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John Fay
John Fay has been the Reds beat writer for the Enquirer since 2001. Prior to that, he served in a variety of roles for the Enquirer: backup Reds writer, UC beat writer, backup Bengals writer and as a general assignment reporter. He is a Cincinnati native and a graduate of Elder High School and the University of Dayton.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Scott Conine or Jeff Hatteberg

I was curious after reading some comments on the blog or the perceived lack of production from Jeff Conine and Scott Hatteberg how the Reds first baseman platoon stacked up. Very well, it turns out.

So far, Hatteberg and Conine have combined to hit .295 with five home runs and 30 RBI. Look at how other first baseman in the NL compare:

Derrek Lee .390 3 25

Todd Helton .355 5 26

Prince Fielder .288 14 35

Albert Pujols .273 7 23

Lance Berkman .265 5 23

The numbers are skewed a bit because Hatteberg and Conine have combined for 190 at-bats. That's more than any of the guys who play every day. But if you look at at-bats strictly by first basemen, the Reds rank fifth in NL in RBI at 27 and sixth in the NL OPS at .818.


at 9:50 PM Blogger rodger said...

Thanks for the post. I've long felt Hatte for one is far too unsung in this town. Would be interesting to see what kind of production we're getting for the dollars spent too. I suspect those 4-5 clubs getting more production from first are paying three times as much.

at 10:28 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

roger that, Rodger.

Puns aside, I agree. Hatte is known for his plate discipline, which is a good balance to some of our more free swining players like Phillips and Freel.

at 10:41 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those clubs also don't have to use up two roster spots to fill one position.

at 10:57 PM Anonymous Justin Fernandez said...

Nice Lipstick on the Pig effort. Pay someone like Prince Fielder 10 times what you pay "Hattienine" and the Reds would have a far better chance of making the post season. I doubt many Reds fans are thrilled to know that the Reds' total firstbase production is so "awesome" and I guarantee you that for a team in last place (and looking inept day in and day out) stats don't matter in the absence of WINNING BASEBALL. UC might as well be wearing Red and White (not to insult the Bearcats) because what's going on at Great American is a TRAVESTY. Krivsky's not trying to win games he's trying to avoid having Homer and Votto break a fingernail in the majors. What a bunch of nonsense comes from NARRON and the Front Office on a daily basis. It doesn't help when Lipstick Painters like you come up with lame meaningless statistical justification for the lack of vision shown by the Reds. Hattienine is NOT OUR POST-SEASON FUTURE. NEVER WILL BE.

at 11:03 PM Anonymous Sparky's Ghost said...

Interesting John. However, I'm afraid that it is a very fortunate but misleading fluke that they are 6th so far (though granted, it detracts from my argument that this in particular is what *has* actually dragged the Reds down to date). Bless their hearts for doing even this well through a quarter season, but it can't realistically be expected to continue.

Consider that both players are performing well above their expected level given their track record. Conine is at 785 at age 40 after averaging 756 from age 37-39. Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA system (the most accurate forecasts in the business - it uses the player's recent stats and a historical database of comparable players) projects him at 735 for this year. Hatteberg is at 822 at 37 after averaging 765 the past 3 years. PECOTA expects 788 from him in '07 (surprisingly generous considering the aging curve, I think). So if the Reds stick with them, going forward we can reasonably look forward to about 770 from the tandem (Hatty being the heavy side of the platoon).

As for the rest of the league, while those top 5 you listed are either at or under (WAY under, in Pujols and Berkman's case) their expected levels, the remainder of the league whom the Scoff monster are fleetingly ahead of can't reasonably be expected to stay behind these two going forward. Here are the PECOTA estimates for 2007 for some of the guys they are ahead of currently:

1009 Ryan Howard
883 Nick Johnson (come July, and that's raw numbers in a cavernous park)
882 Carlos Delgado
866 Conor Jackson
846 Andy LaRoche
837 Mike Jacobs (FLA)
836 Adrian Gonzalez (SD)
807 Nomar Garciaparra
784 Scott Thorman (ATL - who??? Exactly.)
775 Rich Aurilia (SF)

To be fair, you'd have to mix some scrub at-bats into the above numbers, since these are just the starters. But I think it's safe to say that going forward all but the last two guys should have their team producing well more than what the Reds will at 1B. That leaves Cincy fighting with ATL and SF for 14th place, with arguably the worst 1B team in the NL (which probably means all of baseball, the AL generally being the better league these days). Given the cleverness of John Schuerholz, I'd lay odds that whomever he pulls out of hat will top these guys too. It's up to Rich Aurilia to make the Reds look good from here on out.

Oh, I almost forgot. PECOTA projects a fellow named Joey Votto to be able (if given the chance) to deliver an 877 OPS in the MAJORS in 2007. And that's without the system having a clue that he discovered he needed contacts at the end of April (since when he's been absolutely tearing it up).

So Votto can be expected to be 100 points better than Messers Coniberg right now. Those lucky Louisville fans! Watching major league baseball while the folks an hour north are stuck witnessing the Old Timers Game every night, like a bad baseball version of a Bill Murray movie.

at 11:11 PM Anonymous Sparky's Ghost said...

PS to Rodger - Hatteberg and Conine are earning a combined $3.5 million this year. The Reds would have to pay Joey Votto the major league minimum (one tenth as much) to deliver 100 points more in OPS than the Scoff monster. That's if all 3 players perform to their projections based on previous numbers and a vast historical database of comparable players.

at 11:12 PM Anonymous Justin Fernandez said...

Great Post Sparky's Ghost! Louisville has seen more major league games than Cincinnati has this year!

Either they fire NARRON now or they fire him after the Reds are 20 games below .500.

Isn't it better to fire him NOW? And take that clueless dreamer Krivsky with him.

Next year, whomever is the GM needs to take the MAJOR LEAGUE CLUB north of the Ohio river and leave the minor leaguers in Louisville!

at 11:18 PM Blogger John Fay said...

Justin, my man, lay off the CAPITAL letters for a while and relax. I merely said I was curious, so I looked up the numbers. Thought it was interesting. Just curious, how times has Prince Fielder led the Brewers to the post season?

at 11:47 PM Anonymous Sparky's Ghost said...

John - I appreciated the original post, as it forced me to really look at them in the context of the league. And now I feel confident that they *will* be dragging the team down if allowed to be the 1B tandem for the remainder of the year. And if it weren't for their relatively hot April and bad starts by so many other NL 1Bmen, that would already be the case.

I'm curious - it sounds like you have some contact with the front office now and then. Any idea how invested the Reds are in statistical performance analysis? I've heard that every team has at least one "sabermetrician" on staff, but how much they listen to them seems to vary greatly. It's obviously vital for small market teams like Cincinnati to get every edge they can. Appropriate information and optimal predictions are the most cost effective way to discover advantages to exploit. It's a conservative town, so I'm imagining they are pretty skeptical of anything involving a spreadsheet. As a childhood Reds fan, I'd love to hear that I'm wrong.

at 12:02 AM Anonymous Justin Fernandez said...

John Fay said: "Just curious, how times has Prince Fielder led the Brewers to the post season?"

Sorry if I irritated you, my man John. No more caps.

Fielder's what? A second year player? 39 games in 2005 doesn't mean he's a third year player (three calender years but he's really in his second full season and he hasn't even played in 250 MLB games yet).

...first full season last year ...oops, 0 for 1, you're soooooo right! What a maroon (in caps, Bugs Bunny accent) I am!

P.S. When Milwaukee makes the playoffs this year, we can revisit your little baseless dig on my Fielder remark tonight. What do you say?

Of course, Milwaukee has a decent pitching staff and a manager who actually knows how to lead, strategize, motivate, teach, and organize! Votto may never be a "Prince" but he's a far cheaper and better play at 1B right now, especially since the Narron Follies have us mired in the mud of the central's basement. And I mean mired (all caps).

I'm sick and tired of apologists for the Reds, Narron, Krivsky, and Hattienine. Frankly, your attempt to put me in my place was ludicrous (in caps).

You ignored my original point with the Fielder contrast, which was: that the Reds would have a better (in caps) chance (in caps) of making (in caps) the post season (in caps) than they do with the likes of Hattienine.

Please, I know you're the pro writer with the pro blog gig and you're all "celebrity-expert" like but if you're going to out-analyze me or out-write me or show me up you'd best bring your A game, and your Fielder comment wasn't even "pepper!"

at 2:19 PM Anonymous mikec said...

Justin, John's point is valid and your attacks on him are bush league. Hatteberg and Conine aren't the problem. And neither is John Fay.

Hatteberg and Conine aren't the future of this franchise. But they're playing decent enough. The problems are much bigger than lack of production from the first base slot.

No one would argue that the Reds would be better off with Fielder than Hatteberg/Conine (or whatever lame Bennifer-like nickname you think you are creative enough to come up with). But the Reds do't have Fielder last I checked. And there is no telling how good Votto will be when you bring him up. In the meantime you have a decent platoon at first and whoever isn't starting provides a veteran bat off the bench.

And as for you out-analyzing John Fay, after reading your post on the next blog entry I don't think there is any danger of that. If you seriously think the Cardinals would send down Albert Pujols at any point you don't know much about baseball. First, I'm pretty sure they couldn't send him down. Second, a guy like that could go 0-for-150 and La Russa would let him hit his way out of it.

And did you ever see Hermanson pitch this spring? How about those games where he got rocked? Any idea what his velocity was at? Don't make ridiculous statements without anything backing them up. Hermanson missed an entire year and came in trying to prove he was healthy enough to stay in the big leagues. He couldn't do it. His velocity was down, and he got knocked around once the hitters caught up to the pitchers. If he had anything in the tank don't you think another team would have come calling????

at 3:21 PM Blogger John Fay said...

I don't have any problem with Justin or anyone else stating their opinions or questioning mine. He may be right. I don't like CAP letters because I feel like I'm being shouted at. That's not necessary. I enjoy the back and forth, but I like to keep it civil. If the Reds had Prince Fielder, they wouldn't have Hatteberg and Conine. But they're a reasonably priced fillin unitl Joey Votto is ready. Also on Milwaukee, I guarantee you that on blogs like this one in Milwaukee people wanted Ned Yost fired at this point last year. Sometimes patience pays. Yost lost 94 games each of his first two years. But the Brewers didn't fire him, and he's about as fiery as Jerry Narron.

at 3:26 PM Blogger John Fay said...

And I like that fact that Justin puts his name on comments. I don't care if it's his real name on not. It's good for future reference.

at 6:23 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've run the numbers before, and the average OPS for starting 1B/DH in MLB over the last 5 years is 863.

For corner OF it's 850

818 doesn't cut it for a starting first baseman unless the other attributes are quite positive. While Hatteberg's defense is notable, Conine's doesn't strike me as spectacular. Hatteberg's walk numbers are more valuable than OPS shows. Both provide SOME measure of veteran presence and leadership by example, and both are valuable weapons as pinch hitters. Neither are expensive, and they are both boat anchors on the basepaths. I'd give Hatteberg added value as a 3rd string/emergency catcher, but he seems unwilling.

All this together seems to me to say that the Reds' 1B production is a bit below MLB average, but a reasonable stopgap until Joey Votto's inevitable callup in September or before.

at 9:28 PM Anonymous Justin Fernandez said...

The arrogance of Reds apologists is astounding. Don't blame me for reciting facts. Hermanson got rocked late in spring training, so you just cut him? Well isn't it time to just cut Stanton, Lohse, Milton, et al. based that supposed "logic." Why didn't San Diego cut Trevor Hoffman; why is Jorge Julio still in the majors and Dustin H. isn't? Changes need to be made on the Reds, period. Amazingly, every week, almost every game, the Reds play worse, standing pat is no longer an option. This isn't mere sports, this is the entertainment industry too. Losing might never be entertaining but again, the way the Reds are losing is not acceptable, and so is the way ownership is doing nothing (except gum flapping).

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