Joseph Daniel Votto, Part 1: The Machine

“He’s a poet stuck in a gladiator’s body.”

Such was said by my Editor, Kerry Moss, when discussing this piece prior to me writing it. And I have to say, I couldn’t agree more.

It’s a tired cliché, but Joseph Daniel Votto truly is “a different animal.” He’s philosophical, he’s emotional… He’s an MVP. He is often misunderstood not only by those looking from the outside of Reds Nation, but also even from those within it. This is a special time not just for the Reds, but for Cincinnati sports in general. Joey Votto could end up being one of the best Reds players of all-time and, despite his obvious popularity amongst Cincy fans, I don’t think he gets enough love.

Based off of namesake alone, as well as where they play, I would assume most people outside of the Ohio area think of Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera (ignoring his position change, for he’s played first base for the past four seasons) and Adrian Gonzalez before they do Joey Votto in regards to elite first basemen.

You may argue all you want (which is great about sports, the subjectivity of it all), but I believe these are the five best first basemen in all of baseball (with all due respect for Mark Teixeira and Paul Konerko). But, despite their popularity, are those players really better than Votto? I would like to find this answer by using three categories: 1. Offensive Production 2. Defense 3. Age and Service Time.

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Baby Bruce’s Beginning? Basically Barry Bonds

The similarities between Jay Bruce and Barry Bonds are quite frankly, amazing. Jay Bruce’s first four major league seasons in many ways mirror Barry Bonds’ first four major league seasons. Let’s compare…

Bruce & Bonds - First Four Seasons

Rookies at 21
Both Bruce and Bonds made their MLB debut at the age of 21, as highly touted prospects possessing all the “tools.” As 21 year old rookies, both played just over 100 games, seeing less than 500 plate appearances. Neither player posted great numbers, but both Bonds and Bruce were approximately league-average hitters. While Bonds showed more discipline at the plate, acquiring more walks and a higher OBP despite a lower average, Bruce showed more power at the age of 21.

Sophomore Separation

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2012 Player Preview – Homer Bailey

If I told you it was only some five years ago that Homer Bailey was supposed to be the Savior of Cincinnati, would you believe me?

That is how the 21-year-old, at the time, had been viewed prior to his Big-League debut in 2007.  He was a laid back, cowboy boot-wearing youngster with a cannon-for-an-arm that could launch a baseball upwards to 97mph… with a potentially devastating curveball… with a confident demeanor some polished veterans never find. Homer Bailey was supposed to have been the total package. He was supposed to have lifted Cincinnati from the cesspool it had been accustomed to, their last season with a .500 record coming in 2000 (Bailey was 14-years-old in the year 2000). The year 2007 was supposed to be the beginning of sustained greatness for Redleg Nation.

Five years later, though? Not so much. The year is 2012 and the Reds have but one season .500 or above. That isn’t all to be blamed on Bailey, of course, but it just goes to show that one player cannot turn around an entire team… especially when that player greatly falls short of expectations. Bailey has showed flashes of brilliance that give reason to why the Reds drafted him 7th overall in the 2004 Major League Draft, but more often he’s been proof that not all highly-touted prospects turn out to be jaw-dropping spectacular. Some of it isn’t his fault. He’s been rather unlucky in the injury department. He has his own share of the blame as well, though. Whether it be a stubbornness that reminds everyone that he is still very young, or the fact that he can’t seem to keep himself on the mound health-wise, things just haven’t added up for the right right-hander.

All is not lost, though, and one should not panic (a seemingly popular pastime for many fans of Cincinnati sports). Where many seem to have given up on a player only 25-years-old, or simply have little to no hope, there are several signs that this year could indeed be the year Bailey finally takes off. That sounds like a broken record, I’m well aware of that. Even I often say to myself, “It’ll be nice when we stop saying ‘this year will be the year’ and instead say ‘that year was the year.’” I, for one, think this year will be the year. Here’s why:

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Projecting 2012: Reds Rotation vs. Cardinals Rotation

Continuing with the projections for the 2012 season, today’s report looks at the starting rotations for the Reds and Cardinals. The following projections can be found at FanGraphs. I’m using Bill James’ 2012 projections for this exercise. First, the projections, then some notes:

“ACE”

Johnny Cueto

  • K/9 – 7.09; BB/9 – 2.82; ERA – 3.77; FIP – 4.02

Adam Wainwright

  • K/9 – 7.49; BB/9 – 2.28; ERA – 3.27; FIP – 3.24

Differential (ERA): 0.5, Cardinals advantage

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Projecting 2012: Reds Offense vs. Cardinals Offense

As we anxiously await the start of the 2012 baseball season, I thought it would be fun to compare the current Reds roster to that of the St. Louis Cardinals. Today, we’ll look at offense only. The following projections can be found at FanGraphs. I’m using Bill James’ 2012 projections for this exercise. First, let’s look at how the two teams match up by position…

Second Base

Brandon Phillips (2B)

  • BILL JAMES: AVG/OBP/SLG – .279/.334/.435; wOBA – .332

Skip Schumaker (2B)

  • BILL JAMES: AVG/OBP/SLG – .282/.340/.363; wOBA – .309

Differential (wOBA): +23 Reds Read the full post »

Welcoming Worship

Me, at Great American Ballpark, with Reds’ legend Eric Davis (circa 2009)

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