Thursday, April 17, 2014

Five random thoughts about the current state of the Reds


Well, Thursday marks an off day for the Reds and that leaves us all scrambling to try and fill the void of no baseball to watch. While the following paragraphs aren't exactly Reds baseball, they are filled with plenty of fodder about the current state of the team. From Cueto to Votto, here are five random thoughts I currently have about our beloved Redlegs. I hope you enjoy.

1) How good has Johnny Cueto been through four starts this season? Let's just say he's quickly making people forget about his horrid start against Pittsburgh in last year's Wild Card game. After hurling a complete game shutout against the Buccos on Wednesday, Cueto's numbers are just silly. In 30 innings, the right-hander owns a 0.80 WHIP, .151 BAA and a 1.50 ERA, which collectively is certainly impressive enough to start tossing his name around for premature Cy Young talk. Can he continue this pace all year long? It's not likely. But seeing Cueto get off to a great start is a good sign for Cincinnati's playoff hopes.

2) I know it's still early, but the most notable difference between Dusty Baker and Bryan Price as manager seems to be Price's insistence to be aggressive on the bases. In 2012 and 2013, the Reds ranked in the bottom third of all MLB teams in both stolen bases and stolen base attempts. Yes, it's a small sample size, but through 15 games the Reds currently rank among the top third in MLB in both categories. They're 11-for-16 in the stolen base department. This is leading to more scoring chances for our beloved Reds and subsequently more runs. I would like to see this trend continue, wouldn't you?

3) Zack Cozart is in some kind of funk at the plate. He's currently hitting a measly .109 with a .146 on-base percentage through 46 at-bats. So, what's to blame for his struggles? A quick look at Fangraphs.com reveals that Cozart is hitting just .132 when putting the ball in play. This stat suggests he's either been very unlucky or his batted balls have been weakly hit. Unfortunately, it's been the latter for Cozart, with 47.1 percent of his outs coming via flyball. His career average is 35.2 percent. Plus, his groundball percentage is 11 points below his career norm too. When you consider these factors, it's easy to understand why Cozart is hitting so poorly. He needs to cut down on the flyballs and make an effort to keep the ball lower to the ground.

4) After facing a brutal schedule to begin the year, the Reds get a reprieve of sorts when they travel to Chicago this weekend. They'll face a team who won just 66 games a season ago and currently possesses the second-worst record in the National League. Winning two out of three should be the goal, but sweeping the series is not an unreasonable goal either. Price's club will want to make the most of this opportunity against the Cubs because it's back to the grinder next week when they pay visits to Pittsburgh and Atlanta.

5) Joey Votto and Devin Mesoraco are absolutely locked in at the dish right now. Votto's currently slashing .327/.446/.615 while Mesoraco is slashing .500/.520/1.045 since coming off the disabled list. It appears as though the power is back for Votto after clubbing his fourth home run of the season on Wednesday. He's currently on pace for a 40 home run season. Meanwhile, Mesoraco's offensive prowess early on has been a pleasant surprise. It's been well noted since Ryan Hanigan was traded that this Mesoraco's time to make it or break it. Apparently, the Pennsylvania native looks determined to make the most of his chance.

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