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The Utility Player: Chapman, Frazier, Votto, More!

With last night’s 5-4, 10 inning loss, Reds fans witnessed more than they thought. Not only did you witness Aroldis Chapman showing that he is human is allowing an earned run and taking a loss, you also witnessed the Pirates winning yet again at GABP.

What? Chapman…was…hit? He blew a game? He…failed?

Yes, he allowed a hit. Actually, two. He took the loss, his first of 2012, so some may consider that a failure. Well, most would. In allowing his first earned run of the season, Chapman’s ERA rose to 0.30. But do not lose faith in the Cuban Missile. He simply needs something to provide motivation, I suppose. Those 1-2-3 innings with at least two whiffs were getting kind of boring anyway.

If you’re one that’s in the practice of tagging the blame to specific one player, you would be hard pressed to do so for last night’s game. There was plenty to dole out.

But here’s something to think about.

The Buccos have won 5 of the nine games the two teams have played this season including 4 of the last 6. In 2011, Pittsburgh owned the Reds in going 10-5. Needless to say, the Pirates, as “lowly” as some Reds fans still want to consider them, aren’t as “lowly” as you think. With the youth the Pirates have, not only on their 25-man, but in the minors as well, we may be in the midst of seeing how thing are going to be for the next few years.

And if this is the case, buckle up because we all know that Cincinnati and Pittsburgh fans just don’t mix. A re-birth of how these two teams went at it “back in the day”?


So, Frazier’s role when Rolen returns?

I’m pretty sure most of you have read Redleg Nation’s Steve Mancuso and his take on what the Reds should do once Scott Rolen returns from the DL. If not, here’s the link.

Is there a feeling a dread when Rolen gets back? Todd Frazier has played darn well in Rolen’s absence. Some, including Mancuso, believe the ToddFather has played well enough to continue on as a starter and Rolen should be the one coming off the bench.

We know it unfortunately won’t work that way. Dusty likes his veteran players because he gives them playing time. It’s been the case ever since Dusty arrived in Cincinnati. Some believe Frazier was slighted when the Reds headed for Cincy and Willie Harris made the roster. (Gotta have a productive lefty bat!) Only after Alfredo Simon being added was Frazier actually sent to Louisville. Semantics, I know.

Frazier is more than deserving to be that third base starter once Rolen returns. Sometimes, it’s not all about your stats and performance. It’s about status.

Verducci on Votto

Earlier this week, SI’s Tom Verducci had a great article about Joey Votto proclaiming that the Reds first baseman has a claim to be considered the best hitter in the league. After reading this, of which, of course, I completely agree with Verducci, the most interesting “part” was in the upper-right of the piece. Here’s what I glanced and saw…

Story Highlights
Joey Votto leads the National League in walks, doubles and on-base percentage
Other hitters are slumping (Albert Pujols) or frequently hurt (Josh Hamilton)
Miguel Cabrera has a claim but he gets more chances to produce than Votto

–Tom Verducci on Votto

You could consider this the old Cliff Notes version of Verducci’s piece. It sums things up perfectly. Votto is not afforded the same production chances as Cabrera.

To illustrate that point. Votto has 104 plate appearances with men on base. Compared to the 119 for Cabrera and things don’t appear as lopsided. Now look at the difference in at-bats and walks under the same situation. Votto owns 79 AB with 22 BB while Miggy has 112 AB with only 6 BB. Teams are clearly pitching around Votto-matic. A huge factor is that Votto is batting .392 under these circumstances. Cabreba is a more than respectable .330.

More? Here ya go. Look at these stats which show the lack of opportunities Votto has been presented. The table relates to the leadoff hitters for both the Tigers and the Reds.

.301 BA .180
.381 OBP .218
45 R 27
5 HR 5
23 RBI 11
14 SB 2

Stats taken from Baseball Reference.

The first two lines tell you everything you need to know.

For what this is all worth, the Reds reside in first place in the NL Central, six games over .500 with a two game lead in the division while the Tigers are in 3rd in the AL Central and they are five games under .500 and six games back of the Cleveland Indians.

All-Star voting

If you haven’t exhausted your 25 votes for the All-Star game, you can do so here. All you need is an email address.

Last year, BRM hosted a Reds Roundtable where we reached out to other Reds bloggers and discussed a variety of baseball topics. One subject revolved around how the voting for the All-Star Game is conducted. Every year it will be a topic one as long as we see some things that appear a little screwy.

Thus far, the voting once again proves to be headed in that direction. After the first batch of NL votes were tabulated, here’s how the “precincts” were reporting…

C: Yadier Molina, STL
1B: Joey Votto, CIN
2B: Dan Uggla, ATL
3B: David Wright, NYM
SS: Troy Tulowitzki, COL
OF: Matt Kemp, LAD
OF: Carlos Beltran, STL
OF: Ryan Braun, MIL

This isn’t a bad team at all, is it? Looks pretty sound, doesn’t it?

Look, we know that the ASG voting is, for the most part, strictly a popularity contest. All teams organize an effort to vote for all their players. The only issue I’ve ever held with fan voting is when a player that clearly is not deserving of starting, let alone playing in the game, is voted in by the fans. I’ve always held the mantra that players should be voted in due to their performance.

But there is crazyness and what year of ASG voting would be complete without.

I could spout off about how Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz is clearly the top choice at catcher over Molina even though Molina is having a great season himself. I could go even further and state that Brandon Phillips should be ahead of Uggla because BP is by far the better defensive player. And Omar Infante is having a decent season himself.  A season worthy of consideration. Add that Tulo and Kemp are on the DL. Personally, that doesn’t get my vote. I could also say something about the fact that Rickie Weeks has over a half a million votes and barely trailing Omar Infante (20 votes!) despite the fact that Weeks is pounding the ball to the tune of a .160 batting average and leading the NL in whiffs with 70.

Note that last statistic, Reds fans.  You know to whom I am referring, too.

But in reality, it doesn’t matter.

There will always be snubs (and we’ll hear of them once the starters and subs are announced) even if the national types did the voting or their vote accounted for a certain portion of the vote (similar to that of the NFL and the Pro Bowl). There could always be that one player not truly deserving of the honor to start.  Popularity and baseball “politics” may even exist on a higher level. “You pick my guy, I’ll pick yours.” Bartering for votes? In baseball? Nah…

Expanding the rosters, as has been suggested on more than one occasion, will never alleviate the “snubbery” that exists. You could expand the roster to 75 players from each league and there will be no less than two players that probably should have been selected over this guy or that guy. We’ve seen something similar to that especially in selection of teams to play for the NCAA basketball championships. “This team should be in and that team should be out.”

The closest way to do that would be to eliminate the “rule” that all teams must have a representative, and I’m not sure that would work. There has been many a year where a poorly performing team has to have an ASG rep (because of this “rule”) and he is clearly not worthy of participating or receiving the “honor” of being selected as an All-Star. I actually wish they would cut back on the rosters, but I know it’s done more from a pitching standpoint.

It’s an All-Star Game. Not every team in every year has a deserving All-Star.

And please get rid of that asinine rule stating the league that wins the ASG gets home field advantage for the World Series. Possibly the dumbest thing ever created.

Tags: All-Star Game All-Star Game Voting Aroldis Chapman Baseball Cincinnati Reds Joey Votto Miguel Cabrera MLB Scott Rolen Todd Frazier

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