Wanted: run producers

Long before injuries decimated the roster, the No. 1 problem plaguing the Reds all season was run production. It’s something Reds manager Dusty Baker acknowledged on Thursday morning.

Baker was asked about his impressions of Wladimir Balentien, who hasn’t been remarkable but isn’t struggling either. Balentien has 14 walks, 19 strikeouts and a .272 average with two homers and eight RBIs entering Thursday. The manager wasn’t ready to comment much about Balentien’s future but he highlight what he’s seeking from his entire roster.

“I’m looking for some dudes that drive in some runs and hopefully don’t strikeout so much because we have enough strikeout people,” Baker said. “We’ve got four or five guys that are 1-to-3, 1-to-5 [strikeout] ratio guys. That’s a lot, especially if you’re not hitting the ball out of the ballpark a lot.

“We are striking out too much for me. That really bothers me because you have no chance to do something to help anybody. We need some guys that can drive in some runs. We need some RBI men. That’s what I’m looking for. If you look at our driving in runners in scoring position, we have some very low numbers.”

Some offensive stats:

The Reds are tied for last in the Majors (with the Padres) by batting .242. They are ranked 15th out of 16 teams in runs scored. They are 15th in hitting with runners in scoring position (.241). They are 11th in strikeouts and 15th in on-base percentage (.311).

Reds lineup:

Stubbs 8
Janish 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Gomes 7
Balentien 9
Rosales 5
Hanigan 2
Wells 1

It’s just a day off for Scott Rolen. Baker spoke to him and Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston after the trade and breaks when there are day games after night games will be common.

“We’ve got three straight day games in Chicago and no day off until another week after Chicago,” Baker said.

1B Yonder Alonso was promoted to Triple-A Louisville for the International League playoffs. In his first game, Alonso was 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. The Bats lost an 8-4 game to Durham. It’s a best-of-five series.

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Mark – your post identifies exactly why Dusty Baker’s old-fashioned managerial philosophy is a poor one for the Reds to use and why he needs to be replaced. Baker’s old-school focus on batting average with “runners in scoring position” is completely misplaced. Yes, it is frustrating to see players strike out with runners at third. But instead of looking for players with high RISP numbers, it makes more sense to acquire players who get on base more often – to present more opportunities to knock those runners in.A few simple statistics demonstrate this. The top five teams in terms of runs scored – the ultimate bottom line stat – are (1) Yankees, (2) Angels, (3) Red Sox, (4) Rays and (5) Rockies.These five teams are all in the top six in On Base Percentage. (1) Yankees, (2) Angels, (3) Red Sox, (5) Rockies and (6) Rays. But the top six teams in RISP (batting average with runners in scoring position) are (1) Angels, (2) Mets, (3) Orioles, (4) Braves, (5) Red Sox and (6) Astros. The Mets are 23rd in Runs, the Orioles are 16th in Runs, the Braves are 21st, and the Astros 24th.So it’s easy to see that focusing on RISP as key to more run production is wholly misplaced. It is barely related at all to scoring runs. The KEY statistic instead is OBP, which is very closely correlated (something like 95%) to runs. As long as Baker and the Reds keep signing and playing players with a low OBP (Taveras, Gonzalez, R. Hernandez) they will lag in runs scored. I can’t emphasize this point enough. It is probably the single biggest factor in holding the Reds offense back. The Reds are 29th in runs and OBP. If the Reds are looking for “run producers” they need to sign and play people with high OBP. It’s that simple.

Exactly, spmancuso. Dusty needs to worry less about finding guys who make “better” outs and find more guys who make fewer outs to begin with. He just doesn’t understand what factors matter in scoring more runs.

Balentein’s career batting average is .221 and his career batting average with runners in scoring position is .222. With RISP and two outs his average is .265. So in theory, Balentein is exactly the kind of player Baker would be looking for – someone who elevates his AVG with RISP (small sample size problem). Meanwhile, Balentein’s career OBP is .282 – just terrible.

SPmancuso, Great post. http://redsneedobp.blogspot.com

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