Table of Contents

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

August 2006 in Review

Apologies for my delay in releasing this.

Team Record and Stats Through August
Overall Record: 67-67 (0.500; 2nd in NL, 5 games back from Cardinals)
Series Record: 20-12-11
Pythagorean Record: 64-70 (0.477)
Extrapolated Record: 81-81 (0.500)
Record if win half of remaining games (0.500)
Runs Scored: 658 (4.9 r/g; 5th in NL)
Runs Allowed: 687 (5.1 r/g; T-12th in NL)

August Record and Stats
August Record: 12-17 (0.414)
August Series Record: 4-4-1
August Pythagorean Record: 13-16 (0.448)
August Runs Scored: 137 (4.7 r/g)
August Runs Allowed: 153 (5.3 r/g)

The Reds hit a major bump in the road in August, largely due to their poor showings against the Los Angeles and the San Francisco. While the Reds went 11-8 against other teams, the Reds were a woeful 1-9 against the Dodgers and Giants, including a pair of three-game sweeps against Los Angeles to begin and end the month. The Reds also missed a golden opportunity to pull ahead of the Cardinals, going 3-4 against the "Deadbirds" in the final two series of the season against them. By month's end, the Reds had dropped five games off their win/loss record, had fallen 1.5 games farther back against a relatively weak Cardinals team, and had lost their lead in the wild card race.

The blame fell on both the Reds offense and defense. Their runs scored and runs allowed rates were identical to those the Reds' put up in July--and neither was inspring. Only the oddly anemic Reds offense of May put runs on the board at a slower rate this season, while the pitching staff continued to bleed runs at the highest rate of the season. The offense just flat-out underperformed (Kearns, in particular, was badly missed), with Ryan Freel, Adam Dunn, Scott Hatteberg, and Royce Clayton all slumping during the month. In contrast, the Reds' pitching staff suffered several critical injuries in August, including trips to the DL by Gary Majewski, Jason Standridge, Kent Mercker (career ending), Elizardo Ramirez (season ending), and Eddie Guardado (season ending). Furthermore, Brandon Claussen had season-ending surgery.

It's hard to see how the pitching staff had any hope about this volume of injuries, though Wayne Krivsky did his best to restock it via the post-trade deadline acquisitions, including Ryan Franklin, Scott Schoeneweis, Tim Bausher (who has yet to appear with the Reds), and Jason Johnson. In the end, though, it just wasn't possible to replace a #4 starter and three key bullpen pitchers with post-trade deadline deals. Despite their struggles, hope still remained as September began. There was still time to pull even with the Cardinals, and the wild card-leading Padres were only a few games ahead. Nevertheless, it was clear that a lot of things would have to go the Reds' way if they were to make a serious push for the playoffs.

Statistical Hitter of the Month: Brandon Phillips, 0.330 AVG, 0.377 OBP, 0.604 SLG, 14 VORP in August
Honorable Mentions: Edwin Encarnacion, Rich Aurilia

Following a miserable month of July, Brandon Phillips surged back to his early-season form in August by tying the club lead with seven August home runs and leading the team with 64 total bases. This was a huge relief for me. Prior to August, I had been very skeptical of Phillips' performance this season because it is such a large departure of what he had done over the past three years. When he started to slump in July, I was starting to wonder if he'd ever come out of it. With his August performance, I'm finally comfortable in believing that Phillips is for real. Phillips may well turn out to be the best acquisition of Wayne Krivsky's career. He plays great defense, hits for excellent power for a middle-infielder, gets on base with a hit-biased OBP, and plays with a youthful enthusiasm that is hard to find. I love him and I hope he is the Reds' shortstop for many years to come.

Impact Hitter of the Month: Dave Ross, 6 HR in 63 AB's, 11 runs, 13 RBI, 91.3% WPA
Honorable Mentions: Rich Aurilia, Edwin Encarnacion

After missing most of July with an injury, Dave Ross picked his season back up to its insanely high levels with another superb month of August. Unlike Phillips, I think Ross is having his career year, but it sure has been fun to watch. His biggest game of the season was probably the Reds' most exciting game of the season: August 9th, 2006. It was the third of four games in the Reds' last home series against the Cardinals. The two teams had split the first two games, and the Reds needed to win the next two games to close the 3.5 game Cardinals lead in the Central. The Cards scored 4 runs in the first and added three more runs over the game, leading the Reds 7-6 going to the bottom of the ninth. Closer Jason Isringhausen was on the hill to close out the game. Javier Valentin led off the inning by striking out, but Rich Aurilia worked a 1-out walk to bring up Ross, who had entered the game as a pinch hitter in the 7th. Ross responded by hitting an enormous home run to straight-away center field, bouncing it off the roof of the Great American Ballpark batter's eye. The Reds won the game 8-7, and looked like they might just have what it takes to beat the Cardinals for the division championship. It was a good night to be a Reds fan.

Statistical Pitcher of the Month: Kyle Lohse, 32.3 innings, 2.78 ERA, 2.95 FIP, 29/8 k/bb, 11.9 VORP in August
Honorable Mentions: David Weathers, Aaron Harang

When we acquired Lohse, I was reasonably high on him, noting that "in two of the previous three years, he maintained a VORP near 30, which is more than anyone else in our rotation can say." I predicted that he'd allow roughly 4.5 runs per nine innings, which would be a great contribution from what was then thought to be the fifth spot in our rotation. I never expected he'd have an August like he did. In a month when Harang, Arroyo, and Milton sported ERA's of 4.26, 4.78, and 4.50, Lohse was our best pitcher in August. He started five games and, even though he only won one game, he had three quality starts in four tries after his initial 5-inning "stretch-him-out" starting debut. He won't keep this up, but I expect him to be a solid #4 for us for the rest of this year, and next.

Impact Pitcher of the Month: David Weathers, 14 appearances, 1.84 ERA, 4 holds, 1 save, 152.4% WPA in August
Honorable Mentions: Kyle Lohse, Scott Schoeneweis

Err... wha?? That's right, David Weathers, target of more calls for a DFA than any other player over the course of this season by the members of the blogosphere (myself included, in my July review), had the largest impact on winning of any player on the Reds team in August -- hitter or pitcher -- according to's Win Probability Added statistics. Weathers appeared in 14 games, and allowed runs in only one of those games -- the Reds' 13-1 loss to the Cardinals on on August 7th. Aside from that game, he has been the model of consistency, netting 152.4% WPA (the equivalent of roughly three full wins). There was no more reliable pitcher in the Reds bullpen in August than David Weathers. It's good to see the guy doing well. Hopefully he can help keep the bullpen together over what's left of this past month.

Other Reds Notes:
  • If you've ever wanted to see a case of how a bad half-month can completely negate an otherwise solid season, look no further than Elizardo Ramirez. Thanks in part (and only in part) to some ridiculous misuse by Jerry Narron, Ramirez imploded, allowing 17 earned runs in 8 innings (19.13 ERA), striking out 5, while walking 9. He lost three games and "earned" -146.6% WPA, setting him at -175% on the season--the worst on the ballclub (yes, even worse than Joe Mays or Dave Williams). His VORP dropped to zero from its previous 13.5 runs as well. Yikes. Despite his final few games, I was impressed by Ramirez this year. I hope he pitches well enough next spring to earn the #5 rotation slot once again, because I still think he can be a very good #4 (with a ceiling as a #3) starter for us over the next 5 years. Remember, the kid's only 23.
  • What happened to Adam Dunn in August? After an outstanding month of July (0.451 OBP, 0.573 SLG, 118.3% WPA), Dunn run into a wall in August, hitting only 0.188/0.284/0.416. With the excellent August performances by Phillips, Encarnacion, Aurilia, and Ross, as well as a decent month by Junior, it's hard to place the blame for the Reds' lackluster offensive run production on anyone but Adam Dunn. The Reds need him to hit well in order for their offense to work. Given his typical production levels, it's been a pretty disappointing season for the big guy. I have to wonder if he's just getting tired--Dunn has played 160 or more games in each of the last two seasons, and won't be far from that by this season's end.
  • Quick rundown of bullpen pitchers, comparing ERA to FIP:
  • To end on a high note, Edwin Encarnacion, runner up for both my statistical and impact hitter of the month awards in August, won the National League Player of the Week award for August 7-13 due to a brilliant performance. Edwin continues to hit as well, if not better than I'd hoped he would this year. And perhaps even more importantly, his defense has really improved of late as well -- as I write this, Edwin has gotten his fielding percentage up over the 0.910 mark. It won't be a banner year for him defensively, but the kid's improving and should be ready for a permanent place in the 3-5 slots in the batting order next year. And it's a good thing too, as we don't really have any other legitimate right-handed options.
Reds August Hitting Stats:
*Apologies for some of the missing VORP values -- I neglected to grab a few at the beginning of the month from BP.
Player PA K%
Ken Griffey
125 17.6% 12.0% 4.0% 0/0% 0.392 0.500 0.892 0.301 8.7 -35.4%
Ryan Freel 124 20.2% 12.1% 0.0% 8/67% 0.325 0.275 0.600 0.215 -5.3 -37.7%
Adam Dunn 114 34.2% 11.4% 6.1% 0/0% 0.284 0.416 0.700 0.232 -5.7 -41.5%
Phillips 112 14.3% 5.4% 6.3% 2/100% 0.377 0.604 0.981 0.321 14 19.4%
Hatteberg 110 10.9% 12.7% 3.6% 1/100% 0.336 0.375 0.711 0.245 -0.4 -9.0%
Encarnacion 108 16.7% 6.5% 6.5% 1/33% 0.378 0.614 0.992 0.324 11.7 51.7%
Rich Aurilia 85 5.9% 5.9% 5.9% 0/0% 0.337 0.538 0.875 0.286 9.7 61.1%
David Ross 75 26.7% 16.0% 8.0% 0/0% 0.364 0.587 0.951 0.311 7.1 91.3%
Royce Clayton
70 20.0% 2.9% 2.9% 1/100% 0.257 0.353 0.610 0.204 --- -9.5%
Valentin 31 19.4% 0.0% 12.9% 0/0% 0.290 0.677 0.967 0.300 --- 19.1%
28 32.1% 10.7% 0.0% 0/0% 0.321 0.280 0.601 0.214 -1.5 -42.0%
Jason LaRue 23 26.1% 4.3% 4.3% 0/0% 0.125 0.182 0.307 0.102 --- -66.2%
Juan Castro
22 13.6% 13.6% 0.0% 0/0% 0.364 0.316 0.680 0.243 0.3 44.0%
Chris Denorfia 16 31.3% 6.3% 0.0% 0/0% 0.176 0.067 0.243 0.096 --- -35.1%
Norris Hopper 3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0/0% 0.333 0.333 0.666 0.233 0 0.0%

Reds August Pitching Stats:
Kent Mercker 2.3 7.8 7.8 0.0 0.290 0.00 4.07 1.3 23.0%
Standridge 0.2 45.0 180.0 0.0 0.000 0.00 53.20 0.3 -12.5%
Shackelford 1.0 0.0 9.0 0.0 0.250 0.00 6.20 0.5 -0.4%
6.3 4.3 5.7 1.4 0.159 1.42 6.22 3.9 43.0%
5.3 13.6 1.7 1.7 0.503 1.69 3.20 -0.5 -46.1%
Weathers 14.7 8.6 1.2 0.6 0.166 1.84 2.59 6.3 152.4%
Kyle Lohse
32.3 8.1 2.2 0.6 0.313 2.78 2.95 11.9 38.0%
11.0 4.1 2.5 2.5 0.317 4.09 6.65 2.6 -53.0%
Aaron Harang 38.0 7.3 2.8 1.4 0.331 4.26 4.57 4.0 -4.6%
Eric Milton 34.0 5.3 2.6 1.9 0.299 4.50 5.58 1.9 -6.2%
15.7 4.6 6.9 1.1 0.277 4.60 6.13 1.6 -28.0%
Bill Bray
15.3 8.2 3.5 1.2 0.361 4.70 4.25 -0.7 9.8%
37.7 6.9 3.1 2.1 0.300 4.78 5.80 5.4 2.9%
Michalak 21.0 1.7 3.9 1.7 0.253 5.57 6.58 1.2 -8.0%
Todd Coffey 14.0 7.7 5.1 0.6 0.333 5.79 4.13 0.3 -32.9%
Matt Belisle 5 7.2 3.6 3.6 0.389 7.20 8.00 -1.0 -11.8%
4 2.3 4.5 2.3 0.353 11.25 7.45 -2.4 -65.1%
Ramirez 8 5.6 10.1 4.5 0.424 19.13 11.83 -13.5 -146.6%