There wasn’t a lot to like from the Cincinnati Reds 13-5 loss to Oakland on Monday afternoon, but not everything was bad. Alfredo Rodriguez went 2-2 with a single and a home run. There’s been a lot written about Rodriguez, even before he signed, about the non-belief in his bat. And to be fair, many of those words were warranted. In his minor league career he’s hit .252/.302/.310, and only at one stop has he really shown any signs of life at the plate – in 2019 when he hit .286/.325/.347 with Double-A Chattanooga. But a promotion to Louisville down the stretch that season saw him struggle, hitting just .169/.261/.221 in 23 games.

Following the 2019 season Alfredo Rodriguez saw some action in the Dominican Winter League, hitting for a .309 average and posting a .351 on-base percentage in 19 games. But his only extra-base hit was a double, leading to a .324 slugging percentage. In spring training of 2020 he was out to a good start, hitting .364 with two home runs in 33 at-bats. But that’s where things ended as spring training came to a halt mid-March. Rodriguez was at the Reds alternate site in 2020, but he didn’t get a chance to come up to the big leagues.

Over the last two years of spring training Alfredo Rodriguez has had 35 total plate appearances and he’s hit three home runs. The most home runs he’s ever hit in a single minor league season is two. Unfortunately we haven’t gotten a chance to really see if there’s any reason to think that Rodriguez has improved his power output over the last year because the season simply didn’t take place last year. Perhaps he’s taking advantage of some of the air in Arizona where the ball just flies a little bit better, but maybe there’s some improvement for the 26-year-old and we’ve just been able to get little taste given the circumstances of the world we’ve lived in over the last 12 months.

Ryan Hendrix brings the heat on Monday

Rodriguez wasn’t the only Reds prospect that did something today that may have turned a head or two. Ryan Hendrix allowed a home run in his outing against Oakland today, but he also picked up two strikeouts. Oh, and he was throwing 96-98 MPH during the game according to Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati Enquirer.

For Ryan Hendrix, that velocity isn’t unheard of, though he’s typically been a little lower than that. What makes this stick out a bit more is that it’s happening on March 1st. Pitchers typically pick up some velocity between now and their peak velocity during a season, which tends to happen around mid-June. The fastball, though, isn’t the best pitch for the right-handed reliever. That would be his hammer of a breaking ball. Control has been inconsistent in his career, but from a pure stuff perspective, he’s got back-end of the bullpen material. His control will need to improve just a little bit in order to get there, but the stuff is absolutely real.

22 Responses

  1. Shawn

    If you are going to have a SS that can’t hit, why not have the best glove out there? I hope Rodrigues gets a lot more chances to show what he can do this soring.

    • Doug Gray

      He’s not the best shortstop, defensively, though. That would be Jose Garcia. And behind him it might actually be Kyle Holder before Rodriguez – some scouting reports have him graded higher.

      • TR#1

        I thought when we signed him that you said his glove was basically Major League ready. Have scouting reports soured on that side since signing? If his fielding is barely top 3 at AAAA/MLB level, then no point of continuing to groom him beyond this year (well unless bat explodes)

      • Doug Gray

        Jose Garcia is an elite defender. Kyle Holder is considered a plus defender. Rodriguez isn’t quite the defender he was in Cuba (he bulked up a little bit, and injuries haven’t helped) – but he’s still a quality defender at shortstop. This comment is more about the other guys being quite good rather than something negative on Rodriguez.

  2. Richard Kramer

    The Reds don’t have to look far to create a winning team. Look at the 75, 76, and 1990 teams.
    Good defense, especially up the middle wins games. Team speed and power at the corners wins games. Effective pitching, not necessarily great pitching wins games. A regular starting 8 wins games. I’m a lifetime fan but this team has no real direction. Small market teams can compete and win if they copy what’s worked in the past.

  3. Richard Kramer

    Analytics are all well and good in moderation. Copy from what’s worked in the past. Managers like Dave Bristol, Sparky Anderson, Pete Rose and dare I say….Tommy Lasorda had success for a reason. Why don’t the REDS just learn from them?

    • Doug Gray

      Because what worked then doesn’t work now. The game has changed completely. A team simply couldn’t win trying to play 1980’s baseball. No astroturf absolutely changes how much of the offensive game would work. No longer having pitchers that throw 86 MPH changes how pitching, defense, and offense work and are valued.

      But also, the key is pretty simple: Get the best players you can get. Things tend to take care of themselves when you do that.

  4. Richard Kramer

    I disagree. Baseball has changed in some ways. However, team speed, defense, effective pitching, and good situational hitting win games. It always has and always will. The formula will never change. Score more runs than the other team.

    • Billy

      “Score more runs than the other team.” That’s exactly right. And that’s what the analytics does for you. It quantifies exactly how runs are scored and prevented so that you can better evaluate how to improve relative to your competition. Team speed helps. Effective pitching helps. Good situational hitting helps. Lots of other things (e.g., an above replacement level SS) help too. They all help different amounts though, and at the end of the day, the team needs to put together a package of all the things that help that is better than the other teams in their division. Analytics helps them get there. Every team in MLB today uses analytics to try to gain an edge and get the most out of their players. It’s how average fastball velocity has risen 2 MPH and K% has increased 5% in 10 years without a notable change in BB% (excepting last year’s small sample size). There’s a lot of hard work involved, but there’s also a lot of sound analysis that makes sure that that hard work yields results. It’s a good thing.

    • ClayMC

      The formula does change though, as Doug mentioned above. Let’s take one snippet from your comment: “.. team speed… win(s) games. It always has and always will. The formula will never change. Score more runs than the other team.”

      I’m going to take a look at some really basic stats to compare environments, simply comparing Bill James’s SPD stat (speed and baserunning) to runs scored. It’s overly simplistic and admittedly not an incredible analysis, but i think it starts to explain some of what Doug is saying.

      In the 1970’s, not only were runs scored were MUCH more correlated to SPD, but every increase in SPD led to a much larger increase in runs scored. The SPD stat ranges from 2-7, and for every 1 step improvement in SPD, a team in the 1970’s scored 59 more team runs (R^2 = 0.23). In the 2010’s, this same 1 step improvement in SPD only led to an increase of 22 more team runs, with an almost non-existent correlation (R^2 = 0.02).

      Simply put, speed is no longer a driving factor in scoring runs, at least not nearly at the same rate as it did in the 1970’s.

      • ClayMC

        Obviously speed plays more of a factor in preventing runs from scoring, but I don’t know how to negate the effects of pitching to isolate how team speed affects runs scored against, haha.

      • Mike in Ottawa

        Speed is taken out of the equation because we are in a hit a Homer or Strikeout era. Most power hitters don’t want to have to protect a baserunner!

    • Doug Gray

      You are not really disagreeing with me, though. We are sort of talking past each other here.

      But if an offense tried to replicate how they produced runs in the 1970’s and 1980’s based on how those managers lineups performed, they’d be brutal in today’s game. Speed plays better on astroturf. Crappy swings that put the ball on the ground play better on astroturf because a chopper bounces higher and allows more time to get to first base, and grounders get through the infield faster. Those things simply can’t happen in today’s game the same way because astroturf doesn’t exist anywhere, and the places that are indoors and have field turf – it’s not as fast or as hard as the old astroturf was and that means those same issues apply in Toronto or Tampa Bay. Toss in that it’s also a lot harder to simply “make contact” today because pitchers are just so much better than ever before as a whole, and defenses know where you are likely to hit the ball, making “contact oriented” approaches less effective is why the changes in the game do matter.

      Defense, speed, pitching – all of that stuff still matters. It’ll always matter.

  5. Norwood Nate

    I think the fact that the Reds FO has not even mentioned Rodriguez as a possibility at SS amongst the scrap heap we have competing for the position speaks volumes. You’ll hear about Farmer, Garcia, Blandino, Holder, and Strange-Gordon and even a little “don’t rule it out” talk about moving Suarez back there, but nary a mention of Rodriguez. The guy’s reached AAA and was at the alternative site last year against solid competition and he’s not even an also ran for the SS spot. Tells ya what you need to know about how the Reds feel about his prospects.

  6. Richard Kramer

    Analytics is a wonderful thing. It is a useful tool in building a team but not the only tool. Team speed is advantageous on offense and defense and in any sport. Speed is an asset. It creates opportunities. It can weigh on your opponent and cause them to make mistakes.
    There’s an old saying “tell your statistics to shut up”
    The really good teams have had these things…past, present, and future.
    Speed
    Power at the corners
    Exceptional defense up the middle
    They put the ball in play
    Effective pitching

    A couple Hall of Famers on your roster doesn’t hurt either.

    • ClayMC

      Saying speed is an asset is true in the same way you can say any positively producing aspect of a player’s attributes is an asset. Speed is an asset. Power hitting is an asset. Contact hitting is an asset. A good eye is an asset. A good attitude is an asset. Etc.

      But in an environment that is constantly changing, as much as you might want to refute it, some assets just aren’t as strongly valued as others. Investing in speed in 2021 just doesn’t provide the same ROI as it did decades earlier. That doesn’t mean it’s valueless, and it doesn’t mean that you ignore it, but saying its a pillar for success in 2021 just because it worked in the 70’s simply isn’t true.

      Let’s look at some of the top teams (via W-L record) in the recent past:
      2019 Dodgers – ranked 18th in SPD
      2019 Astros – 17th
      2018 Red Sox – 3rd
      2016 Cubs – 19th
      2015 Cardinals – 20th

      I don’t know if SPD is a quality statistic to use here. But I believe its a least a decent proxy for speed. And some of the most recent, excellent teams, just haven’t had it, and I’m guessing it’s because they didn’t need it. With limited resources, they chose to focus elsewhere, with great results.

      • MBS

        So your post inspired me. I did a list of 2019 WAR leaders to see what their Sprint Speed was. I looked at everyone with a 6 WAR or higher, that was a position player. That gave me a list of 13 players. The average MLB sprint speed is 27 ft per second. I listed them from highest War to lowest.

        Cody Bellinger 28.8
        Alex Bergman 27.4
        Mike Trout 29.3
        Marcus Semien 28.1
        Christian Yellich 28.7
        Kettle Marte 27.9
        Mookie Betts 27.9
        Matt Chapman 28.1
        Trevor Story 29.2
        Anthony Rendon 26.7*
        George Springer 28.4
        Josh Donaldson 25.8*
        DJ LeMahieu 26.7*

        Speed isn’t the only way to be good, but it sure helps. Only 3 with a war over 6 had below average speed, and they were #10, #12, and #13 out of the top 13.

    • indyDoug

      Those things are all great but those Reds teams of the 70″s looked good by the analytics too.

  7. Norwood Nate

    Can’t believe some of y’all don’t want to get back to the glory of the Billy Hamilton era. Defense and speed baby!

    • DaveCT

      I am channeling Gookie Dawkins, he of the bat that couldn’t get the ball out if the infield.

      • Hotto4Votto

        And remember buntin’ Bip Roberts of the headfirst slide to first. Dude could burn it down the base paths.

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