Right now, is there a hotter team in baseball than the Cincinnati Reds? Um, no. Take a look at these…
Last 10: 9-1 (best in MLB incluing 8 in a row)
Last 20: 15-5 (2nd best in MLB, Oakland is 17-3)
last 30: 21-9 (tied for best in MLB with Oakland)
A lot of chatter about those A’s and deservedly so.
But many a Reds fan ponders why the Reds are getting their due. Actually, I wouldn’t worry about it. The less attention, the better. To be honest, I didn’t used to feel that way, but all you have to do is look at how the Reds have been “covered” by the big boys and it’s not a secret that baseball’s smallest market (and that would be Cincinnati) simply doesn’t pull the numbers those outlets would prefer. Well, I believe that’s part of it.
With the current run the Good Guys are experiencing, they are missing out on a good, if not great, story. Did any Reds fan in their wildest dream imagine the Reds running off eight in a row…without #19? If you are saying “yes”, your drug testing process will commence shortly.
Constantly tweeting the boys (or girls) in Bristol will do no good. You might a re-tweet here and a re-tweet there, but what else?
But let’s look at this a little more…
For July, the Reds are 16-6, and while that looks great, the month did not start off that way. In fact, before this current wild run, the Reds started the month 1-4 and after a loss to San Diego on July 5th, Cincy was two games out of first place. Doom and gloom were lurking all about. Fire Dusty. Fire Walt.
I know, I know.
This seemingly miraculous run of eight straight? Don’t want to be a buzzkill especially on a Saturday, but these wins have come against: Arizona (50-50), Milwaukee (45-54), Houston (34-67), and Colorado (37-61). Only one team is even sniffing a winning record.
Okay, you could say (if you’re not a Reds fan) that Cincinnati has had an easy schedule. A fact no one can deny. You’ve played, and won, your last four games against the two worst records in the NL. Some has been made about this due to the timing of Joey Votto‘s surgery. As of now (and we all know that can change), the timing couldn’t have been better.
Looking at those non-Reds fans and saying the Reds haven’t played anyone during this run, let’s look at the whole ball of wax here.
Here’s how it all shakes out in the NL Central…
The Reds have played more games against current winning teams and are over .500 in those games. Against these opponents, Cincy has played six more games than the Pirates and 12 more than the Cardinals. As you would deduce, the Good Guys have played less games against those with losing records…and they own a higher winning percentage against those teams (CIN = .714, PIT = .688, STL = .600).
So not only have the Reds played the harder schedule based on opponents record, they have beaten the teams they are supposed to beat AND hold a .500+ winning percentage against teams that own a winning record. The only other team in the NL that can make that claim is the Washington Nationals.
Did you even think you’d read that sentence? Probably not.
And exactly what is the tonic that has the Redlegs playing at such a fierce pace? You can say pitching, and you would be correct. You can say timely hitting, and you would be correct. I say that you are seeing a complete team effort. For July, all you need to do is look at the guys that have had to “chip-in” a little more due to Votto’s absence.
Drew Stubbs: .317/.378/.463, HR, 8 RBI, 8 R
Brandon Phillips: .375/.409/.625, 2 HR, 9 RBI
Ryan Ludwick: .324/.395/.618, 2 HR, 8 RBI
Scott Rolen: .313/.378./531, 1 HR, 4 RBI
Todd Frazier: .279/.289/.326, 4 RBI
During this stint of non-Vottoness, the middle of the order has picked up the pace. Rolen hasn’t looked so old and washed up. Ludwick is acclimating himself to the team even more and looking the slightest bit like the Ludwick of 2008. While he may never completely get there, he has possibly improved more than any other Reds player.
And as we’ve heard and read many an occasion, when Stubbs scores, the Reds win. True.
But the bigger news is the pitching.
Since the All-Star break (14 games), Reds starters have more than held their own. Opponents have scored five or more runs only three times. None in the last seven games. Sure, the NL’s best bullpen has a say in that as well, but Reds starters have accounted for 8 of the 12 wins. In those 8 wins, no starter has permitted more than 2 runs.
Last night, we saw Alfredo Simon placed in a higher leveraged situation than he has been in for the majority of 2012. And he pulled through just fine, thank you very much. If you look at last night’s boxscore on Baseball Reference, he pitched with the highest average leverage of any Reds pitcher. If you look at Simon’s game logs, his aLI of 1.34 from last night is his highest since the first month of the season. He was 50-50 in those situations.
And to do so on seven days rest…
A precursor for something to come? Who knows, but it’s nice to know that if necessary, Simon can pitch in a pressure situation when he gets the call.
In a nutshell, we can point at this or that as to why the Reds are going so good right now. Truth of the matter is that in Votto’s absence, we are seeing a true team effort.