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The Reds' Embarrassment of Riches Problem - The Triangle Blog - Grantland


The problem lies with the Reds' two resident OBP sieves. Cozart's hitting .245 with a .287 on-base percentage, Stubbs .221 with an identical .287 OBP. This would be a big enough problem if Baker buried his resident out-makers at the bottom of the lineup. It's even uglier when they're hitting 1-2 in the lineup. Together, Cozart and Stubbs have combined to eat up 1,009 plate appearances. Put another way, they've made 719 outs. And counting.

How rare is this configuration on a winning team? Try this. According to Elias Sports Bureau, in the history of baseball, only 11 World Series winners have regularly started multiple position players with on-base percentages of .290 or lower; none of those teams have batted two sub-.290 OBP guys 1-2 in the order. If the Reds win it all with Cozart and Stubbs setting the table with torn paper plates and dirty napkins, they'll have accomplished something no other team has done in 100 years.

Still, Baker can change, and solving the lineup problem would be a great place to start. It's easy to point to the Reds' record and declare that everything's working. But it's also worth considering the possibility that they're winning in spite of the configuration of their starting nine, not because of it. In baseball, trusting a bad process to keep delivering good results has a way of biting you in the
"butt". (I had to change that)

Maybe none of this ends up mattering. Maybe Frazier ends up a potent pinch-hitter, the Reds continue to get great pitching from Cueto and Chapman and enough support from the rest of the pitching staff and the three through eight hitters to go all the way. But why try to chase that goal with one hand tied behind your back? While a team like the Dodgers feels compelled to spend $260 million to improve its chances, the Reds merely have to scribble something slightly different on the lineup card every night.

Let the kid play, Dusty. You'll be better for it.