August 17, 2012

Baker talks about Hanigan in the 8 hole

Last Game
The Reds dropped an ugly game to the Mets last night to end the latest winning streak. Homer Bailey did not have a good outing, just as he hasn’t over his last four outings. If the pitcher introduced in the double-header tomorrow makes a good start, maybe Bailey will be getting a little more rest. It’s hard to imagine how he’d contribute to a postseason team in this state.

Next Game
The Reds play host in the opening game of a series against the Cubs tonight. Bronson Arroyo (RHP, 8-7, 3.95 ERA) is looking to get the team back on the winning track as he faces off against Travis Wood (LHP,
4-8, 4.52 ERA). The Reds faced Wood last weekend and fared poorly, but the Chicago bullpen blew it and the Reds came out with the win. Hopefully the Reds can get on the smiling side of the scoreboard from the get-go tonight. First pitch at 7:10 p.m.

Hanigan throwing to secondRyan Hanigan and his 2-hole OBP
Sometimes it feels like the whole world of Reds fandom can be talking about something while the manager remains completely oblivious. It’s been that way with the talk about needing to move Ryan Hanigan up in the line-up.

Hanigan is hitting .282 with a .368 OBP. That’s the Joey-Votto-echelon of OBP. The dude is not fast, but he’s certainly wasted in the number 8 spot, where he finds himself on first just in time to have the pitcher end the inning.

But news of this has, in fact, reached Dusty Baker’s ears. Reds.com put up this story to tell the world why Baker says Hanigan is actually “ideal” for the role of futility batter:

Don’t expect Baker to heed those wishes. Tuesday’s game was an example of why, as Hanigan reached base three times with two outs — on a second-inning intentional walk, a fourth-inning double and a sixth-inning single.

Hanigan: on base 3 times on Tuesday; left on base 3 times on Tuesday. How, precisely, is this an argument for keeping the guy in a place in the line-up where no one will ever hit him in?

Later in the same article, Baker is quoted as saying:

“I know a lot of people are saying, ‘Hey, he should hit second,’” Baker said. “He walks a lot, he gets a lot of intentional base on balls. He would be hitting higher if he ran any better. I think he’s a perfect eighth hitter and perfect for what we need on this team.”

It’s true that Hanigan has been intentionally walked more than most guys on the roster this season. But those 10 IBBs are probably not the key to his on-base success, if that’s what Baker is implying.

Myself, I take it as a good sign. In the past it seems like Baker has made a point to justify his stupid decisions to the media just before changing them. On the other hand, this team is leading the NLC by 6 games right now. We probably won’t see Hanigan freed from the futility hole unless that margin shrinks significantly.

What to Say to Sound Smart at the Water Cooler
You might not have noticed it, what with the long outings the starters have been putting in lately, the higher profile injuries, and the fact that I can’t find more than a 1-sentence reference to it on any news site, but our shiny new trade-deadline acquisition, Jonathan Broxton, is day-to-day with shoulder soreness. He hasn’t pitched since August 10.

2 comments to “Baker talks about Hanigan in the 8 hole”

  1. Roast Beef says:

    For starters, those IBB add 24 points to Hanigan’s OBP, and that doesn’t even count the “unintentional but really sorta intentional” walks an 8th hitter who is willing to take a pitch gets. I don’t think it is a stretch to suggest his OBP would be significantly lower hitting elsewhere.

    If you ignore this, the difference between Hanny and Cozart/Stubbs is probably about 30 times on base over 500 PA, which is nice. Might be worth, say 10 runs, just for giggles. But—-

    Hanny is really slow. He is far less likely to go from 1st to third or second to home on a single, score from first on a double, score from 3rd on a fly ball, or break up a double play. These things are real, and cost you some runs. Let’s say 4 runs over 500 PA (I really would guess it is more).

    Hanny has no power. Willie Harris has a better ISO. So does Mat Latos. So while he gets himself to 1st base, he can’t get himself into scoring position via 2b, 3b, or SB. Over 500 PAs, he would probably put himself in scoring position 30-40 fewer times than guys like Coz/Stubbs. This probably costs you another 4-6 runs.

    In the end, I doubt hitting Hanny second would generate much extra production at all, and that is assuming his OBP doesn’t suffer when pitchers are attacking him, which I think is a flawed assumption. If he had some power or decent speed, it might be worthwhile, but he doesn’t. He is actually the rare example of a player where focusing on OBP inflates his value (it is also worth noting that his wOBA, which does not take into full account his lack of speed, is essentially identical to Cozart and Stubbs).

  2. Amanda says:

    Regarding the IBB, even subtracting the .024 points you mention doesn’t change Hanigan’s ranking. He’s fifth behind 2 guys who shouldn’t count due to small sample size(Negron and LeCure) and 2 guys who have been doing pretty darn good (Votto and Paul).

    Regarding unintentional intentional walks, I don’t see evidence in the numbers that he’s getting a particularly large number of them. He’s got 30 BB, which puts his smack in the middle of the starting line-up and well under the mean of the top 8 (35.75, though that’s maybe a little unfair since it includes Votto). Hanigan is not a notoriously hot-headed swinger–I think it’s reasonable to let him keep credit for all his walks.

    The slowness, yeah, definitely. In fact, I can completely imagine Votto nearly overtaking him on the way to second. (Then again, maybe not with the bum knee…) But I’m not sure that the “far less likely to go from 1st to third or second to home” comment makes total sense here, since it seems to assume that he would be on base at the same rate as his replacement, which is the whole point of this rant. You can’t be LESS likely to go from 1st to home than not getting on first in the first place.

    You may well be correct that moving Hanigan up would have no effect or even be detrimental. And if I thought that kind of reasoning were behind the decision, I wouldn’t bitch about it.