Table of Contents

Monday, September 03, 2007

August 2007 Reds Review Part 1: Overview

August 2007 in Brief
August Record: 17-11 (0.607)
Series Record: 6-2-1
PFadj-Runs Scored: 168 (6.0 r/g, 3rd in NL)
PFadj-Runs Allowed: 162 (5.8 r/g, 14th in NL)
Pythagorean Record: 14.5-13.5 (2.5 games below actual record)
Team OBP: 0.375 (1st in NL)
Team SLG: 0.499 (1st in NL)
Team FIP: 5.34 (last in NL)
Team DER: 0.684 (11th in NL)

Season to Date
Overall Record: 62-73 (0.459), 7 games back
Series Record: 16-25-2
PythagenPat Record: 62-73 (0.459)
Remaining Record Needed for 81 Wins: 19-8 (0.703)
Remaining Record Needed for 90 Wins: Impossible
PFadj-Runs Scored: 650 (4.9 r/g, 5th in NL)
PFadj-Runs Allowed: 708 (5.2 r/g, 15th in NL)
Team OBP: 0.335 (T-6th in NL)
Team SLG: 0.439 (5th in NL)
Team FIP: 4.55 (13th in NL)
Team DER: 0.678 (15th in NL)

What Happened...
In August, the Reds posted their second consecutive winning month, and their best month since their brilliant April '06, finally posting a 0.600+ winning percentage. At one point, they had climbed to just 6 games behind the NL Central-leading Cubs. Suddenly, the thought that the Reds might actually contend for the NL Central crown--even if still as a long shot--weren't just the utterances of laughably blind optimists:
(figure courtesy of The Hardball Times, with minor alterations)

More broadly in the NL Central, the Brewers continued the free fall that they began in July, finally falling out of first place mid-month. The Cubs, however, did little to cement their position as the division leader, playing sub-0.500 baseball. Instead, the real story in August was the performance of the World Champion Cardinals, who, after a beginning the month on a five game losing streak, surged back to 0.500 on the season for the first since April. In a division in which the top two teams were slip-sliding back to mediocrity, that was good enough to enter the final month with the Redbirds in the thick of what is now a three-team race for the NL Central crown.

In the other three-team race--the race for last in the division, the Pirates also had a remarkably good month, leading the league in runs scored while featuring average(ish) pitching and defense. At this point, it looks like they will be the Reds' primary contender for fourth place, with the Astros showing very few signs of life.

Breaking it down...

The Reds' surge in August can be traced to three factors. First, the offense was outstanding, leading the league in both OBP and SLG, and reaching the 6.0 r/g level for the first time since April '06. The fielding was also improved, posting a season-best defensive efficiency ratio of 0.684. Now that's far from good, and was still just 11th in the league in August. But it's a nice step in the right direction, especially for a team that played most of the month with its starting shortstop away on bereavement leave.

The other important factor, however, had to do with luck. Just as the offense surged, the pitching staff really struggled, allowing 0.7 more runs per game despite the improvement in the fielding numbers. The Reds' team FIP of 5.34 was easily the worst in the league. The summed effect of both offense and defense put the Reds' run differential at just +6 runs, good for about a half-win over 0.500, indicating that the 0.600+ winning percentage came thanks to a lot of good fortune. They were due for some good luck, as their record badly undershot run differential estimates earlier in the season. As of the end of August, the Reds' season record of 62-73 was a perfect match for PythagenPat estimates.

August Transactions

August 1st
+ Alex Gonzalez (from restricted list)
- Juan Castro (to DL; he couldn't play anyway)
+ Elizardo Ramirez (from AAA; would he pitch?)
+ Mark Bellhorn (from AAA; at least he can walk a bit)
- Chad Moeller (outrighted to AAA; never understood why he was on the team to begin with)

August 3rd
+ Phil Dumatrait (from AAA; audition for starting rotation)
- Elizardo Ramirez (to AAA; the answer to the question above was "no")

August 8th

+ Eddie Guardado (from DL; can a 36-year old come back from Tommy John surgery?)
- Ryan Freel (to DL; knee surgery, out for season)
+ Gary Majewski (from AAA; will he be effective this time?)
- Jon Coutlangus (to AAA; our most reliable lefty is now in AAA?)

August 10th
+ Jason Ellison (waiver claim; he's a replacement player)
- Todd Coffey (to AAA; continued ineffectiveness)

August 11th
= Marty Brennaman signed a contract extension through the 2010 season (let's be positive, k?)
- Matt Belisle (to AAA; ineffectiveness)
+ Bill Bray (from AAA; finally!)

August 13th
+ Josh Hamilton (from AAA; wrist)
- Mark Bellhorn (DFA; he'd be back)

August 14th
- Dave Ross (to DL; concussion - just days after trading away Chad Moeller!)
+ Ryan Jorgensen (from AAA; would have a nice power surge with Cincinnati)

August 15th
- Alex Gonzalez (to bereavement list; no reason to not be with his son)
+ Mark Bellhorn (from AAA; at least he can walk a bit)
= Juan Castro to 60-day DL (tommy john surgery)

August 18th
+ Elizardo Ramirez (from AAA; he'd actually pitch this time)
- Victor Santos (DFA; would clear waivers and return to AAA)

August 20th

- Jeff Conine traded for Sean Henry and Jose Castro
+ Jorge Cantu (from AAA; replaces Conine in 1B platoon)

August 21st
- Phil Dumatrait (to AAA; audition didn't go so well)
+ Kirk Saarloos (from AAA; now the long man in the bullpen)

August 23rd
+ Alex Gonzalez (from bereavement)
- Mark Bellhorn (to AAA)

August 25th
- Bobby Livingston (to DL; perhaps the worst player news of the season)
+ Todd Coffey (from AAA; human yo-yo)

August 26th

+ Matt Belisle (from AAA; replaces Dumatrait)
- Todd Coffey (to AAA; and down he goes...)
+ Tom Shearn (from AAA; long-awaited debut of minor league veteran)
- Kirk Saarloos (to AAA; adios)

August 29th
+ David Ross (from DL; hopefully the concussion is a thing of the past)
- Ryan Jorgensen (to AAA; had a fine stint with the Reds, playing well above his abilities...he'll get another shot someday)

August 30th
+ Jon Coutlangus (from AAA; never deserved to be sent down)
- Elizardo Ramirez (to AAA; shoulder has never been quite right after abuse by Narron last year)

It certainly was a busy month of transactions!

Coming up next: a closer look at the tremendous
August offense, as well as analyses of the pitching and fielding last month. It might take a few days, though: in-laws are in town, and we're off to Vegas for three days!