The Cincinnati Reds have recently had pitchers that were highly skilled in areas other than pitching.
Recently, the Cincinnati Reds have a history of good hitting pitchers in Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake, and Micah Owings. Through his first run with the Reds, Arroyo had a .123 batting average and 6 career home runs. The Reds tried to sign him last year, but worked out a deal this season. Micah Owings was so good that after he couldn’t make it as a pitcher he tried to restart his career as an outfielder.
Mike Leake is a .203 career hitter with six home runs in his relatively young MLB career. His career stat line reads like a season for a weak hitting middle infielder, including 166 strikeouts and 39 bunts. He led the majors with 10 sacrifice flies in 2016.
That trend has continued to a certain extent with a twist. The Reds have two very good hitters on their current team in Brandon Finnegan and Michael Lorenzen. Finnegan batted .113 with 5 sacrifice bunts in 2016. He had six hits including two doubles in first full season as a starting MLB pitcher.
Lorenzen is in another league as hitter with a career batting average of .244. He is the only current Reds’ pitcher with a home run, which was his only hit in 2016. In 2015 Lorenzen went 9 for 36 driving in 4 runs. With a move to the back end of the bullpen, Lorenzen may have more difficulty adding to the four bunts that he had as a starter.
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The Reds recently traded starting pitcher Dan Straily, whose .019 batting average was the worst among the starters. The Reds also said good-bye to Ross Ohlendorf, who had the only career home run among the pitchers coming into 2016. Unless you count former outfielder, Tyler Holt, who pitched a perfect inning in 2016.
Fielding and holding runners on also matters for the Cincinnati Reds’ pitchers’ effectiveness.
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Finnegan finished just below average in runs saved in 2016, costing the team a run with his overall defense. The Reds only caught 29% of those attempting to steal against Finnegan, but he did have 3 pitcher caught stealings. He also had 12 assists and five putouts in 2016.
The returning pitcher with the second highest innings pitched in 2016 is Anthony DeSclafani, who cost the Reds two runs defensively in 2016. The Reds were able to catch 40% of those attempting to steal against DeSclafani including two pick-offs and two pitcher caught stealings. That means the Reds’ catchers only threw out 2 of 11 attempted steals with DeSclafani on the mound.
The often forgotten Tim Adleman saved a run defensively in 2016. He picked two players off, but the catcher only threw out one of the other five stolen base attempts. Adleman did not make an error and he collected 6 putouts to go with 7 assists in 2016.
An interesting case is that of former top prospect, Robert Stephenson. No base runner attempted a steal against him in 2016, aiding in his neutral defensive score. He only had 1 putout and 2 assists in his debut season.
It will be interesting to see how the Reds use Lorenzen given his move to back end of the bullpen and his ability to hit at a high level. On defense, it is clear that the Reds are vulnerable to steals. Working on that during spring training will be an important step forward for this team.