You may recall that the Reds started the season somewhat poorly where hitting was concerned. They Were shut out in four of their first nine games. That’s not great. And the perception is that the Reds haven’t hit really all year, even now.
But here’s one of the things about me: I like to look things up. And, since the 1-8 start the Reds have scored at a basically league average rate of 4.44 runs per game (doesn’t include Monday night). That’s not he dynamite offense we expected, but it’s big departure from the 2.63 runs per game they registered during that dreadful nine-game stretch to start the year.
In particular, the team has been carried by Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez. Winker has had a .317/.388/.700 line since April 9 and Suarez has come in at .262/.342/.538. Joey Votto‘s .236/.354/.400 line is also a tick above average over all (103 wRC+), though obviously not up to his usual standards.
The rest of the lineup has been a notch below average with the exceptions of Scott Schebler and Jose Peraza who have been, um, not good at all and Curt Casali who’s been excellent in limited playing time.
And you know what? Odds are it’s going to get significantly better yet. Even without Nick Senzel. Everyone in the lineup with the exception of Winker is playing below their previous standards. While it’s possible the entire lineup suddenly turned into one collective pumpkin, that’s not a bet that’s likely to win you that much money.
In fact, since the 1-8 start, the Reds have played at a 90-win pace. Does that mean they’re going to win 90 games? I mean, probably not, but we don’t know, and that’s what bothers me about these early season narratives. Lots of weird things happen early on. Some of those things are meaningful and some aren’t, but the point is that it is still early. If we get to the end of May and the Reds are still scuffling below .500, well, okay, we might be able to conclude that it isn’t meant to be for this team. (Though I would point out that the 2012 team that won 97 games didn’t go over .500 to stay until May 19.) But until then?
The idea behind this column is to assess how close the Reds are to being really good. And I still think they might be reasonably close. The pitching has been very good in ways that aren’t extremely surprising and the hitting has been inconsistent in a way that is very surprising. In baseball, the surprises tend to not last, so there’s plenty of hope. No need to despair yet.