There's been a lot of buzz about the Cincinnati Reds lately and rightfully so. There's so many good young homegrown players making an impact. Joey Votto is finally back and fantastic. They've won 12 of 14 and launched themselves into 1st place in the NL Central. Matt McClain is a stud. Elly is a phenom. 126,000+ went to a 3-game series this weekend at Great American and yes, that's their official weekend record now.
I've said for a long time that people have no idea - including me - just how much that city loves good baseball. They're the oldest franchise in baseball. They've got historically famous position players and historically famous championships. Mix that with the kind of geography, climate and naturalized citizens that flourish socially under competitive environments and you have yourselves a real nice summer following good Reds baseball.
There's been sprinkled success in the 21st century, mostly under Dusty Baker, that's very easy to forget: 3 playoff appearances in 4 seasons including 2 NL Central titles and nearly 90 wins per season.
Then they fired him and it's been mostly a drastic pile of shit until Elly De La Cruz arrived. Some minor triumphs along the way, but mostly shit.
And now the city's responded in kind and it's awesome to see.
There's only a handful of teams to give up 400+ runs so far this year and the Cincinnati Reds are one of them. The injuries and regression have been overwhelming. Take away Andrew Abbot and you could argue the Reds have no legitimate starting pitching right now. Take away Alexis Diaz and you could call it a AAA staff right now. They're 2nd or 3rd worst in the NL in nearly every category. If it weren't for the Rockies then the Reds would be, undoubtedly, the worst National League team at preventing the opposition from scoring runs. None of this is conjecture.
And even so, you can still see a path forward for the Reds.
The offense will get better, not worse.
If the pitching can follow, even fractionally, and Hunter Greene is healthy and Lodollo's results start matching the stuff and Luke Weaver Never Ever has to be relied upon and Abbot keeps dealing. Then you can see a very problematic club come October and the latest attendance numbers only support that sentiment. There's another 120,000+ coming every weekend they're home and good now.
Are they better than the Cubs?
I was prepared before yesterday to say yes. But a quick glance at the foundational principles of good baseball and you can immediately see why the Cubs are drastically underrated and maybe the Reds a bit over. The pythagoreons are spread differently, which is a fancy way of saying predicting Win-Loss record based on Runs Scored vs. Runs Allowed. The Cubs are about 50 runs better on the season but have less wins to show for it. Chalk that up to the volatility of the game. The Cubs are top 5 this year in double-digit victories, which skews the run differential heavily.
That doesn't diminish the Cubs starting pitching, which has been very good. Marcus Stroman left yesterday with a blister but entered the game probably leading the NL Cy Young voting. Justin Steele looks like the world's most valuable #2 if we're measuring $$ on the contract. Drew Smyly has been sensational alongside them and end of the day you get crazy results. Almost top 3 in every NL category but one: strikeouts.
There they're almost dead last but for the, Rockies and virgin heavy Nationals.
The splits represent a completely unique organizational approach to the modern pitching staff. It's obvious the Cubs factored in pacing, wide-pitch selection, command/tempo, and whatever else proves significant in managing a pitch clock while getting weak contact.
That's going to be the difference maker in 162 games between the Cubs and Reds, right now. The Reds have plenty of time to overcome their deficiencies. The Cubs have plenty of time to expose their own. That's why we say right now.
And all this said?
I didn't have the Cubs ahead of the Reds this week. Klemmer did and he made valid points.
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