Welp, now that the complaining about the All-Star Roster, complaining about the Home-Run Derby roster, complaining about the Home-Run Derby announcing, enduring the over-done hype for the All-Star Game, and modest enjoyment of the actual All-Star Game are all over, there’s nothing left to look forward to except second-half baseball: trade deadlines, pennant races, and playoffs. Egads, how dull.
I wanted to look at how all the Reds have done in the first half to try to see what we might expect in the second 80 games of the season. I’ll start with the hitters:
Right off the bat, (a-hahaha), Joey Votto is perhaps overperforming a teensy-weensy bit. I mean, he’s the best, we know that. But a .408 BABIP season has happened like, 25 times since 1918. And almost all over those happened before 1930. On the other hand, Votto’s three-year BABIP has been .363, one of the highest in MLB over that period. Votto’s excellent bat control – you can see it in his 0.4% infield fly ball rate over the last three years – helps him put up a sustainable BABIP on the level of some of the fastest guys in baseball.
As for the other guys…
Frazier, Mesoraco, and Cozart don’t have major league track records to make a prediction against. Harris and Cairo, even taking into account Cairo’s age, could stand to improve, just based on absolutely abysmal luck. Neither have been world beaters before, but I’d give a strong chance to them returning to average/slightly below benchwarmer form. I also think Hanigan, Phillips, and Stubbs could see minor regressions upwards based on past performance. Rolen is a more open question. It’s certainly not unlikely that his hitting will improve in the second half of the season – but we’ve been seeing downward trend and it’s hard to know where that’s going.
And here are our starters.
Even though we’ve had some concerns with the starters, based solely on half-season numbers, it’s hard to be too angry. Cueto is sustaining a fantastic ERA through his groundball strategy that lets him outperform his peripherals. Arroyo is much improved from 2011 – that HR/FB rate is back down to around 10% (just about in line with his career norms in Great American) from last year’s 15%. Latos is slowly rescuing a rocky start and another rocky backslide – and we all knew that ERA would balloon up moving from park to park anyway. Bailey may be due for a little bad regression, and Leake for a little good regression – but considering we play in one of the worst parks for pitchers, it’s hard to complain about these five. Especially since it’s only 5. There’s only two teams that haven’t had to substitute start this season. Most teams have started 7 or 8 pitchers – and San Diego has had 13 different pitchers start their games.
And lastly: relievers:
I never know what the best stat is to look at a reliever. xFIP or peripherals would probably better, but I guess this will do. It’s easy to be hard on the bullpen when they fail, but ours has been pretty good – only about 20% of inherited runners score, which is third best in MLB. It’s hard to predict what Chapman will do, as there aren’t very many analogs for a pitcher like Aroldis. Marshall, I think will benefit from a change in luck, but I’m concerned that Arredondo will have issue if his BABIP goes back up, and he is still walking batters at the same rate.
Notably, our one big possible second half return is in the bullpen. There’s not a lot of news on Nick Masset’s timetable, but I think he improves the bullpen a lot if he’s healthy and on form. It gives Dusty a go-to veteran presence move against righties, who is slightly less likely to walk a guy on 3 pitches.