Reds Notebook: Lefty Bats and the Month of May

When you mention lefty bats and the Cincinnati Reds, the first name to pop into your head is Joey Votto. The second is Jay Bruce. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the Reds go as Joey Votto goes. All you have to do is look at the numbers. Those numbers, which I will present in a bit, will bear such fruit.

The 2010 NL MVP leads the NL in walks (40), doubles (17) and intentional walks (6).

The numbers I will reveal first are the splits for the season’s first month and the month of May. There was no secret that Votto did not get off to a great start. You could say it was un-Vottolike.

(Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

MONTH BA OBP SLG HR RBI BB SO
April .289 .439 .500 2 15 20 23
May .323 .488 .677 5 13 20 11

Something has clicked for Votto…and for that, we are grateful. He has found his swing.

Remember when there was a concern about the number of strikeouts? Well, not as much now. But here’s the crux of this. When Votto performs well, so do the Reds.

BA OBP SLG HR RBI BB SO
Win .351 .515 .730 5 23 24 15
Loss .250 .395 .406 2 5 16 19

Those are some splits now. And it shouldn’t be a surprise that as Votto has found his swing, the Reds have partially found their stride. The pitching has contributed as well. For May, the Reds are 11-8 while for the first month of the season there were 11-11. While the offense cannot completely rely on Votto’s production, it goes without saying that he carries a large portion of the burden.

You might say, in regards to comparing April and May, that Jay Bruce is on the opposite side of the spectrum. His monthly splits…

Bruce argues with Mark Carlson after a called third strike. (Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

MONTH BA OBP SLG HR RBI BB SO
April .296 .337 .617 7 17 6 21
May .239 .303 .493 3 10 6 19

You could go so far as to say that with Votto “struggling” (as suggested by a prominent national writer in a tweet) in April, Bruce helped carry the load for that month.

Bruce is still productive in wins, but the disparity is not as great as those of Votto.

Those home/away comps are what say a lot about Bruce and the comforts of GABP. Not much to add. Well, maybe this. Bruce strikes out less at GABP and exhibits more power.

BA OBP SLG HR RBI BB SO SO %
Home .344 .384 .766 7 19 6 16 21.9%
Away .214 .272 .405 3 8 6 24 26.1%

To further show Bruce’s road woes, simply look at his stats from the recent seven game road trip. In the six games in which he played: .174/.259/.261, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 11 SO. Eeesh.

He can be a streaky hitter, no question.

Speaking of May and a little about the arms, Mike Leake has appeared to have turned a comer. It might be a small turn, but if you witnessed his outing from last evening, you saw arguably the best outing from a Reds starter this season, Yes, Johnny Cueto does own a complete game shutout, but Leake’s performance was masterful as well. Two hits to one of the NL’s most potent offenses says much about his grit as much as it does his ability.

In his last two outings, Leake has taken a 7.11 ERA and lowered it to 5.32. In those same two starts, his WHIP has lowered from 1.610 to 1.379.

And tonight’s starter, Mat Latos, has seen a change. He might be approaching the corner that Leake is going around.

Granted, the last outing was not the most economical for Latos (100 pitches in 5 IP), but he has lowered his ERA as well. For the month of May, his ERA is 2.25. At the end of April, it was a lofty 5.97. It now sits at 4.63. Not as big a corner as Leake, but there is improvement.

There is one thing that is a concern: walks.

In 16 innings for May, Latos has issued 11 free passes. The BB/9 is at 6.2. The strikeouts are there (22, for a SO/9 of 12.4) and his WHIP has improved as he is allowing fewer hits. But as they say, walks will haunt. Reel in the walks, keep limiting the hits and the rest is simple, isn’t it?

Hanigan hits a solo homerun as the Reds win 5-2. (Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE)

I saw a tweet earlier today stating that Ryan Hanigan doesn’t receive the credit he deserves. I would dispute that from the viewpoint of being a Reds fan. Nationally, he probably doesn’t get the credit as he doesn’t own “sexy” numbers (HR, high SLG, lots of RBI) or have a slugger’s approach when in the batters box.

Or does he? Hani isn’t going to bust out and clobber 15-20 homers a year. That’s not his offensive game. Although I think CC Sabathia may disagree.

Like Votto, Hanigan began 2012 slowly. He found his swing a little sooner than Votto, and when Hanigan finds his swing, good things can (and usually do) happen. He also exhibits huge disparity in wins and losses.

In April, his slash was .283/.353/.304. In May, how’s .378/.425/.541 grab you? And the wins v. losses? In wins, the slash shows .368/.429/.456. In the losses: .231/.286/.308. You could add Hanigan’s name to those that as his offense goes, so do the Redlegs.

But it’s like that for the majority of players. Winning builds confidence.

One last thing here. Recall Dusty saying he wanted an addtional lefty arm in the bullpen? There is only possible reason why: he wanted Aroldis Chapman in the ‘pen from the get-go. Apparently, he and Walt have had “issues” on where Chapman is more valuable to the team. That discussion/argument could well lurk forever in Reds lore.

So, hindsight being what it is and me feeling the need to add a little fuel to this Chapman debate, the Reds didn’t need that added lefty per Baker’s request. Here’s some numbers and they’re pretty good against left-handed batters.

Split BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG BAbip
vs RHB 5 13 2.6 .222 .317 .278 .348
vs LHB 6 12 2.0 .063 .211 .250 .000

You would be lead to believe that these are the splits of a lefty. Sure, they are. I mean, righties are sniffing a bit of success off this guy while lefties struggle massively. He must throw left-handed, right.

Actually, they’re not from a lefty arm at all. These numbers belong to Jose Arredondo.

File this tidbit under “just sayin’”.

Topics: Baseball, Cincinnati Reds, Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Jose Arredondo, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, MLB, Ryan Hanigan

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