Reds Year in Review
It can't be all bad. After all, the team improved 7 games over the year before, and that's something. We're still far from .500, and even farther from contending, but it wasn't a total loss. As a matter of fact, if you want to analyze a trend, the Reds finished 10 games OVER their pythagorean projection. Normally, that calls for a downturn the following year. No real reason for that to happen here, but you're starting from a weak 76, not a strong 76.
We were healthier (though not healthy) in the starting 8--though injuries still hurt--and that is the primary difference. During the year, I tracked pitching stats compared to last year. In the end, it was a grim tale.
Part I: Pitching
Don Gullett, free from the shackles of Boone, supposedly had the pitchers on a new track--pitch to contact. Don't walk guys. And while it worked early, in the end, this team had an abysmal pitching staff. My own opinion is we need new blood at pitching coach, someone who can work with young pitchers. Gully's "strength" was always supposed to be working with the Bowden Retreads...you know, "spotting something in their delivery" and ekeing another year out of them. His success at that is more anecdotal than empirical.
During the year, I tracked Reds pitching against the year before, and against the league average. Early in the year, it was looking good. By October, it was a grim tale of deja vu.
Listed here, 2003, 2004, NL Avg
BB/9: 3.67, 3.57, 3.38
K/9: 5.8, 6.18, 6.74
H/9: 9.82, 9.94, 9.09
ERA: 5.09, 5.19, 4.30
K/bb: 1.58, 1.73, 1.93
Hr/9: 1.3, 1.47, 1.11
Suffice it to say, that pitching was generally worse than the year before, and made only indistinguishable progress against the league. BBs were down a little, and K's up a decent amount, but still well below the league. In the meantime, we gave up more hits, homers, and earned runs than the year before. If you strategy is to pitch in the strike zone, you need more power than that to get by.
Note these other fun facts:
Reds gave up 900+ runs.
They were second to last in runs allowed. Only the Rockies--in their stadium--were worse.
The Reds sported only two pitchers who pitched ANY innings who were beneath the AVERAGE league ERA. And that includes Luke Hudson.
The last one is a kicker. Only Danny Graves (68.3 IP) and Luke Hudson (48.3) were below the league average in ERA. Let's carry this a little further.
ERA between 4.30 and 5.30
Wilson (183.7 IP)
Wagner (51.7 IP)
Bong (15.3 IP)
Harang (161 IP)
Riedling (77.7 IP)
ERA MORE THAN 1.00 above league average (those who metaphysically stink)
Van Poppel (115.3)
White (GOD!) (59.7)
513.6 innings, or just over 40% of the season's total came not from pitchers near the league average, but more than 1 run--and in many cases more than that--from the league mean. You can't figure out a better way to lose over a long season.
Most of those guys were in the bullpen, so its no surprise that the bullpen stunk too. I love the BP measure of taking the expected runs in each situation faced by a reliever, and then comparing it to the actual amount allowed. By this measure, the club allowed 48.4 runs more than they should have (on average), a figure placing them at the bottom part of the National League. They converted a paltry 60% of their save opportunities, compared to, for example, the Cards who converted 78%. Graves converted 41 of 50, or 82%, which is somewhere in the vicinity of the league average. His long-term deal remains an albatross around the club's next. His 5.27 K/9, while above his career average, is well below what is needed to survive. You cannot pitch successfully in the bigs without 6-6.5 K/9.
Bottom line. Pitching no better than the year before, and the reason why a .500 season was not achievedd. The pitching is not merely bad--its awful. The strategy is to build the farm system, rather than trying to find the Jimmy Haynes of each season. Is the talent there. Well, there IS talent there. I don't think there's a Zito/Mulder combo, but there is talent there...how much is a topi for another day.
Coming next. The offense.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Reds Year in Review