Playoff Previews: Reds and Giants


The Giants/Reds Divisional Series should be the most interesting among all fours divisional series. I say this because a number of factors with one being the fact the offenses are vastly different due to their home parks. With the Giants playing in the NL’s most pitcher-friendly park and the Reds a resident of one of the NL’s most hitter-happy homes, comparing stats is almost fool-hearty, but there could be an instance (or maybe more) where it can paint an adequate picture.

I know. Stats are what they are.

So if you’re feeling so inclined, here’s a look at the potential starters for each position along with who I believe holds the advantage for such.

(Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

First base: Joey Votto (CIN) v. Brandon Belt (SF)

On the surface, it looks unfair in comparing the 2010 NL MVP to Belt. To many a Reds fan, comparing Votto to any other 1B (yes, any other) is unfair.

To an extent, this is and it should be taken as nothing against Belt as Votto has emerged as one of baseball’s premiere and elite players. Despite missing time from July 16 to September 4, Votto still led the NL in on-base percentage (.474) and tie for the league lead in walks (94). To pull-off the league lead in OBP, use of the same rule that would have given Melky Cabrera the NL batting title was used.

Are you ready for this? Votto had 475 plate appearances. You need 502 to qualify. He was esentially “given” an “0-for-27” and still had the NL’s best OBP. That same did not aid him in regards to the batting title.

Throw in a Gold Glove Votto won in 2011 and it seems even more lopsided.

Advantage: Reds.

Second base: Brandon Phillips (CIN) v. Marco Scutaro (SF)

The Giants acquisition of Scutaro is already the best trade deadline deal of this season. In his 62 games with the Giants, all he did was post a slash of .362/.385/.473 with 3 home runs and 44 RBI. Yes, 44 RBI. That’s more than teammates Ryan Theriot (24 in 104 games), Gregor Blanco (34 in 141 games), and Joaquin Arias (34 in 112 games). Granted, roles for each are different, but I think you get a truer picture as to how much Scutaro meant to the guys from San Francisco.

For Philips his game is predicated around his defense, although he is now the team’s lead-off hitter. And I can say will absolute certainty that despite what’s going on with BP’s offensive game, it will not affect his Gold Glove defense. He could be marred in an 0-for-30 slump and Phillips will still produce a web gem or two over the week.

While his offensive numbers took the slightest of drops this season, part of that could be that BP has had to fulfill three different roles this season: lead-off, #3-hole, clean-up.

Advantage: Reds, but maybe not by that margin you’d have thought.


Third base: Scott Rolen (CIN) v. Pablo Sandoval (SF)

This doesn’t look like much of a comparison either…then you look at the defensive cache each brings and you realize two things: Rolen is better defensively even though he had maybe his worst defensive season ever AND being a dozen years older.

Not to mention Rolen missed spaces of time dealing with different ailments. Yep, Panda did as well.

But that’s where Rolen has his advantage…and it ends. No question that the Sandoval of the here and now owns the superior bat.

Advantage: Giants

Shortstop: Zack Cozart (CIN) v. Brandon Crawford (SF)

Reds fans will feel Cozart is the better shortstop. Giants fans will feel Crawford is. Acutally, I see this as a push. Cozart has more pop in his bat, but Crawford, even though not a master with the lumber, does get on base a little more (albeit, little).

Defensively, Crawford can make all the plays and ranks in the top NL’s top 10 in many major defensive category, even errors. You could say the same for Cozart, except for errors.

And then you look at each players oWAR and dWAR. Both posted a 0.9 oWAR and 2.0 dWAR. I actually didn’t even check those until I already had in my head this was a push. No, it doesn’t confirm it, but with those being the same, it does paint how close this truly is in distinguishing any advantage either team may have.

For this position, there is none.

Advantage: Push

Catcher: Ryan Hanigan (CIN) v. Buster Posey (SF)

This is simple. Offensively, it is Posey. Defensively, it is Hanigan. Sure, point out that Posey led the NL in throwing out would be base stealers if you wish and I will counter that no NL catcher allowed more steals. I’ll even add that Hanigan led the NL in percentage of throwing out those threats even topping the “great” Yadier Molina in that stat.

Honestly, it cold be argued that Hanigan could be the greatest “threat” to Molina’s Gold Glove streak. Notice I said argued. I would even go the way of Molina if I had a vote.

What shifts this to the Giants side is Posey will be top 3 in the NL MVP race…at least. He could even win the honor. And if Posey does, he truly deserves it. This is Posey’s team like the Reds are Votto’s. And Posey is rising to that of elite status. I don’t feel he’s there quite yet, but it will happen. Of that I have zero doubt.

Hanigan may be the Reds MVP in some eyes.

Advantage: Giants

As we are now finished with the infield, you see: Reds – 2, Giants – 2, Push – 1. All even so far.

(Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

Outfield: Ryan Ludwick, Chris Heisey, Drew Stubbs, Jay Bruce (CIN) v. Xavier Nady, Gregor Blanco, Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence (SF)

The first question you’re probably asking is why did I group these all into one? Many reasons, some of which are…

1. Nady has been the guy in left for the Giants since 9/17.
2. Ludwick has missed a lot of time as of late with the groin strain.
3. Both team’s have an “extra outfielder” that can play and start all three outfield positions.

So where does that leave us? Back to square one and separating each.

If I break it down by position (I do feel kind of contradictory), it goes…

LF – Reds: Ludwick has had a substantial impact on the team. Granted, it could have gone the other way if…
CF – Giants: Pagan has been a find.
RF – Reds: Pence has struggled since going to SF and Bruce, while still having those bouts of “streakiness”, is better defensively.

Starting pitching: Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey (CIN) v. Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Barry Zito, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong (SF)

While the Reds have already announced their four starters for the series, the Giants haven’t. They have for the first two games of the series, and I can’t get a grasp on why Bruce Bochy is still not announcing his 3rd and 4th. A surprise? To who?

I know I said at the beginning of this that comparing stats is in some areas pointless, but how else would we be able to do so? Compare these guys to themselves? Compare what they did to where they pitch?

Well, a little of all, but what got my attention was the fact that Reds starters compiled an ERA of 3.64 with half their games in a hitter’s park and the Giants staff starters held an ERA of 3.73 with half of their games in a pitcher’s park. I hear ya. What about FIP and xFIP and tERA (and others like SIERA) then? Okay…

FIP: CIN – 3.92, SF – 3.82
xFIP: CIN – 3.89, SF – 4.01
tERA: CIN – 4.49, SF – 4.01
SIERA: CIN – 3.91, SF – 3.96
WAR (via Fangraphs): CIN – 14.7, SF – 12.3

Reds starters posted a SO/BB ratio of 3.13, second best in the NL. The Giants starters were 8th (2.60). Even though SF had more whiffs (854 to 770), Reds hurlers walked less (246 to 328). Giants starters issued the third most walks in the NL.

In the slash categories (batting average against, on-base against and slugging against), the Giants do take two of three: BAA (.244 to .259) and SLGA (.395 to .413). Make of the SLGA what you will, too.

Strand rate. The Reds starting staff ranked tops in the NL with a strand rate of 75.2%. San Francisco was 5th with a 73.7%

And why do I give Reds starters the nod? Ask yourself…How can they have those numbers in that home park? This is a case where having GABP as home is actually a good thing.

Advantage: Reds



Do I honestly need to tell you how the Reds have a better bullpen?

I’ll do this. In comparing these stats (the same as I did with starting staffs): ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, walks, SO/BB ratio, slash line against (BAA, OBPA, SLGA), strikeout rate, walk rate and strand rate, the only stats where the Giants ‘pen was “better” than the Reds was walks (161 to 181) and walk rate (8.3% to 9.9%).

As for the comps of FIP, etc (as I did with the starters…once again), the Reds bullpen was better in all five.

Advantage: Reds


Infield: Push
Outfield: Reds
Starters: Reds
Bullpen: Reds

Looks to me like #RedsOctober will continue, but make no mistake that this will be a tough series.

Of course, the games are to be played on the field by the players, and not on a stat sheet. Reds fans know of the slumping bats and the Giants home park is not exactly conducive to offensive outbursts. The big “secret” may be the Reds offense working into the Giants bullpen early in games. If the Reds bats get on a roll, it could be a short series. If the Reds bats to not awaken from their September slumber, it could also be short and on the wrong end of things.

So how do you think this series will go?

Ticket info…

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NLDS, NLCS and World Series! Yes, maybe I’m being a little overly optimistic, but what Reds fans isn’t? Hold on. I bet there’s some…

Anyway, check out the selection of seats…and there are some good ones left, too!