Could Bailey be on the verge of a breakthrough? (Image:Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

As the Reds Head Into May


As April is clearly in the rear view mirror, there a few concerns about the Reds as we head into May. The 11-11 record seems like a disappointment. It is and it should be. The bats struggled for a period of time. The starters struggled for a period of time, too. I noted how April went for some in the last podcast.

Well, I do have others…

1. Leadoff

Heading into 2012, this issue seemed “settled” with Brandon Phillips having his name atop the lineup. BP is one of three different guys Dusty Baker has used in the role. To date, the production is…

Split PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG BAbip
Batting 1st 104 97 8 14 4 0 0 0 1 0 5 20 .144 .186 .186 .182
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2012.

Call me crazy, but that’s not good, is it?

BP along with Zack Cozart and Drew Stubbs have all spent a little time in the leadoff slot. Here’s a breakdown of the three…

  • BP: .208/.240/.250, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB
  • Cozart: .171/.237/.257, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB
  • Stubbs: .107/.138/.107, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1 SB

None have had any marked success. Adding to this issue is that BP is currently the clean-up guy (which I will cover in a bit). Some feel Phillips isn’t a long-term solution at leadoff.

There’s no clear-cut candidate. But if you check the splits for each Cozart and Stubbs, you see something that rings the bells even louder. Cozart and Stubbs (yes, small sample) look more comfy hitting second. Stubbs had a tear when he was at #2. Cozart has performed better at #2 as well. On BP? He’s doing pretty well where he’s currently setting up shop.

2. Clean-up

And this is the new home for Phillips. It’s not as bad as some may think. Actually, it’s good.

Split G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG BAbip
Batting 1st 6 26 24 2 5 1 0 0 0 1 4 .208 .240 .250 .250
Batting 4th 9 37 34 7 10 0 1 2 7 3 3 .294 .351 .529 .276
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2012.

BP has performed nicely since being moved into the cleanup spot (Image: Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

I threw in BP’s splits at leadoff so you can see the vast difference and so you don’t have to look back up or scroll back up through this post. His done pretty darn well. He may not display the “power” you would like from a clean-up hitter, but he’s hitting almost .300.

And that does bode well for Joey Votto. If BP is hitting, opponents may at least think about not pitching around Votto.

My hope entering 2012 was that Ryan Ludwick could establish himself in this role, and more on that in a few. Hasn’t materialized. The natural “reaction” is to want Jay Bruce there. In the past, I have voiced my personal hesitation in putting Bruce in the cleanup spot. More recently, I’m starting to go with those wanting #32 there.

It is time to let Bruce loose.

3. Left field

Told you I get back to this.

Last season, production from this position was pretty shoddy especially from a batting average standpoint. The slash line for 2011 was .227/.310/.371. One month into 2012: .165/.245/.329. Yikes!

And on Ludwick. He was brought in to bolster the offense, wasn’t he? To date, he does have 3 HR and 10 RBI, but a slash of .190/.266/.397 won’t get it done. The “alternative” is Chris Heisey.

It’s not like we haven’t seen Heisey knock a few out of the park. He also has the ability to steal a bag or two and play decent on the defensive front. We also know Heisey can thrive in a pinch-hitting role. In a situation where power is needed, Baker does not hesitate to put that burden on Heisey. Sure, we’d like to see him transfer that into a starting role.

We can only ask when that will happen. Not for when Baker sticks with Heisey as the everyday left fielder, but when Heisey transfers those pinch-hitting numbers into everyday numbers.

4. Starting pitching

I touched on this in the last podcast. The names frequently mentioned are Mike Leake and Mat Latos.

On Latos, he’s a notoriously slow starter. According to his career splits, his May should far exceed his April. If Latos has a May similar to his April, then I’ll worry.

I touched upon Leake the other day. A reversal of his norm is what we are witnessing…on all accounts.

No one would question the importance of Johnny Cueto and Bronson Arroyo.

Homer Bailey? He’s in between here. He hasn’t dazzled and he hasn’t been putrid. The numbers aren’t pretty (1-2, 3.60 ERA, 1.360 WHIP), but they’re not ugly either. I’m seeing a different Bailey. He gets knocked from time to time for his competitive nature. He’s too competitive they say.

I think that nature is serving him well thus far. I also have a belief (fingers crossed) that we might be on the verge of seeing the Homer Bailey from the beginning of 2011. Not the one on the DL, but the one that had opposing hitters completely baffled for the first four games of 2011. He was simply dominant.

Again, fingers crossed.

5. Injuries

There is only one concern here. When Nick Masset and Bill Bray return from the disabled list, they can perform at least to the lever their “replacements” have set. The bullpen has been among the NL’s best early this season.

There’s no easy fix for any of these concerns. If know of any, please let the front office know.

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Tags: Baseball Bill Bray Brandon Phillips Cincinnati Reds Drew Stubbs Jay Bruce MLB Nick Masset Reds Bullpen Reds Starting Pitching Ryan Ludwick