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Field of Dreams Game, Reds Select Chuckie Robinson, Senzel's Hidden Talent?

Field of Dreams Game, Reds Select Chuckie Robinson, Senzel's Hidden Talent?
By Reds Content Plus • Issue #306 • View online
Today’s Reds news and analysis:
  • Reds Fall to Cubs in Field of Dreams Game
  • Reds Select Chuckie Robinson as 27th Man
  • Nick Senzel’s Hidden Talent?
Today’s newsletter was written by Kyle Berger.

Reds Fall to Cubs in Field of Dreams Game
The Reds played the Chicago Cubs in the second ever Field of Dreams game on Thursday in Dyersville, Iowa. Despite the physical location being more than 500 miles away from Great American Ballpark and just over 200 miles away from Wrigley Field, the Reds were designated as the home team. The two teams played in front of a sellout crowd of 7,823.
Pitching
The beginning of the game was more of a nightmare than a dream for the Reds and Nick Lodolo. After retiring the first two batters on ground balls, Lodolo hit a batter, then allowed a double, a single, and another double to the next four batters. That gave the Cubs an early 3-0 lead before the Reds even came to bat. Lodolo would avoid further damage, again inducing a ground ball to get out of the inning.
Lodolo rebounded in a big way, striking out the side in the second. He ran into more trouble in the third though, walking the leadoff batter and then allowing a single. Cubs catcher Willson Contreras appeared to roll his ankle rounding second base, falling to the ground in pain, and eventually being tagged for the first out. Contreras would end up finishing the game. Patrick Wisdom proceeded to steal second base during the next at bat, putting a runner in scoring position with one out. Lodolo then walked another batter before getting two outs to end the inning.
The fourth inning was also a bit of a struggle for Lodolo. He allowed three singles that led to the fourth Cubs run. Ultimately, Lodolo would get out of the inning with some aid from Aristides Aquino‘s arm. PJ Higgins attempted to advance from second to third on a fly ball caught by Aquino, and was thrown out. Aquino now has 8 outfield assists this season, while starting only 31 games.
Lodolo came back out to start the fifth, and sandwiched a pair of walks between a pair of strikeouts before being lifted from the game. He threw 98 pitches, 60 of which went for strikes, across his 4 2/3 innings. Lodolo allowed four runs on seven hits, walking four and striking out six.
Buck Farmer got the first batter he faced to ground out, ending the inning. Farmer would pitch the sixth as well, allowing a single but otherwise getting out of the inning clean. He struck out one.
Joel Kuhnel retired the side in order on three groundouts in the seventh. Alexis Díaz pitched the eighth, allowing a leadoff single before recording three consecutive strikeouts to end the inning.
Hunter Strickland pitched the ninth, allowing a single and walking a batter but holding the Cubs scoreless. He struck out two, but seemed to get away with a pitch right down the middle on the second strikeout.
Hitting
The Reds had multiple baserunners in each of the first three innings but failed to score. Jonathan India was hit by a pitch to lead off the Reds’ first inning, and that was followed two batters later with a Kyle Farmer single. Similarly, Albert Almora Jr. walked to lead off the second and Aristides Aquino followed with a single. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the third inning saw a Joey Votto walk followed by, you guessed it, a Donovan Solano single. The fourth inning broke the cycle, but not exactly in a positive way. It was the first inning where the Reds were unable to put a runner on base.
Matt Reynolds, who replaced India at second base after the third inning, was the next Reds’ hitter to reach base, leading off the fifth inning with a single. It was reported that India left the game due to a contusion on his lower left leg from the hit by pitch. Solano would lead off the sixth the same way, with a single for the Reds’ only baserunner of the inning.
José Barrero got in on the action in the seventh, leading off with a double. Jake Fraley, pinch hitting for catcher Austin Romine, drew a walk to make it first and second. Reynolds followed with a two run double to get the Reds on the board.
The Reds went down in order in the eighth, and that left Barrero, Fraley (who had remained in the game on defense), and Reynolds due up again for the ninth. Barrero once again chased a low and away breaking ball for strike three, seemingly his biggest weakness at the plate right now. In order for Barrero to be a successful MLB hitter, he will need to learn to lay off that pitch. Fraley and Reynolds were unable to reach base, and the Reds fell to the Cubs 4-2.
The Reds will be off on Friday before returning to GABP on Saturday to finish the series against the Cubs. Graham Ashcraft is scheduled to face off against right hander Adrian Sampson on Saturday.
Reds Select Chuckie Robinson as 27th Man
Prior to the Field of Dreams game on Thursday, the Reds announced catcher Chuckie Robinson was being added to the roster as the 27th man. For this special game, both teams were allowed to add one additional player to the roster, and the Reds opted for Robinson. 
Robinson began the year in AA Chattanooga, slashing .276/.333/.397 with a 94 wRC+ in 126 PA before being promoted to Louisville. He slashed .243/.293/.414 with an 85 wRC+ in 75 PA in AAA. With Mark Kolozsvary still on the 40-man roster, it seems odd for them to add another catcher to the 40-man, though it’s similar to what they did previously with Chris Okey. Okey was later designated for assignment and cleared waivers, and it seems somewhat likely that either Robinson or Kolozsvary will see a similar fate in the near future. 
To make room for Robinson on the 40-man roster, the Reds transferred fellow catcher Aramis García to the 60-day IL. García slashed .217/.252/.264 with a 40 wRC+ for the Reds prior to going on the IL in early July with a finger injury. 
Nick Senzel's Hidden Talent?
Catcher’s interference is a fairly uncommon occurrence in Major League Baseball, having occurred just 48 times in the 2022 season going into Thursday. However, eight of those have occurred with the same batter at the plate - Reds outfielder Nick Senzel. Is it merely a coincidence that Senzel has been involved in so many of these plays, or is there something else going on?
To determine this, first we should look at the rulebook. What exactly is catcher’s interference? According to MLB.com, “The batter is awarded first base if the catcher (or any other fielder) interferes with him at any point during a pitch.” This includes situations where the catcher makes contact with the hitter’s bat, or any other sort of contact that impedes a hitter’s ability to hit a pitch. 
As previously mentioned, Senzel has reached on catcher’s interference eight times this season, which leads the league. Jesús Aguilar is second with five, and no other hitter has more than three. Almost 1% of the total pitches Senzel has seen this year have resulted in him reaching on catcher’s interference. 
It’s not an entirely new feat for Senzel, who came in to the year tied for the fourth most times reaching on catcher’s interference since 2019 when he made his debut. When you combine that with this year, Senzel is tied with Jorge Soler for the most with 14. He’s done that while seeing less than half of the number of pitches that Soler has seen. 0.4% of the pitches Senzel has seen since 2019 have resulted in catcher’s interference, leading the league among all players that have seen at least 250 pitches. 
While it’s likely a fluke occurrence for most hitters, it seems to be a true skill for Senzel. The all-time leader in reaching on catcher’s interference is Jacoby Ellsbury, who did so 31 times in his career. Senzel is nearly half way there, in just around 17% of Ellsbury’s career plate appearances. If he keeps up this rate, he will easily become the all-time record holder in this category. 
The question you may all be asking is why is this important? While catcher’s interference is not credited toward a player’s on base percentage, it also doesn’t count against them. But what if it were credited toward a player’s on base percentage? Senzel goes into Thursday’s game with a .304 OBP, but if we include the eight catcher’s interferences, that rises to .330. His career OBP would rise from .307 to .322 if we included his 14 times reaching on catcher’s interference. That’s a fairly notable swing, and one that would logically make Senzel a more valuable player. 
While ultimately it wouldn’t make or break Senzel’s career, if he continues to maintain this skill, it would see him on base more frequently than his OBP initially indicates. Especially due to the lack of power he’s shown throughout his Major League career, finding any way to reach base more frequently would be a big boost to his overall value.
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MORNING SPIN is the daily newsletter (Monday-Saturday) of Reds Content Plus. Its writers are Matt Wilkes, Steve Mancuso and Kyle Berger.
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