Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bryan Price: Is he the best pitching coach in the major leagues?



David Schoenfield, who runs the SweetSpot blog over at ESPN.com, recently penned a great article featuring Reds pitching coach Bryan Price. Schoenfield gives an in-depth background on how Price ended up with Cincinnati as well as a synopsis of his successful track record. Schoenfield even goes as far as saying that Price would be the first guy he would call to run a pitching staff if he bought a Major League team. His supporting evidence certainly backs up his claim.

For example, he points out that the Reds had three of the top four pitchers in MLB who boasted the lowest on-base percentage versus a hitter leading off an inning: 1. Johnny Cueto (.234), 3. Homer Bailey (.236), 4. Bronson Arroyo (.244). Although it is one of those crazy detailed statistics that isn't used all of the time, the fact that Cincy had multiple guys at the top is still impressive.

Furthermore, the Reds sported the league's second-best team ERA in 2012 (3.34) and the best ERA among all MLB bullpens (2.65). Cincinnati also led the league in saves (56), ERC% (104), and ERA during day games (3.21).

Price has overseen the development of Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey throughout the past three season. Both of them have continued to blossom over that span. Mat Latos recorded a pretty solid season (14-4, 3.48 ERA, 185 K) in his first year under Price's guidance as well. Many believe this recent trend of success will bode well for Aroldis Chapman's transition to a starter.

Yes, Price has had the benefit of working with some good young arms, but the fact that they have actually succeeded shouldn't go without notice. The Reds haven't exactly been a hotbed for elite pitching over their history. In fact, they are only among a handful of franchises to have never had a pitcher win the Cy Young Award. The others are all expansion clubs who haven't been around much longer than 1994 or less.

But with Price at the pitching helm, the Redlegs have a chance to tweak their perception a bit. Cueto promises to be a Cy Young contender for many seasons to come while Latos and Bailey certainly have potential for a dominant campaign too. Throw in ageless veteran Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake, and a host of rising starters in the farm system (Tony Cingrani, Daniel Corcino, Robert Stephenson) and the future looks bright on the mound in the Queen City.

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