Friday, November 19, 2010

2010 Review: Infielders

Well, I'm boosting an idea from Rany Jazayerli who borrowed it from Jason Whitlock during his Kansas City Star days for my review of 2010 Reds season. A quick report card for our players based on performance in light of preseason expectations.

Ramon Hernandez -- Expectations: Low, Grade: C

Ramon arrived in Cincy with mild expectations, as he was carrying around three straight seasons of .715 or lower OPS. He simply hasn't been an impact hitter, rather just an inexpensive veteran backstop with mediocre expectations. On the plus side, Great American Ballpark is the fountain of youth for righthanded hitters, so Hernandez would have that working in his favor.

Not surprisingly, Hernandez had his best season in four years, posting a line of .297/.364/.428/.792 with an OPS of .818 at home and .763 on the road. Ultimately, Hernandez was a solid player in 2010, providing decent production behind the plate and his ability to speak Spanish to the young Spanish speaking pitchers on the staff could only have helped. All in all, Hernandez was a solid veteran presence behind the dish. After factoring in the friendly hitting environment, Hernandez performed pretty much right in line with expectations.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Hernandez is his ability to elevate his hitting in key situations. I always have lingering doubt about a hitter's ability to consistently perform better in a specific spot in the lineup or in a specific situation. My thoughts run along the lines of "if he can elevate in certain spots, why wouldn't he elevate it all the time?" But, Ramon is just such a hitter. He seemingly DOES possess the ability to elevate his game in key situations.

In 2010, Hernandez hit .233/.285/.367/.652 with no runners on base, .318/.392/.447/.839 with runners on, and .327/.418/.451/.869 with runners in scoring position. The bigger the situation, the better the performance.

Additionally, over the course of his career, Hernandez has hit better in big situations.

Total Career: .265/.329/.418/.747
Career "High Leverage": .295/.360/.458/.818
Career "Medium Leverage": .264/.323/.397/.719
Career "Low Leverage": .251/.320/.416/.736

Both in 2010 and over the course of his career, Hernandez seemingly has had the knack for elevating his game when situation so requires. He seems to like the big moments and the chance for the big hit. Despite my skepticism of whether a player can consistently elevate his game in different situations, Hernandez seems to be able to do just that.

Hernandez was good enough that when paired with the next player in our list, he formed part of one of the most productive catching tandems in the majors.

Ryan Hanigan -- Expectations: Low, Grade: A-

The Reds signed Hanigan as an amateur free agent in 2002. After going undrafted and spending parts of 9 seasons in the minors, he finally broke through at the MLB level in 2010. Hanigan stepped up in a big way in 2010, posting a slash line of .300/.405/.429/.834. He didn't show much power, but made up for it with a stellar K/BB ratio of 21/33 and the second highest OBP among qualifying Reds hitters. Not too shabby.

One of the biggest reasons for Hanigan's success is his plate approach, as he rarely chases pitches outside the zone. It's remarkable how much easier hitting becomes when you don't help the pitcher out by chasing bad pitches. Let those pitches go and tilt the probability of success in your favor. Hanigan does just that.

Year: O-Swing%
2007: 22.2%
2008: 15.8%
2009: 17.6%
2010: 18.9%

In 2010, only 18.9% of Hanigan's swings were on pitches outside the strikezone, which landed him among the league leaders in the category. He also saw quite a few pitches per plate appearance (4.08 #P/PA), which when coupled with his refusal to chase bad balls makes him something of a tough out for opposing pitchers. Hanigan forces the pitcher to beat him, rather than making it easy by helping the pitcher out.

Once Hanigan did get a pitch to his liking he made contact 92.5% of the time. And, when he made contact, it resulted in a line a robust 20.8% of the time. Hanigan doesn't have much power, but he seems an ideal hit-and-run candidate and one of the better table-setters on the roster. The fact that he spent a grand total of 1 AB in the top 5 spots in the batting order is a clear failure on the part of Dusty Baker. But, of course, Dusty has long favored speed over on-base skill in his table-setters, which remains his biggest flaw as a manager.

Hanigan also did his part to slow the opposition running game, as he threw out 13 of 41 basestealers (31.7%) and seemed to call a better game than Hernandez.

If he can maintain that performance level, then it wouldn't be at all surprising to see Hanigan take over the larger role of the catching tandem in 2011. Overall, Hanigan was a very pleasant surprise for the Reds and helped provide one of the most productive catching tandems in baseball.

Joey Votto -- Expectations: High, Grade: A+

.324/.424/.600/1.024. A truly amazing season which establishes Votto as one of the top 2 or 3 hitters in the National League. As impressive as it was, even more impressive is that it was supported by the peripherals. Votto ripped line drives at a 20% clip and surprisingly was more productive on the road. At home, he posted a .950 OPS, while on the road he had a 1.093 OPS, which forecloses any notion that Votto was merely a product of a hitter friendly environment.

In fact, in the long history of the team, Votto's 2010 season was tied for the 14th best offensive season (at least according to Offensive WAR). The list reads as follows:

1. Joe Morgan (1975) 10.3
2. Joe Morgan (1976) 9.9

3. Joe Morgan (1972) 9.2

4. Joe Morgan (1973) 8.9

5. Joe Morgan (1974) 8.5

6. Frank Robinson (1962) 8.0

7. Cy Seymour (1905) 7.8

t8. Barry Larkin (1996) 7.7

t8. Johnny Bench (1972) 7.7

10. Ted Kluszewski (1954) 7.5

11. Pete Rose (1969) 7.4

12. Eric Davis (1987) 7.3

13. Joe Morgan (1977) 7.1

t14. Joey Votto (2010) 6.9

t14. Frank Robinson (1961) 6.9

Votto exceeded all my expectations in 2010, which continues a theme. I have never been happier to be wrong on a player than I have been on Votto. I simply didn't see this type of upside as he climbed the ladder, but his level of performance continued to improve as the competition got tougher. All of this culminated in an MVP caliber season with more undoubtedly on the horizon for one of the two or three best hitters in the NL.

Brandon Phillips -- Expectations: Medium, Grade: C+

At this point, there is no less surprising player on the roster than Phillips, whose performance has a metronome like consistency. His performance baseline is well established as .750-.770 OPS on offense and Gold Glove caliber defense.

On the season, Phillips hit the usual .275/.332/.430/.762, but struggled mightily on the basepaths where he stole 16 bases and was nabbed 12 times. It was the first time in 5 seasons that Phillips failed to swipe over 20 bases. Obviously, that type of "success" rate is unacceptable, as Phillips simply gave away too many outs.

Overall, it was largely what we've come to expect from Phillips. His production was on pace to be a tick better than in years past, but a terrible September (caused in part by a hand injury) dragged his numbers back down to his career norms. Phillips logged 97 ABs in September and posted a lackluster .175/.266/.278/.544 slash line. The Reds were pushing for a postseason spot, but in hindsight it was clearly a questionable decision for Dusty Baker to keep running Phillips out there. Not only did it drag down his overall numbers, but most importantly his performance simply didn't help the Reds win ballgames.

Overall, for better or worse, Phillips is as consistent as a metronome. His most valuable attribute is and always has been his defense. As a 29-year old, Phillips should have a few more peak seasons left in him, but his decline phase isn't too far off. Until it arrives, we'll continue to know what to expect.

Scott Rolen -- Expectations: Medium, Grade: B+

I was in favor of the Scott Rolen experiment and he certainly didn't disappoint. For me, Rolen was a key component in the Reds breaking through and into the postseason in 2010.

In 2010, Rolen was a 5-win player, which was roughly a 3-win improvement over the production the Reds got out of third base in 2009. And, his presence seemed to extend beyond the playing field, as he seemed to be a stabilizing influence on a young Reds lineup. In addition, he gave the Reds much better L/R balance in the lineup (a legitimate problem in years past), and was a very steady glove who helped out the entire pitching staff with his ability to make plays. Rolen not only improved the Reds significantly at the hot corner, but also seemed to make those around him better.

Unfortunately, Rolen faded in the final two months of the season, especially in slugging percentage which fell down to .402 in August and .365 in September. It's becoming clear that this is a problem that is unlikely to go away, as his pre and post All Star splits over the past 3-years showed a marked decline Rolen's ability to drive the ball. Over the 2008-2010 seasons, Rolen has hit .293/.366/.484/.850 before the All Star break and .272/.347/.427/.774 after the break. His slugging percentage drops .057 after the break. Clearly, some combination of age and shoulder injury cause him to wear down, sapping his ability to drive the ball.

As a result, the Reds will be forced to address the question of how to get the most out of Rolen in 2011. Simply put, the team will need to find a respectable back-up, both to give Rolen a breather and fill in when injuries arise. Rolen was certainly a pleasant surprise, but going forward the Reds would be better served by finding an impact righthanded cleanup hitter. Doing so would allow them to shift Rolen down to a more complimentary spot in the lineup (i.e. 6th). Rolen remains a very good baseball player, but at this point it would be foolish to expect him to carry a team like he did during his peak seasons.

Paul Janish -- Expectations: Low, Grade: B

Paul Janish had the type of season I suspected was in there all along. I have long liked Janish's combination of short, quick, line-drive swing and disciplined approach at the plate. That combination of attributes should have been sufficient in light of his stellar defensive tools.

In 2010, Janish made the most of his opportunity. However, the Reds decision to sign Orlando Cabrera still leaves Janish with something of a question mark over his head. Janish performed rather well, but the sample size isn't quite large enough to state that Janish is a surefire starter. Unfortunately, that leaves the Reds on the horns of a dilemma for 2011, as they still don't know if they can rely on Janish to hold down the job fulltime.

Despite a solid .260/.338/.385/.723 slash line, Janish sported some rather strange splits. Despite Great American Ballpark being a hitter's Valhalla for righthanders, Janish actually performed significantly better on the road. At home, Janish hit .213/.307/.247/.554, while he was appreciably better on the road at .297/.363/.495/.858. He also performed significantly better during the day (.318/.389/.435/.824), than at night (.217/.300/.348/.648).

So, the question is whether the 2010 splits will normalize over a larger sample size or whether Janish was protected from his splits by the small sample size. The Reds will have to decide, but early rumblings indicate that they have no intention of handing the starting job over to Janish. At the very least, Janish has proven his value as a utility infielder who packs a steady glove. When the Reds were kicking the ball around the field in the postseason, Paul Janish was the only player I actually trusted to have a ball hit his way.

In short, Janish went from a borderline MLB player to potentially a legitimate starting shortstop. It's hard not to label that type of season a success.

Orlando Cabrera -- Expectations: Low, Grade: D+

When the Reds announced the signing of O-Cab, I was immediately against it. I thought Paul Janish offered comparable, if not superior, production at a much lower cost. The bang-for-the-buck easily favored Janish.

One thing I thought would actually work in O-Cab's favor was the boost he would get from Great American Ballpark. Unfortunately and surprisingly, the boost never arrived. In 2009, O-Cab hit .284/.316/.389 combined in Minnesota and Oakland, while in 2010 he hit only .263/.303/.354 for the Reds. He declined in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

The one saving grace for O-Cab was that he actually exceeded expectations on defense. Under the UZR/150 metric, O-Cab was 5.3 runs above average, while under the John Dewan +/- metric O-Cab was a -2. Neither metric rates him as elite, but it's fair to say he was not the big liability with the leather that I expected him to be.

The Reds declined Cabrera's option, but remain interested in bringing him back at a reduced rate. However, given the strong performance of the Reds in 2010, it's probably time to completely embrace the younger talent. There is little to nothing to be gained from players like O-Cab, especially with the capable Paul Janish and Zack Cozart in the organization. Older players like O-Cab are nothing more than expensive security blankets for GMs, as they aren't going to provide legitimate upgrades in production, but the name recognition gives the appearance of improvement. For some reason, fans are placated by an acquisition like O-Cab and become less critical than they would be if the production was generated by an internal option lacking such name recognition (i.e. Paul Janish).

Overall, O-Cab disappointed on offense and surprised on defense. Regardless, the overall result was rather uninspiring. For an organization renowned for its shortstop play, O-Cab's 2010 season was hardly a memorable data point.


  1. I think you were a bit hard on O-Cab. All the other evaluations seemed to be about right

  2. Anon,

    How would you grade O-Cab?

    When doing these, I'm assuming a straight C grade means meeting expectations exactly. For me, O-Cab was a bit worse than I even expected, as he didn't get the GABP boost to his offensive production. But, maybe you're right, maybe he should have been a C- in light of his decent defensive performance.

    Anyway, thanks for the comment!


  3. I was also against OCab. He lacks range but he held his defense together through making few mistakes. Still, it proved to be a pointless acquisition. I think the D+ rating is fair. The slash line was very weak and you could even say that he failed to do what the other veterans did in the playoff chase, which is raise their game. Arroyo, Rolen, and Hernandez all had strong years surpassing recent trends. Injuries down the stretch may be somewhat to blame, but all in all, he didn't help the team that much. It's time to let him go and use Janish and Cozart or Negron, barring a trade/free agent move.

  4. great post lark, i really enjoyed it. All your evaluations were spot on with what i would have ranked them. cant wait for the outfield!

  5. As always well done Lark. Just a few quibbles and one rather sizable disagreement between us on this.

    Ramon - Did a smidge better than expected offensively and I don't expect a repeat next season but Mes is waiting in the wings. Behind the plate I started to see the trend of poorer pitching when he started. Overall though I'd agree on his grade of C.

    Though just a quibble on the if you will "clutch" hitting philosophy. My own personal philosophy is that it is mentally and to some extent physically taxing to be at your maximum best all the time in a 162 game season. One has to pace themselves and make it count most when the chips are down. It's as if it's yet another tool to have the kind of focus that a Bonds, Pujols and Votto have.

    Hanigan - Spot on with your A-, my only question with Hanigan is can he find a way to improve his endurance so as to maintain his production as a starter over a full season. He didn't perform quite as well when he had to play more often in longer spurts. As to his better game calling I think the better production from pitchers with him on the mound was due to his superior ability to frame a pitch. He's a very smart and savvy guy back there. I look for further development from him with regards to having a much better book on hitters and umps going forward now.

    Rolen - Again spot on though I am tempted to give him a bump in score just due to how he has rubbed off on the others. A big reason for our success was a marked improvement in baserunning. Clearly his intelligent yet aggressive style of running has rubbed off on everyone. 5 WAR you say? That would be 4 war pre-AS game and 1 war post then? Maybe if he misses the AS game next season it'll help.

  6. Cont....

    Brandon Phillips - I thought Brandon turned a corner the 1st half of the season and then late again in the season he seemed to start coming around again. His newfound ability to grind out PA's and get on base in the early part of the season was a saving grace for us when he was moved up the lineup. For a time he was the old Brandon, throwing away PA's by hacking wildly trying to hit it out. But how much the injury played a part in that you have to wonder because he seemed to get it going again around playoff time. Just too little unfortunately because the rest of the team was then scuffling. I think if he stays with this approach he will actually improve his baseline by at least 30 points. An .800 OPS, gold glove 2B is nice to have. Though I thought I saw a little drop in his range this year. If you ask me now is the time to trade him if their ever gonna. He is about to get real expensive and his overall game will never be better (sans his base stealing which was poor). I would consider moving Brandon to someone like the Mets in exchange for Beltran (unless Reyes is available). And then playing Cozart(with some Valaika sprinkled in) at 2B who is a similiar player to a young Brandon though not quite as talented overall,. But plenty talented enough to be a better option going forward for a franchise without deep pockets.

    Janish/Cabrera - Here is again where we disagree. I will admit I wasn't as pleased with Cabrera as I hoped to be but I thought you gave a pretty fair assessment on him. Though I will say he has some special intangibles that I believed helped us. I recall one play early in the season that really showed me something about him. Remember the game he (was playing back) chose to go to the plate with a throw and took out the go ahead run? A game that I believe we ended up winning. Not many guys have the cojanes to make that throw or the smarts to even consider it. Or about the time he was injured and kind of gave the guys on the bench a little humorous lift with his Bat Boy assignment. And I think though he underperformed a bit at the plate and his approach was sometimes a negative it was also at times a positive. I knew that in certain situations he was just who we needed at the plate. I give him a B- easy his winning attitude and approach to the game was a major reason for our consistent winning despite all the highs and lows.

    Paul did a great job but when he had to play for a long period of time his lack of endurance showed thru in his production. I like him but I still have doubts and I think it is why to add another guy and more importantly a guy better equipped to bat near the top of the lineup. All Paul proved was that he is a major league player now he has to prove he isn't just a decent bench option. I thought you gave him a bit too much credit seeing as how his play dropped off when he had to play long stretches. But he did improve and exceed expectations so I will give him a C+.

    Personally I go after Jason Bartlett to man the position next year. His defense is outstanding in his own right, he is a more viable top of the lineup solution (i.e. can take a walk, has some decent wheels and can make fair contact) than anyone else available to us currently and he is still in his prime years (30)

  7. McWax,

    Yeah, it's not an acquisition I have ever supported. For me to find any value in it, I have to play the what-if game. What if the Reds had just handed the job to Janish? Would Janish's performance have fallen off in a larger sample size?

    When looking for a player's value, if you are forced to find it solely by wondering if your backup would fall on his face without you, then something is clearly wrong. You should have value on your own merit.

    Anyway, my $.02.

    Thanks for the comment!


  8. Smitty,

    Good to see ya! The outfield is being written as we speak, so keep an eye out for it.


  9. Will,

    Hmmmm...interesting thoughts on clutch hitting. Not sure I agree, but an interesting take. So, you are saying that Hernandez isn't elevating his game in big moments so much as he is lowering it in non-key moments. Not sure if that's better or worse. Something to think about, to be sure.

    As much as I loathe him, Barry Bonds once said something interesting. He talked about how mentally draining it was to be a disciplined hitter. The constant grind of making the go/no-go decision pitch after pitch, game after game. It's not easy to be consistently good month after month.

    On Hanigan, I share your concern about the larger sample size. I would have been very curious to find out the asking price on Tampa Bay catcher John Jaso. A leadoff hitting tandem of Jaso/Hanigan would have been an OBP powerhouse. Instead, we get Ramon back.

    On Cabrera, I'm gonna have to stick with my original grade. I'm not a complete stat nerd, but I do have a healthy dose of skepticism about players whose value is driven by intangibles. It just seems to me that intangibles only come into play when there is nothing tangible to establish a player's value. I'll take a Barry Larkin type player all day long (i.e. tangibles + intangibles), but I think you're in trouble if you are almost entirely about intangibles.

    As for Phillips, I wouldn't trade him. At one time, I would have, but now I think we need him for lineup balance. If we deal him, then we seem pretty lefty heavy (Votto/Bruce), as Stubbs and Rolen are the main righties to balance them out.

    On Bartlett, I'm not quite convinced. If we aren't handing the job to Janish/Cozart, then maybe he's worth a look. I'm still a Jed Lowrie guy, but Bartlett, at the right price, might be worth considering.

    Anyway, thanks for the comments!! Good, well-thought stuff.


  10. What are your thoughts on the Dontrelle Willis signing?

  11. No I don't think Ramon is intentionally decreasing his focus perse'. Just is able to zone in better when he has to. I think most folks strive to do their best everyday, sometimes we find it most times we don't. But we seem to find it more often when we HAVE to get something done. The best of us seem to be at their best a whole lot more often. Ambition?

    Yeah on Hanny I wish we had pursued John Baker of the Marlins he's a perfect compliment to Hanny. In fact he's like a LH version of Ryan with maybe a bit more pop, though not sure if his defense is quite on par with Hanny. Though Baker was injured this season so not sure of his current status on that front.

    I'm not saying OCabs entire value came from intangibles. But and this isn't aimed at you I think we all too often don't give enough credit for them simply because they are difficult to quantify. Luck is hard to quantify but every team needs a good amount of it to win and we all suggest it everytime we discuss a teams outlook. I say a good team makes some of their luck thru good intangibles. But I digress, I just thought from an overall perspective Cabrera may have not met my expectations but I expected more from him than you did and a D+ is a bit harsh considering he was part of a winning formula. Though I'd probably give him a C.

    I wouldn't worry too much about balance where Brandon is concerned. Cozart is RH and Beltran is a switch hitter. Bartlett isn't the ideal guy but he's the closest thing to it that is also available. Lowrie is worth a look but I believe we need someone with some leadoff ability and experience.

  12. Vottofan,

    On Dontrelle, unfortunately it seems like a fairly irrelevant acquisition. Given that it was a minor league deal, the risk is minimal to non-existent. However, I'm not sure I see much reward, either.

    Dontrelle was a good pitcher and a fun story, but he seems a poor candidate to return to form. His last good season was 2006. Since that time, his velocity has dropped from 90.5 mph to 88.0 mph. That's a fairly significant decrease in velocity. Of course, the biggest problem is the complete loss of control. His walk rate has exploded and little reason for it has been found, which is disconcerting.

    Dontrelle was always defined by his funky pitching mechanics. However, I wonder just how effective those mechanics can be as he ages. I have similar questions about Tim Lincecum. The mechanics require great flexibility, agility, and balance. As people age, they tend to lose some flexibility. If so, then it could make it difficult for those pitchers to maintain success with those mechanics.

    If the Reds are actually hoping to get something of value out of Dontrelle, then they should focus on trying to make him a situational reliever. The road back for Dontrelle is long, but the first exit to the majors on that road is as a lefty specialist.

    Overall, there's no downside, but I just wonder if there is any appreciable upside. Fortunately, it'll cost next to nothing to find out.

    Thanks for the comment!


  13. Will,

    Well, I'm not sure I'm quite on board with the Ramon theory. I understand the benefits of procrastination, as "if it wasn't for the last minute nothing would ever get done." But, I'm not convinced that hitters have more of a feeling that they "have to get something done" because there are runners on base. As a general rule, I still question how much a hitter can elevate performance in specific situations, but whatever the reason Ramon seems to have done it.

    As for John Baker, he's an intriguing player, but as I recall he underwent Tommy John surgery last September. So, he probably won't contribute much in 2011. I still think John Jaso, he of the .372 OBP, would have been intriguing. You could realistically have hit a Hanigan/Jaso platoon in the leadoff slot.

    No way Dusty would have the huevos to actually bat a catcher in the leadoff spot, but it would have made some sense on a team without an established leadoff man.

    Back to O-Cab, I, too, agree that just because something can't be measured doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. However, when it comes to intangibles and a lack of evidence exists, I tend to be skeptical and believe that they don't exist. I guess I'm a glass is half-empty type, while you are a half-full kinda guy. Personally, I just can't hand O-Cab a good grade based on a few sketchy reports of him being a good clubhouse influence. I just don't believe a guy who is a borderline MLB player can have such a massive impact on his teammates.

    Just a difference of opinion, I suppose. Anyway, thanks for the comment!


  14. Not sure I am a half full guy, actually I view myself as a bit of a skeptic. I suppose I tend to take each case on it's own merit. And I thought I saw enough in the reports, the approach of the team and such to believe that OCab actually had a strong Vaughan-Like personality within the group dynamic. He plays to win and doesn't mince words with others if they aren't playing the same every day. This team didn't take anything for granted, didn't take plays/PA's off and I felt that showed and alot of the credit for that was given to OCab publicly. He was the vocal leader IMO. I also thought he brought alot of energy to the table. It's one thing to say it but he played to win every game. Now his philosophy about winning might be a bit skewed as his aggressiveness was at times a negative. Though not nearly as much as it once would have been, the Giants hacked their way to a W/S championship.

    All that said I am in the camp of replacing him because I don't believe he has anything more to teach to these Reds and a better on field player is necessary.

  15. Will,

    Well, maybe you're right. The only negative feedback I've gotten on these grades so far has been due to some variation on the "undervaluing of intangibles" argument. Of course, I've heard it about my grades on Ramon, Orlando, AND Jonny. So, I'm not sure if they all deserve a bump due to intangibles or if it's simply incredibly difficult to parse out the credit to individual players for a team's seemingly strong intangibles.

    If our pitching staff develops into what the Giants had in their 2010 rotation, then we can hack all we want. Until then, I'd rather run a disciplined lineup out there every day. :)

    At this point, I just don't have enough confidence in any one player's intangible contribution to warrant a bump over the grades I gave them.

    Maybe all three vets deserve credit for changing the organizational culture. Or, maybe we finally just put together enough talent to win enough games to reach the postseason.

    I can see and understand the arguments in favor of intangibles, but I just don't see enough support for it to buy into it.

    As for O-Cab, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him return in 2011. I'm not convinced that the Reds will hand the job over to Janish and I'm not sure there are any better options on the free agent market. Unless they make a trade for a better option, I suspect O-Cab will return. If so, maybe I'll get a better look at his intangible contribution.

    Thanks for the comment!


  16. I think we can respectfully agree to disagree. Though I will always feel that this 2010 version of the Redlegs showed more moxie than they did talent. A moxie that was absent in previous seasons.

  17. Will,

    Well, I'd say the Reds WERE more than the sum of the individual parts this year. I still wouldn't discount their talent and, for whatever reason, I think Rolen deserves the most credit on the intangible front. But, of course, that's debatable.

    I'll be curious to see what the Reds do this offseason to improve the talent while not sacrificing the intangibles.