$100 million is a lot of money to invest in a baseball player for any team. Yet for a “mid-market” team such as the Cincinnati Reds, spending that type of money has to be integral to the success of the team’s future.
Many fans and media outlets praised the Homer Bailey extension following back-to-back impressive seasons, each featuring their own individual no-hitter. The improvements that Bailey had made over the course of the last four years warranted a big pay day.
However, the early return on 2014 for Bailey has been anything but impressive. In five starts, Bailey has pitched 26.1 innings while allowing 18 earned runs, 39 hits, seven home runs and eight walks with an ERA of 6.15. However, his strikeout rate (9.9 per nine innings) so far is the highest of his career.
Although the sample size is small, Bailey is posting some of his worst numbers since 2008, when he pitched in just six games for the Reds. His 13.3 H/9 is a huge increase over just 7.8 in 2013 and 8.9 in 2012. The same can be said for his HR/9 — 1.1 in 2012 and 0.9 in 2013, yet it is 2.1 so far in 2014.
The damage against Bailey the first two times through the lineup has been astounding. Batters facing Bailey for the first time in a game are batting .378 with five home runs, a .378 OBP, .756 SLG, 1.133 OPS and 34 total bases in just 45 at-bats. While home runs decreased dramatically (zero home runs) the second time through the lineup, the rest of the numbers aren’t much better: .359 AVG, five walks, .444 OBP, .462 SLG, .906 OPS and 18 total bases in 39 at-bats.
If Bailey manages to get ahead early in the count against hitter, his numbers are respectable. After an 0-2 count on a hitter, batters are hitting just .211 with a .289 OBP. However, when falling behind early in the count, Bailey’s struggles seem to multiply. After a 2-0 count on a hitter, batters are hitting .625 with a .647 OBP. Even after a 1-0 count, hitters are posting a .349 average with a .391 OBP.
Bailey ahead in the count: 0-1 (.309 BAA, .377 OBPA), 0-2 (.211/.286), 1-2 (.147/.237)
Bailey behind in the count: 1-0 (.349/.391), 2-0 (.625/.657), 3-0 (1.000/1.000), 2-1 (.357/.438), 3-1 (.800/.833)
Bailey even count: .410 AVG, .410 OBP
It is incredible to look at these numbers compared to the increased strikeout numbers he is producing. The key to an improved Bailey could reside in his ability to stay ahead in the count against hitters.
While the Reds might be getting by despite Bailey’s rough start, it is obvious that the Reds are in need of their franchise arm to return to form going forward. With Mat Latos still injured and being replaced by Alfredo Simon, the pitching depth for the club is about maxed out. A successful Bailey could go a long way into determining the success of the 2014 Reds