Recently, while at a Bats game in Louisville, I said to someone that if you’d told me the Reds would be on the wrong side of a lot of 7-5 games this season, I wouldn’t have been surprised. But 1-0 games? 3-2 games? No way.

The Reds are 22nd in the league in scoring. They should be top-5. Equally as surprising: they’re top-5 in pitching (and that’s underselling, depending on your preferred stat, they could be considered the best pitching team in baseball so far) when we wouldn’t have been that surprised to see them at 22nd.

And even with the weird offense, according to baseball-reference, they should have the second best record in the league (behind the Dodgers). They have lost six more games than they should have.

The real issue is simple. The Reds are 6-13 in 1-run games. The studies that have been done show, pretty convincingly, that 1-run games are tossups. Meaning, good teams and bad teams both tend to be around .500 in those games. The Reds “should” have three more wins there. That would make them 21-20. Not as good as their run differential suggests, but not bad either.

And that brings me to another point. We are only 25% of the way through the season. Yes, a lot of time has passed, but there’s still a long way to go. It’s still definitely early enough that, say, three games worth of bad luck can have a dramatic affect on where you sit in the standings. We are deep enough into the season to be concerned, but not deep enough that it’s time to give up.

And that gets us back to the pitching and hitting. When it comes down to it, what’s happened with the offense is much more shocking than what’s happened with the pitching. It’s not surprising to see Castillo or Mahle put it all together. It’s not surprising that Gray and Roark have been positive additions to the staff. We might expect them to not be quite so amazing this year, but the performances are all within reasonable expectations for their abilities.

That’s not the case with the offense. Sooner or later, all (or nearly) all of the regulars will start hitting like we know we can. Indeed, for the last two weeks, the Reds have had a roughly league average offense. That’s still not where they should be, but it is a lot closer to what was expected at the beginning of the year. Will this team make the playoffs? Probably not. Are they a good bet to play over .500 for the rest of the year? I think so.

But we’ll see.

29 Responses

  1. Pete

    Great analysis and just about matches my own opinion as we enter the first quarter-turn.

    Imagine: Puig gets on red-hot streak and Joey returns anywhere close to the pre-2018
    version. All other things holding firm, the Reds would be a contender. As the club is currently constructed, this is our best possible outcome. Perhaps a long shot but not totally unrealistic either.

    • Doc

      Even were JV to ‘only’ get to 2018 form, and others, like Puig, Winker, Peraza, Barnhart come close to resembling what they were last year, better times are ahead.

      • Pete

        Agree. I like the management team and enjoy being a fan again.

    • Phil

      Votto 2015-2017: 320/449/557 slash line, 165 wRC+
      2018 had one of the worst statistical seasons of his career: 284/417/419, 131 wRC+
      so far in 2019: 206/325/338, 79 wRC+ in 38 games
      So either he has completely fallen off a cliff, which at his age is possible, or he’s had a bad month and will rebound to something close to his 2018 numbers.

      Puig 2017-2018: 264/337/490 slash line, 120 wRC+
      so far in 2019: 217/269/392, 72 wRC+ in 39 games
      So either he has completely fallen of a cliff, which doesn’t seem likely since he is only 28, or he is likely to rebound to something close to his numbers over the past couple years.

      If both of these guys start rebounding towards their expected norms, the Reds offense should see a big boost.

      • Pete

        Thanks. That’s why I suggested pre-2018 numbers. If it happened and Puig starts performing at GAPB like most of us anticipated – oh boy!! Just draeming but you never know.

    • Jimmy

      Baseball is throwing….catching …run ing….hitting ….at best reds are successful at present in 2 of those

    • Eric

      Indeed, sir – nice recovery.

      Barkeep! A fine, frosty brew for Mr. Hendley! 🙂

      (I’ll stick to Bourbon…)

  2. Eric L Wormus

    I think we need to be careful praying to the gods of Run Differential and Pythagoras (would that be Zeus?). The Reds run differential is skewed because of 10 games against Miami and San Francisco where they have a +40 run differential and a 7-3 record. Take out those 10 games and against everyone else the run differential is -10 and the record is 11-20. Good teams find ways to win and bad teams find ways to lose. And, fine, 1 run games CAN be fluky. But there is nothing that says because they’re 6-13 now they’re going to go 13-6 in their next 19. Those are 13 games they had a really good chance to win and they blew it. They either can’t score or they can’t hold a lead. Call it bad luck if you want, but I think we fall back on calling everything we can’t see or quantify “luck” and just shrugging our shoulders.

    • RedleggsAndHam

      25% through the season and the Reds have allowed the least amount of runs in the NL, 2nd least in MLB. I feel comfortable extrapolating those stats for the remaining 75% of the schedule. And that means to predict a continuing positive run differential and a progression to the mean in those 1 run games. Outlook is sunny, no?

      • Eric Wormus

        Yes, if the fluky positive things keep happening and the fluky negative things revert to normal, yes they could win more games than they lose.
        Unfortunately, it’s more likely they wasted the best 40 game stretch of pitching they’ll get this year.

      • RedleggsAndHam

        I hear you, I guess I just don’t view pitching as fluky. I view hitting slumps as fluky but pitching as a bit more predictable, IMO.

  3. Westfester

    Let’s not forget they’ve had a BRUTAL schedule: 24 Road games v. 18* home games, 2 West Coast trips (including Mexico(*home games, really?)), AND finishing a 20 day stretch with no off days. I really believe that the recent offensive output is going to be more of the norm, especially when the Reds are home more often.

    • Eric Wormus

      Sure, the schedule may have been a little rough. Now they have, I think, 7ish games left between now and the All-Star break against teams under .500. It doesn’t get any easier. Unfortunately they have to play MLB teams the rest of the way.

    • VaRedsFan

      How has it been brutal? 7 games with SF, 3 with Miami, 3 with Oakland, and 4 with the Mets. Does it really get easier than that?

  4. Roger Garrett

    Too many holes in the lineup right now.The less Peraza and Tucker play the better the offense will be and its nothing against those guys its just that Casali is a better hitter as is Winker or Iggy or Dietrich the 3 guys Peraza fills in for.Neither have shown any power and Tucker never has in 5 years.Casali needs more starts and I do understand Peraza is only 24 but with Iggy at short he should not play.Best for him is the minors to see if he can ever learn to hit.He seems to be more like Billy as we wait to see if he ever turns the corner.Votto can still give us 280 and 380 in average and OBP and that has value.Winker,Senzel and Puig play every day as does Suarez,Iggy,Dietrich and Casali.Leave those 8 alone and lets play.

  5. Chris Holbert

    I am a Votto fan, but the production that he is providing from a power position on the Reds is not enough…1st base is a power position and even IF he comes back to last years numbers 12 HR and 67 RBI, that will not be enough…Where will the big power and RBI come from besides Suarez and Puig? They need to find some run production, 1ST, 3RD, LF and RF and typically power positions..I just do not see that from the current team alignment..I understand run production can come from other sources, but there is not enough of that currently

    • Pete

      You left out Winker and Dietrich but point taken. VanMeter was showing good power at AAA and now he’s fallen completely off the map.

  6. scotly50

    As bad as the hitting has been below player averages, the pitching has been above player averages.

    As both equal out, I do not see an uptick in wins. I do not think the Reds have the best pitching staff in the National League.

  7. Old-school

    It will be good to see the Reds back in GABP for an extended stretch. Sunny and 85 Saturday. The offense will improve.

    The problem is the Reds next 11 games are against NL playoff teams. Cody Bellinger and Kris Bryant get to hit in GABP too.

    I will be buying tickets and rooting on the Reds. Lets hope the summer weather and friendly confines of GABP get the Reds closer to .500. They’ve got their work cut out.

  8. Chris Holbert

    The only reason I did not include Winker and Dietrich was, I am not sure either of them will be considered power guys, despite being good productive players….but I understand why you would include them

  9. SteveO

    Reds need to shake things up a little. Go with this lineup for a few days.
    Senzel CF
    Votto 1B
    Suarez 3B
    Dietrich 2B
    Puig RF
    Winker LF
    Casali C
    P
    Iglesias SS

    • Daytonian

      Iglesias is the only guy who is hitting. And you put him in the 9 slot???

  10. Scott Gennett

    Front Office shall realize that they’re stuck with Votto’s contract: $25MM/year 2020-2023 + $7MM buyout = $107MM. At 35 years-old, there’s no way he’ll be able to produce again, not even at league average. He’s currently sitting at 206/325/338 clip and, at least, should be slotted lower in the line-up. Hard to say, but it’s just a matter of time until somebody else steps in with better numbers and sooner or later will be relegated to the bench and eventually designated way before contract’s end term. Once Gennett is back, Dietrich should take over 1B on a regular basis.

    • Rich H

      Just wanna check real quick: you know this site is about baseball, right? I’m worried you think everyone is talking about curling or quidditch or something and you’ve gotten some names confused.

    • VaRedsFan

      I’m not ready to say “no-way” he will ever produce again.
      There is a video of his 4-5, 3 HR game, on this date years ago, circulating. He is standing up tall (not the power-sapping over crouch he is doing now), not the over exaggerated choking up (just a small amount). Not the bent-arm swinging out to the opposite field (he has weight back, and FULL extension of his arms.) He didn’t try to hit inside pitches to left field, he hit the ball where it was pitched.

      I know, the video is 7 years old (but he looked this way in 2017 also)….and maybe he’s not able to do those things anymore.

      It’s why you hear me say that it is his approach, rather than an age related decline.
      Take a look:

    • Lwblogger2

      So, while 2018 wasn’t a particularly good season for Votto, his production, even at the traditional power position of 1B was still good enough to play every day. HR and RBI are not the only things that create offensive value. He still provided positive value, even if the contract on an AAV basis is upside down (for that season). Now, after 1/4 of 2019 you’re suggesting that he’s done and that Dietrich is the better option to play 1B going forward. You may be right that Votto is completely done. At 35 he may not turn it around and provide positive offensive value in 2019 or beyond but the Reds, who owe him the over $100-million you referenced literally can’t afford to give up on him like that.

      This team isn’t going to the playoffs. There is no uber-prospect waiting in the wings for 1B. Votto isn’t blocking anyone. There is no opportunity cost for the Reds to see if Votto can turn it around. In fact, they should probably give him into 2020 before even considering that he needs to become a bench player or be let go.

      • Pete

        LW if Votto finishes the year with a .660 OPS, the Reds darn well better have a contingency plan for 2020.

        If I had to bet money, I believe he is starting to tick now. End of the year stats may look a lot more like 2018 than 2017 but still good enough even with a slight degrade.