Table of Contents

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

July 2007 Reds Review Part 4: Fielding

Here are the '07 July defensive splits. All statistics are based on THT's RZR statistics, with the process for transforming them into a "+/- plays made statistic" described here. Splits are calculated by subtracting defensive totals from June 30th from defensive totals dated July 31st.

July Zone Rating Splits

Last Pos Inn BIZ +-PiZ +-PooZ +-Totals
Conine 1B 104 14 -0.4 -0.3 -0.6
Hatteberg 1B 135 22 -0.3 -2.6 -2.9

Phillips 2B 230 44 2.0 4.7 6.7
Keppinger 2B 8 4 -1.3 -0.5 -1.8

Freel 3B 28 6 -2.2 2.1 0.0
Keppinger 3B 28 7 -0.8 -1.1 -1.9
Encarnacion 3B 180 51 -3.2 -2.6 -5.9

Gonzalez SS 76 16 -1.3 5.1 3.7
Lopez SS 84 16 1.9 -0.4 1.5
Keppinger SS 71 23 1.2 -0.5 0.7
Castro SS 6 1 0.3 -0.1 0.2

Hopper LF 27 8 0.2 1.7 1.8
Dunn LF 210 50 -1.6 -6.3 -7.9

Hamilton CF 30 9 1.1 1.2 2.3
Hopper CF 45 18 1.0 -1.8 -0.9
Freel CF 165 45 -2.1 1.0 -1.0

Hopper RF 25 7 0.9 -0.2 0.7
Griffey Jr. RF 214 59 0.6 -3.0 -2.4

Lookin' Good:
  • Brandon Phillips had another fine month, both in terms of balls hit within his zone, and (especially) balls outside his zone. He easily was to be the team's July MVP, given his offensive and defensive performances.
  • Phillips' partner across the bag, Alex Gonzalez, also had a very fine month when he was available to play. Good to see, as he did nothing with his bat.
  • While they weren't particularly outstanding, both Pedro Lopez and Jeff Keppinger did a fine job at SS. Keepinger, in particular, deserves mention, as he is not "supposed" to have adequate range to play shortstop. The data indicate that, at least in his first 71 innings this year at that position, he acquitted himself quite well, despite having an unusually high number of balls hit into his zone of responsibility. If he can play league-average defense at shortstop--and there's no guarantee that he can keep this up, of course--it would be pretty hard to make the argument that he shouldn't be our starting shortstop given Gonzalez's deficiencies at the plate.
  • Josh Hamilton also seemed to do quite well in center field in the brief time he was out there last month. If he can be average, much less above average in center, his value goes through the roof.
Not Lookin' So Good:
  • After UZR rated Eddie Encarnacion as well above average in June and early July, I'd hoped that he might have turned the corner. Despite the fact that these data overlap with those UZR data in time frame, however, they show Eddie having missed nearly 6 plays that an average third baseman would make in just a month's time. Given his struggles with the bat, this is disappointing--the reality is that Eddie may have hurt the Reds more than any other player last month. I will note, however, that we could also be seeing some differences between UZR and the Hardball Times' RZR... We'll see what UZR says next time MGL releases those data.
  • Adam Dunn had an absolutely awful month, more than doubling his negative ZR on the season. Eek.
  • While his performance wasn't as severely negative as the other two, Griffey continues to show really bad range, even though he remains adequate on balls hit relatively close to him.


  1. Interesting. Edwin had another poor fielding month. Why is it that everytime I read a message board Encarnacion is lauded as such having 'monster range', but the numbers seldom back that up. He didn't hit and he didn't field, but he absolutely must play every day while Keppinger, who did both well, sits the bench. That makes no sense whatsoever. Like I said previously, let Edwin compete for the job. He has had plenty of chances. There was an especially telling comment by Pete Mackanin in Trent's blog on Tuesday during the game. Mackanin said Edwin is playing well, and the competition from Keppinger was doing him good. Go figure. A little competition lit a fire under EdE. He seems to be finally getting the message that third base isn't his birth right.

  2. Part of the reason is that Eddie had fabulous ratings from May 31st through the all star break (admittedly, it may have been a small sample size blip):
    Eddie also makes some amazing-looking plays on liners hit down the line, throwing from his knees, etc. He often looks good out there.

    I guess the issue I have with a "competition" of that sort (something that Dan O'Brien was rather fond of encouraging) is that the winner is invariably determined by "performance" over a small sample worth of performance. Even over a full season, OPS can vary by an extraordinary amount (I'll have to look up numbers at home, but I think on the order of 0.09 or so) just due to random chance. Determining who gets a job based on 100 or so AB's, as seems to happen far too often in baseball, is absurd.

    Of course, his offensive performance this season hasn't been bad just due to bad luck. His batted ball stats, which are less prone to the influences of luck, show a completely different hitter from last year. His line drive rate is down, his ground ball rate is down, and his fly ball rate is up. The latter could been a good thing, except that just 6.8% of fly balls turning into home runs (typical is ~13%). There's some luck involved in the latter stat, but not nearly as much as with pitchers. The spike in fly ball rate might indicate that he's flailing at the ball trying to hit for power, but his strikeout and walk rates are right where they were last year--so if he's doing that, he's being reasonably disciplined about it.

    I don't know what the solution is with Eddie. He has seemed to have played better over the past week or so. But his performance since Keppinger arrived overall is actually down. So I'm not convinced that making him feel more heat is helping matters.

    My inclination is to let the guy play at *least* 5 days a week through the rest of the season. It's a lost year anyway, and the Reds owe it to themselves to try to fix this kid.

    The reason? Coming into this season, he was well regarded as among the top young talents at third base in all of baseball. He had wonderful offensive numbers in the minor leagues, and had a very nice first full season last year at the plate. His OPS is well below the 25th percentile PECOTA projection for him (0.761). It's too early to just give up on a 24-year old like this. Hopefully he and the coaches can figure this out...I would like to know what the heck Brook Jacoby is doing to try to help him. Granted, the influence of coaches at the major league level is probably overrated, but I'm still not sure what that guy has done to warrant a job this season.

  3. For the sake of conversation, let's suppose everyone is in agreement that the best course of action for Edwin is to run him out there on a regular basis for the remainder of the 2007. Let's further suppose he muddles along playing at about the same level as he has been so far in 2007. One immediate question would be does Reds' management simply hand the starting 3B job to Edwin in spring training next year, or is it the competition thrown open? Additionally, if he is simply given the job how long do the Reds allow Edwin to hurt the club (as he has clearly done so far in 2007) before making a change? At the end of 2007 he will have approximately 1200 major league Plate Appearances. How many Plate Appearances does a team give a young player before it is time to conclude that maybe this prospect is simply not going to work out. For the record I am not anti-Encarnacion; I am pro-Reds. And I don't understand the reasoning behind running a player out there day-after-day if they are hurting the team. Isn't that what the minors are for? Shouldn't a prospect be pretty much major-league ready before they are brought up? Does the typical prospect need over 1000 Plate Appearances before they contribute on a, more or less, consistent basis? Maybe EdE was rushed.

  4. I don't think he was rushed, as he had plenty of AAA time despite his young age, and hit very well there (again, this goes back to his excellent record). Furthermore, he hit well last season, so he's shown that he can hit in the major leagues. I think everyone expected that he'd at least be as good as his '06 numbers this year, and most expected him to be better. We "just" need to figure out what has happened this season.

    * If Eddie shows no sign of improvement after playing at least 5 days a week for the rest of this year, then no, I don't think he becomes the de facto starter at 3B to start next season. Next season is about winning, and it won't do to have an 0.700 OPS hitter at 3B--especially one with minus defense--if the REds are trying to win.

    But winning is no longer an option this season, so it should instead be about development. That's why I'm arguing that he should be playing now. Hopefully he can get back to where he was, because we need his right-handed bat in our lineup. -j

  5. Can I ask a radical question?

    How about *Griffey* to 1B?

    He'd hate it, but he could still play OF now & then, and it sure would protect his legs.

  6. Griffey to 1B is probably a good move in terms of how best to use the guy, but the trouble for the Reds with that move is that they have a first baseman in AAA (Votto) that should be playing out his rookie season next year. Furthermore, who is Griffey's replacement? Ok, Hamilton. But who plays in Hamilton's stead in CF? Freel? Hopper? I don't think either of those guys are good solutions as starters. ...

    But I dunno, maybe the net number of runs saved via defense would make up for replacing Votto's production with Hopper's...