2012 Reds

The Red Menace

Grantland has been giving the ol’ Redlegs some love lately. I enjoyed this, from their weekend preview:

The Cincinnati Reds are tied for the best record in baseball (OK, fine, they’re percentage points behind the Nationals), and may be the most anonymous great team in recent memory. The fact is, I’m not sure the world was ready for this kind of greatness coming out of Cincinnati. There may have been a time when the Reds’ success seemed like a fluke, but those days are long gone, and with 30 games left in the season, they are as good as playoff-bound. But what do we actually know about them? This might say more about me than the Reds, but when I gave myself a quiz about the Reds roster, well … I’m not even going to tell you the results. Suffice it to say, I’m embarrassed. Especially when you study up and realize exactly how great they are. Just ask Jonah Keri, who, believe me, can name way more Reds than I can. They even seem collapse-proof at this point, with lots of remaining games against teams like the Cubs, Astros, and Phillies. Time to pay attention, America.

What a magical season. I’m simply dumbfounded at what we’re seeing.

15 thoughts on “The Red Menace

  1. There is a poll at MLB Trade Rumors of GM’s who made best off-season moves. I did not see Jocketty’s name, but he certainly hasn’t hurt this team. And Dunn is putting up Dunn-like numbers for Chisox. He has been a large part of their success.

  2. I’m dumfounded too. I just don’t think that the Reds are THIS good. I hope I’m wrong but a first-round playoff exit would not shock me as this team just does not look nearly as good as its record. Obviously, I expect them to win every time against the Astros and most of the time against the Cubs, Brewers, etc, but I’m afraid of what will happen in a five game series against a team with really good starting pitching like SF or Washington. Again, I hope I’m wrong, but I have no idea of how the Reds are pulling this off without Joey V. Luck? Magic? Who knows…

  3. This team matches up well against everyone it could play. Outside of Cozart, you can rely on good, extended at bats from all of our players, and the starting pitching and bullpen is good enough to hang with and shutdown anyone. Yea, we beat the bad teams, but we also beat the good teams, and there are more than a few factors playing in to that. Guys playing over their head isn’t really one of them either. Ludwick and Rolen may be the exceptions, but the rest of our lineup isn’t an anomaly. And Votto is going to add to that. The Reds offense can put up runs in bunches, but they can also manufacture runs when needed. They get a lot of doubles and make a lot of contact. The top two guys in our staff will give us good to great to shutdown outings any and every time out, and the next three guys can all be great(though they could come in and poop the bed as well).

    Ultimately, this team’s biggest and only true hole is a fixable one, being the top two spots in the lineup. In any series I like the Reds chances. The Reds really are just too good to lay an egg. A first round exit is entirely possible. But it won’t be a no-hitter followed by a defensive collapse. They’ll play well enough to challenge, and I wouldn’t be shocked if they go all the way to the World Series. Nothing this team can do would shock me anymore.

  4. I think winning 81 games shows they can beat the good teams. I think they are THIS good.

  5. @hermanbates: We can rely on good, extended at bats from Stubbs? Seriously? He’s back in the 2 hole again today. And, I cannot shake the feeling that he’ll be there when Votto’s back and healthy as well. The hole at the top is only fixable if the manager will change the lineup, and that is something I have no reason to believe will happen.

  6. It does seem magical, completely enjoyable, but somehow illusory. I can imagine a long, fun trip through the playoffs. I can also imagine three and out. I do think the strength of this team, the excellent bullpen and the remarkably consistent starting pitching, likely helps more in the regular season than the playoffs. And this lineup without Votto rivals the 1988 Dodgers, but we know what they did. Of course, we will have Votto. Anything is possible. I agree, We Are This Good, because our record says so. The training staff may be the MVP….the same starters all year = unbelievable.

    Question for some of you historians (though Leake needs to finish strong to make question relevant): Is there any other staff in history to finish with five starters who all won 10 games?

  7. I’ve posted this here once before, but I think the baseball RPI (that ESPN has up here: http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/rpi ) gives a good look at where the Reds are relative to the rest of the league. Currently, they are the second best team in the NL, surging, while the team ahead of them is preparing to shut down a key member of their rotation.

    I wouldn’t call the Reds a World Series favorite at this point, or even the favorite to be the NL’s rep, but I’d put them at 40% odds to get there (which I mean as a compliment and not an insult).

  8. One more thought: someone said once (I forget who) that teams with the best 40 man rosters will finish with the best records, but the team with the best top 15 players wins in the playoffs. Do you think the Reds have a stronger top 40 versus other teams or a stronger top 15 (or both)?

  9. @enlight: No, they are. Very good team. Good offense. Good pitching. They are better than we expected them to be, and yes Frazier and Ludwick might be a bit over their heads, but no one else on the team has obviously over-performed while at least a few (Mesoraco, Stubbs) have underperformed.

    In a five or seven games series, there’s no reason to think they’ll lose because of the pitching they face. Among NL teams, only the Nationals have been better and they’re going to shutdown one of their best pitchers. Thus, the Reds will likely be the best pitching team in the NL playoffs.

    That is, other teams should fear the Reds’ pitching not vice versa.

  10. I’ve enjoyed this season immensely especially since I’m living in Pittsburgh with all those Pirates fans and I have a Cardinals fan roommate.

    My main concern is what happens if Joey Votto doesn’t return very close to full strength. Will this affect the team mentally? The clip at which they have been playing since Votto went down has been amazing. Could they keep that up through the post-season knowing Votto isn’t going to be himself for the rest of the year? Personally, I think they do.

  11. Man I am mad!

    Have tickets for all three games of the LA Dodgers series from Sept 21-23 and:
    1) It looks like the Reds may have the division locked up by then (Cards down 3-0 in the 1st today)
    2) No Billy Hamilton!

    I want a refund. šŸ˜€

  12. A lot gets made of the fact that this Reds team supposedly beats up on the have nots while playing poorly versus the better teams.

    Recently when it was noted that this is the first Reds team to win as many as 80 games prior to 1 September since the 1976 World Championship team, I went back to take a look at the record of the 1976 team more for nostalgia than comparison but I did see something I thought was very interesting.

    In a 12 team league (2x 6 team divisions) the 1976 Reds team split down the middle with 4 teams and lost the season series to one while finishing with 102 wins. They did this by going 76-32 versus the seven teams they had wining records against.

    BTW to 1 September the ’76 team ended up with 3 more wins that this year’s edition (84/81)

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