Contrary to nearly every Reds season in the prior decade, this most successful 2012 version has a formula that is foreign: A dominant pitching staff from starters through bullpen that overpowers opponents and anchors run prevention at an elite level for an offense that struggles to score.
Becoming accustomed to big bopping offense and inconsistent pitching, the Reds are in a strange position going into their most hopeful postseason in years. In the second half of the season, the Reds have scored an average of 4.16 runs per game which is a full run behind the highest scoring Brewers and ranks 19th in the majors over that span. The Reds pitching staff has more than covered for that lack of scoring by allowing only 3.6 runs per game which is 3rd in the majors post All-Star break.
Studying the Reds offense over the previous 30 days in September, two trends are the most troubling for the prospects of contending deep into October.
- Shocking Lack of Power: The Reds have managed only 14 home runs, which is tied for dead last in the majors. With Joey Votto‘s injury sapping his power since returning, Ryan Ludwick battling injury and inconsistency, and Todd Fraizer coming back to Earth all the Reds normal power sources have been running low on juice of late. Even though the Reds have been lighter on power in 2012 than in previous seasons, the amount to which the bats have been limping to the finish is alarming even to this standard.
- Nobody On Base: A hot issue with Reds fans all season has been the lack of production and ability to get on base for the Reds at the top of the order. September has been no different. Since the full time return of Joey Votto to the lineup, Brandon Phillips has resumed his sporadic presence atop the lineup card. Unfortunately, almost to the day of that move, DatDude has been in some kind of slump. Brandon has sported a triple slash of .194/.250/.301 with 1 double, 3 HR, 5 RBI, and 11 runs in the month of September. The team as a whole has not been a lot better at getting on base, ranking 24th in the majors in September with a .302 OBP. On a good note however, since his return from an oblique strain, Zack Cozart has been on fire in the number 2 hole. Cozart has went 9 for 26 with 2 walks over his previous 7 games.
The Reds offense will hopefully continue to gel more as a solid lineup gets settled, but these elements definitely give pause. With the playoffs bringing better pitching and tighter situations, a flawed offense that doesn’t get righted could turn into an insurmountable defect that pitching cannot overcome. Hopefully the reintroduction of Cozart and Ludwick into regular playing time will rejuvenate the offense back to their August heights…if not we could be in for some nail-biting close games all throughout October.