Who was that team in the Cincinnati uniforms this past week and a half? Couldn't be the Reds. They don't win on the road. They don't beat division opponents and they certainly don't win all 3 series on a road trip. At least not since 2004. I guess this is a different team, and hey, different is better then boring.
I am not getting too worked up over it though. They are still getting very lucky by winning close and losing big. These things tend to even out. But for now I am riding the wave. Atlanta comes to town and the Reds are expecting large crowds this weekend at Great American Small Park. I will be there Saturday to watch the Lowe-Arroyo pitchers duel. Ok mostly I will be there for the 80 degrees, but seeing some winning baseball won't be bad. I haven't been to a game when the Reds were over .500 this late in the year since 2006. Should be fun.
OK, a quick Reds heavy analysis so far thanks to the amazing baseball-reference.com. This team is lucky. O wait, I already said that. They are 2 games above where they should be according to runs scored-runs allowed. Their .229/.317/.357 put them second to last in the NL in batting average, 3rd last in OBP, 2nd last in slugging, and second last in OPS. Those are dreadful offensive numbers. The other pitiful offensive teams, SF and ARI, have 6 wins each, which is where the Reds should be. You are probably asking why aren't they. Here is your answer: Joey Votto and Pitching.
-Votto has been amazing this season. I saw this coming two games into the year but now it has become apparent that he is for real. And not just in the "Hey the Reds have a player who doesn't suck" mode. He is turning into the left-handed Albert Pujols. Ok, not that good, but still. Through 15 games he has a .373/.431/.644 for a 169 OPS+. It is not quite Albert's .345/.459/.724 for a 202 OPS+ but Joey doesn't have the bloodlust of Albert either. Joey's 15 RBI's are 4th in the NL, behind Albert of course, but for a run-starved team like the Reds, it equates to 53. He has improved his D (where else could it go) and become somewhat of a leader in the clubhouse. 7 more years like this and he will be the left-handed Albert Pujols.
-The pitching has been great. A few starters have had some tough games(Volquez, Owings) but for the most part, the Reds pitchers have kept the team in the game. That is essential because they will not score many runs, so if a starter allows more then 2 runs, the game is probably over. Thank goodness most have kept the other hitters at bay for the first 5 or 6 innings then handed it over to the stellar bullpen. Burton and Lincoln had some bad innings but Weathers, Rhodes, and Cordero have been phenomenal. I feel confident when either of them come in from the bullpen. I can't remember the last time I felt confident when a Reds reliever entered. Ok, I did fell confident when Danny Graves came in but that confidence was in the fact that he would throw a batting practice fastball to lose the game. Slightly different with this group.
Overall, the pitchers have a 115 ERA+, which puts them 3rd in the NL. It is a little deceiving because their 1.432 WHIP puts them 10th, meaning they are allowing a lot of walks and hits but leaving them stranded. Those numbers usually even out and if they do, expect the ERA to go up. For know, we will call it good fortune and hope it continues. Seeing the Reds with good pitching is certainly a treat.
The Braves arrive sitting at 7-8, 2-7 in the last 9 after a great 5-1 start, and needing a strong weekend to catch up to the Florida Smoke and Mirrors. Yes, the Marlins are 11-4 but that is thanks to a 6-0 record against Washington and a 5-4 record against everyone else. I would hold off on the Marlin playoff tickets for now. Should be a fun weekend and hey, the Reds are guaranteed to be at or above .500 for all 3 games. Sounds good to me.
23 hours ago