Overall Record: 80-82 (.494; 3.5 games behind the Cardinals, 2 games behind the Astros)
Series Record: 23-18-11
Pythagorean Record: 76-86 (0.469)
Runs Scored: 749 (4.6 r/g; 9th in the league)
Runs Allowed: 801 (4.9 r/g; 10th in the league)
September/October Record and Stats
Overall Record: 13-15 (0.464)
Series Record: 3-6-o
Pythagorean Record: 11-17
Runs Scored: 91 (3.3 r/g)
Runs Allowed: 114 (4.1 r/g)
Even though the Reds came up short, I had planned to make this an upbeat final monthly review. But after looking at these numbers, all I can do is ask "what could have been?" With only four more wins on the season, the Reds could have, at the minimum, forced the Cardinals to a single-game playoff for the division championship. It would have taken a 17-11 month, but the Reds had one element in line to accomplish just that: quality pitching. While the starting pitching after Arroyo and Harang was shaky, Wayne Krivsky's refurbished bullpen finally came through, with Schoeneweis, Weathers, Majewski, Belisle, Coffey, and Johnson all sporting ERA's below the 3.2 mark. Overall, the 4.1 runs allowed per game mark was easily the best of the season by the Reds' staff, more than 0.7 r/g better than the next best month (May, at 4.8 r/g allowed). If there was ever a time for the Reds' offense to take advantage of some solid pitching, this was the time.
But the offense, which had been the strength of the ballclub all season long, just vanished. Poof, and like that, it was gone. 3.3 runs per game was easily the worst total of the year, and was a full 1.4 r/g lower than the previous month of August -- which had already been a weak offensive month by the Reds' standards. And to further help illustrate how absolutely horrible 3.3 runs/g score is, the worst offensive ballclub in the major leagues in 2006, the Pittsburgh Pirates (691 runs scored), averaged 4.3 runs/g on the season. This is still a full run per game below that mark.
With a collapse this big, there's plenty of blame to go around. The following hitters had OPS's above 0.700 with 40 or more at bats:
They were ok, or even reasonably good. But that leaves a lot of players who were not good.
Between 0.600 and 0.700 OPS:
Those latter four guys absolutely killed us this month, and are all guys that this team absolutely relied on all season long to be productive offensively. On top of that, Ken Griffey only had 15 plate appearances due to an injured big toe. It was an absolute meltdown. The problem was not that the Reds couldn't "manufacture" runs. It wasn't that they didn't execute good "situational hitting." It wasn't even that manager Jerry Narron made a series very questionable decisions during games. The problem with the Reds in September--and what ultimately cost them a winning season and a playoff berth--was that, with the notable exception of Rich Aurilia, all of their everyday starters just stopped hitting. Period.
That will be the most painful thing for me to think about during the offseason. The pitching was there for the Reds to win in September and be playing against the Padres right now. If the Reds would have scored 4.9 r/g, which is what they had averaged on the year prior to September, Pythagorean projections predict that the Reds would have gone 17-11 on the month--precisely what they needed in order to, at worst, force the Cardinals into a 163rd game single-game playoff. This team was capable of winning this year, but the offense -- not the pitching -- let them down. I never would have thought I'd be writing that in my final monthly review of the season.
Statistical Hitter of the Month: Rich Aurilia, 0.344 AVG, 0.385 OBP, 0.511 SLG, 4 HR, 5.5 VORP in September/October
Honorable Mentions: Chris Denorfia, Norris Hopper
In a month that all of the other Reds' starters were either hurt or massively under performing, Aurilia put a great cap on what was easily the second best season of his career. His final numbers on the season--0.300 AVG, 0.349 OBP, 0.518 SLG--are massively higher than I expected at the season's start, and he served as an anchor for the Reds all season long. At 35 years old, I'm honestly not sure what we can expect of him next year. But if he's amenable to it (and he should be), I'd be more than happy to have him back. At worst, he should be an above average offensive threat vs. lefthanders, and at best, he may be in line for another year like 2005. But in 2006, Rich Aurilia played four positions, led the team in VORP, and has a very legitimate argument to earn the Reds' MVP Award on the season. Amazing, and very well done.
Impact Hitter of the Month: Rich Aurilia, 9 runs scored, 17 RBI, 45% Win Probability Added in September/October
Runners up: Jason LaRue, Ken Griffey Jr.
I don't like to give both awards to the same player in these reports, as I like to use them to highlight different contributions to the team each month. Unfortunately, no one else even showed up. Denorfia had a decent offensive month in part-time play, but he didn't come through in the big moments--especially early in the month--as evidenced by his -5.9% WPA. Anyone else who played well did so in a minimal number of appearances. Just a very disappointing month for this Reds' team. I honestly think they could stand to add some offense in the offseason, and that's sad given where we started the season. If only we still had Austin Kearns.
Statistical Pitcher of the Month: Bronson Arroyo, 51.3 IP, 2.45 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 0.35 HR/9, 13.0 VORP in September/October
Honorable Mentions: Aaron Harang, Todd Coffey
For the third time this season, Bronson Arroyo won my Statistical Pitcher award. He did it with a month that was remarkably similar to his month of May -- fairly average K and BB rates, but extremely low HR-allowed. I always tend to distrust very low HR-allowed numbers, especially for a guy who also had months when he allowed over 2 HR/9. But in Arroyo's case, given that his breaking ball is such a key component of his success, I think it's a meaningful thing to look at. When he's not throwing well, he tends to have trouble locating his breaking ball and tends to leave a fair number of them hanging in the middle of the zone. And they get hammered for long flies. But when he's throwing well, he's spotting it on the corners and able to throw it for strikes whenever he needs to.
I'll have more to say about Arroyo in a later post, but the guy had a remarkable season--possibly his career year, and quite possibly (likely?) the Reds' MVP. The Reds haven't had a 1-2 in their starting rotation like Arroyo and Harang (or is it Harang and Arroyo?) since the Rijo/Browning/Jackson days of that '90 team. I don't think we can expect Arroyo to be as good next year as he was this year, but he should be very dependable in our rotation. If we can get another cog in there on the level of an Arroyo, plus another hitter in our lineup, and at least one outstanding reliever... folks, I tell ya what, we'd have a legitimate playoff team here.
Impact Pitcher of the Month: David Weathers, 11 IP, 0.82 ERA, 2 Saves, 1 Hold in August
Honorable Mentions: Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang
For the second consecutive month, David Weathers was the cornerstone of the Reds' bullpen. Largely written off after a difficult first half, Weathers stepped up as Eddie Guardado and Gary Majewski stepped down. His ERA was spectacular, and by the end of the season he had regained his position as the team closer. All three of Weathers' peripherals slipped substantially during the month, but he was fortunate enough to be sufficiently hit-lucky (0.138 BABIP) to remain extraordinarily effective. Whatever the reason for his success, Weathers contributed the highest WPA on the team for the second consecutive month and is an easy pick for impact pitcher of the month.
Reds September/October Hitting Statistics
|Royce Clayton ||38||18.4%||10.5%||0.0%||1/50%||0.300||0.324||0.624||0.216||---||3.0%|
|Juan Castro ||25||16.0%||8.0%||0.0%||0/0%||0.360||0.391||0.751||0.260||-0.3||-32.0%|
|Ken Griffey ||15||0.1||0.1||0.1||0/0%||0.133||0.286||0.419||0.131||0.3||35.0%|
Reds September/October Pitching Statistics
|Gary Majewski ||5.7||3.2||1.6||0.0||0.373||1.59||3.02||2.7||-31.0%|
|Jason Johnson ||8.7||4.1||0.0||1.0||0.312||3.12||3.77||0.8||-13.0%|
|Bill Bray ||5.7||7.9||1.6||1.6||0.292||4.76||4.25||0.7||-8.0%|
|Sun-Woo Kim ||6.7||5.4||0.0||4.0||0.199||5.40||7.83||0.5||0.0%|
|Rheal Cormier ||3.0||3.0||3.0||0.0||0.385||6.00||3.53||-0.3||-16.0%|
|Ryan Franklin ||7.7||9.4||4.7||1.2||0.317||4.70||4.37||-0.4||-19.0%|
|Kyle Lohse ||31||6.4||3.2||1.5||0.313||6.46||4.96||-3.0||-45.0%|