2012 Reds

Beating The Good Teams

There was some discussion over the weekend regarding comments made by Tom Verducci on the Saturday FOX game of the week. Apparently the Reds beat up on the weak teams but can’t beat the better teams.

A little fact checking would show that the Reds have played 57 games against teams with a record of .500 or better. They went 29-28 for a .509 Wpct in those games. It was 28-27 at the time of the broadcast. Against teams who would be in the playoffs if the season ended today, the Reds have gone 19-16. While it is true that they have won two-thirds of their games against sub-.500 teams, they’ve beaten the good teams, too.

On the other hand, the Cardinals have played 55 games against teams with a .500 or better record, going 27-28, a .491 Wpct. Their record against playoff teams is 12-15, and they have not yet played Washington.

Of those National League teams who would be in the playoffs today (plus Pittsburgh), only Cincinnati and Washington have a winning record against winning teams. Everyone beats up on the losing teams.

Team Versus .500+ Wpct Against Sub-.500 Wpct
WAS 30-24 0.556 47-26 0.644
CIN 29-28 0.509 48-24 0.667
STL 27-28 0.491 43-29 0.597
SFG 31-34 0.477 40-23 0.635
ATL 29-34 0.460 44-21 0.677
PIT 28-34 0.452 40-25 0.615

Verducci’s characterization would actually be best suited for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They’ve only gone 28-34 (.452 Wpct) against .500 teams this year and are fading quickly. Over their last 27 games dating back to July 29th, Pittsburgh is 10-17 and was outscored by 30 runs in that span.

The Reds may have lost the weekend series to St. Louis, but overall they have split the 12 games against the Cardinals this year. Their six game lead is still the largest division lead over 2nd place in all of baseball. The Reds sent their 4th and 5th best starters to the mound while Votto watched from the bench all weekend. This series says nothing about how these two teams matchup in the playoffs.

27 thoughts on “Beating The Good Teams

  1. Sort of like saying that the Cardinals only went 4-3 against the Texas Rangers last year.

  2. I hope you sent that to Verducci. Everybody loves an easy narrative though… hmm, the Reds destroyed the Cubs and Astros? Wow. Breaking news.

    Question though… I’m assuming you did that in terms of a teams record right now… I wonder if you changed it to “at the time they played them” if that changes anything and that’s how Verducci got there. Not asking you to run the numbers, just thinking out loud… kind of like college football. You can play a team who is #5 in week one, and by the end of the season they’re out of the top 25.

  3. ‘Beating good teams’ is always complicated – how was the team doing then and how is it doing now. The Phillies with Utley, Howard, and Halladay back don’t get classified as a good team but the Reds faced a much better Phillies team than they would have earlier in the season.

  4. It’s not so much losing the series with the Cardinals . . . But I sense some growing unease. The worrisome part is this: our pitching, starting and bullpen, seems to be tiring. There is a grat deal of inconsistency from each of the starters — excellent one night, terrible or mediocre the next start. The team, overall, appears less focused, evidenced bynthe increase in errors, stupid base running mistakes and at times a sort of laid back diffidence, as if the Reds think they have the NL Central title in the bag.

    Or am I just a worry wart?😐

    • It’s not so much losing the series with the Cardinals . . . But I sense some growing unease.The worrisome part is this:our pitching, starting and bullpen, seems to be tiring.There is a grat deal of inconsistency from each of the starters — excellent one night, terrible or mediocre the next start. The team, overall, appears less focused, evidenced bynthe increase in errors, stupid base running mistakes and at times a sort of laid back diffidence, as if the Reds think they have the NL Central title in the bag.

      Or am I just a worry wart?

      I wouldn’t call you a ‘worry wart’ but any day Miguel Cairo or Wilson Valdez is starting (a problem that Votto’s return should solve) or Chapman isn’t available you’re not going to see the team at its best. Turning to Sam LeCure in a setup role does seem to indicate how seriously the team takes (or doesn’t take) certain games – and that the priority is keeping everyone rested into the playoffs.

    • It’s not so much losing the series with the Cardinals . . . But I sense some growing unease. The worrisome part is this: our pitching, starting and bullpen, seems to be tiring. There is a grat deal of inconsistency from each of the starters — excellent one night, terrible or mediocre the next start. The team, overall, appears less focused, evidenced bynthe increase in errors, stupid base running mistakes and at times a sort of laid back diffidence, as if the Reds think they have the NL Central title in the bag.Or am I just a worry wart?

      The Nationals have lost 4 in a row, got swept by Philly, the Giants lost 2 of 3 to the Braves in their home park…All teams are tiring right now, it’s how it goes…

  5. @PaulUNC67: Paul, I think what you are seeing is a bunch of players who are worn out and worn down. The 2nd half schedule for the Reds has been brutal, but that changes after the Arizona series. A plethora of scheduled days off will make a world of difference. The loss of Votto combined with the weak bench has placed an enormous amount of pressure on everyone.

    • I think what you are seeing is a bunch of players who are worn out and worn down. The 2nd half schedule for the Reds has been brutal, but that changes after the Arizona series.

      I appreciate that comment in light of remembering way back when Votto was given a day off against the Pirates, there were many comments (not from you) along the lines of “they shouldn’t ever need a day off, it’s just a game… it’s not like they’re playing football, etc.”

  6. @PaulUNC67:
    I have noticed somethig too. Like they have hit the wall, or something. That 162 game grind is getting to them a little. Hopefully Arz and Hou are the cure for what ails this team.
    I would hope they come out and start playing like they are 6 games behind, instead of 6 up. You know, clawing and scratching for runs, for everything they get. Look forward and not backwards over their shoulders. But something tells me that that just isn’t Baker’s style.

    • @PaulUNC67:
      I have noticed somethig too.Like they have hit the wall, or something.That 162 game grind is getting to them a little.Hopefully Arz and Hou are the cure for what ails this team.
      I would hope they come out and start playing like they are 6 games behind, instead of 6 up. You know, clawing and scratching for runs, for everything they get.Look forward and not backwards over their shoulders.But something tells me that that just isn’t Baker’s style.

      In my opinion Brandon Phillips and Todd Frazier have both been used way too much lately because there’s been a ton of pressure to play them all day everyday with Votto out… and their absence is very always very visible. It seems like Brandon Phillips has had a bunch of fielding and baserunning mistakes lately. Hopefully Joey Votto’s return will provide more opportunities to give Phillips or Frazier a chance to rest, if they need it.

      Baker’s style is to send out the best group of well rested players… while many fans want to see the best players regardless of their condition in all 162 games.

  7. @redsfanman: If the Reds played the Nationals at any point in the last month, would the Reds come out with more wins than they did in May? It’s a tricky thing to think about.

    I’m confident in saying the Reds are one of the four best teams in baseball, but the Rangers, Yankees, and Nationals seem to bunch up with the Reds on a lot of things. Cards and the Rays do that thing they do all the time where they come out of the doldrums of the summer and engage the media who are to preoccupied with the brutish NFL to actually observe over-arching statistics.

    • It’s Fox. Do you really expect unbiased reporting?

      Fox News might be fair and balanced but I’m not sure their sports shows claim to be…

  8. @Matt WI: I did that based on current record. It would be a bit more complicated to do it the other way, and I’m not sure it would be any more accurate. Is a team’s April record indicitave of whether they should be classified as a “winning” or “losing” team.

    @redsfanman: Right, you’d need some way to measure strength of opponent. The Cardinals caught a break this weekend without facing Votto or Cueto. The Cardinals may not have to face Steven Strasburg if the Nationals shut him down. If I recall, the Reds lucked out in missing Strasburg in both series against Washington also. You’ve also got those teams lke Houston that traded off their MLB players after July 31. The number of times you play them after July 31 and before the trade deadline could have playoff race impact.

  9. I have given Jay Bruce plenty of grief on here, but I have to admit he is doing fairly well the past 4 weeks.
    Over his last 10 games:
    14H, 39AB, .359BA, 3HR, 9R, 8RBI
    And for the month of August so far:
    25H, 82AB, .305BA, 17R, 6HR, 18RBI.

    Not too shabby. Can he keep it going???

  10. @Matt WI: Who cares what their record was when you played them. If a team is 0-1 when you play them they have a sub .500 record. The way that this was done is actually a better representation of how the reds have done against teams now that the sample size is getting large enough to become reliable.

  11. @Liptonian: It was the strength of schedule piece that I was getting at, a team that is playing awesome in July vs inept in May… see Redsfans comments and Greg’s reply. That kind of thing.

    Of course measuring a record at any given time would be crude.

  12. It’s not just Verducci in the baseball media, pretty much all year it has been the Cardinals division to lose, even after the big streak both on MLB and ESPN network.

    I think until the Reds make some noise in the playoffs that’s going to be the knock on them. As Reds fan, I kind of get it as the hitting did correspond with not playing the Braves, Nationals, Giants, Dodgers etc. back to back to back.

  13. Somewhere in Tommy Lasorda’s quote file you’ll find him saying that in baseball you have to play even with the big boys and beat up on the rest. That is how it works. The better teams are pretty much evenly stocked. No one team has a real advantage over the other good teams.

    St. Louis, it seems to me, has had a problem in that they lose quite often to lower rank teams – that’s been my impression, but when they come to Cincy, they are a top caliber ass-kicking’ team. The thought that they will be a wild card is troubling.

  14. The Reds have only had 3 bad streches this yr. Early when they started 4-8, late June when they lost 5 out of 6 to the Indians and Twins, and that 5 game losing streak 3 weeks ago. Other than that they have been good. They will have 1 day off every week for the rest of the yr, that will help them tremendously.

  15. Cards always have more dumb luck than any other team in the postseason; you know like a RFer shies away from the fence and allowed some Cards player hits a game tying triple in game 6 of a WS.

    Or like in 2006 when the Tiger’s pitchers suddenly couldn’t field a ball to save their life in the WS.

    Or like game 1 of the 1982 NLCS getting rained out with the Cards trailing the Braves at the time.

  16. Here’s an example of timing. The D-backs are exactly a .500 team today, so I included them with the .500 & above teams. If the Reds win tonight or win this series, they’re a below .500 team. The significance of this in the cardinals splits above is that they went 5-1 in their 6 games against Arizona. That would drop their record s “good” teams to 22-27. (The Reds are 2-2 so far, so wouldn’t have a material impact on their splits.)

    • Here’s an example of timing. The D-backs are exactly a .500 team today, so I included them with the .500 & above teams. If the Reds win tonight or win this series, they’re a below .500 team. The significance of this in the cardinals splits above is that they went 5-1 in their 6 games against Arizona. That would drop their record s “good” teams to 22-27. (The Reds are 2-2 so far, so wouldn’t have a material impact on their splits.)

      Yep, Monday’s win doesn’t count as a win against good teams because the Reds turned Arizona into a losing team.

  17. I think Verducci may be right with a little adjustment. Even winning teams have a couple pitchers who are struggling. Just about every team has their Bailey and Leake. Good as they are, they are inconsistent. Anyway, I think I would adjust Verducci’s comment to winning pitchers, not teams. This is not to say the Reds never hit good pitching, but it seems (just seems now) that Reds hitting fails against good pitching too often to make me feel comfortable about the postseason.

  18. @TC: I think that is true of all teams. No one hits good pitching. So how much worse are they (or are they worse) against good pitching than other teams?

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