A high-level look at the week that was for the good guys…
9/3/12 – 9/9/12
Runs: 15-22 (-7)
Standings: 1st in NL Central
Race: lost 1 game on Cardinals; stayed even with Pirates
Player of the Week (regular with highest wOBA): Jay Bruce (.716) – Bruce was just awarded co-player of the week honors in the entire National League, so I guess that makes him pretty qualified to be the player of the week on his own team. The guy was pretty absurd, going 11 for 22 with two doubles, a triple, and four homeruns. Also, nine players scored as a direct result of his at bats. Overall, a good week for the Reds All-Star.
So good, in fact, that the words “Jay Bruce” and “MVP” have been uttered in the same sentence (I know, MVP isn’t a word). When I heard Harold Reynolds mention this on MLB Network about two weeks ago, I almost ell-oh-ell’d. But Bruce has stayed hot and he now sits tied for second in HR, third in RBI, and fourth in slugging. And we all know that MVP voters value those first two stats more than things like wOBA and WAR. I’m not going to say it’s impossible, especially considering one of the guys besting Bruce in these categories is Ryan Braun, who may as well be ineligible for the award this year, but I imagine Jay Bruce has to keep this up for a while longer before these talks get serious.
Pitcher of the Week (highest Game Score): Mat Latos (69) – Latos continued his solid second half last Tuesday, going seven innings while giving up just one run and striking out six. He lowered his ERA to 3.69. If he can keep pitching like this, he will play a big role in this team’s postseason plans.
The Difference Maker: The key word here – perspective. For a while, the Reds were the best team since the All-Star break. If they continued playing at that pace, they would have passed the century mark in wins. When times are good, fans get greedy. Imaginations run wild. It becomes impossible to envision an alternative reality in which the Reds aren’t winning 7 out of every 10 games.
Problem is, this is baseball. It’s 162 games of ups and downs, streaks and slumps, endurance and attrition. Nothing lasts forever, and in the end, regression to the mean often wins out. Look, I love Todd Frazier. Is he a better player than Bryce Harper? In the long run, probably not. Did he play like the hands-down, no-doubt rookie of the year in the National League for two months? Absolutely. Since late August, though, he’s gone a bit cold. Ryan Ludwick has labored through a similar stretch. Johnny Cueto is showing signs of wear and tear. These things are normal over the course of a season.
Point is, a series loss to the Houston Astros was fairly jarring to some. But please, let’s maintain some perspective. The Reds still have the second best record in baseball. Jay Bruce is hitting like the player we all imagined he would be. Joey Votto is back and getting on base more than 60% of the time. Pitching has remained effective. You’ve heard it before, but the regular season is a marathon. Let’s recognize that, and remember that if the Reds are playing baseball come October 6, that’s mostly all that matters at this point.
(Note: wOBA from Fangraphs, Game Score from Baseball-Reference)
Follow Aaron on Twitter @aaronjlehr