Most reasonable baseball fans would think an article debating panic or patience in April is a little forward, if not plain aggressive. But if it’s late enough for a pregame manager meltdown with the press, perhaps it’s late enough to wonder aloud about a few struggling players on the Cincinnati Reds.

At 8-8 and No. 3 in the National League Central, there’s no reason to panic, despite Bryan Price’s NSFW Michael Scott approach to keeping calm. The following is a brief list of players and personnel who have struggled out of the gate and a look at their likelihood of rebounding.


Marlon Byrd, OF

Marlon Byrd is currently slashing a miserable .127/.140/.200 with just seven hits in 55 at-bats. He has one home run in 15 games.

Byrd is a year closer to age 40 and coming off the most strikeouts he’s ever had in a season, so expecting a mild regression was reasonable. He’s already second in team strikeouts. 

At the moment, he’s striking out at the highest percentage he ever has in a season at the major league level: 31.5 percent. Furthermore, he’s just not making good contact. But how could he when he’s sporting the highest O-Swing rate he’s ever had in his career? At 43.2 percent, nearly half of Byrd’s swings are out of the strike zone.

The only thing working in his favor at the moment is that his lowest career batting average by month is in April. Plus, he’s had to face two of baseball’s top 10 team ERAs thus far, including the Cardinalscurrently baseball’s best pitching staff—for six games.

Verdict: Patience


Devin Mesoraco, C

Who knows? Devin Mesoraco is in uniform but hardly being used, and the local media apparently isn’t allowed to ask. One would think his .095/.208/.095 slash has more to do with this “hip impingement” than anything else, but we honestly don’t know.

Still, it seems pretty foolish sweating this kid who has no evidence on record to suggest he’s not every bit as talented as he demonstrated last year. He’s struggled early against tough pitching while possibly injured.

Verdict: Patience


Billy Hamilton, OF

Slashing .211/.297/.316 is definitely problematic at the top of the lineup. Billy Hamilton has 12 hits in 64 plate appearances and nine stolen bases, so he’s definitely helping to create runs when he gets on base, but you’d like to see him hit better. His .262 BABIP is due largely to his speed.

Most promising about Hamilton is his maturation in plate discipline. He’s walking nearly 10 percent of the time and is swinging at just 40 percent of the pitches he sees—a career low.

It also doesn’t help that Hamilton has had to face two top-10 ERAs in nine of the 14 games he’s played in. That should average out as he plays weaker pitching. His numbers aren’t where the team would like them, but the increase in plate discipline is a promising sign.

Verdict: Patience


Kevin Gregg, RP

With a home run-to-fly ball ratio of 27.3 percent, it’s just hard imagining how Kevin Gregg is being utilized in such high-leverage situations. Fifty percent of all batted balls off Gregg go in the air, a troubling sign for a pitcher throwing at Great American Ball Park.

Batters are hitting .280 against Gregg. He’s surrendered a run in all but one of his six appearances. 

His fastball velocity (90.3 mph) is virtually the same as it was last year, a season in which Gregg finished with a 10.00 ERA in nine innings pitched.

Verdict: Panic, but only because the next occupant of this list demands it.

Bryan Price, Manager

Price demonstrated earlier this week that he doesn’t handle pressure very well. A total of 77 F-bombs is a manifestation of serious demons. But it’s only Price’s second season managing an MLB team, and he’s already sounding unhinged.

The atomic presser ultimately means little to the team, but now there’s reasonable doubt regarding the skipper. Aside from an amateur composure, his logic leaves entirely too much to the imagination. It’s hard validating the utilization of Gregg in high-leverage spots, but he manages to do so unapologetically.

At this point, it’s reasonable to expect little from Gregg. If there’s a metric out there that suggests he’s just the recipient of bad luck, I’m open to it. Until then, you might as well attribute Gregg’s line to Price, because at this juncture, Price is probably more at fault for Gregg’s damage than Gregg himself.

And I don’t think it gets better with Price. It didn’t take long, but he’s looking more and more like a players’ manager, someone who makes decisions based on what’s best for a player instead of what’s best for the team.

No one faulted him for keeping Johnny Cueto in for 120-plus pitches in the 2-1 victory over the Brewers on April 22, but his rationale for doing so was rather ominous. In a postgame interview with’s Manny Randhawa, Price offered this regarding his decision to keep Cueto in the game:

I feel in this situation that when push comes to shove, we have a guy that has pitched 240-plus innings for us. If there is anybody that earned that opportunity, it was Johnny. To me, it was more important than everything else today. It really was. I put Johnny Cueto above everything else — including our ballclub, including the playoff race, etc., because I felt like he earned it.

Making decisions based on what guys “earned” could be a slippery slope.

Price repeatedly asked The Cincinnati Enquirer‘s C. Trent Rosecrans how his reporting benefits the Reds in his verbal thrashing of the media. But the same could be asked of Price for logic like that and continually using Gregg in high-leverage scenarios.

Verdict: Panic

Stats courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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