Keep Calm!

162 games is a long season.  Five and a half months of baseball sprinkled with a few off days.  I have referred in a number of my posts to the frustration Reds fans display whenever the Reds lose a game.  We ring our hands and gnash our teeth culminating in an ever revolving chorus of the Blame Game.  On June 15 of the 2010 season the Reds were about to welcome the LA Dodgers into the friendly confines of Great American Ball Park.  The Dodgers were not the gracious guests we had hoped and we lost the first game of the series in resounding fashion by a score of 12-0.  The game featured an offensive explosion by the Dodgers including 5 hits for Rafael Furcal, Manny Ramirez going 3-4 with 4 RBIs including a 2 run home run, 4 hits on 5 attempts for James Loney and two hits apiece for Matt Kemp and Casey Blake.  The Reds sent 5 pitchers to the mound and only one of them did not give up an earned run and that was Jordan Smith.  Of the remaining 4 pitchers Logan Ondrusek is the only one still in the Reds organization.

So why should we not cartwheel after victories or fall into deep depression after a loss?  Because things tend to balance out, first think on a few statistics.

On June 15, 2010, the Reds were 7 games over .500.  Today we are 4 games over .500.  The most interesting statistic is the fact we score 4.89 runs per game this year and allow 4.48.  This gives credence to the belief that while we are hitting well this year we are not producing runs quite as effectively as we did last year and while I feel our pitching has not been as good as it should be we are pitching better now than last year.  In 2010, the Reds scored 5.03 runs per game and allowed 4.80.  We are a better team now than we were last year according to these numbers.  Unfortunately, while St. Louis has slipped a bit, Milwaukee is far better than last year.

The Cardinals manufactured 4.51 runs per game in 2010 and allowed only 3.66 runs to cross the plate.  This year, they are hitting at a far better clip with the additions of Lance Berkman and the stellar play of Matt Holliday and of late the resurgence of Albert Pujols.  They are scoring 4.85 runs per game.  Conversely, with the loss of Adam Wainwright and the bullpen struggles they are allowing 4.28 runs per game.

Milwaukee, after a slow start has been one of the hottest teams in baseball lately.  In 2010, they allowed 4.93 runs per game to cross the plate while only scoring 4.63 runs each game.  As one would expect giving up more runs than you score means you probably lose more games than you win which helps explain why the Brewers finished 8 games under .500.  2011 is a different story though.  So far this year the the Brew Crew has scored 4.28 runs per game, actually a bit less than last years accomplishment.  The story for 2011 is the acquisition of Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke who are a combined 13-3 so far this year.  Through 68 games the Brewers are only allowing 3.85 runs per game or more than 1 full run less crosses the plate per game than last year.

Returning to the Reds situation we have now swept 4 series in 2011 and been swept twice. Last year we were swept a total of 5 times, 6 if you count the NLDS.  We swept a total of 8 series year meaning that while not yet halfway through this season we have already pulled off half of the sweeps we managed last season.  It is very easy for us to look at our cup and decide it is half full or half empty.  A strong argument can be crafted either way.

In closing, I must admit I think the Reds are a good team with the ability to be great.  Championship teams do not happen by accident.  I love when I hear people talk about making their own luck and I believe that.  Luck does not happen by accident, good or bad.  Preparation creates situations that can allow people to succeed.  The Reds play a good brand of defense, they hit well even if we all wish they would do a bit better with runners in scoring position.  The pitching can be fantastic just as it can be overwhelmingly poor.  The one thing I would ask for:  I want the Reds offense to produce more home runs than they allow.  Milwaukee has hit 22 more home runs than they have allowed and St. Louis with more modest totals have hit 10 more home runs than have been hit against them.  The Reds have hit 69 while allowing 73.  I love the majesty of a home run and I do appreciate that a home run swing can and will hurt batting averages but in my heart I love them.  So Joey?  Batter UP!

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