Ask Hal: How can the Reds improve their offense?

Eugenio Suarez, of the Reds, rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run against the Brewers on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. Tap into that knowledge by sending an email to halmccoy1@hotmail.com.

Q: What if all fans would unite and boo home runs and strikeouts and cheer small ball to get baseball back to the way it is supposed to be played? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: You can’t get fans to unite on anything. While us geezers prefer small ball, younger fans and the deep thinkers who pour over analytics prefer today’s game. Everybody talks about the way the game used to be, but we also talk about dial telephones, Walkmans, transistor radios, Clark bars and Edsels.

Q: What are the steps the Reds need to take to occasionally score some runs next year? — BOB, Washington Township.

A: They need to take about 30 more steps from third to home and quit stranding runners. They had more walks than singles this year. More singles and more doubles and less strikeouts are necessary. A .212 team batting average just doesn’t work. If I’m the hitting coach (and I’m not), I tell my players to cut down on their swings with two strikes and runners on base. Quit swinging to hit one to Northern Kentucky. Put the ball in play. Believe me, good things can happen when you don’t strike out.

Q: If a runner breaks for second as the pitcher is delivering the ball and it turns out to be a wild pitch, is it scored as a stolen base or a wild pitch? — CRAIG, Beavercreek.

A: That is up to the discretion of the official scorer. But it is recommended that if the runner was trying to steal on the pitch, he is credited with a stolen base, even if it is a wild pitch or a passed ball. Did you know that former Reds manager Russ Nixon holds the MLB record for most games played (906) without a stolen base? He tried seven times and was caught each time. Too bad there wasn’t a wild pitch on one of those attempts.

Q: Since none of the Reds' regular-season opponents made it past the first round of the playoffs, is management overestimating how well they did? — DENNIS, Beavercreek.

A: That is rather incredible. During the season, the Reds played the Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers, Twins, Indians and White Sox. All six made the playoffs and all six lost in the first round. While the Reds are ecstatic that they scrambled off the mat and made the playoffs, they are not happy about not scoring a run in 22 innings in their two games in the playoffs. It is so difficult to judge an MLB team over 60 games and who knows what the Reds might have done over 162. We’ll never know. But if the Reds are happy with 2020 then something is wrong with their objectives.

Q: Los Angeles third baseman Justin Turner was hooked up with a microphone and the broadcasters talked to him while he was on the field during live action, so will that stop when a player misplays a ball while they are talking to him? — LARRY, Piqua.

A: They are doing that all the time and during the Reds series in Minnesota third baseman Eugenio Suarez wore a mic. They talked to him for an entire half inning while he was playing defense. I kept hoping somebody would hit him a hard line drive or a scorching ground ball, just to see what would happen or hear what he would say. I don’t mind it, but mostly they jabber about nothing interesting. They just do it because they can.

Q: What will be the impact of not having the minor leagues in 2020 and cutting 40 minor league teams next season? — GARY, Kettering.

A: It was so sad that the Dayton Dragons sat idle this season, a fabulous organization flattened by the pandemic. Nearly all baseball executives are saying losing a year of development and experience is devastating, that it will delay for at least a year the advancement of minor league players. MLB teams will adjust to losing 40 minor league teams, but the cities and towns losing teams will have an economic impact at many of the venues. And how about all those empty ball parks?

Q: As a player banned from baseball, is Pete Rose eligible for the MLB pension? — MIKE, Lakewood.

A: Pensions don’t come from MLB, they come from the Major Leauge Baseball Players Association. And, yes, The Hit King’s pension is approximately $165,000 a year. His second ex-wife, Carol, claimed in a court filing that Rose makes $1 million a year from appearances and celebritynetworth.com says he is worth $3 millon. baseball-reference.com reports his total earnings as a player was $7.1 million for his 24-year career and he only hit $1 million in his last year, 1986. The average yearly salary now is $4.4 million. Rose was vastly underpaid.

Q: Joey Votto says this year’s team was the best Reds team he has played on and do you agree? — MICHAEL, Peterborough, The United Kingdom.

A: Who am I to dispute what Votto says, although I suspect he said it to motivate this year’s team as it entered the playoffs. He may have liked the players on this year’s roster, as much as they underachieved. Votto hasn’t played on a bunch of successful Reds team. To me, the best was 2012 when they won 97 games and finished first in the National League Central. Then they won the first two games of the playoffs in San Francisco, only to lose the last three at home. Like most Reds fans, Votto probably would like to forget that.

Q: If you could choose one player to interview for your last article, who would it be? — JOE, Kettering.

A: Are you hinting that this should be my last one? That one, I hope, is a long way away. I would love to sit down with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and say, “OK, guys. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” I have a better chance to interview Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Q: If Trevor Bauer becomes the first Reds pitcher to win the Cy Young, will it come with the dreaded Roger Maris asterisk? — GREG, Beavercreek.

A: The Roger Maris Asterisk didn’t last long. It was quickly removed. If they use that little symbol (*) with records set during this convoluted season, they will run out of asterisks. To the contrary, wouldn’t it have been pleasurable to see what Bauer would have done over a 162-game season? With the way the Reds hit he might have finished 15-14 with a 1.80 earned run avereage.

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