Phillies-Reds NLDS Preview: Starting Eight

It took all 162 games of the regular season, but the Phillies finally found their opponent for the National League Division Series: the Cincinnati Reds. They led the NL in offense, but finished last among the four playoff contestants in their runs-allowed average. Their pitching staff isn’t as deep as the Phillies’ but is nonetheless formidable, thanks in part to the third-best defense as rated by UZR. Still, the Reds are going to try to win the series by mashing the baseball. First baseman Joey Votto led the league in wOBA and Scott Rolen had the second-highest wOBA among third basemen.

How do the Reds compare to the Phillies? Let’s dig into the stats.

Catcher

Assuming Carlos Ruiz is healthy (he was hit by a pitch in yesterday afternoon’s regular season finale), he should catch every game of the playoffs. He had an exceptional offensive year, finishing with a near-.400 on-base percentage with decent power (.447 SLG). Ruiz is a very intelligent hitter, very aware of the ins and outs of hitting eighth in the batting order — he is content to take those unintentional-intentional walks. Aside from his great success at the plate in 2010, Ruiz is known for two other items: blocking pitches in the dirt and coming up huge in October (or, as it is more affectionately called in Philadelphia, Choochtober).

In mid-June, I analyzed Ruiz’s ability to prevent and punish his opponents’ running game, concluding that he is about average in that regard. However, Dan Turkenkopf of Beyond the Box Score found that Ruiz is among the best in the game at blocking pitches in the dirt. With pitchers like Jose Contreras (with the tumbling splitter) and Brad Lidge (slider), this is a critical skill necessary for survival late in games. Additionally, Ruiz is anecdotally highly regarded for his ability to call games and handle a pitching staff. Most pitchers who have passed through Philadelphia during Ruiz’s tenure have had nothing but great things to say about him.

The Reds have two catchers, Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan, that split time about 60/40 (as opposed to the 75/25 split between Ruiz and Brian Schneider). Hernandez and Hanigan are about equal with the bat, but Hanigan possesses much better plate discipline as he walks about five percent more often. Hanigan’s offensive capabilities are similar to Ruiz: high batting average, good on-base skills, occasional power. Hanigan’s platoon split is much wider than Hernandez’s: 182 points of OPS as opposed to 30 in favor of left-handed pitching.

As I don’t follow the Reds as closely as the Phillies, I can’t speak to any anecdotal evidence that Hernandez and Hanigan are comparable to Ruiz in terms of calling a game and handling a pitching staff. Hopefully some Reds fans and bloggers can stop by and provide some analysis there. But overall, I think the catchers are a push — neither side has a clear advantage here.

First Base

It’s the 2006 NL MVP against, possibly, the 2010 NL MVP.

Howard’s 2010 is a disappointment. Although he missed two weeks, his numbers would still be down nonetheless. His ISO declined 60 points from last season, a sign Phillies fans do not want to see. Late in games, opposing managers bring in left-handed relievers to throw him breaking pitches low and away and fastballs up. Howard has given in much more than he had in previous years — his swing rate at pitches outside the zone was six percent higher than his career average and his swing rate at pitches inside the zone was seven percent lower than his career average. Howard isn’t garbage against lefties but there is a definitive blueprint to neutralize him. Pitchers that adhere to that blueprint usually have success.

Joey Votto, meanwhile, appears to have no weakness. He hits left-handers and he hits right-handers. He hits four-seamers, sinkers, cutters, sliders, curves, change-ups, and splitters. He hits at home and he hits on the road. He hits early in games and he hits late in games.

He does appear to have one very minor flaw, though: he hits worse against ground ball pitchers. Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt both induce an above-average amount of ground balls: 51 and 49.5 percent, respectively. Additionally, Ryan Madson can be found at 50.5 percent and J.C. Romero — who should be called upon for this match-up several times — is over 60 percent.

Aside from having a lethal bat, Votto is an adequate fielder, receiving good marks from UZR. Howard, on the other hand, is graded as a sub-par fielder. However, the difference of about 7 UZR/150 between the two over their careers could be negligible given the uncertainty around the data.

The advantage here clearly goes to the Reds.

Second Base

Chase Utley is clearly the best all-around second baseman in baseball. Over the last three years, he leads in both wOBA (.392, 19 points higher than the runner-up Dustin Pedroia) and UZR/150 (14.9, three points higher than runner-up Mark Ellis). In the same period of time, Brandon Phillips has a .333 wOBA and 8.8 UZR/150.

Utley is also a better base-stealer than Phillips. In 508 PA, Utley stole 13 bases in 15 attempts (87 percent). Phillips stole 16 in 28 attempts (57 percent). However, Phillips is better at advancing on the bases on balls put in play as shown by the metrics in the table below.

Base Advancement, via Baseball Prospectus
GAR SBR AAR HAR OAR BRR
Chase Utley -0.3 0.9 0.0 1.1 -0.5 1.2
Brandon Phillips 1.5 -2.2 1.3 1.8 0.4 2.8
  • GAR: Ground Advancement Runs
  • SBR: Stolen Base Runs
  • AAR: Air Advancement Runs
  • HAR: Hit Advancement Runs
  • OAR: Other Advancement Runs
  • BRR: Base Running Runs (e.g. total)

As with first base, there is no debate which team has the advantage here, only this time the Phillies have the upper hand.

Third Base

Ah, finally a position with a closer race. Unfortunately, Placido Polanco is dealing with an elbow that will require surgery once the season is complete. Although he finished the season hitting .316 in the last ten games, he had only hit .235 since August 18. At one point he was a legitimate contender for the NL batting title, but his slump — likely due to his elbow — put the kibosh on that. Overall, he hits around the league average without much power.

Once believed to be the biggest question mark for the Phillies going into 2010, Polanco’s defense has surprised many. Critics, including myself, were unsure if he possessed the arm strength to succeed at the hot corner. He quickly squelched any concern in that area as his 10.6 UZR/150 indicates. (Insert another caveat about UZR’s unreliability within just one season.) He did receive a poor grade in terms of range, which is not surprising.

Scott Rolen, like Polanco, has had to deal with some aches and pains throughout the year. More recently, it’s been an amalgamation of issues but he should be healthy enough to contribute during the post-season. Along with beating Polly’s UZR/150 score (with much better range), Rolen finished with the second-best wOBA (.369) among NL third basemen, more than 40 points higher than Polanco.

Neither are base-running threats although Polanco is a perfect 5-for-5 on the year while Rolen is 1-for-3. The Reds get the advantage here — Rolen is simply better on all counts.

Shortstop

Although Jimmy Rollins spent half the season dealing with two calf strains and a thigh strain, his numbers had been in decline anyway. From 2004-08, his wOBA fell between .341 and .378. The last two years, it’s been .316 and .318 respectively. His power is way down this year — his .133 ISO is his lowest since 2003. He still managed to be efficient on the bases, stealing 17 bases in 18 attempts (94 percent). In 21 games between July 17 and August 20, he stole 12 bases in as many attempts. Since then, he’s attempted only three steals in 25 games. Rollins still received a good grade from UZR on all counts except avoiding errors — in nearly half the innings, he matched his errors total from last year with six.

The Reds have Orlando Cabrera, who is a rich man’s Wilson Valdez. In fact, Valdez put up a slightly better OPS this season and defended just as well. Cabrera is the one weak spot in the Reds’ lineup among the eight position players.

A healthy Rollins gives the Phillies a legitimate advantage here. Rollins at around 75% gives them a slight advantage.

Left Field

Rumors of Raul Ibanez‘s demise may have been greatly exaggerated. Although he finished with his worst offensive showing since 2003, he wasn’t all that far away from his production in recent years. He lost a bit of power but has surged recently, hitting for a 1.051 OPS since September 6. With a platoon split of nearly 100 points of OPS in 2010, Dusty Baker may be more willing to leave Arthur Rhodes in to face Ibanez after dealing with Utley and Howard, meaning that Jayson Werth may get a few extra at-bats against southpaws. Defensively, Ibanez lacks range and has a mediocre arm, which comes as no surprise to Phillies fans.

Jonny Gomes is similar to Ibanez in a lot of ways. He is not as good in terms of plate discipline, but has a similar offensive output from the right side. Like Ibanez, he has a deep platoon split (nearly 140 points of OPS) with a disadvantage against right-handers. With only two left-handed hitters in the starting lineup, the Reds will likely have Rolen and Gomes hitting back-to-back. This becomes a very important part of the batting order for Jose Contreras and Ryan Madson.

Gomes is also terrible in the field, even worse than Ibanez. His career UZR/150 at any outfield position is -18. Slight advantage to the Phillies, more if they pepper left field with batted balls.

Center Field

Shane Victorino and Drew Stubbs is about as close a battle between two players that you can get. They are separated by just one one-thousandth of a point in wOBA with nearly equivalent OBP and SLG. Victorino stole 34 bases in 39 attempts (87 percent) while Stubbs stole 29 in 35 attempts (83 percent). Even defensively, they are very similar.

Push.

Right Field

Jayson Werth, a soon-to-be free agent, has been the Phillies’ most potent offensive weapon throughout the 2010 season. He finished with the sixth-best wOBA in the National League, trailing fifth-place Matt Holliday .398 to .396. Werth has exceptional plate discipline, consistently working deep counts. In each of the past two seasons, he led the NL in pitches per plate appearance with 4.5 in ’09 and 4.3 in ’10.

Throughout the season, though, Werth was dogged by criticism of his failure with runners in scoring position — particularly with two outs. Although he had better production in recent weeks in those situations, he still finished the season with lackluster numbers. Fortunately though, those numbers come in small sample sizes and are not indicative of his skill.

Surprisingly, Werth has a reverse platoon split —  he hit better against right-handers than left-handers in 2010: .932 to .878 in terms of OPS. He’s also a base running threat, stealing 53 bases in 60 attempts (88 percent) since the start of the 2008 season.

Defensively, Werth hasn’t graded as well as he did last year but he still has one of the best outfield arms in baseball. While that may not make up for his odd routes to fly balls, it is definitely a factor that will stick in the mind of the Reds’ coaching staff and the base runners.

On the other side, the Reds have their own offensive threat in right field in Jay Bruce. He is no Werth but his .360 wOBA is certainly respectable. Like Werth, Bruce has a reverse platoon split of about 80 points in OPS. It’s a drastic improvement from 2009 when he had a .180 OPS platoon split favoring right-handers. Defensively, Bruce is regarded highly with an 11.4 UZR/150 in nearly 2,600 career defensive innings in right field.

Slight edge goes to the Phillies in right field.

Summary

  • Catcher: Push
  • First base: Reds
  • Second base: Phillies
  • Third base: Reds
  • Shortstop: Phillies
  • Left field: Phillies
  • Center field: Push
  • Right field: Phillies

Stay tuned for more insight into the series as I’ll discuss the teams’ pitching. On Wednesday, I’ll be swapping Q&A with fellow ESPN SweetSpot blogger Chad Dotson of Red Leg Nation.

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73 comments

  1. Dan

    October 04, 2010 07:27 AM

    It looks like based on the position players you would give the Phillies a slight edge.

    I think we all know the Phillies get the edge in SP, while the Reds will likely take the honors for RP. Honestly, though, with our pitchers, I don’t expect to see anyone but the elites (the starters and then Madson and Lidge if necessary), which the Reds won’t match up against very well.

    On paper, I’d say the edge definitely belongs to the Phils. Should be a fun series, though.

  2. Joel

    October 04, 2010 07:39 AM

    That’s a fair assessment of the Reds (from a Reds fan’s perspective). A couple of things that won’t likely change any of the comparisons.

    - Ryan Hanigan and Ramon Hernandez were more 50-50 on playing time, but Hanigan missed just over a month with a broken thumb. Hanigan is a better defensive catcher than Hernandez, and has a better arm despite throwing out a lower percentage this year (he threw out 43% last year). Hanigan is Bronson Arroyo’s catcher, and if the Reds only use a 3-man rotation, we’ll probably see Hernandez catch the other games since he usually catches the hispanic pitchers.

    - Bruce’s splits flip-flopped in the last 2 months as he’s been killing lefties lately. He’s hit 9 HR in his last 37 PA against lefties after hitting just 8 in his previous 410 PA against LHP. Obviously that’s a small sample cluster, but in general he looks more comfortable against lefties this year, laying off of a lot of the breaking pitches that killed him in the past. He hit lefties well in the minors, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he’s figuring them out, but I doubt the reverse split means much more than hot streak in a small sample.

  3. Bill Baer

    October 04, 2010 07:53 AM

    Thanks for stopping by, Joel, and providing some Reds-centric info. I encourage any Reds fans reading this to join in the discussion and provide some information, as I’m sure there are other aspects of the Reds I missed from simply not watching most of their games.

  4. John

    October 04, 2010 08:11 AM

    not everything can be said in numbers and equations. I’d take ruiz over either cincinatti catcher given his playoff performances of past. and victorino vs stubbs isn’t a push to me either. there is something to be said for playoff experience.

    the reds did score more runs than the phils this year. if the reds don’t shut em out, like the mets did earlier this year, i think they’ll have trouble

  5. Josh

    October 04, 2010 08:20 AM

    John, if there’s “something to be said for playoff experience,” why not just give the edge to the Phils in every position and call this analysis pointless?

  6. Rob

    October 04, 2010 10:57 AM

    Josh,

    To be fair to john, he didn’t say playoff experience is everything. He seemed to be using it as a tie breaker in the cases bill identified as tossups. You might not think playoff experience should be considered, but you shouldn’t mischaracterize john’s comment.

  7. Mike E

    October 04, 2010 11:14 AM

    Chooch is a favorite, but I would think his playoff experience gives him more than merely a slight edge over the Reds catchers

  8. Chino

    October 04, 2010 11:35 AM

    Awesome job Bill. One thing that i should mention is that we have another shortstop in Paul Janish that is just as good, if not a little better than OCab (Certainly he’s better defensively).

    Also, is Dom Brown on your postseason roster?

  9. Josh

    October 04, 2010 11:53 AM

    Okay, I didn’t mean to mischaracterize John’s comment. I’m just saying that as a lifelong Phills backer stuck in southwest Ohio 2/3 of the year I saw a lot of the Reds this season. It’s easier to think our guys have the “edge” that “numbers and equations” can’t say. But having seen a lot of both teams, I can tell you that “numbers and equations” also can’t say everything about Stubbs and the Reds catching duo. If anyone has the CF edge, it’s Stubbs.

  10. Dave

    October 04, 2010 12:14 PM

    Another Reds fan here…a big difference between Stubbs and Victorino (not sure who benefits from this) is that Victorino is 5’9″ 190 lbs and runs very fast, meanwhile Stubbs is a Texas-born 6’4″ 205 lber who played QB in high school, I think. So Victorino is a lightning-fast small guy while Stubbs is a gazelle.

    And by the way, you’re pretty much dead on on the player evaluations except that Gomes has really improved his defense from when being a TB Ray. Reds fans know him as an all-out defender. He’s had just 5 errors in over 1600 innings fielding as a Red.

  11. Dave

    October 04, 2010 12:23 PM

    Another thing that I wanted to say was Votto vs. Howard- why did Charlie Manuel take Howard over Votto in the ASG? If Howard were doing better than Votto, I would take Howard over Votto even as a Reds fan.

    To illustrate how good Votto is, I remember in the Reds-Phils series at GABP, it was Halladay vs. Votto. Halladay kept going right at Votto and eventually threw a nasty cutter in the dirt. Votto golfed it down the line for a homer, barely.

  12. Phylan

    October 04, 2010 01:13 PM

    Manuel’s verbatim reasoning for taking Howard over Votto was “he’s my guy.” A jerk move for sure, although Votto ended up making it anyway.

  13. JT

    October 04, 2010 02:33 PM

    I love your breakdown but there is one thing I feel needs to be said that is being missed it seems. Jay Bruce is one of the best outfielders as far as defense in all of baseball. The reason his numbers in outfield assists is down this year is because no one will run on him anymore. He has a cannon. If gold gloves were given to each outfield position and not just 3 to all outfielders (i.e. – 3 centerfielders can win) then Bruce would win in a landslide.

  14. CH Phan

    October 04, 2010 02:42 PM

    Most of it broke down as I expected but SS was interesting. Valdez played under duress, w/a slumping team that had many injuries, in front of sold out crowds already upset at the state of their team. He was quickly named “Exxon Valdiz” for his mistakes but he’s thankfully become better than mediocre.

    If he isn’t the best hitter, he’s at least stopped hitting into double plays. He can be counted on to have a typical Phillies AB: he stays AB as long as poss, seeing as many as 10 pitches or more (Wagner yesterday in Atl), allowing the line-up to learn fr his AB, wearing down the pitcher.

    Utley & Valdez have turned out to be a nice double play tag team. Valdez has a quick arm & crack aim to 1st. He routinely leaves Ryan Howard laughing & the crowd shocked & applauding.

    I guess the fans’ reaction could be chalked up to any minor improvement seen since the start. But it’s more than that. He obviously worked hard, kept at it, & didn’t take the criticism to heart. He concentrated on getting better.

    If anyone said at the beginning of the season: ‘We’ll be fine w/o Rollins, we’ll be in 1st, have the best record in MLB, & nobody will be freaked out missing Rollins.’ — I would not have believed them.

  15. Justin

    October 04, 2010 03:05 PM

    A lot of the Reds success can’t really be quantified in numbers. It seems that whenever they need a clutch hit they get one. Johnny Gomes, for example, batted somewhere around 350 with RISP, and Jay Bruce had countless walkoff hits this year. Bruce is also one of the best fielding outfielders in the game, and undoubtedly the best defensive right fielder. Stubbs has a ton of power and speed too, so Ive gotta say the Reds outfield is massively underrated in this comparison.

  16. Clint

    October 04, 2010 03:21 PM

    Make sure you:

    1) Use new-age stats that support the SweetSpot network

    &

    2) Scratch someone else’s back that is in the SweetSpot network.

    Oh wait! You did that here.

    I swear to God, if you’ve read one used to be normal baseball blog gone ESPN SweetSpot network, you’ve read them all.

  17. SJHaack

    October 04, 2010 03:34 PM

    What does “support the SweetSpot network” mean?

    I’m going to assume it means “create a rational argument that doesn’t make their bloggers look like morons”.

  18. Van Pelt

    October 04, 2010 03:50 PM

    Wow, you nailed it Clint. Way to go.

  19. hk

    October 04, 2010 04:17 PM

    Justin,

    As has been debated on this site numerous times – primarily in regards to our own RF Jayson Werth – “performing in the clutch” or the statistic you use to determine what clutch is, is descriptive, not predictive.

  20. Chino

    October 04, 2010 05:01 PM

    JT, to be fair, I think Bill did mention Jay’s defense excellence in his column (11.4 UZR/150).

  21. Robert

    October 04, 2010 06:03 PM

    I would take Utley at the plate but he can’t carry Phillips glove as far as fielding. Phillips is a Gold Glove second baseman. Defensively the Reds are superior to PHL. That being said, I think PHL wins the series even though I am a Reds fan. I love the PHL club as well. If my Reds do not win, I will being rooting for PHL just like the past two years. PHL may have more talent, but the Reds are one scrappy bunch. This will be a great series! I hope the Reds go after Werth in FA. He would fit in nicely.

  22. bill

    October 04, 2010 06:18 PM

    Wait, Chase Utley who has better defensive stats than Phillips by every metric for the past 3 years, ‘can’t carry Phillips glove’?

    Utley should have about 5 gold gloves by now, the fact he never wins is a joke.

  23. Ryan

    October 04, 2010 06:38 PM

    I am not a Brandon Phillips fan either. But he is better then utley in the field. Stats for fielding are a little misleading. His range is great. Utley is still a huge advantage offensively when it comes to hitting, plate discipline, anything. But its crazy to say he is better the Phillips in the field.

  24. Phylan

    October 04, 2010 06:39 PM

    Utley is a better fielding 2nd baseman than Phillips. He has a higher career UZR/150 and he has dominated the plus/minus ratings for the last few years. This isn’t to say Phillips isn’t elite with the glove, he is. But Utley is the best of the best.

  25. Chris

    October 04, 2010 09:22 PM

    I must admit, as a Red fan, that after reading this blog, I feel a little better about the Reds chances in this series. I do think game 1 is the key. I know that’s not saying anything new and drastic, but I think if the Reds can beat Halladay then all bets are off for the remaining games.

    Here’s my subjective and non-stat backing response:

    1B – Reds
    2B – Push
    SS – Phils
    3B – Reds
    C – Push
    LF – Most difficult for me to pick. Platoon
    Push.
    CF – Push
    RF – Push (considering Bruce’s D and offensive
    second-half of the season.
    SP – Phils (by far)
    RP – Slight Reds

    If I were to give these categories numbers (0 = push, 1 = slight lead, 2 = big lead) it adds up like this:

    Reds: 1 + 0 + 1 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 1 = 3 total

    Phils: 0 + 1 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 2 = 3 total

    So the series, IMHO, is a push. Except for the fact that the Phils have home adv., better SP (which usually trumps in these short series), and experience (though that didn’t seem to bother the Rays a few years ago).

    I just hope the series plays out like a push.

    Should be fun!

  26. Tray

    October 04, 2010 09:50 PM

    Chris, the problem with your logic is that you’re counting SP as a category equal in importance to first base, or catcher, or whatever. In reality, starting pitching matters almost as much as all the positions in the field combined. So you have to multiply that 2 by, say, 6.

  27. Chris

    October 04, 2010 10:36 PM

    @Tray – Yup, I do believe the categories are weighted. That’s why I give the series to the Phils on the strength of their SP. However, for the most part, their season games were VERY close! Look at that July series before the AS break. All the Reds need is to come out of the gate strong.

    @Bill – Not sure why you’d “lol” the push at 2B? BP is the man before his hand gets injured in August. And, the last few games, he’s begun to come around. At MOST this is a slight advantage to the Phils but I see BP all the time and his defense is amazing! PLus, he’s been a consistent 30/30 guy. Not a reach to say “Push”.

  28. Rob

    October 04, 2010 11:02 PM

    Very cool breakdown, but I’m wondering if my baseball brethern could do a different sort of analysis (one which I don’t have the time or expertise to do). While I enjoy the position-by-position debates as much as the next guy, wouldn’t it be more illustrative of the actual game to do an analysis of pitching staff+defense vs opposing lineup vis a vis the ballpark? I’m sure there are metrics (some of which are hinted at here) that can give us an idea of how a particular lineup does vs particular pitcher types and how a given defensive alignment does when playing behind a given pitching type vs. a given lineup (whew — you get the idea).

    I don’t want to shortchange the work already done, but its not like, for example, Votto and Howard are going to face each other in a meaningful way. Trying to grade the teams on a position vs. position basis wouldn’t seem to give the true picture of the matchup (and in my mind seriously shortchanges the impact that a pitcher can have on the game).

    At any rate, thanks for the breakdowns so far!

  29. Scott G

    October 04, 2010 11:10 PM

    These comments are goofy. I think I just fell off my chair.

    RF and 2B are about as even as Andy Reid’s play calling (run/pass).

    I hope that joke wasn’t over the foreigners’ heads.

  30. Bill Baer

    October 04, 2010 11:14 PM

    Brandon Phillips is a slightly above-average hitter and a really good defender.

    Chase Utley is among the best offensive forces in baseball (7th-best NL wOBA over the past three years) and is the best defensive second baseman according to UZR.

    The gap between Phillips and Utley is larger than the gap between Howard and Votto.

  31. jauer

    October 04, 2010 11:25 PM

    I agree with Chris that second base is a push.

    Also, the KC Chiefs are going to go 19-0 this year.

  32. Jason

    October 05, 2010 07:47 AM

    Reiterating the other Reds watchers, Stubbs and Bruce are UNRIVALED defensively. IMO Bruce is a wildcard at the plate. He can strike out all day and then end the game in a homerun. Stubbs was a strikeout machine most of the year, but recently really heated up, can hit for power and also has the speed to make something out of nothing. Still Stubbs can’t bunt though. The clutch hitting, as mentioned earlier, comes from every single direction. Orlando Cabrera is pretty under-rated in this department. At catcher, Hernandez has had an edge over Hannigan in clutch hitting.

    The Reds starting lineup does not tell the whole story. Janish is an outstanding defensive SS, and should get some playing time. Laynce Nix and Chris Heisey should both see playing time in OF. Janish and Heisey have shown great bunting skills. Cairo may relieve Rolen at some point, can be clutch at the plate.

    I still give Phillies the edge. Other than Votto, the Reds have relied on a different “hero” each day. This all out assault may not fly in the post-season pageant. The stat that was all over the place last week, and seemingly gone now, still applies: Reds have losing record against winning teams.

  33. Jason

    October 05, 2010 07:59 AM

    * Catcher: Push
    * First base: Reds
    * Second base: Phillies
    * Third base: Reds
    * Shortstop: Phillies
    * Left field: Phillies
    * Center field: Reds
    * Right field: Reds

  34. Scott G

    October 05, 2010 08:18 AM

    Where are you all coming up with this outrageousness?

    Jayson Werth is a very good defensive outfielder, and he’s one of the best offensive players this season. .397 wOBA vs .363 wOBA (Bruce).

    To say the Reds have the edge here is asinine.

  35. jauer

    October 05, 2010 10:30 AM

    Drew Stubbs’ minor league career OPS is lower than Shane Victorino’s career MLB OPS

  36. jauer

    October 05, 2010 10:32 AM

    …but so is victorino’s. I dont think CF can be anything other than a push

  37. TheNatural

    October 05, 2010 11:43 AM

    Regarding the Bruce v. Werth debate,

    I think my fellow Reds fans are focusing on the Bruce who, since 8/13, has hit .371/.446/.819 with 15 HR. If we focus solely on that Bruce when making a comparison to Werth, then yes, we may have a push. If you’re thinking that the date is arbitrary, 8/13 marks the end of the series against the Whinin’ Cardinals and the arrival of Sensei Jim Edmonds.

  38. per14

    October 05, 2010 01:40 PM

    Man, Phillies’ fans are so much better than Cardinals’ fans.

  39. Chris G

    October 05, 2010 01:51 PM

    Great analysis. A few points general points, and some thoughts about the post and the comments:

    - The Reds are a VERY streaky team. Particularly Gomes, Bruce, and Stubbs. Stubbs OPS’ed 643 in June/July, then 943 in Aug/Sept/Oct. I would not be surprised to see those guys go 3 for 40 in a Phillies sweep, or to see them 20 for 50 with 6 HR in a Reds sweep. Votto will hit. If two other guys get hot, the Reds have a good chance to win. If not, it will be over quickly.

    - Phillips and Utley are both really, really good defensively. I think BP has more range; Utley turns a double-play better. I’m not comfortable that UZR is anything more than a tiebreaker, though.

    - Gomes is a true butcher in LF. He hustles, to be sure. But he takes bad routes, fails to communicate with Stubbs, and hasn’t hit a cutoff man since Memorial Day. He’s a potential double, every pitch.

    - I find the “Ruiz’ postseason experience gives him the edge” argument a little weak, considering that Ramon Hernandez played in the playoffs four years in a row for Oakland. He played poorly, but he’s been there.

    - Jay Bruce is an elite defender. While Werth is athletic, I don’t think he’s at Bruce’s level. Very strong, very accurate arm; excellent routes to the gap; closes to the line as well as anyone I’ve seen; and equally good on balls in front and behind him. The most interesting thing to watch for is his aggression/hustle in the OF. He gets to singles faster than anyone I’ve watched. The Phils should not try to stretch a single to right.

    - I’m much more sabermetrically inclined than not, but this Reds club has been exceptionally resilient. They’ve taken a few significant body blows this year (a sweep in Seattle, the pre-ASG debacle in Philly, and the awful STL series in September. After those three series, they went on runs of 8-2, 6-4, and 8-2. I don’t know what this means in a short series, but I definitely wouldn’t count them out if they lose game 1.

  40. Chris G

    October 05, 2010 01:58 PM

    Last thing: I know this was a starting eight post, but the Reds bench will be an important key to this series:

    - Chris Heisey had 4 HR and a 3B in 23 pinch hit ABs.
    - Paul Janish is a gold-glove defender if Dusty lets him spell Cabrera.
    - Miguel Cairo somehow hit .290 .353 .410 (though he sucked as a PH).
    - Plus, they have whichever catcher isn’t starting.

    I don’t expect the Phils to use their bench as much, but only Francisco appears to be a legitimate offensive weapon off the bench for them. (Correct me if I’m wrong).

  41. Dave

    October 05, 2010 05:32 PM

    It is very true that Jim Edmonds has been a sensei to Bruce, you can always see Edmonds talking to Bruce on the railing in the dugout.

  42. E

    October 05, 2010 05:41 PM

    IT should be noted, Votto OWNS oswalt.

  43. Jason

    October 05, 2010 07:10 PM

    Gomes should not start LF but he probably will anyway, so listing him as the starting LF in this comparison is pretty accurate. Whoever is listed as Reds LF still leaves Phills with edge, but Nix and Heisey ought to start games one, two, four and five.

  44. hk

    October 05, 2010 07:29 PM

    E,

    31 PA’s is a small sample size and a .355 OBP for a hitter of Votto’s quality is not exactly OWNING a pitcher. FWIW, Phillips has a .350 OBP vs. Oswalt in 40 PA’s, Bruce has a .267 OBP vs. him in 30 PA’s and Rolen has a .244 OBP vs. him in 45 PA’s. As far as I could tell, none of the other Reds regulars had anywhere close to 30 PA’s vs. Oswalt.

  45. E

    October 05, 2010 07:37 PM

    .333/.355/.600 is pretty much owning. Of course it isn’t as bad as votto owning Brad Lidge.

    Votto is everything Howard wishes he was.

  46. Dave

    October 05, 2010 09:11 PM

    I’d still say Howard’s ’06 season was better than Votto’s this year. The downside for Howard is that Votto is not in his prime yet and Howard will never have Votto’s pitch patience.

  47. Chris

    October 05, 2010 09:24 PM

    To all Phillies fans who laugh at the concept of Brandon Phillips and Chase Utley being a “push” at 2B are simply not doing their homework.

    Offensively: Chase Utley (.275, 16 HR, 65 RBI) and Brandon Phillips (.275, 18 HR, 59 RBI). You can’t get closer to a push than that for two players on the main three stats.

    Defensively: BP has a gold glove (and actually deserves at least another one). This year his defensive stats stand out from Utley in many ways. Look, Brandon had a bazillion more chances to make plays and made FAR few errors (Utley = 11, BP = 3): That means Chase made an error about every 54 plays. BP made an error about every 234 plays. And you think it’s a joke to call this a push?

    I am not saying Utley isn’t a great player – he has been. I’d love him on the Reds. But, there is absolutely no way you can back up your ridicule at saying that the 2B position in this series – going in – is a push.

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