So, today, I was riding in my car, on the way home from vacation, unable to watch the game(unaware thatJosh was having the game of his life) and I was thinking about Josh Reddick. Reddick has been awful this year and I've seen people calling for lesser roles, for benching, even for sending him down to the minors. Now, Josh has become one of the most polarizing players on the A's. Seriously, if we fight any harder, he'll just morph into Daric Barton and we'll have ruined all that might have been.
Now, I'm a big Josh Reddick fan, but I think we've all started to wonder a little. The typical response from Nico and the other voices of reason has been ".240 BABIP, 21% Line Drives, upward regression imminent". But to an idiot about batted ball stats like me, 21% doesn't sound all that high. It's apparently 2% above league average but how high really is it.
So I found so players with some comparative LD%. Manny Machado hits liners at a 22.4% rate. He's batting nearly .300. His BABIP is .340. Yeah, that seems pretty telling. Hell, Miguel Cabrera's % is 24.4. That's only 3% higher and he's batting .360. So that about settles it right?
Josh has another thing in his favor though. He's really fast. Time to look at some Infield Hit Percentages. Now Josh's IFH% is a little over 5%. The problem is, despite his great speed, Josh's career high in stolen bases is 11 so finding someone comparative is difficult. So I settled for Derek Jeter. Can we all agree that Josh is significantly faster than 39 year old Derek Jeter. Since none of you work for ESPN, I'll assume yes. Jeter's IFH% last year was 8.2. So it's self explanatory than, right? Josh is just the unluckiest player of all time and soon he'll be batting .300? Not quite.
Josh is by nature a pull-hitter and since it's really fucking hard to beat out a grounder to 2nd, that likely kills his ability to get infield hits. Pull hitters also usually have lower BABIP's than hitters who use the whole field so that's working against him too. But didn't Josh say he was working on going the other way more? How's that going?
Yeah, not so good.
But if you add all batted balls, look at this. There's dots all over left field.
So if Reddick is actually going the other way, why are almost all of them outs. There's no way he's actually that unlucky is there? One thing that isn't mentioned is that Reddick also has an above average FB%. At 42.7%, it's actually 11% higher than league average. Look how many more balls are falling for hits in right field . Is it possible that that's where most of his line drives are going, and when he goes the other way, all he's getting is lazy fly balls?
So this is all part of the painful process of adjusting the type of hitter you are? Well, I'd love to say yes and I hope that's what it turned out to be but there might be more to it. EBHI posted this the other day and you should read it if you haven't already. In the comments he said that he doesn't think that Josh will have much success with his adjustment and would be better off just staying a pull-hitter.
Now, having never played baseball outside of little league and pickup games, I know nothing about swing technique. I wasn't even very good in the pickup games and I got 1 hit in little league. For what it's worth, it was a triple. Shut up. The point is that I know absolutely nothing about swings but doesn't this sort-of suggest that EBHI might be right about this?
Nothing needs to be said about Josh's defense that hasn't already been said. I can think of 5 plays just this year where he's saved runs. And that's leaving out plays without dives/jump/outfield assists. It's also leaving out times he prevented someone from reaching base or times someone has been scared to test his arm. But nobody wants Brendan Ryan in right field.
We should all be rooting for Josh to complete his adjustment into a better overall hitter. Or maybe you think this team needs another power guy like Brandon Moss, at the expense of average, and that he should just give up and go back to what worked before. Speaking of Brandon Moss, him and Reddick's LD% are almost identical. Yet he's batting .244 and BABIP'ing .290. So, yeah, Josh is getting pretty unlucky. But he also has some fundamental flaws as a hitter and whether he can overcome them will end up determining a lot for his career, and for the Oakland A's of the next few years.