NL Wild Card standings ordered by run differential show why Reds fans still have hope

Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

Last season, the race for the last National League Wild Card spot was fierce. It ended with the Diamondbacks on top, but three teams including the Reds ended up only two or fewer games from that sixth seed spot. The Reds eventually matched the Padres' record and missed the postseason by two games, but things came down to the wire and Cincinnati was firmly in the chase until the very end.

Through the conclusion of their series against the Cardinals, the Reds are 4.0 games out of the Wild Card spot behind the Mets, Diamondbacks, Giants, and Pirates and running solidly in the middle of the pack. It's been three years since Cincinnati got its last shot at the postseason, and although the team's current standing radiates mediocrity, a closer look reveals that the teams ahead may have to watch their backs.

The Reds' +16 run differential is the best of any of the teams in the running behind that last spot, leading the Mets by a single run after Tuesday's affair and the Diamondbacks by 30. It's even a whopping 53 runs better than the Cardinals, who have somehow managed to get themselves into postseason for the time being, and it means that the Reds definitely aren't out of the picture by any means.

Reds' +16 run differential is the best of any team in the NL Wild Card chase

Over their last two series against the Pirates and Cardinals, the Reds have shown that when they win, they can win big. Game 1 against Pittsburgh was taken 11-5; Game 1 against the Cardinals was an 11-4 blowout, then Game 3 wrapped 9-4. In that series in St. Louis, the Reds refused to go down in anything even closely resembling a rout. Despite being shutouts, the two games they lost to the Cardinals were only won by a margin of one and two runs, respectively.

Spencer Steer and Elly De La Cruz continue to headline the Reds lineup, collectively knocking in 88 of Cincinnati's runs. Steer has continued his upward trend and hit .280 in June after only managing .176 in May, while Cruz's 1.170 OPS over his last 15 games reinforces that he's one of the game's best young hitters. So did his 114 MPH laser and hustle triple on the big stage at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night.

The rotation took a hit with Nick Lodolo going onto the 15-day IL while Hunter Greene and Andrew Abbott have both been struggling a bit, but the pitching staff has still managed to keep contests tight even in losing scenarios.

All's not lost, Reds fans. There's still half a season left and the team's run differential shows that they're one of the most holistic teams gunning for a Wild Card spot. It's going to take a big push, but this points to another close race at the end of the season that the Reds will definitely be involved in.

Typically, there are very few predictors of long-term success that work better than how efficiently a team whomps its opponents, ending up in the plus column. Keep your collective chin up.