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Josh Reddick And Expectations, Or, Why It's Too Soon To Worry

There seems to be a bit of worry as to how Josh Reddick has performed as of late, with concern that he has slipped into his old habits, and that he won't last the season as the team's starting right fielder. Just like you couldn't get overly excited about his time flirting with a .400 batting average, though, you can't over-analyze a month in which he was not the greatest hitter on a team full of great hitters.

In July, Reddick's first full month with the Red Sox, he hit .280/.330/.488 with three homers, six doubles, seven walks, and 21 strikeouts. While that isn't as sexy at first glance as his earlier eye-popping numbers, it's still real good -- the average right fielder is hitting .266/.338/.434, and Reddick's sOPS+ for July was 125, or 25 percent above the league average. Pretty good for a guy who is supposedly starting to disappoint.

Reddick is striking out more often, as pitchers are working out of the zone more, but it isn't as if he is turning into Adam Dunn. He has 23 strikeouts in his last 100 plate appearances (conveniently enough, that's from July 1 onward), and you don't need me to tell you that equals a 23 percent whiff rate, a figure there is nothing wrong with. He is also still taking plenty of pitches out of the zone, and in all directions:






His walk rate isn't at (and probably will never be at) the 10 percent rate that makes people comfortable, but that's not the kind of hitter he is. Reddick is aggressive, and will always be that way, but the key for him to succeed is to not be overly aggressive -- pitchers will beat him if he goes up to the plate and acts that way (if he doesn't beat himself by losing control of the plate appearance first). He's managed to avoid that problem this year, though: just because his walk rate is under 10 percent doesn't mean he has been swinging at everything, and while the graphs above show you where he is taking, they don't tell you how much. Know that Reddick has seen 3.9 pitches per plate appearance since July 1, actually higher than in the 42 plate appearances beforehand that everyone was so much more excited about.

These are somewhat arbitrary endpoints in a sense, but they matter, because it's what Reddick has done since the league started to adjust to him. Pitchers pushed, and Reddick has pushed back, and he has hit .300/.350/.489 in that stretch. Baseball is a game of constant adjustments, especially for a younger player like Reddick, and, for the first time in his career with the Red Sox, not only is he making these changes to his game in order to stick, but they appear to be working.