Archive for Reds

Projecting the Prospects in the Aroldis Chapman Deal

You’ve undoubtedly heard about the Chapman blockbuster by now. Yesterday, lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen gave his take on the prospects involved. Below, I outline what my newly revamped KATOH projection system thinks about the youngsters headed to the Yankees. I also go on to compare that group to the group the Yankees sent to Cincinnati last December in exchange for Chapman’s services.

Note that I’ve included two types of KATOH projection. KATOH denotes the newest iteration of my projection system, outlined yesterday. KATOH+ denotes a version of that same thing which also accounts for Baseball America’s prospect rankings.


Gleyber Torres, SS (Profile)

KATOH Projection: 5.6 WAR
KATOH+ Projection: 7.1 WAR

Although he’s just 19, Torres has been one of the more productive hitters in High-A this year. The Venezuelan shortstop is slashing .275/.359/.433 on the year, with an impressive nine homers and 19 steals. In addition to his offensive exploits, Torres plays an uber-premium position and plays it well.

Read the rest of this entry »

Joey Votto Is Still Pretty Good at Baseball

Last week, I wrote about the disproportionate impact a disastrous April can have on our perceptions of a player. The example I used then was Ken Giles, who has largely put an awful first month of the season behind him and returned to being a dominant reliever. Now seems like as good a time as any to talk about another player who struggled mightily in April: Joey Votto.

As Owen Watson pointed out at the time, April was the worst month of Votto’s career. His slash line was an almost unfathomably awful .224/.320/.306. Votto is one of the precious few who fall into the category of perennial MVP candidates and, for better or worse, those players can’t post a 62 wRC+ through the first month of the season without generating countless inquiries to the effect of “What’s wrong?” or “Is this the start of his decline?” or “Hoo boy, just how bad is that contract?” However, if you’ve been watching the Reds this season, you (a) have my condolences and (b) can confirm that Joey Votto is, in fact, still Joey Votto.

The hitters over the past 30 days who’ve recorded a better wRC+ than Votto can be counted on one hand. His recent hot streak has helped catapult his season stats back to their expected level. He has resumed his rightful spot among league leaders in walks, trailing only Bryce Harper among qualified hitters in walk rate (17.2%). His .404 on-base percentage ranks third in the National League. His poor April is still depressing his season line somewhat, but he’s currently batting a reasonably Vottoian .271/.404/.475 with a 134 wRC+. Here’s his rebound in graph form:

Votto wRC+ rolling chart

Sure, he’s not reaching the astronomical heights of his phenomenal second half a year ago, but he has clearly managed to climb back towards his expected level of production. Now that we’re firmly back in a world where we don’t have to imminently ponder the mortality of one of the game’s best hitters, there are two questions worth asking: 1. How did he rebound? and 2. Is he really back in a sustainable way?

Read the rest of this entry »

A Very Necessary Zack Cozart Follow-Up

Every year we go through the same routine. A previously unimpressive player has a couple great months and we wonder if we’re observing something new and meaningful or if it’s simply random variation and the regression monster is coming. I haven’t done a thorough analysis, but I’d imagine a larger percentage of articles written on sites like this during the first months contain the sentiment “This sure looks new and interesting, but it’s just too early to tell.”

Frequently, we don’t follow up on these analyses. There’s simply too much going on throughout the game and there usually isn’t much to add to the original article other than thumbs up or down. Last year, one such article that actually merited a follow-up was this one concerning Zack Cozart‘s best 40 games. After three seasons of well below-average offense, the slick-fielding shortstop was crushing the ball into late May. I pointed out that Cozart seemed to have developed a new approach that generated harder contact and more pulled fly balls, which was supported by some comments by Cozart himself regarding a conversation he’d had with Barry Larkin during Spring Training.

Three weeks after the article appeared on the site, Zack Cozart suffered a nasty right-knee injury and was sidelined for the remainder of the season. That meant I would have to wait more than a full calendar year to approach a sufficiently large sample to determine if Cozart had really improved or if we were looking at some well-timed good fortune. Thirteen months after Cozart’s knee gave out, we have our answer: Zack Cozart can hit.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Adjustments That Made the All-Stars

Most All-Stars weren’t born into baseball this way. Most of them had to alter their approach, or their mechanics, in order to find that a-ha moment. They threw a pitch differently, or decided to pull the ball more, or changed their swing, and then found a run of sustained success that put them in the All-Star game that’s being played tonight.

So, given fairly fettered access to the All-Stars from both leagues, that was the question I posed: what was the big adjustment, mechanical or approach-wise, that brought you to this podium today?

Read the rest of this entry »

The Jay Bruce Defensive Metrics Test

Jay Bruce is going to be traded. That’s a near-certainty. He’s the only player on this year’s market to be (almost) traded not once, but twice by the team for which he still plays. The rumors have been persisting for more than a year now. Bruce is in the last guaranteed year of his contract, the Reds were never in contention, and he’s rebuilt his value with a great first half at the plate. Already, we’ve heard Bruce linked again to the Blue Jays, alongside the Indians, Nationals, Dodgers, and others. It will be an upset if he finishes the season wearing a Cincinnati uniform.

That much about Jay Bruce, we can be confident. We can be confident that he’s been a good hitter in the past, we can be confident that he’s been a good hitter in the present, and we can be confident that he’s likely to be moved within the next month. There exists an area of Bruce’s story that’s far more murky, though, and one’s perception of that area of Bruce’s game goes a long way towards one’s evaluation of Bruce. Despite a 120 wRC+ this season, Bruce has been worth 0.0 WAR, according to our calculations and 0.4 WAR by Baseball-Reference’s, and that’s all due to his defensive numbers.

The defensive numbers hate Jay Bruce this year. Ultimate Zone Rating calls him the season’s worst defensive right fielder, among 21 qualifiers. Defensive Runs Saved has him in a tie for last, with J.D. Martinez. Those negative marks stretch back a couple years now, but then you get recent tweets like this from Jeff Passan:

And quotes like this out of Buster Olney columns:

Bruce’s defensive metrics are not good, but some scouts believe that he’s better than those numbers indicate, and wonder if his skills are properly reflected in the stats — which some evaluators believe may be inexact.

And you begin to sense a divide on the evaluation of Bruce’s defensive ability. And it’s an important divide, because a Bruce with average-to-better defense is a useful player. A Bruce closer to what the defensive metrics suggest is a replacement-level designated hitter. Those two players fetch far different returns in a mid-season trade.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jay Bruce Might Finally Get Traded

Jay Bruce‘s tenure with the Reds has reached the kids in the back seat asking “Are we there, yet?” stage. It feels like he should have been traded a while ago, yet here is, again a trade target and again a player Cincinnati can move to help its rebuilding process. The team has a $13 million option on Bruce for next year, so they theoretically still control him for another year and a half. That said, now is really the time the Reds need to trade him.

Figuring out when the Reds could have traded Bruce isn’t difficult. Determining if they should have is more so. Jay Bruce signed his current contract back before the 2011 season. The deal guaranteed him $51 million, buying out his arbitration years and potentially three years of free agency. The Reds were coming off a division-winning season, and while the 2011 season was disappointing, the team made the playoffs in 2012 and 2013. Heading into the 2014 season, the Reds had reasonable expectations of contending.

That edition of the Reds featured one of the best players in baseball, Joey Votto; a still decent Brandon Phillips; a nice, young player in Todd Frazier; and promising guys like Devin Mesoraco and Billy Hamilton, who were potentially ready to step forward. With a rotation of Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, and Alfredo Simon — and Tony Cingrani with Aroldis Chapman in the ninth — the team looked like it might have a decent shot at postseason contention. At the very least, there wasn’t the obvious need to blow things up and rebuild. The 2014 season proceeded to become a bit of a disaster, however. Votto got hurt, Phillips got worse, Bailey and Latos couldn’t pitch full seasons, and Jay Bruce had the worst year of his career, putting up a wRC+ of 78, a 40-point drop from his previous four seasons.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Reds’ Pursuit of Historical Ignominy

Last night, Kris Bryant became the first player in Major League history to hit three home runs and two doubles in the same game. His offensive barrage was part of a five homer attack by the Cubs — Jake Arrieta and Anthony Rizzo also went yard last night — in their 11-8 win over the Reds. But while Bryant’s game was indeed spectacular, we also shouldn’t be too surprised that it came in Cincinnati, because the Reds staff is allowing dingers like no pitching staff in baseball history.

Through 77 games, the Reds have allowed 129 home runs, 23 more than any other team has allowed this season. That works out to 1.7 homers allowed per game, a pace that would shatter the all-time record for home runs allowed if the Reds were to keep serving longballs at this rate. The title of the most homer-prone pitching staff in history currently belongs to the 1996 Detroit Tigers, who allowed 241 homers, or a rate of 1.5 homers per game. They edged out the 2000 Royals, 2001 Rockies, and 1999 Rockies, all of whom were attempting to pitch during the height of baseball’s “Steroid Era”, when home run records were falling left and right.

To break the record, the Reds would have to allow 113 home runs over their remaining 85 games, a 1.3 home run per game pace that would be somewhat formidable for most pitching staffs. But for this particular group of hurlers, it’s actually not that hard to imagine them breaking the record.

Read the rest of this entry »

Scouting the Reds’ Cody Reed Before His Debut

When Cody Reed takes the mound on Saturday he’ll likely be wearing the same pair of rec specs he’s worn since his sophomore year of high school. Reed donned the glasses after he had a hard time picking up signs from his catcher — especially during night games — as a freshman and has continued to wear them as a pro. Though, when Reed is pitching well, it’s opposing hitters who look like they could use a pair.

Reed was a late second-rounder out of Northwest Mississippi Community College in 2013. At the time the industry thought there was a good chance he’d just end up as a reliever. There was arm strength, there was an above-average slider, but the strike-throwing and changeup were both behind, and Reed’s firebrand mound presence had many considering him a potential closer. Now the velocity remains but the slider, and Reed’s usage of it, has improved — as has the changeup. He still has some issues throwing strikes, but things have progressed enough in that area that instead of his control dictating whether or not he starts or relieves, it’s going to dictate just how good of a starter he’s going to be.

Read the rest of this entry »

Projecting Reds Lefty Cody Reed

Collectively, Reds pitchers have been all sorts of terrible this year. Their team ERA (5.45) and FIP (5.62) are both easily the worst in baseball, as injuries to Homer Bailey, Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen have left their rotation painfully thin. It’s about to get better, though, as top prospect Cody Reed is set to make his big-league debut tomorrow. Since we’ve likely passed the Super Two deadline, he should be up for good.

Reed enjoyed a breakout season in 2015, when he posted an impressive 24% strikeout rate and 2.93 FIP between High-A and Double-A. That was enough to make him a fixture on prospect lists last winter. He placed in the middle third of most top 100 rankings.

Reed built on last year’s success at the Triple-A level this year. Although he’s faced better competition, his strikeout and walk rates have remained on par with last year’s numbers. The end result has been a 3.20 ERA and 3.37 FIP. Not bad at all for a 23-year-old facing borderline big-league hitters.

Read the rest of this entry »

An Annual Reminder from Eric Hosmer and Adam Jones

If you woke up this morning, looked at the WAR Leaderboards for position players and saw Mike TroutJose Altuve, and Manny Machado near the top, you might have had an inclination that all is right with the world. After all, those three players are some of the very best in major-league baseball, and we would expect to see them at the top of the list. Of course, when you look closely at the leaderboard, it’s important to note that there are 171 qualified players. To regard the WAR marks as some sort of de facto ranking for all players would be foolish. For some players, defensive value has a large impact on their WAR total, and it’s important, when considering WAR values one-third of the way into the season, to consider the context in which those figures.

“Small sample size” is a phrase that’s invoked a lot throughout the season. At FanGraphs, we try to determine what might be a small-sample aberration from what could be a new talent level. Generally speaking, the bigger the sample size, the better — and this is especially true for defensive statistics, where we want to have a very big sample to determine a player’s talent level. Last year, I attempted to provide a warning on the reliability of defensive statistics. Now that the season has reached its third month, it’s appropriate to revisit that work.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Latest Billy Hamilton Development

It doesn’t take much with the bat for Billy Hamilton to be a great player. He’s a world class defensive center fielder. Of course he’s a world class base-runner. Just between his defense and base-running, Hamilton can be worth like something up to three wins without adding anything at the plate, and the list of major-league players with that kind of ability is a short one.

Problem is, Hamilton hasn’t just added nothing at the plate, he’s subtracted, and last year he took those subtractions to a nearly unbearable level. Hamilton was one of the very worst hitters in 2015 with a 52 wRC+ that’s either right at or perhaps even below the lowest acceptable level for any hitter, regardless of what other contributions he offers. Hamilton was teetering on the verge of wasting his preternatural athletic abilities due to what he could (or rather couldn’t) do at the plate.

Read the rest of this entry »

Well, Hello There, Adam Duvall

If you hit 10 home runs in 15 games for an awful, last-place team, will anyone notice? What if you hit 10 home runs in 15 games after entering the season with just eight major-league homers to your name — will anyone notice then? These are the questions Adam Duvall is asking the baseball world right now. While spending his first season as a major-league regular in the relative baseball obscurity that is 2016 Cincinnati, the 27-year-old Duvall is suddenly begging the baseball world to take notice. Well, we see you, Adam, and we want to get to know you better.

Power has always been the key component to Duvall’s game. He has 130 career minor-league home runs, most of which came during his time with the Giants organization. In June 2014, during Duvall’s major-league debut, he homered off Reds pitcher Mike Leake. Just over a year later, the Reds traded Leake to the Giants and in return received none other than Adam Duvall in return. As a September call-up for Cincinnati last fall, Duvall made an early case for the 2016 everyday left-field job, recording five home runs in just 72 plate appearances. This spring, he officially won the job over guys like Jake Cave, Scott Schebler, and Kyle Waldrop. So far, it sure looks like the Reds made the right decision.

Duvall’s current hot streak is part of a larger season-long trend of tremendous power-hitting — historically tremendous power-hitting, even. Of his 50 hits this season, 31 have been of the extra-base variety — 17 home runs and 14 doubles – which gives Duvall a 62.0% extra-base hit rate. In the modern era (since 1901), only two players have posted a higher XBH/H% over a full season: 2010 Jose Bautista (62.2%) and, naturally, 2001 Barry Bonds (68.6%).

Read the rest of this entry »

How the Reds’ Season Has Actually Gone According to Plan

Out of all the sports, it’s got to be toughest for a baseball fan to endure a rebuild season. During a baseball rebuild season, the suck lasts 162 games. Every fan of every team begins the year with enthusiasm — it’s meaningful baseball again, all the teams are tied, and there’s both fresh faces and the ones you’ve grown to love — but for fans of those rebuilding clubs, the enthusiasm wears off the quickest, and the suck grows exponentially as the season goes on.

The enthusiasm has well worn off for fans of the 2016 Cincinnati Reds. They’re 22-36, better only than the Braves and Twins. Their playoff odds officially flatlined back on April 30. Their best player, Joey Votto, hasn’t even brought much in the way of excitement, and perhaps worse than all that, they’ve played 58 games, and 57 times they’ve had to endure a historically bad bullpen.

Not much to cheer for in Cincinnati this year! Cincinnati fans: I’m sorry I just made you relive all that. But I’ve got good news! In this one way, your team’s season can actually be a success! I’m serious! See, in years like these, with the 162 games of suck and whathaveyou, you’ve got to maintain perspective. This season was never about winning games. It was never about being better than the Braves and the Twins, or having playoff odds, or not having a bullpen that makes your eyes bleed. It was about learning, and it was about acquiring future assets.

The Reds have learned. Oh, the Reds have learned. The Reds have learned that nobody in their current bullpen will be in their next good bullpen. You’d prefer to learn positive things about your team, but there’s value in knowing ahead of time which fat to trim. For a positive thing, the Reds have learned that Adam Duvall might really be a player. There’s value in knowing which pieces might be here to stay.

But beyond just some learning, this Reds’ season has gone to plan in that their two most encouraging comeback stories just so happen to be their two most sensible trade chips.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Reds Have Been the Anti-Cubs

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If we can take some liberties with this, let’s describe the Cubs as an action. An extremely powerful and overwhelming action! It’s an action that seems borderline unstoppable. With that in mind, the opposite of the Cubs is the Reds. The Cubs have been good at pretty much everything. The Reds, meanwhile, have been bad at everything.

You can stop there if you want. You already have the idea, and what follows below is just filling out the picture. Cubs good, Reds bad. I’m just fascinated by the magnitude and diversity of the bad. Before the year, I had the Reds pegged as the seemingly bad team with the best chance of being a decent team. I stand by what I believed, but that’s just not how it’s playing out. The Reds have been a spectacular mess, and though the Braves and perhaps the Twins have commanded the everything-sucks headline genre, the Reds have probably been worse. The Reds have been the worst.

Read the rest of this entry »

Scouting the Dodgers’ Electric Cuban Righty, Yadier Alvarez

Cuban righty Yadier Alvarez was the $16 million crown jewel of the Dodgers’ 2015/2016 international free-agent class. It was the second-highest bonus ever given to an international amateur and reports on Alvarez prior to last July were so good that I ranked him #1 on my J2 board at the time. Alvarez ventured stateside this spring and has consistently pitched every fifth day, only missing one start to attend the birth of his child. Reports coming out of Camelback Ranch have been superlative. On Monday, I got to see it for myself along with a number of other interesting prospects.

Yadier Alvarez, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

Current Level: Extended Spring Training, Age: 20.2, Height/Weight: 6’3/180
Signed: IFA at age 19 on July 2, 2015 out of Cuba by LA for $16.0 million bonus

Alvarez was electric. After opening his start with a few fringe fastballs, he began to loosen up and was sitting 92-97 before long. He has been up to 100 this spring, which is especially notable given that there were rumors over the offseason that his velocity had been down. Mixed in along with the fastball was an 82-86 mph slider with late, two-plane bite. It flashed plus, but the line between that pitch and his 76-82 mph curveball was sometimes blurry. The curveball is a bit more vertically oriented than the slider and Alvarez decelerates his arm a bit to throw it, but it flashed average and it should solidify there once he becomes more comfortable with its release.

Read the rest of this entry »

What Can We Say About This Reds Bullpen?

It’s important to remember that most everyone is trying their hardest. (Goodness, is this a sad start to a blog post about professional athletes). Disgruntled fans are quick to accuse Player X who’s making a ludicrous Y number of dollars to “play a kid’s game” of “just going through the motions,” but almost always, every player on a major-league baseball field is either giving it his all, or at least something that’s very close to maxing out his physical capabilities at that moment. They’re all making good money, some even unthinkable money, but we’re all motivated by the prospect of more money, and if not that, we’re at least motivated by the prospect of success, or of not feeling ashamed of ourselves in front of our peers and tens of thousands of onlookers, or at the very least, of not totally embarrassing our family. Nobody is out there trying to lose, individually.

The Reds bullpen is trying its damnedest to get batters out. They really are. Even if the front office isn’t motivated to field a competitive team, these guys all want to eventually earn a contract that sets their family up for life, and they want the spotlight, and they want to not get booed, and they want their loved ones to be even more proud of them, beyond the pride that comes with achieving their dream of making it to the highest level of organized baseball. Each and every one of them. It’s just, well:

Reds bullpen stats and ranks, 1961-present

  • ERA: 6.44 (1,476th out of 1,476)
  • FIP: 6.09 (1,476th out of 1,476)
  • HR/9: 2.04 (1,476th out of 1,476)
  • BB%: 11.6% (1,390th out of 1,476)

What the Reds can hang their hats on, at this moment, is that they don’t have the single worst walk rate of any bullpen in the post-expansion era. Just the 1,390th-best! Beyond that, though, they’re running literally the worst bullpen ERA ever, literally the worst bullpen FIP ever, mostly because they’re running literally the worst bullpen home-run rate, ever. Since baseball is currently going through an extremely pitcher-friendly run environment, things get even worse when you adjust the numbers for era, but they’re bad enough as is, so let’s take it easy on Cincinnati.

In fact, let’s take it even easier on Cincinnati. This is a rebuild year, so it’s not like the losses to which the bullpen is contributing are really hurting the franchise in any way. In the long run, it might even be for the better. It’s not the wins and losses that matter in a rebuild, it’s the potential seen. This year is all about finding out which players on the roster might be a part of the next winning team in Cincinnati. It’s hard to see much potential in a 6.44 ERA and 6.09 FIP through 38 games, but there’s got to be something in here worth rooting for, right? It feels like piling on to write a negative article about something that’s so obviously negative, and these guys are all trying their hardest to succeed, so let’s ignore the nasty numbers for a minute and try to find some glimmers of hope in the Cincinnati bullpen. Everyone has redeeming qualities!

Tony Cingrani

  • Who is he? A 26-year-old left-handed pitcher, currently serving as the closer for the Cincinnati Reds. A third-round draft pick in 2011. Lots of promise, dating back to his rookie year! (2.92 ERA, 3.78 FIP, 104.2 innings, mostly as a starter.)
  • What are his numbers this year? 3.18 ERA! Don’t worry about the rest.
  • Redeeming qualities? Fastball velocity is up two ticks from last year, when he was also serving (almost) exclusively as a reliever! Is also throwing a slider 21% of the time — a career-high rate. When Cingrani debuted, scouts had concern that his lack of, well, any other pitch beside the fastball would limit his upside. He’s attempted to incorporate, and subsequently scrapped, a changeup, so he’s still a two-pitch pitcher, but he’s throwing the slider more this year than he’s ever thrown any one secondary pitch in the past, suggesting increased confidence. And it’s getting whiffs on nearly half its swings! Good pitch!

Read the rest of this entry »

The Unfathomable Reality of a (Temporarily) Awful Joey Votto

It’s always a little dicey writing negative articles. Pointing out deficiencies simply isn’t as fun as pointing out strengths, and there’s something that just feels, well, a little wrong about basing work on something a player is trying so hard to do well. That doesn’t feel like it pertains to this article about Joey Votto, however, mostly because he’s always been extremely good at baseball, and will almost certainly be extremely good at baseball in the near future. Votto has a great contract, an incredible career under his belt, and the prospect of many more wildly successful seasons. The dude is smart and awesome, and we’re simply not too worried about him. However — and the however is important — for really the first time in his career, Votto has been terrible at the plate for almost a full month. That’s at once unbelievable and utterly fascinating, and it’s the reason why we’re here.

So let’s start with a chart. Here’s a readout of Votto’s monthly wRC+ figures since he was called up to the majors in September of 2007. We could have gone with a rolling average, but the monthly delineation gives us a few clear reference points. Mouse over the chart for more information:

Read the rest of this entry »

Brandon Finnegan Looks Like a Starter

For a good long while Monday night, Reds fans had reason to be encouraged. The team was already off to a strong start, and then it took a lead on the road against the Cubs, with Brandon Finnegan working on a no-hitter. It promptly came undone. Not only did Finnegan not complete the no-hitter — the Reds didn’t complete a shutout, and actually the Reds didn’t even win the damn game, with the Cubs rallying against the vulnerable bullpen. Reality blows, and it probably wasn’t the last time the Cubs will put the Reds away in some kind of dispiriting fashion. In the span of a few innings, Reds fans were reminded that, yeah, the playoffs probably aren’t going to happen.

I mean, I don’t know. The Reds are still 5-2. Bully for them. They don’t seem like a good team, but teams like this have surprised before. I don’t want to step on any playoff dreams, so I’ll go with this: Perhaps my main positive takeaway has been the work of Finnegan as a starter. I don’t think he’ll be pitching this team into October, but he’s pitched like someone who could do that down the road. That young Reds rotation is starting to take some shape.

Read the rest of this entry »

Baseball’s New Approach to the Changeup

Baseball can be slow to change. We’ve had this idea for decades that certain pitch types have platoon splits, and that you should avoid them in certain situations because of it. Righties, don’t throw sliders to lefties! It’s Baseball 101.

Think of the changeup, too. “Does he have a changeup?” or some variation on the theme is the first question uttered of any prospect on the way up. It’s shorthand for “can he be a starter?” because we think of changeups as weapons against the opposite hand. A righty will need one to get lefties out and turn the lineup over, back to the other righties, who will be dispatched using breaking balls.

As with all conventional wisdom, this notion of handedness and pitch types should be rife for manipulation. Say you could use your changeup effectively against same-handed hitters, for example. You could have a fastball/changeup starter that was equally effective against both hands, despite the history of platoon splits on the pitch.

To the innovators go the spoils. And we’re starting to see some innovators.

Read the rest of this entry »

Darin Ruf on Four Plate Appearances vs Cincinnati

On April 6, Darin Ruf went 0 for 3 with a walk in Philadelphia’s 3-2 loss to the Reds in Cincinnati. The right-handed-hitting Phillies first baseman faced left-hander Brandon Finnegan in his first two at-bats. He later stepped into the batter’s box against righties Caleb Cotham and Blake Wood.

Ruf, who has a .943 career OPS against lefties, broke down his four plate appearances a few days later.



“Finnegan likes to throw a lot of fastballs, but I’d never seen him before, so I didn’t know exactly what it looked like out of his hand. I only knew the velocity. From video, I like to get a little bit of mental timing off of a pitcher. I try to see what his pitches do. For instance, is his slider a slider, or is it more of a slurve?

“Going into the game, I wanted to get a fastball middle, middle away. That’s something most lefties try to do. With guys like Kershaw and Bumgarner, who like to pitch on the inside part of the plate, I might have a different game plan. But against (Finnegan), I wanted to stay in the middle, opposite-field area.”

FIRST AT-BAT Read the rest of this entry »