One Stat That Sums Up Each Cincinnati Reds Position Player's 2012 Season
Every season features telling statistics, and each of the Cincinnati Reds' position players had some interesting numbers.
After winning the National League Central in 2012, it is easy to see eye-popping numbers from the players. While most of the players had good stats, some players had numbers that summed up their seasons in a bad way.
The Reds had three rookies (Zack Cozart, Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco) receive regular playing time. The rookies had mixed results, but there is plenty of time for them to improve.
Veteran utility players Miguel Cairo and Wilson Valdez are gone. Third baseman Scott Rolen is still weighing his options, but John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer makes it sound like Rolen wants to play this season. Let's assume the third baseman is back in Cincinnati this summer.
Cincinnati has brought in players such as Shin-Soo Choo, Jack Hannahan and Jason Donald from the Cleveland Indians, although Donald will be the odd man out if Rolen comes back.
Each position player projected to make the roster had at least one telling statistic in 2012.
*All stats are from ESPN.com
C Ryan Hanigan
Key stat (tie): Threw out 48.5 percent of runners trying to steal, 3.05 staff ERA
Those two statistics go together in a way. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com provided the staff's ERA when Hanigan is behind the plate.
Both of those numbers were the best in the majors, which shows how good of a defensive catcher he can be. He has more control over the percentage of runners he throws out, but controlling the running game helps keep the ERA down.
While some fans would like to argue that a catcher's ERA is bogus, check out how Homer Bailey pitched with Hanigan behind the plate. Going into September, Bailey's ERA was 4.24. The right-hander had an ERA below 1.80 starting in September, and he threw a no-hitter near the end of the month.
He has been Bronson Arroyo's personal catcher since coming to the majors, and other pitchers have had success throwing to him.
Hanigan continues to be overlooked by the national media, but Cincinnati fans are beginning to realize how well he controls a pitching staff.
C Devin Mesoraco
Key stat: .111 average with RISP
Most of the team had good key stats, but Devin Mesoraco was one of the few with troubling numbers.
Going into 2012, Mesoraco was expected to be among the National League's top rookies. He was good behind the plate, but he struggled at the dish.
His .212 overall average told the story, but he was terrible in key situations. His .111 average with runners in scoring position was one reason why rallies with him the lineup were tough to come by last season.
Four of his five homers came with nobody on base, and he only had 10 RBI with runners in scoring position. His one home run and four of those RBI came on one swing.
As a rookie, Mesoraco shouldn't have been expected to knock the cover off the ball. He should have been able to drive in more runs though.
He did manage to hit .267 with nobody on base, so it wasn't all terrible. Entering his second full season, Mesoraco will need to work on improving his average.
The Reds determined they would be better off with Dioner Navarro as the backup catcher and sent Mesoraco down to Louisville in August.
The Reds needed the bottom of the order to knock runs in, but Mesoraco couldn't come through in big situations.
1B Joey Votto
Key stat: .515 OBP after injury
Joey Votto was on a tear before suffering a knee injury, but he just wasn't the same once he came back.
He had 14 home runs with 49 RBI, and he was leading the league with 36 doubles before the injury. When he went out, his on-base percentage was .465, which is nothing compared to what he did in September and October.
It's important to note that Votto's power was missing after the injury. He did not hit a home run after coming off the disabled list, which was an issue in the postseason.
However, the first baseman was getting on base for the hitters behind him. He set up Ryan Ludwick and Jay Bruce for opportunities to knock in a run.
Despite the lack of power, Votto drew at least one walk in all but eight games (in the regular season) after returning to the lineup.
So while some fans will worry about the power outage, his on-base percentage should give them comfort. With a full offseason to recover, Votto should be ready to go in April.
2B Brandon Phillips
Key stat: .308 average on first two pitches
Brandon Phillips has always been an aggressive hitter, so it's a good sign to see that he made the most of his quick at-bats.
When he swings by the second pitch of an at-bat, he hit .308. His average dropped to .266 when the at-bat lasted more than two pitches.
Last season, the Reds needed Phillips to take more pitches because he was in the middle of the lineup. Now that he will be hitting in the second spot, he will have the freedom to swing early in the count.
Not only did he hit for a high average in those situations, but he also hit eight of his 18 homers early in the count.
With Votto hitting behind him, Phillips will see some great pitches to hit. It will be important for him to keep up his strategy and swing early.
SS Zack Cozart
Key stat: .223 average as leadoff hitter
Like everyone on last year's roster, Zack Cozart struggled at the top of the order. Unfortunately for him, he was the main leadoff hitter.
The rookie started the season hitting second, and he was doing enough to put himself as the front-runner for NL Rookie of the Year. He was hitting .324 and had a .378 OBP in the second spot but was forced to the leadoff spot when Brandon Phillips was bumped down in the order.
In the second spot, Cozart had two homers, five doubles and three triples. He was doing everything on offense and on defense.
His struggles at the top of the lineup forced the Reds to go after a legitimate leadoff hitter in the offseason.
Cozart will most likely hit No. 7 in 2013, so there won't be as much pressure on him to get on base. As he showed last year, he was able to hit when he wasn't the leadoff hitter.
3B Todd Frazier
Key stat: .451 average on the first two pitches
Like Phillips, Todd Frazier had great success early in the count. However, Frazier's average later in the count was a bigger drop-off than Phillips'. The rookie hit only .207 when the count lasted at least three pitches.
He will hit down in the lineup, which means he may need to learn to hit with strikes. He can't always swing at the first or second pitch.
It's a good sign that he can get hits early in the count and keep the momentum going.
Frazier hit 11 of his 19 home runs when he swung early in the count, so the Reds have some pop down in the order. He provides protection for Bruce and Ludwick.
The 26-year-old almost won the Rookie of the Year, and he will now be forced to make adjustments heading into his second season. Although he played in 128 games last season, he will now be the starter at third base.
RF Jay Bruce
Key stat: 99 RBI (plus four in the postseason)
So close to a big milestone, Jay Bruce just couldn't get over the hump. It was like the Reds in the playoffs. Only one win from the NLCS, the Reds couldn't get the big win.
Had it not been for a bad July, Bruce easily eclipses the century mark. He had at least 14 RBI in every other full month. He led the team in RBI even before Votto got hurt.
The 25-year-old is known for being a streaky hitter. That being said, just imagine what his numbers will look like once he cuts out a few of his cold streaks.
His average will climb, and the power numbers will just continue to improve.
For all of the criticism the hitters behind Votto receive, Bruce often gets overlooked. He can drive in runs when runners get on, so it will be crucial for the top of the order to reach base.
CF Shin-Soo Choo
Key stat: .389 OBP at leadoff
The Reds have been missing a good leadoff hitter for years, so they went out and got Shin-Soo Choo to fill the void. His 2012 season wasn't going very well when he was in the middle of the Indians' lineup, but he took off as the leadoff hitter.
Choo was hitting .235 before being named the team's leadoff hitter on May 14, and he began to raise his average from that point on.
He hit .310 and had a .389 OBP in the top spot. The left-handed hitter also had 12 home runs, 22 doubles and 42 RBI as the leadoff hitter.
When he was in the No. 3 spot, he hit only .227 with 11 extra-base hits.
Choo hit .333 in 2012 when he led off an inning, which is exactly what the Reds need. Phillips and Votto will need more at-bats with runners on base, and Choo will give them those opportunities.
His average and on-base percentage gives the Reds what they need, and his ability to hit in the leadoff spot helped turn his season around.
LF Ryan Ludwick
Key stat: .309 average after the All-Star break
Cincinnati trailed the Pittsburgh Pirates by one game in the NL Central at the All-Star break, but the team took off at the start of the second half of the season. Ryan Ludwick's bat was a big reason for the surge.
Votto played in the first series after the break but didn't play again until September. The Reds went from only one game up on the Pirates to having an 8.5-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Ludwick got his second half going by hitting a walk-off homer against the Cardinals in the second game out of the break. After that, he went on an absolute tear.
He worked his way into the cleanup spot and started to drive in runs. The left fielder hit 14 home runs and drove in 46 runs after the break, with the latter leading the team.
Ludwick was a leader on the field and in the clubhouse. His performance in the second half put the team in great position to make the playoffs and gave Votto extra time to recover.
OF Chris Heisey
Key stat: 0 pinch-hit home runs
Chris Heisey has been a key pinch-hitter on this team since 2010, but last season was subpar by his standards.
The outfielder had hit at least two pinch-hit home runs in each of the past two seasons, but he failed to hit one in 2012. He managed to hit .316 off the bench, but he couldn't manage to hit a home run.
Despite his reputation for hitting key home runs off the bench, Heisey wasn't what fans have been used to. He will be expected to provide some pop off the bench this upcoming season.
Heisey hit seven home runs when he started a game, but he won't be a starter in 2013 (barring injuries). He needs to recapture the magic and be able to give the team a spark off the bench.
As the team's most trusted pinch-hitter, he will be put in key situations late in games.
The 28-year-old has struggled to hit consistently when given a chance to start, so he will continue to come off the bench.
OF Xavier Paul
Key stat: .333 average as a pinch-hitter
Cincinnati lacked a quality left-handed bat off the bench for most of the season, but Xavier Paul filled that hole after the All-Star break.
As strange as it may seem, he was actually more productive as a pinch-hitter than he was when he was already in the lineup. He hit more doubles and triples and equaled his home run total as a pinch-hitter.
The left-handed hitter had nearly as many hits off the bench as he did when he was the lineup in fewer at-bats.
Paul hit only .209 at Great American Ball Park, so he will need to fix that if he wants to get key at-bats.
With the outfield spots locked up and Heisey ahead of him on the depth chart, Paul will need to continue to produce as a pinch-hitter.
3B Jack Hannahan
Key stat: .302 average with runners on base
Jack Hannahan was arguably the most important player on Cleveland's roster for the first six weeks of the season, and his team struggled when he got hurt.
The Indians led the American League Central by two games on May 14, which was the first day the team was without Hannahan. By the time he returned for good on June 14, the Chicago White Sox had a 1.5-game lead on the Tribe.
Hannahan was hitting .287 and had an on-base percentage of .365 before he missed time with back and calf injuries. He hit .225 after he returned to the lineup.
However, his hitting in key situations is exactly what the Reds need. His .302 average with runners on base was a big reason the Indians were in contention for most of the season.
When runners were in scoring position with two outs, Hannahan hit .317 for the Indians. Cincinnati hit .198 with runners in scoring position with two outs as a team, which ranked last in the majors (via MLB.com).
Hannahan was a clutch hitter in 2012, and he hit .377 with runners in scoring position two seasons ago. His ability to drive in runs is part of the reason Cincinnati brought him to be a role player.
The 32-year-old can play third base, first base and shortstop. He can fill in if a regular gets injured, or he will do his best as a pinch-hitter. No matter what his role is, he will be expected to continue to hit for average with runners on base.
If Hannahan can continue to hit in big situations, this addition will be a bargain for the Reds.
3B Scott Rolen
Key stat: 92 games played
Scott Rolen's future is still up in the air, but as mentioned in the introduction, it sounds like he wants to play again. He has a reputation as a great influence in the clubhouse, so the Reds would be crazy not to bring him back if he's interested.
The third baseman will have to accept a backup role because Frazier is ready to take over as the starter.
Injuries have been the story for Rolen in each of the past two seasons. He has played in a combined 157 games in two years, so a backup role can only help his case.
He can no longer play every game or day games after a night game. By accepting a bench position, he can still play a few times a week and help Frazier grow into a solid player.
Rolen still has some pop in his bat and would be a good player to have for defensive purposes late in games.
Although he hit only .245 on the season, the veteran hit .293 with runners in scoring position.
The 37-year-old would play on a limited basis, but a bench role would help limit the nagging injuries for a full season.