I just got my 2005 Baseball Prospectus book in the mail today. I’m like an eight year old on Christmas.
Of course where else would I go but the Reds section. In the narrative they talk about the injury problems, and how they overspent on a couple of mediocre starting pitchers. Nothing too wild.
They expect Sean Casey to regress back to the numbers he put up in 2003.
Adam Dunn is projected to be a little better then his 2002 season, but he has a 56% breakout rate. If you add 20% more homers, that puts him at 42. Not too shabby, although I’m not quite sure if that’s how you do it. 20% more VORP and he’s at 58 or so, which is a little short of 2004. It will take him a while to burn off that 2003 season.
Edwin Encarnacion projects very nicely. Fortunately he’ll get one more year down in the minors to fine tune his game. Next year, at the ripe age of 23, he should be the Reds starting third baseman.
But you should buy the book. Baseball Prospectus is a must read.
There’s nothing more exciting then a rookie making a huge impact on a championship ball club. And there’s nothing like a rookie being thrown into the fire and being asked to close out games on a consistent basis. Rawly Eastwick finished more games for Sparky (40) then any other Red and he led the National League with twenty two saves.
Over 90 solid innings, Eastwick posted a 2.60 ERA (ERA+ of 138) and a WHIP of 1.133. He also topped the team with 6.10 strikeouts per nine innings.
Let’s take a look at the rest of the numbers…
Innings Pitched 90
Pitching Runs Above Replacement 37
Definitely some nice numbers, but this is like running into a Mack truck with your tricycle. We all know Willie Hernandez had one of the single best seasons for a reliever ever, and while Eastwick threw well, he just can’t match up
Scorecard – 1975 Reds 7, 1984 Tigers 8
You can read Brian’s analysis of Willie Hernandez over at Tigerblog.
So we’re done with the debate, and the 1984 squad edged the Big Red Machine. I know all the Reds’ fans will flood me with mail about how this isn’t the best way to compare the teams, but before you do, I just want to say I completely agree with you!!!
We’re going to take a break from the history for a second. The Reds are at spring training, so let’s take a look at what’s happening there.
Jayson Stark did a piece on the top five best lineups in both leagues. The Reds didn’t make the top five, but they were listed first among the teams that didn’t get enough votes, so I’m going to take that to mean the Reds have the sixth best lineup.
In less optimistic news, Buster Olney’s top 30 had the Reds at 25th. He even had them behind the Pirates. Ouch.
Looks like Bubba Nelson got busted with a DUI. Wonder what kind of curfew he’s going to be on the rest of camp?
Baseball Prospectus’ Triple Play for the Reds came out, and they analyze the Reds outfielders to see which one would be best as traded. They don’t really come to a conclusion, but Wily Mo looks like he’s the odd man out.
So chew on these things, and we’ll be back over the weekend to finish up the debate. Can Rawly Eastwick get the job done? We’ll see.
One of the biggest differences between the Reds’ pen and Tigers’ pen was that the 1975 Reds had a fourth option. Where three Tiger relievers logged 90 innings (although you can make a case for Dave Rozema, who split time), four Reds relievers logged 90+. The missing person from this whole thing is Pedro Borbon, who had a fine season as well. Not that I’m complaining…..
Anyway, it makes this a little more difficult to compare, because where Will McEnaney logged just over 90 innings, his opponent, Aurelio Lopez, logged a whopping 137 2/3. Regardless, McEnaney was Sparky’s left handed option out of the pen, and 1975 was his career year as only in his final season with the Cardinals in 1979 did he post an ERA+ above 100 like he did in 1975.
McEnaney threw in 70 games, which was one short of the lead league, and his fifteen saves was good for fourth. His WHIP wasn’t anything special (1.264), but his 2.47 ERA amounted to a solid ERA+ of 145. His hit rate was about one an inning, but he was stingy with the walks and the homers.
Let’s take a look at the number:
Innings Pitched 91
Pitching Runs Above Replacement 29
The ERA, walk rate, and homer rate all topped Lopez, but Lopez struck out almost an extra batter and a half every nine innings, and his hit rate was a very solid 7.13. On top of that, he was a little better over almost 47 more innings. So I have to give this one to Senior Smoke.
Scorecard – 1975 Reds 7, 1984 Tigers 7
So we’re all tied up again, and we have the top relievers coming up. I have a bad, bad feeling about this. You can read Brian’s analysis of Aurelio Lopez at Tigerblog.
One of my favorite quotes out of the fantastic book “The Long Ball” was Sparky’s about how he handles his starting pitchers. I don’t have the book with me (I loaned it to Brian), but it went something like this…
For the first five innings, the game belongs to the starting pitcher. For the rest of the game, it belongs to me.
I didn’t put quotes around it because that might not be what he said verbatim, but boy did Sparky love his pen. At the first sign of trouble, Captain Hook would be out there. And for all three of his championship teams, he had a great pen to work with.
Clay Carroll was one of Sparky’s workhorses and will be going up against Doug Bair. I had to decide between Carroll and Pedro Borbon, since we’re only going to look at three relievers, and Caroll seemed just a little better.
Carroll and Bair match up pretty well. They’re almost equal as far as how much they worked, so the comparison will be easier. Carroll had a better ERA, while Bair had a better WHIP. And while Bair had a better strikeout rate, the one area where he’s grossly overmatched is in the homeruns allowed category. Carroll was stingy in allowing the long ball, and gave up only two throughout the entire 1975 campaign, while Bair game up ten in 1984.
Let’s take a look at the numbers:
Innings Pitched 96 1/3
Pitching Runs Above Replacement 34
That homerun rate really stands out. Between that, and Carroll being worth 13 more runs then Bair (around one win), the nod has to go to the Reds.
Scorecard – 1975 Reds 7, 1984 Tigers 6
We’re in the lead again!!!! You can read Brian’s analysis of Doug Bair over at Tigerblog most likely tomorrow (if you can believe what he says).
Alright, the suspense is killing me. For those of you who are visiting for the first time, Brian over at Tigerblog and I have been debating which was Sparky Anderson’s best team, the 1975 Reds or the 1984 Tigers. Step one has been going position by position, and whoever wins the spot gets a point. Pretty simple.
While I initially thought the answer was obvious and that the 1975 Reds would destroy the 1984 Tigers, it’s gotten a little closer then I initially thought. As it stands, we’ve gone through all the position players and all the starting pitchers. And after all that, we stand DEAD EVEN at 6 a piece.
So as we go into the homestretch, I wanted to give the new readers a chance to easily go through what has transpired over the last few months. Here’s the rundown (By clicking on the player’s name, it will take you to that player’s writeup).
Catcher – Johnny Bench beats Lance Parrish (Reds 1, Tigers 0)
First Base – Tony Perez beats Dave Bergman (Reds 2, Tigers 0)
Second Base – Joe Morgan beats Lou Whitaker (Reds 3, Tigers 0)
Third Base – Pete Rose vs. Howard Johnson (Reds 4, Tigers 0)
Shortstop – Dave Concepcion vs. Alan Trammell (Reds 4, Tigers 1)
Left Field – George Foster vs. Larry Herndon (Reds 5, Tigers 1)
This is where the wheels begin to fall off the wagon:
Centerfield – Cesar Geronimo vs. Chet Lemon (Reds 5, Tigers 2)
Rightfield – Ken Griffey vs. Kirk Gibson (Reds 5, Tigers 3)
SP1 – Gary Nolan vs. Jack Morris (Reds 5, Tigers 4)
SP2 – Don Gullett vs. Dan Petry (Reds 6, Tigers 4)
SP3 – Jack Billingham vs. Milt Wilcox (Reds 6, Tigers 5)
SP4 – Fred Norman vs. Juan Berenguer (Reds 6, Tigers 6)
So the Tigers have won five of the last six, and I figure we have three more to go. Once we’re done, the final battle will take place over at an upcoming site, Simulation Baseball. There we’ll run a few simulations using Diamond Mind Baseball to determine once and for all who reigns supreme.
Barry Larkin made official what most Reds’ fans already knew. He announced his retirement, and ended one of the best careers that a Cincinnati Red has ever had. Nineteen seasons and career marks of .295/.371/.444 are nothing to scoff at. Also, according to Lee Sinins, Barry Larkin is fourth all time in runs created above average by a shortstop.
While I don’t think Barry Larkin will be a first ballot Hall of Famer, I do hope he gets in. He definitely was the total package, and he did it in a time when shortstops weren’t hitting fifty homers a season. Heck, he was a productive player when nobody was hitting fifty homers in a season. The HOF Monitor seems to agree with me, but he comes up a tad short in the HOF Standard.
I don’t think the “stuff” that took place this offseason was played well by either side. First Larkin said he was retiring, then he changed his mind. The whole Aurilia signing, which I think will be helpful, didn’t help matters out much either. And now Barry throws it in our face (somewhat justifiably) by joining up with Bowden over in D.C.
Regardless, I wish Barry the best of luck, and maybe someday, he’ll come back home.
Cincinnati.com is supposed to have their spring training special tomorrow. Be sure to check it out.
I haven’t talked about my number one favorite player in a while. I downloaded Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections, and the first person I looked up was Adam Dunn.
PECOTA is usually pretty conservative, but if they’re right about Dunn, this could be a special season. .270/.395/.562 with 35 homers in only 460 at bats. Most impressive is the fact that they give him an improvement of 86.5% and a breakout (exceeds his projections by better then 20%) of 55.8%!!!!
I honestly think this is the year Dunn is going to hit fifty homers. I caught a ton of grief two years in our fantasy baseball draft when I predicted Dunn would hit fifty. The only thing I was wrong about was the fact I was two seasons too early.
JD over at Red Reporter has an exclusive interview posted with Brian Peterson. This is some really good stuff, so be sure to check it out.
Fred Norman, like his counterpart Juan Berenguer, filled the role of fourth starter/spot reliever. In the day when four man rotations were more normal then five man rotations, the fourth starter was usually called upon to take on this dual role.
Norman had a pretty unspectactular career. He had solid seasons from 1974-1977, and was in the top six in strikeouts per nine innings in three of those four seasons. He ended his career just a touch above .500 with a 104-103 record, and was right around the league average in ERA (career ERA+ of 98).
In 1975, Norman ate up quite a few innings as the teams’ number four guy (188), and finished with the third best winning percentage in the National League with a 12-4 record (.750). He was 10th in the league in H/9, but suffered against the long ball and gave up his share of walks.
Let’s take a look at the numbers.
Innings Pitched 188
Pitching Runs Above Replacement 28
This might be the toughest one yet. In the more traditional categories, Norman did pretty well. He won one more game then Berenguer, lost six less, and threw almost twenty innings more. He also had a slightly better WHIP.
But Berenguer had a better ERA, a better strikeout rate, and a much better homerun rate. On top of that, Berenguer was worth 43 runs above replacement, in twenty fewer innings, and almost doubled up Norman’s Stuff with a 13.
Errrr, I’m going to have to give this one to the Tigers. I’m too sabermetrically inclined to delude myself otherwise.
Scorecard – 1975 Reds 6, 1984 Tigers 6
So for the first time, we’re tied. I kind of figured this would happen once we got to the pitchers. You can read Brian’s analysis of Juan Berenguer at Tigerblog.