This Weeks Guest:
John is a contributor for the Fansided joint, Blog Red Machine. John currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA. Blog Red Machine provides amazing baseball insight, as it pertains to the Cincinnati Reds. John also writes a recurring column about a statistic he created to evaluate bullpen success. He happens to be a Dayton Dragons (Reds single-A affiliate and new record holders of most consecutive sell-outs in all of pro sports) super-fan as well. Please keep in mind these were bought and sold on Friday, so John had no way of knowing the outcome of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday’s games. Alot has changed since then.
The way this works is simple. I make 4 realistic statements about the Brewers. John tells me if he is “buying” it or “selling” it. Then he has to defend himself. If it was just a True or False test, then what would be the point.
1) Ramon Hernandez will be the only player this season to hit a home run off of John Axford
Buy: Axford throws strikes low in the zone so 2/3’s of the balls put in play are ground balls. The downward action on both his fastball and his curve also reduce the ability of hitters to lift the ball up. The only other player to hit a home run off of Axford is the Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit so beware facing the Bucs.
2) Rickie Weeks deserves to be in the All-Star game over Brandon Phillips
Sell: I am certain this is the expected unpopular response to this question but understand I am a big fan of Weeks. The truth is MLB and the league marketing department place far too much emphasis on Home Runs and Rickie leads all 2nd basemen with 16. Home runs are great but offensive production comes in many forms. I wrote an article last week evaluating each of the players receiving the most votes at every position and comparing them to the Reds lineup. I kept the statistical reference simple and answered the question “In how many game has a player been productive this season?” To answer this question I simply counted the games in which a player scores a run or drives a run in or both and compared it to the total number of games played. Currently Rickie Weeks has been productive in 53 of 88 games or 60% of the time. By comparison Brandon Phillips has been productive in 52 of 84 or 63% of the time. By most any standard this is a statistical wash, they have both been integral to the success of their teams offensively. The difference between these two players is in the field. Phillips is the reigning gold glove second baseman and is a highlight reel of spectacular defensive plays. He has committed just 2 errors this season for a .995 fielding percentage and seems well on his way to another Gold Glove. Weeks has a .971 fielding percentage and has committed 10 errors. Defensively he is not nearly as effective.
3) Prince Fielder will beat out Joey Votto for NL MVP
Sell: I think Fielder will earn more votes than Votto but at the end of the day I expect an upset in this category and I think Jose Reyes will win. The same article I mentioned in the last question opened my eyes to the magnificent season Reyes is enjoying and so I compared him to a Reds MVP SS of the past, Barry Larkin. When I realized how much better Reyes is playing than Larkin did I really got to thinking and I finally found a Shortstop who was more productive, Rogers Hornsby. Using the same formula as before Reyes has been productive in 72% of his games, Hornsby was productive 79% and 76% the two years he earned the MVP award. Milwaukee’s own Hank Aaron won the MVP award in 1954, he was productive in 96 of 151 games for a 64% ratio. Reyes numbers are truly astonishing in this light.
Disclaimer: This final question seems to have shifted to a possible Buy, per an e-mail I received from John on Sunday night.
4) If the season ended today, Dusty Baker’s job would be in jeopardy
Sell; Being a Major League manager is not an easy job. Juggling the egos of players, the expectations of fans, and the questions of jaded reporters is not a simple task. Dusty seems to have a good relationship with Walt Jocketty and I believe he has the respect of the team. The one weakness (of many visible ones) that I see that could end Dusty’s tenure with the Reds is the complacency of the players. In the 12 inning of the 13 inning game the Reds won on Wednesday night it was a telling moment when the Reds radio announcers commented that every single Cardinal player was standing on the railing in the dugout watching to see if they could pull off an amazing comeback victory while every Reds player was sitting dejectedly feeling sorry for themselves for giving up an 8 run lead. Attitude wins championships and the most talented team does not always win. Dusty needs to inject the team with the enthusiasm a champion must have. I tend to think that Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has tougher long term prospects because the Reds have been built to win over time where, in my opinion the Brewers must win this year. When and if Prince Fielder leaves via free agency it will be very difficult to maintain the current level of success. Who knows in two years we may all be looking up in the standings at a First Place Pittsburgh Pirates team.
I would like to again thank John for taking some time out of his busy schedule to do this with me. It is always great to spend some time talking with another member of the Fansided baseball family. Be sure and check out some of John’s work here.
Look for a weekend wrap-up a little bit later this afternoon. It was one worth remembering. Hope this is a nice read for your Monday morning.
P.S- Brewers head into the All-Star break tied for the division lead with the St. Louis Cardinals. Not to shabby, all things considered…