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Entries in Cincinnati Reds (36)

Wednesday
Dec122012

Cincy Bets on Choo's Bat

Despite posting the second-highest win total in the majors in 2012, the Cincinnati Reds got precious little out of their leadoff spot. Cincy's sorry collection of table-setters -- mostly Zack Cozart, Brandon Phillips and Drew Stubbs -- ranked dead last with an abysmal .254 on-base percentage. It wasn't close, either: the Dodgers and Mariners tied for second-worst at .281. Given the out parade atop an otherwise dangerous lineup, the Reds' top priority this offseason was finding a leadoff hitter with on-base skills.

GM Walt Jocketty got the offensive threat he so coveted in yesterday's three-team, nine-player deal involving the Reds, Indians and Diamondbacks, acquiring Shin-Soo Choo from Cleveland while surrendering Stubbs and shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius. Whether the 30-year-old Choo, who has all of 83 career innings played in center field and below-average defensive metrics in right field, can cut it in the middle pasture is an open question. But here's what's not up for debate: Choo has one of the best plate approaches in the game.

Check out the lefty hitter's swing rate by pitch location last season, compared to the MLB average:

Choo

MLB average

Choo took a cut at 65.2% of pitches thrown in the strike zone in 2012, topping the overall 64.6% average for MLB hitters. In addition to swinging at plenty of hittable pitches, Choo passed on junk pitches tossed outside of the zone. With a 21% chase rate, he ranked just outside the bottom ten among all MLB hitters:

Lowest chase rate among MLB hitters, 2012

BatterChase Pct.
Josh Willingham 18.4%
Rickie Weeks 18.4%
Alberto Callaspo 18.7%
Kevin Youkilis 19.2%
Edwin Encarnacion 19.9%
Carlos Santana 20.0%
Dan Uggla 20.1%
Michael Brantley 20.2%
A. J. Ellis 20.3%
Joe Mauer 20.6%
Denard Span 20.8%
Shin-Soo Choo 21.0%
Jamey Carroll 21.6%
Ben Zobrist 21.8%
Adam Dunn 21.8%
MLB Avg. 28.3%

 

Choo might have to fake it in center field, but he brings doubles power and a career .383 OBP to the top of the Reds' lineup. Somewhere, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce are smiling.

Tuesday
Dec112012

The Inside Scoop on Ryan Ludwick's Comeback

Last winter, Ryan Ludwick looked finished as a productive major leaguer. Entering his age-33 season and coming off a 13-homer year split between the Padres and Pirates, Ludwick had to settle for a $2 million make-good contract with the Reds. Ludwick certainly made good, swatting 26 home runs and slugging .531 for the NL Central champs. Cincy recently rewarded him with a two-year, $15 million contract with a mutual option for the 2015 season. The righty-hitting, lefty throwing slugger, who overcame a fractured hip to become an All-Star with the Cardinals, revived his career for a second time by ripping inside pitches.

During his down 2011 season, Ludwick was a liability when pitchers busted him inside:

Ludwick's slugging percentage against inner-half pitches, 2011

He slugged a paltry .370 against inside pitches, which was nearly 70 points below the major league average and placed him in the same neighborhood as banjo hitters like Robert Andino and Placido Polanco.

Playing in a park that smiles upon right-handed power hitters in 2012, Ludwick crushed inside offerings:

Ludwick's slugging percentage against inner-half pitches, 2012

He slugged .647 against inner-half pitches, tying teammate Joey Votto for the ninth-highest clip among MLB hitters:

Highest slugging percentage vs. pitches thrown on the inner half, 2012

BatterSlugging Pct.
Aramis Ramirez .720
Ryan Braun .709
Josh Hamilton .705
Justin Ruggiano .698
Miguel Cabrera .683
Pedro Alvarez .656
Jonathan Lucroy .648
Giancarlo Stanton .647
Joey Votto .647
Ryan Ludwick .647
MLB Avg. .448

 

Monday
Sep032012

Bill Chuck's Nine to Know: NL Edition

  1. With the Reds 5-3 win over the Astros yesterday, the Reds now have 82 wins guaranteeing them a .500+ season for the 67th time since their first season in 1882 when they went 55-25.
  2. No NL team has hit more homers on the road this season than the Pittsburgh Pirates who have slammed 88.
  3. Since the All-Star break, the Giants have the highest NL team batting average at .271.
  4. The Reds lead the NL with a .274 average leading off an inning.
  5. The Marlins have the worst average in the NL with runners on base (.241).
  6. The Reds have the best team ERA in the NL away from home with 3.26.
  7. The Padres pitchers have the best batting average against batters in the NL leading off an inning at just .230.
  8. No NL team has allowed fewer 1st inning runs than the Nationals starters who have permitted just 53.
  9. No NL staff has allowed fewer two-out runs than the Dodgers who have permitted just 176.
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