Just what are Reds fans to expect out of Marlon Byrd heading into 2015? It’s a fair question considering Byrd is the only projected member of the lineup who didn’t spend his season in Cincinnati last year.
The dollar figures that Byrd will be receiving has been much publicized, with half his salary being paid by the Philadelphia Phillies just for him to not play for them. Without the Phillies meetings the Reds halfway on this, it’s unlikely the deal would have been completed due to the financial restraints inside the organization.
What the Reds see with Byrd is what they’ll get. He was an All-Star with the Chicago Cubs back in 2010, but that’s the only mid-summer classic appearance for the 13-year veteran thus far in his career.
Looking at his splits from this past year, they are startlingly even when looking at his home vs. road. While he had seven more at-bats at home, his hit total (78) was even inside the confines of Citizens Bank Park compared to on the road. He would hit all of one more home run at home (13) than he would away from Philly (12).
While his batting average and on-base percentage were incrementally better on the road (six points higher BA, five points OBP), his walks and strikeouts were almost exactly the same with one more walk and strikeout at home over the course of the entire season.
In short, Marlon Byrd is as steady as the sun rising.
Pouring through spreadsheets of his stats is not the most entertaining way to spend an afternoon, but if you look hard (and critically) enough, you can find a discrepancy. He struggled a bit with his average (.245) and OBP (.289) in the month of June, but that was also the month with his highest home run (eight) and RBI total (17).
From April through August, he had between 25-31 hits in every single month. To his dismay, he also struck out anywhere between 30-34 strikeouts in each of those months’. Curiously, his BABIP in those months was a minimum of .351—except for the aforementioned June, where it plummeted to .269.
Despite that dazzling consistency, the tires fell off in September. He’d play in only 21 games in the season’s final month, but he had season-lows in nearly every single significant offensive category. Batting only .221/.268/.273, with zero home runs and seven RBI’s (previous lows were three HR and 14 RBI) in the last month of the year, Byrd either ran out of gas, or was feeling the effects of late-season nagging injuries.
Other fun statistical quirks from Byrd in 2014:
-Batted .400/.405/.693 on the first pitch, with five home runs and 17 RBI
-He batted .303 with nobody out in the inning
-Drove in 60 runs in 187 plate appearances with runners in scoring position
-With two outs and runners in scoring position, he batted .209/.301/.352
-When trailing, he was a .315 hitter with 13 home runs and a .404 BABIP
-Batted .228/.278/.438 against what can be considered fly ball pitchers
-Batted .299/.351/.477 against what can be considered ground ball pitchers
(All stats are courtesy of BaseballReference.com)
Ultimately, Reds fans are still cautious for what to expect out of Byrd. He is the only major offensive change (besides the return of Joey Votto) from a team that won just 76 games a year ago.
He serves as a one-year stopgap to the potential left fielder of the future in Jesse Winker, who should be ready for the role come 2016. But if Marlon can help deliver a World Series trophy to the Queen City, his one-year impact will be felt for a generation.