Archive for the ‘Cincinnati Reds’ Category

Some killjoys say no hitters are just a bunch of freak occurrences and, sadly, they’re right. Because a pitcher throws a no-hitter does not place them on the Cy Young fast track nor does any one outing represent a fair reflection of a player’s current or future skill.

But Homer Bailey has the look of a man who is figuring things out. He is now one of a select group of players to throw consecutive no hitters (not in consecutive starts, of course.) He threw the final no hitter of 2012 and the first no hitter of 2013, the first person to do that since Nolan Ryan. Bailey joins Justin Verlander, Mark Buehrle, and Roy Halladay as active pitchers with multiple no-nos.

More importantly/tellingly, he’s a much better pitcher now. His strikeouts are way up as is his ground ball rate. He’s keeping the ball in the park and getting more swinging strikes. He’s even throwing a little bit harder. He’s a better pitcher who also has two no hitters among his last 17 starts (spanning two seasons).

Tonight he rode a heads up play from Joey Votto into the world’s most important fielders choice and a no hitter against the reeling Giants. Unlike most no hitters, there was no great defensive play to preserve the treat, other than Joey Votto astutely noticing that Gregor Blanco lost his fool mind.

Everything else looked about as routine as you’d like, a credit to Bailey of course but also to his catcher Ryan Hanigan and the coaching staff of the Reds for positioning the outfielders excellently/fortunately. Bailey got stronger as the night went on, increasing his velocity over significantly as the night wore on.

Mostly congrats to Homer Bailey for mowing the Giants down like it is his job. It actually is his job and, tonight, he did it with aplomb. It is awesome that you threw a no hitter, the second of your career, Homer. We all appreciate you going out there and kicking ass as you do (now).

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The Cincinnati Reds may not be winning their division, but they have very little to complain about. They are just two and a half games behind the Cardinals juggernaut, and that is enough for the second-best record in the National League, putting them in great shape for the playoffs either way. While their offense has not been among the best in the National League, with hitters like Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo and others, they should be just fine.

Their pitching is excellent, despite Johnny Cueto‘s injury, thanks to Homer Bailey having the season long expected of him, Mike Leake contributing, Ardolis Chapman making people wonder why he is being wasted in relief, and Mat Latos doing his thing.

Given the Reds’ nice situation, it might seem churlish to wonder about Latos’ good buddy Jay Bruce. Bruce has been the Reds’ third-best hitter (122 wRC+) behind Votto and Choo this year, and leads the team in home runs with 14. But while Bruce is far from a bust, there is a sense in which the 26-year-old — who won Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year Award in 2007 and was BA’s #1 overall prospect prior to 2008, when he made his major league debut at 21 — has not become all that people expected. It is one thing to look at players who are obvious busts or surprises, but what about a player who is good, but not as good as one might have thought?

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Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds

Brandon Phillips is a very good baseball player and has been for a long time. There is no way to proceed on this topic without first making that statement clear. He is a very good hitter and defender with the flare for the dramatic and/or spectacular.

Brandon Phillips is not the best player on the Cincinnati Reds. He isn’t now and I don’t know that he has ever been during his tenure in the Queen City. Maybe in 2007 but that was a bad team so what does it matter?

Brandon Phillips is a very good player currently playing on a very, very good team. Only one team in baseball has more wins than the Cincinnati Reds, which makes the columnists looking for talking points seem even more pathetic.

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Mat Latos is pretty easy to dislike as a baseball player. If he doesn’t play for your favorite team, he makes for a wide target for your scorn. His haircut, tattoos, and face in general scream “guy who isn’t fun to hang out with who also sort of likes it that way.”

Also: Mat Latos is a terrific pitcher. While he wasn’t quite at his best today against Matt Harvey and the Mets. 6.2 innings pitched, eight hits allowed, one walk and four strikeouts. The kind of day where Mat Latos needs his defense to pick him up a little bit.

When that defense didn’t quite pick him up, when a shallow fly ball allows a run to score via sacrifice fly, Mat Latos get a little upset. So upset that he feels the need to come back to the dugout when the inning ends and get into a very visible argument with right fielder Jay Bruce? It seems so. It is about the throw and its relative lack of quality?

Could be. Either way, Mat Latos hardly comes out of this smelling like a rose. Mostly because he looks like such a goddamn creep.

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Montgomery Biscuits v Pensacola Blue Wahoos

That’s a misnomer. We don’t need to project Billy Hamilton overall, that’s why there are projections systems. He won’t have much power, and he has elite speed, we can use his minor league walk and strikeouts and presto, bingo bango: projection.

Here’s the thing. Billy Hamilton has speed like you’ve never seen before. He set the record for minor league stolen bases. The real Billy Hamilton facts are so ridiculous you don’t even need to make up fake ones. The guy he beat out for the record, Vince Coleman, once rode the no-power, inconsistent-walks, too-many-strikeouts train to some seasons that any fantasy player today would love to own — even his first season, when he hit .267 and stole 110 bases (and he had better).

So perhaps, when Steamer projects Billy Hamilton to hit .245, perhaps it can’t account fully for Hamilton’s elite-elite speed. You don’t build a projection system to be right for the two dots way out out on the extremes, you build it for the heart of the bell curve.

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The versatile Todd Frazier making great defense look easy at third base. That’s Scott Rolen-esque.

As a single man without any legitimate children that I’m aware of I don’t have to deal with any of the problems that arise when it comes to raising a brood. Thus far I’ve managed to get by just doing Uncle things, which mainly involves contracting my nieces and nephews to get me things like beer and candy from the other room while I’m laying on the couch watching sports. Even without any parenting experience of my own, I think we can all take a minute to sit back and enjoy the entry into the pantheon of parenting.

A better angle is after the jump  Read the rest of this entry »