The offense had its best month of the season, scoring 4.8 runs per game, an incremental improvement over May's mark of 4.7 runs per game. Here are the individual performances:
June 2007 Reds Hitting
- Griffey had another spectacular month, while Dunn trailed only slightly behind.
- Even more exciting in terms of the Reds' future success, Josh Hamilton quietly (at least I didn't realize it, somehow) was outstanding once he returned from his tummy problems. Perhaps most significantly, his walk rate was superb, leading all position players including Adam Dunn. That's a good sign, as his walk rate had been steadily declining prior to going on the DL.
- Brandon Phillips, for all the man-love that the Brennemans give him, had a rather poor month. He's always an average-heavy, low-walks sort of player, but this past month his average took a big hit while he walked only twice in 100+ plate appearances. He did continue to produce decent power for a middle-infielder, but I'd really like to see him be a bit more patient.
- Eddie Encarnacion wins the award for most lucky hitter. That's unfortunate--I was initially thrilled to see Eddie's 0.389 OBP on the month, but if we correct for his 0.386 BABIP, it is pushed down closer to 0.340. That, coupled with continued poor (for him) power production, indicates to me that Encarnacion still isn't quite right. Hopefully he will catch fire in the second half now that Narron is off his back.
- Gonzalez turned back into a pumpkin. It was fun while it lasted.
- Dave Ross might be coming around. I know his average was still below 0.200, but that seems driven largely by a miserable 0.140 BABIP. Even with such poor luck(?), his SLG was still 0.484 thanks to his slugging six homers in just 65 AB's. He trailed only Griffey and Dunn in isolated power last month. He still isn't walking at the rate he did last season, but his strikeouts are way down from the 30%+ insanity of the first two months. I'm hopeful that he'll have a strong second half.
The amazing thing is that the 5.2 runs per game the pitching staff gave up in June was actually a 0.7-run improvement over the miseries of May. But it still wasn't very good, 11th in the league.
June 2007 Reds Pitching
- Harang had an awesome month, posting a 2.45 ERA, a 3.12 FIP, and striking out just shy of a batter an inning. Nice to see--good for him.
- The rest of the rotation was awful. As we discussed in the April review, the key for Belisle and Lohse's continued success was to keep their walk rates low, as they don't have the strikeout numbers to compensate for wildness. This month, both of them topped 3 bb/9. On top of that, Belisle gave up a horrendous eight home runs in 29 innnings of work. Yikes. His days in the rotation may be numbered if he does not get things under control soon.
- Homer Bailey's debut was something of a disappointment. I think we all expected some wildness, but 6.4 bb/9? And only 3.7 k/9? Hopefully Will Carroll is just blowing smoke (wouldn't be the first time) and there really is nothing wrong with him. But I'm slightly concerned.
- Weathers continues to defy the odds and pitch incredibly well, with a walk rate drastically below his career mark of 4.0 bb/9 (last year it was 4.15 bb/9). Trade him, Wayne, before it's too late.
- Marcus McBeth wins the title of most unlucky Reds pitcher on the month, posting superb peripherals despite giving up seven runs in 9 innings. He may be a lot closer to being ready to take on a serious role in the bullpen than I gave him credit for being.
- Very nice to see Todd Coffey toss a quality nine innings, by all measures. Keep it up man, the Reds need you.
According to DER, the Reds defense was improved in June, with a mark of 0.685 compared to 0.670 in May. But that's still the equivalent of allowing a 0.315 BABIP overall, which is well below average.
Thanks to The Hardball Times' ZR stats, I can now start to publish monthly updates on Reds defense. Since this is the first month I have access to current data, I'll post year-to-date defensive stats this time. Next month, I'll be able to post monthly defensive splits, which I'm really excited about. How much do players vary from month to month in defensive performance? We've never really had the ability to tell until now (well...maybe not now, but in July!).
+-PLAYS is plays made vs. average on balls hit into a player's "zone," while +-OOZ is plays above average on balls hit out of the player's zone. Total+- is the sum of these two figures. My methodology to convert the THT raw data to +- data is described here, though I'm comparing Reds players to 2007 MLB averages rather than the numbers given in that link because of some significant improvements in how BIS is defining their zones.
2007 Reds Defense Data Through June - Position Players
- Hatteberg's total is the most surprising to me, as he was rated average to above average last season. There were massive changes to how the first base zones are defined since I last was calculating these numbers (2007 average ooz/biz = 0.154 at 1b, compared to 0.415 in the previous ZR definitions), so perhaps that's why we're seeing such a big change? Or, perhaps Hatte's finally lost a step out there. Regardless, he's currently rated the worst first baseman in baseball in terms of his range.
- Brandon Phillips continues to be the Reds' best every day defensive player, posting 7.3 plays above average, which is good to see, as ZR rated him right about average last season. His total this year is second-best in the league...though it's a distant second, as Chase Utley is currently an absurd 22.2 plays above average, more than twice the next best MLB total. MVP?
- Eddie Encarnacion's -13 plays total looks ugly (it's 4th-worst in baseball...that's better that last, however!!), but the interesting thing to me is that his out of zone rating is actually (slightly) above average. I think we're seeing primarily an effect of errors on the +-Plays value. The fact that his OOZ totals are about average is very encouraging. I'd love to know what his June splits were, but I guess we'll have to wait until July for that. I'm hoping for improvement.
- Freel is actually rated positively by this stat, which is interesting because he was rated so poorly by UZR using almost the exact same games. I don't know why this is. Freel looks much better in terms of his ability to field balls hit out of the zone (speed working for him?), but doesn't do as well on balls hit within the zone (routes to balls?). The question of whether Freel is a good center fielder will likely still remain, though he's clearly not as outstanding as I'd hoped he would be prior to this season.
- Surprisingly, Griffey hasn't been much better in right field than he was in center. As you'd expect for a guy with little speed left, he's been fine on balls hit within the zone...it's those hit outside the zone where he really falls short of expectations.
- Like the UZR data, ZR rates Hamilton as a below average fielder in both center and right. I think with more time in right field, he could probably be average as he learned his routes--his arm is certainly strong enough to make up for a mild range limitation. That's assuming Griffey is traded, of course, which is by no means guaranteed.
- Finally, Norris Hopper deserves some special mention here, as he has been amazing off the bench, particularly in the corner slots. This may be a small sample size issue, but Hopper's performance in left field is good enough by itself to lead the Reds in +-Total plays, and ranks 6th in all of baseball among left fielders, despite only playing there for 85 innings. ... So yeah, defensive substitutions for Dunn seem like a smart idea when the Reds have a comfortable lead late in the ballgame.
- Ross has been nothing short of spectacular behind the plate, missed pop-up in the first inning today notwithstanding. His 47% CS is second in baseball to only Yadier Molina, and he's caught 166 more innings than the youngest Molina. His WP+PB/G rate is average, while his cERA (for what it's worth) is the lowest of any of the Reds' catchers.
- The other two catchers on our staff, however, have not been good, particularly in terms of their ability to catch runners attempting to steal.
- Moeller has always had a poor arm, with a career 24.7% CS rate. Can't hit, can't field. I never quite understood what he was doing on the roster.
- Valentin, on the other hand, has a career 31.5% CS rate, and was up to 44% last season. To not have caught a single baserunner thus far is very surprising. Furthermore, his WP+PB/G rate is quadruple what it was last year. Hopefully, with more playing time under Pete Mackanin, he'll get his defense back up to par.