Table of Contents

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Guy Named Pete (Not Named Rose)

Ryan Parker does it again, this time chiming in with a humorous yet sincere salute to Pete MacKanin.

As I write this, the Reds are the hottest team in baseball, having won a season-high six straight, 8 of their last 10, and sporting the best second-half record in the National League. They're scoring runs, the bullpen (Stanton excluded) is holding the leads, and somehow they're getting decent starts from guys like Tom Shearn. Now "only" 6.5 games back, folks are starting to ask whether the Reds might have a shot at the playoffs.

So can the Reds' hot streak last? Well, we can use a team's Pythagorean record as an indication of how closely their record matches their performance--which then can indicate how they can reasonably be expected to perform in the future. The Reds are currently rated as one game BETTER than their Pythagorean Record, whereas they were five games under Pythag when Narron left. That means they're roughly 6 games over Pythag under MacKanin...which, if we do the thought experiment, drops his managerial record with the Reds from 29-19 (0.604) down to 23-25 (0.480).

A 0.480 team is certainly a heck of a lot better than what we had before, and is closer to how most of us expected the Reds to play this season (I predicted a 0.500 year in the Hardball Times Preview). Unfortunately, this also indicates that it's probably rather unlikely that the Reds can continue to play 0.600 ball for the rest of the season, so we may be disappointed if we start to allow ourselves a bit of hope.

These data also probably indicate that while MacKanin has done a good job with the Reds, the turnaround in performance probably hasn't been as dramatic as the record indicates. So no, I'm not really on the "Hire Pete" bandwagon right now.

Friday, August 24, 2007

'03-'06 Reds Player Total Run Value

One of the most consistent flaws with how we, as fans, view players is that we classically have had far better and more accessible statistical tools with which to evaluate offense than we've had for defense. As a result, defense is often an afterthought when we evaluate a player--perhaps little more than a tiebreaker when evaluating a player's contributions.

Nevertheless, we are increasingly getting better and better tools to evaluate player fielding performance. I think even the most advanced metrics currently available, such as MGL's UZR or BIS's +/- system, are still fairly "primitive" in what they do compared to what we eventually can expect to have at our fingertips, but they're good enough to give us a good idea of how players perform on defense.

What I wanted to do was sit down and try to get a comprehensive view of how position players have contributed to the Reds' success over the past several years--both on offense as well as defense. This is my first stab at this, and therefore I'm going to be extremely simplistic in my approach:
  • Production estimates for all players are based on comparisons to hypothetical replacement players at the same position(s).
  • Offense was measured as Value Over Replacement Player (VORP), a BPro stat that estimates runs produced above what would be expected from what a waiver-wire player could produce. Replacement players at defensive-oriented positions like SS or CF have lower production than replacements at offensive-oriented positions like 1B or LF, so real players must produce more at those offensive positions to get the same offensive credit.
  • Fielding was measured using Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), one of the more advanced fielding metrics available, which reports runs saved above or below league average. I am making the assumption that replacement players will provide league-average defense. There is precedent for this assumption (though perhaps it works better at some positions than others--I didn't worry about that). If players played more than one position, I simply summed their UZR values at all positions.
  • Total player production, which I'll call total run value, is estimated by simply summing offensive and defensive contributions (VORP + UZR). While one can argue that the value of an offensive or defensive run varies depending on how many runs a team is otherwise scoring or allowing, this is not an unreasonable way to estimate total player contributions.
  • I ignored catchers, because UZR doesn't address them and I didn't feel like trying to come up with my own estimate of their defense (perhaps opposing team SB-CS runs?).
First, here are the data graphically:
The horizontal axis shows player VORP, while the vertical axis shows UZR. The diagonal line is replacement level--where VORP and UZR sum to zero. One would hope that everyone on the team is either at or (hopefully mostly) to the right side of the line. Data points are player seasons (one per player per season), and all represented at least 20 games that season.

The immediate thing that has to concern you as a Reds fan is that there are a number of points well below (to the left of) the line. That means, based on this definition of replacement level, that the Reds have had several players from '03 to '06 who were performing substantially (by 10+ runs) below replacement level. It's pretty darn hard to win if you are playing guys who are performing at a level below what could reasonably be expected of a waiver wire claim (think Jason Ellison or Pedro Lopez).

Let's look at the individual values. This table lists the data for '03 through '06 Reds, sorted by total run value. I set a cutoff of 20 games played to keep the table size under control (players below this threshold were mostly grouped near the middle of the table). I'll also note that I've occasionally encountered oddities with the UZR data, especially in terms of games played. Hopefully those are clerical mistakes in the output spreadsheet that don't affect the defensive estimates, but it's worth keeping in mind:

Year Name G UZR VORP TotalRunValue
2004 Casey 127 5 56.4 61
2004 Dunn 141 -5 53.8 49
2005 Lopez 133 -4 45.8 42
2005 Dunn 152 -7 45 38
2004 Jimenez 137 6 27.3 33
2006 Aurilia 105 4 27.4 31
2003 Boone, A 106
2 25.2 27
2005 Casey 117 3 22.5 26
2006 Freel 113 8 16.4 24
2003 Casey 128 11 13 24
2006 Hatteberg 102 7 16.9 24
2005 Randa 123 2 20.4 22
2006 Kearns 158 4 15.7 20
2005 Aurilia 105 -1 20.4 19
2004 Freel 143 -3 20.1 17
2005 Kearns 110 8 9 17
2003 Jimenez 132 0 15.9 16
2006 Phillips 116 -7 22.6 16
2004 Larkin 84 -7 22 15
2005 Freel 108 -2 15.4 13
2003 Larkin 53 2 9.8 12
2005 Griffey 131 -41 52.4 11
2004 Pena 90 -8 18.7 11
2003 Castro 85 10 0 10
2003 Kearns 82 -4 12.7 9
2003 Branyan 45 3 3 6
2006 Denorfia 23 4 1.1 5
2003 Freel 32 -1 5.8 5
2004 Kearns 58 2 2.4 4
2005 Encarnacion 54 0 3.7 4
2003 Griffey 43 -13 16.5 4
2006 Dunn 164 -22 23.5 2
2004 Lopez 74 -3 4.3 1
2004 Castro 70 3 -3.4 0
2004 Bragg 21 3 -3.5 -1
2003 Dunn 117 -11 10 -1
2003 Stenson 23 -2 0.5 -2
2005 Jimenez 22 1 -2.5 -2
2006 Lopez 147 -17 14.9 -2
2006 Encarnacion 103 -20 17 -3
2004 Griffey 80 -25 21.9 -3
2003 Hummel 24 -3 -0.9 -4
2004 Larson 25 -2 -3.1 -5
2003 Lopez 53 -1 -4.4 -5
2003 Taylor 41 -3 -4.2 -7
2004 Hummel 32 -3 -6 -9
2004 Cruz 24 -8 -2 -10
2003 Olmedo 56 -3 -9 -12
2003 Mateo 50 -4 -8.5 -13
2003 Larson 30 -1 -13.5 -15
2003 Pena 41 -10 -5.1 -15
2005 Pena 90 -26 9.5 -17
2006 Griffey 108 -34 16 -18

The Good
  • Sean Casey checks in with three of the top 10 performances in this dataset, thanks to excellent--or at least fair--offensive production, combined with solid defensive performance according to UZR. I should add the qualifier that UZR looks primarily at range, which doesn't always tell the whole story for first basemen--though Casey was generally considered a good at saving errant throws from infielders, so I think his rankings here are not unreasonable.
  • Adam Dunn turns up twice in the top 4, thanks to outstanding offensive production in '04 and '05 (perhaps his peak seasons), and defense that wasn't nearly as bad as his critics would have you think in those years. Of course, '06 was a different story (see below).
  • Felipe Lopez's All-Star (and probably career) year in '05 comes in at #3. His defense wasn't good that season, but it was certainly good enough for a 40+ VORP shortstop to be a real asset to the team. It's in '06 that he fell off the wagon.
  • Jimenez, Aurilia, Freel, Boone, Kearns, Hatteberg, and Randa all show up as having made good contributions on offense and defense, all producing at least 20 total runs above replacement level in at least one season. ... it's notable that Aurilia, at least, was rated by other defensive metrics as well below average defensively last season, so a little skeptical of these numbers.
The Bad
  • The single worst season in this analysis was Ken Griffey's in '06. His lack of OBP last year caused his offensive value to plummet, while he continued to struggle horrifically in center field. Overall, the data indicate that he may have cost the Reds almost 20 runs compared to a replacement-level player in center field last season when you evaluate both offense and fielding together. Yikes--that's two wins!
  • If you look things on a per-game basis, however, Wily Mo Pena probably wins the title of worst performer. In two seasons, '03 and '05, his defense was atrocious, especially (for whatever reason) in right field. And his offense was certainly nothing to write home about either.
  • Other remarkably bad performers include Brandon Larson (offense), Ruben Mateo (everything), and (to my surprise) Ray Olmedo in '03.
A few other observations:
  • How much did Adam Dunn's awful slump over the last two months in '06 cost the Reds? His offensive production was rated at only 23.5 runs over replacement level in the same year that his defense collapsed to -22 runs vs. average! Ouch. This season, his offense seems to be close to its '04-'05 form, though his defense has been only slightly better than '06 (-8 runs through the All Star break). When he has hit like he is capable, Dunn's been extremely valuable...but when he has struggled ('03 and '06), his value has literally disappeared.
  • Griffey's best contribution in the '03-'06 time period was 2005, but even then, his wonderful +52 VORP was almost canceled by his terrible -40 run effort in CF. Overall, this analysis estimates that he has performed slightly below replacement level for the Reds over the scope of the study (4-3+11-18 = -6). I have a hard time believing that...but there it is.
  • Juan Castro got a lot of playing time in '03, and hit right at replacement level for a shortstop--which is the weakest offensive position. And yet his very good defensive skills resulted in a net contribution of about 10 runs over replacement. Not great, but it's the 25th (of 78) best performance by a Red in the time period of this study.
  • I remember there being a lot of concern about Larkin's defense at the end of his career. These data indicate that he really wasn't all that bad. Even in his last season ('04), his offense made up for his reduced range.
Anyway, this is just a first stab at this kind of analysis. But what the data tell me is that it's very important that we start more explicitly considering defense in player valuations. I'm not entirely sold on this methodology--Griffey being rated as below replacement level is hard to fathom--but at the same time, I have a feeling that these estimates aren't that far off the mark. The Reds' defense over the past many seasons has been terrible, and I think this analysis helps show just how much poor defensive play takes away from a team's ability to actually win games, and a player's ability to help his team win.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Reds Exchange Conine for Castro & Henry

The Reds finally managed to find a home for Jeff Conine in the last 6 weeks of his career, sending him to the Mets for two players from the Florida State League. I wrote in my evaluation of the trade that brought Conine to the Reds would need to rebound to at least his 2005 (0.304/0.374/0.403) performance level to be valuable to the team. Looking back on it, that may have been a bit strong. Jeff's performance with the Reds this year (0.265/0.320/0.409) wasn't up to those standards, and while he didn't particularly help the Reds this season in his platoon role at first base (3 VORP), he wasn't really harmful either. At the same time, I think the Reds can quite reasonably expect similar or slightly better performance levels from Jorge Cantu, so losing Conine is not much of a hit.

Let's look at what they got in return:

Jose Castro, 20 years, SHB SS/2B
2005/NYN-Rk 18 17 6% 12% 0.308 0.286 0.412 0.286 0.000 0.697 -0.5 1 0.341
2005/NYN-Rk 18 128 7% 5% 0.311 0.293 0.359 0.379 0.086 0.739 0.4 16 0.334
2006/NYN-A 19 474 11% 4% 0.247 0.217 0.285 0.245 0.028 0.530 -0.8 31 0.251
2007/NYN-A+ 20 331 6% 3% 0.336 0.318 0.363 0.383 0.065 0.746 -3.4 40 0.336

Castro, a Puerto Rican native, looks like a fairly classic light-hitting middle infield prospect. After a terrible year at the plate last year, he has shown decent on-base ability this season in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. He's done it entirely via hits though, as his walk rate has steadily declined each of his first three seasons. He also doesn't strike out much, indicating a very aggressive hitter. However, his line drive rate looks rather low (just 32 of 281 balls in play), so this aggressive approach of his may not work at higher levels--we'll see.

If Castro doesn't get in base, he doesn't seem to have much in the way of additional skills. He has shown absolutely zero power thus far, and while he has tried to show off some speed, he hasn't been very successful (just 7 steals in 17 attempts this season). He has also apparently received some criticism for his defense, but I can't find anything other than error rate on him, which I consider to be all but irrelevant--I'm much more interested in a young infielder's range. On the plus side, he is only 20 years old, and the Reds think he's ready for AA. So he has a lot of development time left.

Sean Henry, 22 years, RHB OF/2B
2004/NYN-Rk 19 228 19% 10% 0.342 0.282 0.364 0.436 0.153 0.800 -1.1 33 0.354
2005/NYN-Rk 20 177 24% 12% 0.314 0.255 0.350 0.416 0.161 0.766 2.2 27 0.338
2006/NYN-Rk 21 170 17% 12% 0.319 0.275 0.365 0.463 0.188 0.828 2.6 28 0.362
2006/NYN-A 21 71 23% 4% 0.286 0.254 0.282 0.463 0.209 0.744 -0.4 7 0.314
2007/NYN-A+ 22 502 15% 8% 0.325 0.293 0.355 0.456 0.162 0.810 -2.0 74 0.353

Henry has gotten far more action this year than any other in his still young career (he just turned 22 last Saturday), and he's performed reasonably well. His walk rate has been decent, and he's shown a nice combination of speed and power over the last two years. This year, he hasn't been as effective in employing his speed as he has been in the past, but I like that he has shown good percentages in the past--and you never know what sort of emphasis they put on these guys in the minor leagues in terms of base stealing percentage. His strikeout rate has fluctuated at times over his career, but generally he seems to make good contact. If his speed and position are any indication, he's likely to be a pretty good fielder...but again I have no data on that.

He doesn't look like an outstanding prospect, but he might eventually make an impact. Toby Hyde at MetsMinors predicted that he has a shot at being a major league CF, though a 4th outfielder seems more likely. That matches my initial impressions of him.

Overall, this looks like a decent return for Jeff Conine, and on par--if not better than--what we paid to get him in the offseason. I'd probably rate Henry about equivalent to Javon Moran (Moran has less SLG, but more OBP), while Castro has to be better than Brad Key. It's a pretty small deal in the grand scheme of things, but for what it is, Krivsky did fine.

I'd have a hard time rooting for a New York team in the postseason, but for Conine's sake, I hope they make it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Link Dump - Talent Pools and Social Conscience

I'm departing a bit from my typical focus on statistical analysis with this post (sort of), but here are a few things that I've been mulling over during the past few weeks:

What do we mean by Modern Baseball?

Typically, when folks refer to modern baseball, especially in the context of records, we refer to baseball played after and including 1900. But does that make sense? 1900 baseball bares very little resemblance to today's baseball--it was the "dead ball era," and no one had ever hit more than 27 home runs in a season. I'm not even sure if they were using gloves yet(?).

Another option might be to declare that modern baseball began in 1920, when Babe Ruth doubled the all-time home run record with 54 in his first season with the Yankees. Then, at least, we were starting to see offensive levels that approached what we see today.

Tom Tango, however, argued a few weeks back that we might be better served declaring that modern baseball began in 1947. That, of course, is the year that Jackie Robinson broke into the major leagues as the first African-American ballplayer. All of the sudden ( least within 20 years...), the population from which modern baseball players could be drawn increased dramatically--and with it, the level of competition increased as well.

This talent pool, of course, has continued to increase ever since. The infusion of Latino talent has been the story of the past several decades, and we're probably still just beginning to see the invasion of Asian talent in the game. And all signs indicate that this will continue as the game becomes more global. But the start of this expansion in available talent--and the huge increase in level of play that it has brought with it--can probably all be traced back to the presence and actions of Jackie Robinson, with a hat tip to Branch Ricky for helping make it happen. Quantitatively, there may not have been a big jump around that time in the level of competition. But from a social and historical perspective, 1947 seems to have been the turning point.

So count me as one on board with this notion--if it happened before 1947, it wasn't not modern baseball. Sorry, Babe.

How do MLB's activities affect the Dominican Republic?

On a somewhat related note, a few weeks back, I made a comment about Edwin Encarnacion's status as a ballplayer from the Dominican Republic, and what that likely means for what he has been through to arrive at this point in his still-young career. While I still haven't found much on Eddie's personal history, I did spend an evening doing a bit of research on Dominican ballplayers in general...and found some disturbing things.

The story we tend to hear about Dominican ballplayers are the success stories--the Miguel Tejada's and David Ortiz's, and to a lesser extent, the Edwin Encarnacion's, who have made it off the island and onto major league rosters. Even making the league minimum, for example, Encarnacion's annual salary of $390,000 is an enormous sum of money compared to what I hope to make upon finishing grad school in a few months. ... And is an outrageous sum of money compared to what one might hope to make in the D.R., which ranks 73rd in per capita income in the world, with an value just 20% that found in the USA.

But what we don't hear about is impact of the far more frequent cases of young boys and men from the Dominican Republic who fail to make it even off Hispanola. This article by Dave Zinn, while somewhat dated, reports that boys in that country often quit school at 10-12 years old to join baseball academies. There they stay for several years before being discarded, with little education or other additional skills, in their late teens. And even of the small number that do make it to the the US minor league system, only a small fraction of those individuals will ever arrive in the major leagues and start earning good money. While there are rare successes, Zimm insinuates that the activities of Major League Baseball are causing more harm than good to that country's people. In fact, he calls it strip mining.

I'm having a hard time confirming the extent to which this is true. There are a few other articles like this scattered about the internet, but none seem to incorporate enough quantifiable numbers or hard sources to make me feel confident that this is the case. Major League Baseball certainly has focused on the positives related to its activities, such as how they pull these kids out of poverty, give them clean sheets and English lessons, and teach them discipline as well as baseball. I may try to do some searches in the academic literature when I have some time...

But if Zimm's argument is true, it's a genuine problem that we, as fans, need to be aware of. And the Reds, one of many teams with an academy in the Dominican Republic, will be partly to blame. Hopefully more will come to the surface on this issue in the future--like most problems of social justice, it will most likely need to be the people (in this case, the fans) who drive the institution to make a change in its practices, and that won't happen without information.

What does pitcher hitting ability tell us about level of competition?

Major league baseball is the pinnacle of competition in the world, and the increase in the available talent pool we've seen over the years--not to mention improvements in training, strategy, nutrition, and medicine--keep pushing that level of play to higher and higher levels. As the level of competition increases, it makes sense that any one player would find it more difficult to excel in all aspects of the game.

Such is the case with pitchers, which is apparently why few of them can hit particularly well. Pitchers are the ultimate specialists in baseball--their value is determined entirely by their performance on defense, with no attention paid to their ability to hit. As such, it makes sense that as the level of play increases over time, the typical offensive performance of a pitcher should decrease. Dan Fox recently demonstrated this. The following figure, from his blog, plots park-Normalized OPS for pitchers divided by park-Normalized OPS for hitters from the 1800's through the mid-1970's (he stopped the figure with the advent of the DH):
Note that a pitcher was about 70% as good a hitter as a position player in the 1920's, but by the 1970's they were only about 50% as good. As Fox noted, this makes Rick Ankiel's return to the major leagues as a hitter (0.296/0.367/0.667 in his first 30 PA's) all the more interesting.

I wonder what this might tell us about converted minor league outfielders like relief pitchers Coutlangus or McBeth? Were such conversions easier in the past than they are today?

Personal note

I wanted to close by thanking Greg Gajus for breakfast this morning. He was in town for a convention, and it was really fun to get together and chat with a Reds fan out here in Phoenix, especially one as knowledgeable as he is. Greg was one of the other two individuals (the third being myself) cited in the Erardi article from a few weeks back.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Better Know a Red #26 - Jason Ellison

Last week, the Reds acquired RHB OF Jason Ellison from the Seattle Mariners off of waivers. Let's take a look at him:

Ellison was a 22nd-round selection by the San Francisco Giants in the 2000 amateur draft out of Lewis-Clark State College, an institution that also counts former closer Keith Foulke among their alumni (as an aside, Jason Bay was also selected earlier in that round by the Montreal Expos--that's one heck of a steal!). Ellison was initially advanced at a slow and steady pace, and showed fair performance for a mid/late round pick in the low minors. Then, in 2002, he made the leap from A+ ball to AAA and held his own. He made his major league debut in 2003 at age 25, and got significant playing time for the 2005 Bondsless Giants.

Unfortunately, he did not perform well when given that opportunity, and in '06 was relegated to the role of Barry Bonds' designated late inning pinch runner. As a result, he had the very rare distinction of appearing in more games (85) than he had at-bats (81)! Acquired by the Mariners in return for a minor league pitcher near the start of this season, he has had little playing time in Seattle, who ultimately allowed him to depart via waivers to the Reds.

Recent Stats:
2004/SF-AAA 26 549 12% 7% --- 0.348 0.315 0.368 0.459 0.145 0.827 --- -0.9 11.4
2004/SF 26 4 25% 0% 67% 0.500 0.500 0.500 1.250 0.750 1.750 1.885 0.4 2.4
2005/SF-AAA 27 41 22% 5% --- 0.310 0.237 0.293 0.289 0.053 0.582 --- 0.0 -3.8
2005/SF 27 380 12% 6% 17% 0.292 0.264 0.316 0.361 0.097 0.677 0.691 -0.4 -1.0
2006/SF-AAA 28 210 10% 7% --- 0.448 0.406 0.452 0.536 0.130 0.989 --- -0.6 24.8
2006/SF 28 88 16% 6% 10% 0.242 0.222 0.273 0.383 0.160 0.655 0.676 -0.6 -3.4
2007/SEA-CIN 29 52 27% 2% 18% 0.351 0.255 0.269 0.255 0.000 0.524 0.551 -0.9 -4.0
Ellison's best performance of his career, at any level, was his 2006 tear through the Pacific Coast League AAA Fresno. Unfortunately, the 0.989 OPS he posted there seems to have been substantially affected by an extraordinarily high BABIP (0.448), requiring us to look more closely at his 2004 Fresno performance and his 2005 season in San Francisco to get some idea of what he is capable of as a hitter.

What those stats reveal is a guy who makes good contact, but but doesn't walk much either. While he flashed good doubles-power in AAA, his power has been virtually absent at the major league level in over 500 plate appearances. He's not a particularly good singles hitter either, with a MLB line drive rate around 17%. He has some speed, stealing 27 bases in '04 with Fresno and 14 bases with the Giants in '05. But as is so often the case, his success rate, while not horrible, has been bad enough that his base-stealing escapades have actually cost his teams more runs than they've produced.

One place we might hope to see exceptional performance from a player like Ellison is his defense. Here are his career major league defensive performances according to UZR, through May of this year:
pos expOuts runs_range runs_fldErr runs_othErr runs_total G Innings
LF 35 0 -1 0 -1 19 217
CF 205 1 0 -1 0 81 657
RF 51 0 0 0 0 26 289
Ellison has been dead-on average defensively at all positions. I would qualify that assessment, however, with the observation that our best sample size is in center field, indicating that he would probably be above average in the corner positions with additional playing time.

Now, being an average center fielder certainly isn't a bad thing, especially for the defensively challenged Reds. But when combined with his performance at the plate (career VORP = -6 runs) you get a picture of someone who is essentially the definition of a replacement player. And at 29, he's unlikely to get a whole lot better.

That's ok, of course. He was, after all, acquired via the waiver wire, and probably is about on par with someone like DeWayne Wise to fill in the 5th outfielder spot on the club for the time being. Just don't expect a whole lot from him.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Better Know a Red #25 - Phil Dumatrait

The latest addition to the rotation--and with the trade of Lohse and demotion of Belisle, the apparent #4 starter--is LHP Phil Dumatrait. Dumatrait has a rich pedigree, being the #1 selection of the Boston Red Sox in the 2000 amateur draft out of Bakersfield Junior College. Dumatrait began his career in the Gulf Coast League, and didn't pitch very much until he was finally promoted at 21 years old to Class-A Augusta, where he posted excellent numbers. A year later, in 2003, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds along with a player to be named in exchange for Scott Williamson in the fire sale that followed the conclusion of Jim Bowden's tenure with the team.

As almost seems typical of Reds pitching prospects, Dumatrait suffered a critical injury almost immediately after he was acquired, missing the entire 2004 season with a torn rotator cuff. After his return, he spent the '05 season in AA and then arrived in Louisville midway through the '06 season. Dumatrait made his big league debut on August 2nd, allowing 6 runs in 3 1/3 innings and earning his first big league loss.

Recent Stats:
2005/CIN-A+ 24 10.0 11.7 2.7 0.00 0.320 3.60 2.70 1.50 3.30 1.0 64%
2005/CIN-AA 24 127.7 7.1 4.9 0.28 0.282 4.09 3.17 3.67 4.65 13.7 54%
2006/CIN-AA 25 49.7 8.1 4.0 0.72 0.252 4.35 3.62 3.76 5.65 -1.1 43%
2006/CIN-AAA 25 87.7 6.0 3.7 1.03 0.314 5.03 4.72 4.59 5.74 -4.8 49%
2007/CIN-AAA 26 118.7 5.3 3.6 0.68 0.259 4.09 3.49 4.22 --- --- 42%
2007/CIN 26 9.3 5.8 4.8 0.00 0.407 7.74 7.74 3.52 --- -2.0 27%

Despite his first rounder-pedigree, Dumatrait's numbers look decidedly ordinary. His strikeout rate was well above-average earlier in his career, but has dropped steadily as he has moved up and at AAA has been below-average (by comparison, finesse lefty Bobby Livingston struck out 5.4 batters per nine innings at AAA this season). At the same time, Dumatrait's walk rate--while it has improved--remains fairly high. The one peripheral that looks solid is his home run-allowed rate, but his ground ball rate seems to have been steadily dropping over the past three years, giving little reason to think that he'll maintain low homer rates in the majors. He has produced a nice 3.49 ERA in AAA this season. But his BABIP is a bit low, and his FIP is about 0.7 runs higher than his ERA, indicating that he may have been lucky. Furthermore, he's already 26, so he probably doesn't have a lot of development time left.

So, in short, there's unfortunately just not a lot that I see here that provides much hope for his future success at the major league level. Poor control, low strikeout rates, and average ground ball rates adds up to someone who is probably best suited as a long man in the bullpen, if he is to play int he major leagues at all. I hope I'm wrong. But if the Reds are counting on getting much production from this guy next season, they may be disappointed.

Photo by AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais