Very shortly, the Reds will reach the halfway point in the season. As you are no doubt aware, they just peaked (or peeked) over .500 for the first time all year. They’ve been playing great lately and have been a joy to watch. But as the first half comes to a close, it’s interesting to look at what the Reds have done in and what we might expect them to do in the second half.
The Reds currently have a team wRC+ of 90. That ranks them 10th of 15 in the NL. However, they are nearly as close to first (108) as they are to last (74). It is important to note that pitchers pull everyone in the NL down. If you remove the Reds’ pitchers from the equation, their wRC+ is 97 other NL teams have similar changes (the Reds still rank 10th when pitchers are removed across the league).
Here is the NL ranking and wRC+ for the Reds for each position.
C – 3rd, 117
1B – 12th, 99
2B – 6th, 92
SS – 14th, 59
3B – 1st, 128
LF – 13th, 77
CF – 11th, 81
RF – 11th, 85
Looking at this, several things emerge:
- Third (Frazier) and Catcher (Mesoraco) have really been carrying the team.
- A clear sense of the dominant offensive positions can be easily seen as 1B ranks below 2B desptie a significantly higher wRC+
- The Reds really did not do a good job filling in for Votto (140 wRC+) while he was injured.
Only left field has been a total disaster for the Reds as those players haven’t provided defensive value to compensate for the lack of offense, but Ludwick has been hitting lately, so there’s some hope.
Further, if you had been asked to guess at which two positions the Reds were most likely to excel offensively, you’d have been foolish not to pick right and first. However, the Reds rank quite low in those slots owing to injuries to the now healthy Votto and Bruce. Correspondingly, there is room for improvement.
The Reds, as it happens, have been offensively healthy for about 2 weeks. 2 weeks is not a good sample, but let’s take a look at the split anyway. I’m just going to give the wRC+ numbers and not worry about the rankings.
wRC+ Last 14 Days:
Team – 116
Team w/o pitchers – 126
C – 177
1B – 100
2B – 82
SS – 88
3B – 147
LF – 64
CF – 135
RF – 114
What we can see here are the good things that happen when no one is really slumping and a few players are hot. We can also, however, glean something we might have guessed at already. The Reds are a better offensive team now. Bruce is hitting like Bruce. Cozart is hitting like Cozart (meager as that is, it’s still an improvement over how he started). Hamilton is going to be just fine. The first base numbers, incidentally, are skewed in FanGraphs in some way I can’t figure out by Votto’s subs. He has a wRC+ of 127 since coming off the DL, so feel free to sub that in for the number above.
Now, Mes isn’t going to keep a 177 up and Hamilton is going to sustain a 135. But all those other numbers, those are doable as long as the Reds stay healthy.
Perhaps I am optimistic to a fault. I’ve certainly not been optimistic for most of the season, but right now, I feel pretty okay. I wouldn’t bet on the Reds to make the playoffs, but I’d bet on them to be fun to watch the rest of the way. And hey, you never know. Stranger things have happened.
Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.