Wanted: Reds Offense, Reward: Maybe the Wild Card?


May 13, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price (38) runs off of the field after arguing a call during the third inning against the San Diego Padres at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Hello! Glad you could make it to my first original article that I have ever published for Riverfront Ball, and I hope that even if we don’t agree on our points of view, perhaps I will at least make you think a little bit.

My name is Jordan Hiser, and I am here, among many other things, to tell you exactly why the Reds need to begin working toward a smarter offense.

In watching last night’s abysmal batting performance by the Cincinnati Reds in their disappointing May 13th 2-1 loss to the San Diego Padres, I realized two things: one, this team seems to be extraordinarily unlucky. Two, there are also many measures the Reds could take to eliminate said unlucky plays. Furthermore, I’m not superstitious, but with baseball having cultivated a culture of superstition over its long and bright history, the 13th of the month did not give me any added confidence that the Reds would be lucky either.

But if you’re willing to chalk up last night’s loss to bad luck and nothing more than that simple assessment, I’m glad I could help you arrive at that conclusion. However, I am not as convinced, nor am I willing to attribute last night’s loss or any other loss for that matter to simple luck. To me, believing a team wins or loses solely on luck is a glum and passive “wait-for-it-to-come-to-you” outlook to possess for sports. Forget about what you can’t control, let’s fix the things that we can control. Or at least help enough people see that it’s a problem so that the type of people who can make the biggest decisions within organizations, make them as they should.

First off, the Reds only average 3.7 runs per game this season. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, that’s because it isn’t. In fact, it’s one of the worst.

To put it in perspective, take a look at some of the top teams in runs per game:

Rockies: 5.63 (2nd in NL West)

Athletics: 5.08 (1st in AL West)

Angels: 5.07 (2nd in AL West)

Blue Jays: 4.98 (1.5 games back from 1st place in AL East)

White Sox: 4.9 (4th in AL Central, but team has also have given up 2nd-most runs in MLB this season)

Tigers: 4.82 (1st in AL Central)

Giants: 4.08 (1st in NL West)

Brewers: 4.05 (1st in NL Central)

The Reds are currently 28th in runs this season. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s 3rd-worst in Major League Baseball. Let that sink in. But Jordan, you say, Cincinnati has only played 37 games! Fine. The average MLB team has played 39 games this season as of May 14th, and the Reds are only scoring 3.7 runs per game. So if we tack on an extra 7.4 runs to adjust for number of games, they still would rank 26th in runs.

The Reds offense has struggled mightily in 2014, but not because of Joey Votto. His .874 OPS over 37 games has been the greatest contribution in that department so far this year for Cincinnati. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

The Reds are also 28th in hits.  This is yet another dubious statistic that no Reds fan should be proud of. The offense is stalling. Actually, I’m not sure it ever got started this season. But why? What’s holding them back?

Horrendous batting.

Absolutely horrendous batting has haunted the Cincinnati Reds all season. How do we fix being 6-12 in one-run baseball games? Cincinnati can’t fix what has already transpired. But a good place to avoid this problem in the future starts with the little things. How about letting LEAD-OFF HITTER Billy Hamilton start building confidence in his bat instead of telling him to go out and bunt with no one on (which if you caught the game last night, or a few other games this season, then you notice they actually try this)? That has to be the craziest decision I’ve ever seen. Everyone knows Billy is fast. So instead of trying to be overly conservative, let him start swinging the bat like a baseball player! The Reds must stop making him bunt with no one on, it’s a gimmick. Small ball is the easiest way to lose baseball games, it’s like the prevent defense in football. Give up an out for a low-percentage gadget play to MAYBE get a player on first? Why don’t you try for extra bases? If Hamilton can find space, he can turn doubles easily. Why take on an out just because he hasn’t found a rhythm in making contact yet in this still young season? The Reds are wasting precious at-bats with this kid by making him bunt.

Another way the Reds could improve their hitting is by taking Cozart out of the line-up. His glove is great, no doubt about it. But his .190 batting average on the team that is 22nd in team batting average just makes him not worth the starting position. Statistically speaking, Zack Cozart, is the weakest link of a team that needs to change its ways in a hurry. The fact that Johnny Cueto AND Homer Bailey each have higher batting averages than Cozart should be wake-up call!

He needs to be sent down or traded, the Reds cannot continue to start him everyday and expect to get any better as a team. Go ahead, look up any batting statistic about Cozart. There is not one from this season that suggests he should be a current Major League player, let alone an everyday starter. I’m sure he’s a great person and a good teammate, but this is just too big of a problem to ignore.

Of course getting Billy Hamilton to swing and potentially moving Cozart for prospects isn’t going to change the fortune of the Reds overnight. BUT IT’S A START. This team just seems to be stuck in neutral right now and they would strongly benefit from a shake-up. If management shows they are committed to winning, this in turn will inspire the players to rededicate themselves to winning too. Or at the very least, will make players feel accountability (if I don’t perform as well as I know I can, I may lose my job). And I’m sure Cueto, Leake and Bailey would be elated to see more offense as well. Simply put, I will not be satisfied with one of the worst offenses in baseball, and you shouldn’t be either.