Josh Reddick: What is going wrong?

Thearon W. Henderson

What is happening with Josh Reddick? We try to find out.

Author's note: This is a follow up on some really good stuff by Ben Folds' Nuts.

Josh Reddick. Oh man. What. Is. Happening? After Monday night's game in which Reddick's at-bats nearly brought me to tears, I thought I would try to find out. I had looked previously to see if I saw anything different in his swing (more on that later), but I thought I would spend some time seeing how pitchers are getting Reddick out so easily. Just to recap, here are Reddick's stats.

G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR
11 46 0 4 1 0 10.90% 32.60% 0 0.154 0.098 0.196 0.098 0.152 -11 0 -5.6 0.1 -0.4

Ok. Not very pretty. .098 AVE. 33% K-rate. .000 ISO. I gotta stop there. It's just too painful.

So what's the problem? Well, in case you missed it, Reddick has a slight problem with fastballs. To go along with this, Reddick has trouble with the curve (the two are often related as I have shown with him). Take a look at his career stats vs. pitches seen.


4-FB

2-FB/SI

SL

CH

CU

% Seen

36.7

21.4

14.5

10

10.9

wVal

-5.1

-3.1

3.8

11.3

-6.9

To walk you through this, we see that Reddick is 5 runs below average against four-seam fastballs, starts getting better against slower stuff, then stinks against the curveball (the slowest pitch). I showed a similar trend on pitches Reddick sees in the strike zone a while back. To recap here is how he did against pitches in velocity decades.


Pitches

Hits

Hit %

70s

295

28

9.49%

80s

904

94

10.40%

90s

1088

93

8.55%

Reddick really likes the 80s. (Insert 80s joke here.) But against the fastball, he just doesn't have much success. Unfortunately, this is really bad. Check out the following correlation. Struggle against the fastball, struggle as a hitter.

Wobavsfb_medium

This makes sense in a lot of ways. The majority of pitches hitters see are fastballs. If you can't catch up to a fastball, you set yourself up to be fooled on off-speed if you cheat. So on.

But Reddick has always been a bad fastball/curveball hitter. How was he successful in 2012 and now stink in 2014? Let's find out.

Let's take a look at how pitchers handled Reddick in 2012 when he was pretty new on the scene. Below I have a table of all the pitches Reddick saw in all counts and with two strikes. I have added two columns called Trouble and Good for pitches Reddick has trouble with (four-seamer/curveball) and has success (slider/change).

2012

Fourseam

Sinker

Change

Slider

Curve

Cutter

Split

Screwball

Trouble

Good

All counts

974

587

212

345

279

164

74

2

47.46%

21.10%

2 Strikes

278

134

54

137

84

49

29

2

47.20%

24.90%

Ok. So we see that pitchers threw Reddick the pitches he had trouble with less than half the time, and didn’t really change their approach with two strikes. Now let’s look at 2013.

2013 Fourseam Sinker Change Slider Curve Cutter Split Knuckler Trouble Good
All counts 714 378 153 235 205 99 55 23 49.36% 20.84%
2 Strikes 219 71 38 88 74 23 21 7 54.16% 23.29%

About the same. Reddick saw more pitches he has trouble with and less pitches he can handle, but not by that much. But the scouting report may have started to fill out with Reddick, because in 2014...

2014

Fourseam

Sinker

Change

Slider

Curve

Cutter

Split

Trouble

Good

All counts

91

53

12

17

34

12

5

55.80%

12.95%

2 Strikes

26

9

5

7

16

3

1

62.69%

17.91%

Those jerk pitchers! They are throwing Reddick more pitches he struggles against and fewer pitches he likes! With two strikes pitchers are really going to the curveball (up to 24% from 11% and 13%) and fooling Reddick - hence the K-rate.

This works out to be about 1.5 fewer Good pitches per game. May not sound like much, but a couple more pitches he can handle a game, a hit or two more per week... Where have I heard this before?


Here is where we are at a fork in the road. Is this sample set indicative of the scouting report on Reddick or is it simply really bad luck for Reddick? Pretty difficult to tell. If it turns out that indeed Reddick has just ran into a bunch of four-seam/curveball guys early in the season (it doesn't really seem like it) and these numbers will stabilize over the season than there is reason for hope. If this is truly the book on Reddick, well - as I have been pointing out since 2012 -this doesn't bode well for him.

Regardless, what can Reddick do to get back on track? Short of a swing overhaul, I am not sure. Comparing his swing from 2012 to 2014 I simply don't see anything major. I do notice that at the launch of his stride he has a little less hip bend (I got an email from a reader about this). But by the time he finishes his stride he is in the same position. So that's probably not it.

 photo mlbtv_oaksfn_31692199_1800K-Reddick1front-0000360_zps3eab5a5f.jpg

I heard Davis has him working to keep his head still, though I disagree that is happening. Even if it is I worry they can work out the problem that is causing his head to move.

Some on this board have suggested that Reddick start going the other way more. Well, I wish it was that easy. For reasons I pointed out here, Reddick will have trouble going the other way. In fact, since Reddick entered the league, 212 players have hit as many balls as him or more to the opposite field. His 40 wRC+ on those balls ranks 189th. Reddick is a terrible opposite field hitter and asking him to become a good opposite field hitter is asking way too much.

Be more aggressive in the count before he gets two strikes? Maybe. That takes walks out of the picture and given his batted-ball tendencies pretty much guarantees an OBP south of .300.

Sacramento? Maybe. Since pitching velocity decreases with age, he will probably see more gas there than in the majors. I don't know if he will go down, feast on AAA pitching, get the confidence back, then come rake again in the bigs.  And who are they going to call up?

The A's are in a jam here. And I honestly feel sorry for Reddick.

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