Dodgers Series Preview of Offense in October


Jul 23, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tony Cingrani (52) points at first base during the fifth inning in the first game of a doubleheader against the San Francisco Giants at AT

Not in the sense that the Reds lose, even if that’s the familiar association with the playoffs in Cincinnati. A lot of the fodder circulating Reds Country this Monday morning surrounds the offensive temperature spectrum – er. the Reds, and how hot they were in San Francisco compared to how cool they were in Los Angeles.

Things you may be pondering this morning – why are the Reds so streaky? Why is the offense so prone to long slumps? Why can’t the Reds hit baseball’s best pitching?

If you think the transition from San Francisco to Los Angeles was about the performance of the offense, your mind isn’t where it needs to be. You’re distracting yourself with subjective intangibles like momentum and who’s “on.” I have a more logical reason to explain the 31 runs scored on the Giants to the seven runs scored on the Dodgers:

SF Giants starting rotation ERA: 4.62

LA Dodgers starting rotation ERA: 3.39. Just .05 worse than the Reds. They have baseball’s 4th best starting rotation. Both the Reds and Dodgers have a starting rotation that only allows an opposing .245 batting average – tied for 4th lowest opposing batting averages in baseball. So does the fact that both teams combined for a total of 16 runs during an entire four game series surprise you?

It shouldn’t.  This is what happens when two real contenders meet. This is what happens in October, when the only teams remaining are ambitious contenders. And what separates these teams? It’s the arms at their disposal. Don’t take my word for it either. Just examine the MLB cumulative batting average in the regular season compared to the postseason for the past six years.

2012: MLB reg. season BA: .254 / MLB postseason BA: .235

2011: .255 / .252

2010: .257 / .209

2009: .262 / .241

2008: .264 / .245

2007:  .268 / .233

While not necessarily overwhelming, it’s evident – offenses will preform worse in October. It’s not because they’re cooling off, though excellent starting pitching has a way of making it look like it.

If the weekend put you to sleep, sadly, you may be snoozing in October when runs are even harder to come by. While it’s disappointing the Reds couldn’t find a way to split with baseball’s hottest club, the fact that this rotation and bullpen held a lineup of that magnitude to nine runs all weekend is a silver lining worth discussing, because that’s how you determine if they can compete in October, when runs are about as common as winning split-the-pot tickets at GABP. No point in knighting the Dodgers as a superior team for a mistake pitch and few timely hits that could have gone either way. Just means they’re as good as advertised.

The weekend was a good measuring stick for the Reds. The pitching looks to measure up. The offense faced another rotation that does too.