Recently, my fiance, Mr. Tiger, who briefly guest blogged last week, started up his own blog for baseball analysis, called “(Alex) Gordian Knot.” If you don’t know who Alex Gordon is, or the story of Alexander of Macedonia and the Gordian Knot, this will seem like a ridiculous name to you. If you do, it might still seem pretty stupid. I may also be posting some general-baseball non-Reds related stuff there in the future, but for now, it’s mostly his show.
What he’s been looking at is sort of measuring playing time distribution by plate appearances, creating cumulative density charts for all batters, over a certain time period. What this does is give you the probability that any plate appearance is taken by a player with X or fewer plate appearances in a season. Considering the state of the Reds bench last year, and Dusty’s penchant for giving starts to terrible aforementioned bench, I thought it would be interesting to look at comparing the Reds to the rest of the league. I thought this was a particularly good way to look at it, because “bench or not bench” is unhelpfully Boolean, and this is a little more nuanced. So here is the CDF for player plate appearances in 2012 for the Reds and the NL.
Not intuitively useful! Obviously, the Reds have fewer data points, to the curve is not smooth. It’s probably helpful to think of this by individual data points. For example, the Reds had about 10% of their total plate appearances go to players with 100 PA or fewer, and so did the league. Go up to 300 PA, though, and the Reds had about 20% of our plate appearances go to players with 300 PA or fewer, while the league had more like 30%. Although there is a sample size issue, I think there is a somewhat meaningful distinction for the Reds in the 250 to 450 PA range. The league had over 50% of its PA go to players with 430 PA or less. The Reds had about 37%.
I’m still not sure how meaningful this is. One player in this range of PA would create a swing of about 7%, so it’s not just one player. I do think the circumstances of Todd Frazier is a bit part of it. Usually either Rolen and/or Votto’s sub would fall into this category, but instead we have one player with 465 PA, and who was pretty good, to boot. Still, the major players with less than 450 plate appearances on the Reds in 2012 were Heisey, Hanigan, Rolen, Valdez, Mesoraco, Cairo, and Paul. On other teams, their equivalents (regardless of the number of players it was), got a lot more time in the batter’s box.
I would say it’s probably a good thing, but it may just be happenstance, luck, or noise. In any case, I probably need to think on it a little bit more.