Catching You Up-Intro to Links of the Week

I’ve been busy writing, but not here, and that’s kind of a bummer. Here’s some links to what I’ve been up to. I’m going to start doing this where I tease what I’ve been doing elsewhere and provide a link. I don’t much care for neglecting my home site, where I decided writing was something I wanted to do, pay or not. Now I’m building something to possibly start turning money out of this hobby. Anyway, here is what I’ve been up to.

CINCINNATI REDS

You all know I love the Reds the most. I’ve been writing a bunch on lockedonReds.com.

Why it’s not so bad if the Reds get good value out of trade involving Scooter Gennett – https://www.lockedonreds.com/reds/scooter-might-be-traded-and-thats-okay/

Redsfest was a blast – https://www.lockedonreds.com/reds/recapping-redsfest/

And one last link, this one was about Billy Hamilton being non-tendered – https://www.lockedonreds.com/reds/instant-reaction-bye-bye-billy/

CINCINNATI BENGALS

I must admit, my interest has waned in the Bengals season. Just doesn’t feel like there’s a whole lot to write about, other than talking about how things need to change. That being said, here’s one about my feelings on the state of the team – https://www.lockedonbengals.com/bengals/a-sucker-til-the-bitter-end/

FANTASY FOOTBALL

I began writing for another website, called getsportsinfo.com. Every Friday I do a column called “Studs, Duds, and Sleepers,” with mostly successful picks. Here’s last week’s post…which won’t do you any good right now, but check out the look of the post – https://getsportsinfo.com/studs-duds-and-sleepers-week-14-2/

Like I said, from here on out, I’ll post links to other stuff, that way you know I’m not abandoning the writing. On the contrary, I’m trying to make it more than a hobby!

The Four Outfielders and the Case for Three: Jesse Winker

I was going to write this yesterday but, instead, wound up watching Infinity War for a second time. Ok, it wasn’t like it was someone else’s idea to take me…just can’t get enough Thanos…but I digress. This post will talk about, probably, the most clear-cut keeper when it comes to the fantastic four in the Reds outfield.

Jesse Winker is the young guy. Just came up last year…I saw his first major league hit (not to brag)…and, already, finds himself a mainstay at he top of he lineup card. I wrote a little something about Mr. Winker in an earlier piece, and, so far (tiny sample size) he has proven it a good take. Fangraphs helped me, tremendously, with this piece, and the one about Billy Hamilton (but I forgot to mention it in that post).

Jesse gets on base. In his 39 games in 2018 he has compiled a .363 on-base percentage. His discipline at the plate is so good he walks as much as he strikes out (13.7% of the time). In fact, Winker is second on the team in walks (20) only to Joey Votto (29).

So why doesn’t he play more?

Immediately, and really it’s the first thing you notice on a stat sheet, he’s batting a ho-hum .258, roughly one hit every four at-bats. When he does get hits, he rarely runs more than 90 feet, having only nine extra-base hits, all of which are doubles.

Some of that can be attributed to his strangely high rate of infield fly balls at 11%. Now that’s more of a descriptive stat, and not so much predictive, but his past seasons in the minors show he typically gets the ball out of the infield.

Another strange, obvious stat is that his HR/FB rate is 0%. Now I’m no prophet, but I’d bet that goes up before the All-Star Break.

Stats that do have positive signs attached to them are the fact he is only swinging at 21% of the pitches he sees outside the strike zone. When there’s a pitch in he zone, he’s making contact on 95% of those, and hitting 88% of all the pitches he sees. Again, these aren’t crazy predictive stats, but if those continue, his batting average and slugging percentage will improve.

The biggest knock on Jesse, though, is his defense. According to Fangraphs, Winker has a -5.1 WAR, or in other words, a league average defender would be better than him. With Billy Hamilton roaming around centerfield, this is kind of negated, but it is something to keep an eye on. Winker doesn’t have that good of range in the outfield and doesn’t have the arm to make up for his lack of agility.

Two down, two to go. Next time, we’ll look at Adam Duvall’s performance, this far.

The Four Outfielders and the Case for Three: Billy Hamilton

This idea began as “The Infuriating Billy Hamilton” but has evolved into a deep look into how the Reds four-man outfield rotation is going, and who should be the one to leave. 

In this first installment, I take a look at the enigmatic centerfielder for the Reds. For all his flaws, and for the numerous Reds fans out there who are in favor of trading Billy yesterday, Billy actually shows signs that things will turn around. To explain my meaning, I am going to go hardcore into some sabremetric statistics…but don’t worry, I will make them easy to understand.

The first thing you notice when you look at Billy’s performance, thus far, is the fact his average is quite low. At .216, despite the fact it has gone up lately, it still is well below even Billy’s expected threshold. Although only a few seasons are under his belt, Billy’s career batting average is .30 points higher than where he sits almost two months into 2018.

The second stat that you see is his on-base percentage. Now this is more like what you want to see. Hamilton is notorious for his low percentage of reaching base, safely, but thus far in 2018 he is getting on base at a .315 clip. That’s a little over 15% better than his career normal. This is thanks, in part, to his 43.3% swing percentage, which is the lowest it has ever been, contributing to his best career walk rate at 12%. Considering he has only walked 7% of the time, during his career, that stat is trending well.

Jim Riggleman has continued what Bryan Price began by batting Billy ninth, so he is not getting the volume of plate appearances he has, in years past. However, Billy has changed his approach to hitting which could explain the slow start.

So what is it? Why does it seem like Billy isn’t hitting? For that, we look at a few things. Firstly, the contact percentage is down, as a whole. In fact, he is making contact on strikes 10% less than his career average. He’s only made contact on 77% of strikes thrown against him. Then you follow that stat up with the fact Billy has a soft contact percentage of 32.1%. So he isn’t hitting the ball as much, and when he does it isn’t good contact. That has led to his lowest batting average on balls put in play in three years (.305).

The numbers tend to suggest Billy is trying to hit for power. Now, it doesn’t take a baseball scientist to know that Billy trying to hit for power is like a bird trying to swim. The man needs only find his way to first, then the magic happens. Billy’s isolated power, a statistic designed to describe the amount of time a player gets a hit that is better than a single, currently is almost 20 points higher than his career average. I’m all for Billy trying for extra bases, but it has led to a strikeout percentage of 28.7%, the highest it has ever been in his career.

Now the thing that Billy currently has going for him, and the thing that is keeping him part of the four-man rotation, is his defense. He has currently generated 2.5 wins above replacement wit his glove, meaning he is statistically better than your average glove in centerfield.

Should he refocus his efforts into making solid contact with the bat, and not trying to kill it (I feel like a little league coach typing that) then Billy’s offense will pick up the slack and make him an indispensable every day outfielder.

Tomorrow I’ll take a look at Jesse Winker and what he has done thus far.