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Entries in Cincinnati Reds (36)

Friday
Aug232013

Todd Frazier Getting Beat Inside

Todd Frazier could do no wrong in 2012. Frazier took over third base from an ailing Scott Rolen and proceeded to hit no-handed home runs, save random Pittsburghers who bit off a little more than they could chew and finish third in NL Rookie of the Year voting. His 2013 season, by contrast, hasn't been nearly as heroic.

Frazier's slugging percentage has dipped by over 100 points (from .498 in 2012 to .391) for the Reds, who rank a middling 13th in the majors in runs scored despite Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo reaching base at the highest clip among NL hitters. A major reason why Frazier isn't driving in his teammates this year is that he's struggling against pitches thrown inside. He made pitchers pay when they tried to bust him in on the hands in 2012, but he's meekly grounding out on those pitches this season.

During his rookie year, Frazier slugged .585 versus inside pitches, tying him with Jose Reyes for the 12th-highest mark among major league hitters. In 2013, though? Frazier's slugging a mere .383 against inside stuff, which places him directly behind the banjo-strumming Elvis Andrus for 111th among qualified batters.

Frazier has lost his power stroke against inner-third pitches because he's rolling over far more often against those offerings this year. Here's Frazier's ground ball rate by location against inside pitches in 2012, and then in 2013.

Frazier's ground ball rate vs. inside pitches, 2012

 

Frazier's ground ball rate vs. inside pitches, 2013

Frazier hit a ground ball 30 percent of the time against inside pitches during his Jedi-homering, Heimlich Maneuver-performing 2012 campaign, well below the 32 percent MLB average. In 2013, however, Frazier has hit a grounder 46 percent of the time pitchers toss him something inside.

Given Frazier's issues on pitches tailing in on his hands, it might not come as a surprise that he's really scuffling against sinkers. He was basically a league average hitter against the pitch last year, but his ground ball rate on sinkers has spiked  (from 53 percent to 62 percent) and his slugging percentage has plummeted (from .436 to .243).

The Reds don't need Frazier to be Superman. But if the club is to keep pace with the Pirates and Cardinals in brutally competitive division and Wild Card races, they'll need their third baseman to overcome his inner-third Kryptonite.

Saturday
Jun082013

All About Choo's Bruises

The Cincinnati Reds acquired Shin-Soo Choo from the Indians last winter to bring a patient, potent bat to a lineup that finished dead last in the majors in on-base percentage from the leadoff spot. 

The move has paid off in a major way, as Choo's .432 OBP trails just teammate Joey Votto (.441) and Miguel Cabrera (.447) among qualified major league hitters. He's earning that lofty OBP the hard way, though, as Choo leads the majors in hit by pitches (17). His next closest competitor (or is it commiserator?) is Starling Marte, with 14.

History in the bruising

Choo is getting plunked at an historic pace so far, with fewer than 17 plate appearances going by before he gets a new bruise from the opposing pitcher. That's the third-fewest PA between HBPs among MLB hitters in a season with least 200 trips to the plate:

Fewest PA between HBPs in single season (min. 200 PA)

Source: Baseball-Reference.com

Here's a closer look at how Choo is grimacing his way into the record books in 2013:

  • Unfortunately for Choo, he's not getting grazed by errant breaking and off-speed pitches. Thirteen of his 17 HBPs have come on fastballs, ranging from an 86 MPH two-seamer from Jered Weaver to a 93 MPH four-seamer from Kyuji Fujikawa. Choo has also been hit by two sliders, and one curveball and cutter apiece.
  • As if getting beaned by fastballs isn't bad enough, Choo is getting buzzed by high pitches. Eight of his 17 HBPs have come on pitches thrown in the upper-third of the strike zone, five have caught him around the ribs, and four have been below the belt.
  • Choo crowds the plate, making him a natural target to get plunked, but there might be some deeper strategy involved in terms of when he takes a body shot. Seven of his HBPs have come in two-strike counts. Getting hit by a pitch hurts, but it doesn't sting as much as heading back to the bench after making an out.
Monday
Mar112013

Leading off for Cincy, Shin-Soo Choo

Last season, National League leadoff batters hit .257, led by the Colorado Rockies at .279

Last season, National League leadoff batters scored  1528 runs, that's an average of 95.5 runs per leadoff batter. The Giants leadoff batters scored 120 runs.

Last season, no National League team leadoff batters hit lower than the Cincinnati Reds at .208.

Last season, the Marlins leadoff batters scored a league low 80 runs.

But frequently you are judged by the company you keep - the Reds scored 83 runs, the same as the Pirates and the Astros. That's not good company for the Reds.

Here are last year's leadoff batters for the Reds: 

Now leading off for the Reds, Shin-Soo Choo.

On December 11, 2012: Choo was part of a 3-team trade as he went from the Cleveland Indians with Jason Donald and cash to the Cincinnati Reds. The Arizona Diamondbacks sent Matt Albers, top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer and Bryan Shaw to the Cleveland Indians. The Cincinnati Reds sent 23-year old shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Drew Stubbs to the Indians. The Cleveland Indians sent Lars Anderson and Tony Sipp to the Diamondbacks.

For the Reds this was all about acquiring about Choo and his .373 OBP as their leadoff batter. To be successful, it is critical that Choo reduces his 21.9% strikeout rate (the same as Alex Rodriguez) and maintaining his 10.6% walk rate (Mike Trout's rate was 10.5%).

Choo hit .283 last season, decent but his .353 BAbip was inordinately high for those results. Last season, David Freese hit .293 with a .352 BAbip and Carlos Gonzalez hit .303 also with a .352 BAbip.

Over the last five seasons, Choo has averaged 3.98 pitches per plate appearances and last season it was 4.09 (Trout's was 4.08).

Last season, Choo hit 16 homers and yesterday he hit his first home run as a Red. But while the 15-20 homers that he is capable of hitting is a bonus, he has one GOB (an acronym pronounced: JOB).

And that GOB acronym is simple: with Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick , Jay Bruce, and Zack Cozart hitting behind him, as Choo adjusts to playing centerfield, for the Reds to suceed, Choo just needs to Get On Base.


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