outstanding deal for the Reds. At 29 years old, he's in his prime, and should have several more quality seasons left in him. Finally, while his strikeout rates slipped down into the 6 per nine inning range, he is still getting k's at a much higher rate than last season. Again, it's all very reassuring.
Impact Pitcher of the Month: Todd Coffey - 136.5% WPA, 1.80 ERA in May
Honorable Mentions: Bronson Arroyo, Eric Milton
Coffey just keeps on going, with little sign of stopping. If anything, Coffey was betterin May than in April. His strikeout rates were up and his walk rates were down, and Narron has continued to use him in the highest-leverage situations all month long. By the month's end, Narron finally gave Coffey the closer role. I would still prefer to see him used in the highest leverage situations, rather than just in the 9th inning when the Reds have a 3 run or fewer lead, but Coffey deserves recognition as our best relief pitcher. Furthermore, and more importantly, it should reduce the number of innings that Coffey throws, which is important given how much he's been used already this season (30 innings already).
Todd Coffey had a number of terrific ballgames in May, as evidenced by his enormous 136.5% WPA last month. When force to choose one, however, I have to go with his first game as the Reds' closer, May 31st vs. the Cubs. Eric Milton had pitched 7 outstanding innings and had a 3-0 lead, but ran into trouble in the 8th. He started the inning by allowing a double to Matt Murton, followed by a 2-run homer to Jacque Jones. Then, Ronny Cedeno reached on an infield single and, two outs later, a second infield single by Neifi Perez put the go-ahead run on base. In charged Todd Coffey, who promptly struck out Michael Barrett to end the threat in the 8th. Coffey then proceeded to retire the side in order with three ground balls in the 9th to earn his second save of the season and prevent a sweep.
Other May Notes:
- The biggest differential between statistical productivity and win probability added (WPA) in May? Adam Dunn had a respectable 0.863 OPS in May, slugging a team-leading 8 home runs that month despite being in what seemed to be a month-long slump. Nevertheless, he has been utterly ineffective in high-leverage situations, with an -83.0% WPA. Overall, however, he's not hitting that badly with runners in scoring position, sporting a 0.349 OBP and a 0.574 SLG (0.923 OPS) in those situations for the season.
- While I didn't get a chance to tout him much above, Aaron Harang also had an outstanding month. His FIP was an insanely-low 2.19 for the month, but suffered from an unlucky 0.350 BABIP, pushing his ERA up to a still excellent 2.94 for the month. Harang's peripherals were to die for: 11.2 k/9 innings, 2.1 bb/9 innings, and 0.53 hr/9 innings. That is absolutely genuine ace-quality productivity right there.
- I also wanted to commend Chris Hammond on his outstanding month. After a disastrous April, Hammond allowed only 1 run in 11 1/3 innings. He may come in incredibly handy this season, particularly if Mercker can't get his body back into shape.
- Jason LaRue really struggled in May, as he has all year. He is at an age when many catchers regress a bit, but given that he's coming off a career year, I just don't see him falling to complete pieces yet. I predict a big June from him.
- By all accounts, Rick White has had a miserable month. It's hard to justify a 10.00 ERA. Nevertheless, it's interesting to note that Rick White's peripherals for the month don't look too bad. Good strikeout rate (8 k/9), nice low walk rate (2 bb/9), even a decent hr rate (1 hr/9). His problem? Well, he had an 0.441 BABIP(!!). Some of that could be due White being rather hittable, but it's also possible he's had some insanely bad luck. His FIP for the month was only 3.53. I might ease up a bit on him around here--maybe he'll have a good June?
May 2006 Pitching Stats: