Cincinnati Reds were one of the most efficient teams in 2016

Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Cincinnati Reds scored more runs and allowed fewer than expected based on their 2016 roster.

The Cincinnati Reds were an historically bad team in 2016.  Their record could have been even worse, if they weren’t efficient in what they did.  The speed of Billy Hamilton and the superstar power of Joey Votto helped.  Offense will decide their fate in 2017.

Runs created is a statistic that determines how many runs the actions of each individual batter created.  In 2016 the Reds’ batters created 688 runs, good for 13th in the National League.  The Reds ended up scoring 716 runs in the 2016 season, good for eighth in the NL.

That means that the Reds scored four percent more runs than expected in 2016.  They also allowed 3 percent fewer runs than expected over the course of the season.  Remember how bad the bullpen was the first half of the season?

The Reds allowed 854 runs in the NL, third most.  Based on the hits, home runs, and walks allowed, they were expected to allow 882.  The Reds had the worst pitching staff in baseball, as it turns out, in 2016.

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When you take the run differentials during the season, the Reds were only expected to win 67 runs.  They won 68, so they were one game better than expected. That’s why the Reds are not ready to compete in 2017.

Based on the expected run differentials, the Reds should have been 61-101.  They were 11% better than that thanks to their efficient pitching and batting.  They were the only team in the NL that was better across the board in efficiency and expected wins.

The Cincinnati Reds were efficient and Joey Votto was a large part of that efficiency.

Votto had an interesting stat line in 2016.  The first half of the season Votto hit .252 after batting just an even .200 in May.  Post All-Star game, Votto led all of baseball in batting average.

There are two reasons that Votto looked bad in the first half, strikeouts and double plays.  Votto’s strikeouts were pretty neutral, hurting the team neither more or less than normal.  Votto’s double plays, however, didn’t cost the Reds too many runs.

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Each event in a baseball game has an expected run scoring outcome.  Votto hit an amazingly high number of double plays with a runner on first and one out.  That is the least likely situation for scoring runs in a ground out double play.

Then there is the hitting of Billy Hamilton.  Hamilton ranked fourth lowest in impactful singles.  That means the expected run scoring number was fourth lowest for Hamilton.

This is because a disproportionately high number of his single where hit with no one and two outs.  That is not his fault.  He does need to focus on getting base more often to start a ballgame.

Next: Cincinnati Reds prospects ready to play

Efficiency can be a fickle mistress.  Teams don’t usually maintain efficiency numbers year to year.  That means the Reds have even a higher mountain to climb to contention than 2016 may have led us to believe.