On Predicting the 2011 Reds

All baseball fans start the season with the optimal optimism. After all, that is one aspect of the love of the game. Then again, many fans make predictions – some optimist, others realistic, and many just for fun. So, here’s a look at my team – the Cincinnati Reds.

They are the NL Central’s defending champions, as in 2010 they defied the predictions of the pundits – including me. Reds strengths are defense, starting pitching depth, and timely hitting. Joey Votto is for real, and the team surrounds him by a good mix of young and old players. Team speed is good, but not great. As with many teams, who knows which way the bullpen goes, but the latter seems to be in good hands.

Although the team is highly touted by baseball pundits, I have the following concerns for the 2011 season.

  • 2010 did not involve many injuries. Two starting pitchers start 2011 on the DL. Is this an omen for what is to come?
  • In 2010, the Reds led the league in late-inning, come-from-behind wins. Can this be done again? I know Opening Day says YES, but time will tell.
  • Sometimes the stars align with the right players doing the right thing at the right time. Was that 2010?
  • Individually, can Drew Stubbs continue to improve? Can Johnny Gomes produce enough to justify his questionable defense and streaky hitting? Can Scott Rolen productively play 110-120 games?

Every team has questions – plus repeating as division champs isn’t easy. I’m a loyal fan and will root for as many wins as possible – and I’ll settle for less than 162 wins – yet 90 will win the division. Tom Lasorda said each team wins a third of its games, loses a third, with the remaining third being the key to their success.

On paper, the Reds are the class of the NL Central. The games are not on paper, but played on the field over many months. Unfortunately, I see the Reds finishing in third place, but closer to second than fourth.

Logo property of the Cincinnati Reds Baseball Club

On the Reds Finale

Sunday night I attended Game 3 of the Reds-Phillies series – my first baseball post-season game ever. Sadly, I saw a very good Phillies team finish the Reds in a three-game sweep.

Game 1: Phillies starting pitching do what top pitchers do – keep good hitters off balance. Ray Halladay’s performance was a notch above outstanding.

Game 2: The Reds did embarrass themselves in game 2. Leading 4-0, committing 4 errors, untimely walks and hit batsmen – actually, that was more than embarrassing. The Reds had a chance to get out of Philadelphia with a split, and let it get away.

Game 3: Cole Hamels did a great job of keeping batters out of sync, noted that the Reds had very few hard-hit balls. Besides being 7-0 against the Reds in his career, Hamels followed Halladay’s lead and did what good pitchers do – take the bat out of the batter’s hands.

From my point of view as a fan,

  • Arroyo and Cueto pitched well enough to win.
  • Besides striking out too many times, Votto and Rolen went 2 for 21 in the series with double digit strikeouts.
  • The number of errors by infielders was disastrous.
  • Phillies didn’t pound the ball, but won with better pitching and defense.

From Cincinnati sportstalk host Lance McAlister.

  • 1: Hits by Joey Votto in 10 ab’s
  • 1: Number of Reds hitters with more than one hit in NLDS (Phillips, 3)
  • 4: Runs scored by Reds in NLDS
  • 7: Errors committed by Reds in NLDS
  • 7: Consecutive playoff losses by Reds (9 consecutive World Series game wins)
  • 8: Strikeouts by Scott Rolen in 11 AB’s
  • 11: Fewest hits EVER in a playoff series
  • 15: Number of times the Reds were shutout this season
  • 19: Number of Reds without playoff experience, number of Phillies with playoff experience
  • 24: Strikeouts by Reds hitters in NLDS (4 walks)
  • .124: Reds batting average in NLDS (11 for 89)
  • 2.52: ERA by Reds pitchers in NLDS

 

I’m proud of the 2010 Reds as they simply lost to a better team whose pitching was awesome. The Reds surprised me and many others to win the NL Central; and they did it fair and square. Simply put, anyone saying the Reds didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs is a baseball moron.

Good luck to the Phillies and their fans. Meanwhile, Reds pitchers and catchers report in 127 days, and Opening Day is 170 days away.

Reds logo is property of the Cincinnati Reds.

On the 2010 Reds

The 2010 Cincinnati Reds surprised many – including myself. Although some may call it a fluke, I simply say nah baby nah because the 162-game marathon allows the cream to surface. 2010 may be a one-year fluke, but that does not matter because fans and players of the 22 teams currently sitting at home would switch places in a heartbeat.

The reasons for the success is simple: offense, pitching, and defense – especially compared to 2009. After the stats, I give my playoff thoughts.

  • Joey Votto hit, and hit very well (37/113/.324) – possible MVP
  • Despite a mid-season slump, Jay Bruce produced (25/70/.280)
  • Scott Rolen remained healthy (20//83/.285)
  • Jonny Gomes overproduction (18/86/.266) made up for Brandon Phillips’ underproduction (18/59/.275)
  • Catchers produced (14/97/.290s)
  • Shortstops produced (9/67/.260s)
  • Drew Stubbs still strikes out too much, but can scoff at his stats (22/77/.255)
  • Branson Arroyo produced 17 wins
  • Aaron Harang didn’t produce, but a team of young pitchers stepped in.
  • After a poor first two months, the bullpen and starting pitching was good.
  • There other stats that are important that I didn’t find as last at-bat wins and running first to third.

Team Records

  • Record: 91-71, 478; (’09 78-84, .478)
  • Home: 49-32 (’09, 40-41)
  • Road: 42-39 (’09, 29-36)
  • East: 17-15, (’09, 16-19)
  • Cent: 49-30 (’09, 42-34)
  • West: 17-19, (’09, 10-22)
  • Place: Div 1st, NL 3rd (’09, 4th, 10th)

Offense

  • Runs: 1st (’09: 11th)
  • AVE: .272; 1st (’09: .247, 15th)
  • AB: 3rd (’09: 11th)
  • AVE w/RISP: .278; 1st (’09: .250, 12th)
  • AVE w/RISP 2 outs: .269, 1st (’09: 223, 11th)

Pitching

  • ERA: 4.01, 7th (’09: 4.18; 7th)
  • WHIP: 1.33, 7th (’09; 1.37; 8th)
  • AVE: .254, 5th (’09; .258; 6th)

Defense

  • ERR: 1st lowest (’09 10th highest)
  • F% .988 (1st) (’08: .985, 6th)
  • DER .7176 (3rd) (’08: .7170 3rd)

Regarding the playoffs, the Reds ended a 15-year absence. Although the Reds are one of the few teams that can keep pace with the Phillies hitting, the Phillies don’t have to face their own pitching. That’s not to discount the Reds starters, but Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels are quite the force in a short series with every other day an off day. As a whole, the Reds struggle against ace pitchers, thus I am wary of a sweep. Stranger things have happened, thus the reason why they play the game.

Reds logo is property of the Cincinnati Reds

On a Victory Cigar

I had a local radio station on to listen to the Reds game while in the car Tuesday. Therefore, that same station was on when I got in the car Wednesday morning. In general, I seldom listen to AM talk radio, however, what I heard after starting the car caught my attention.

The Tuesday game was the one that clinched the division for the Reds on the Jay Bruce home run. The caller complained about the television stations showing some players smoking cigars because that was a bad influence on his kids. Plus, he was going to call the state of Ohio to file a complaint against the players and the club for smoking in a public facility.

I realize the guy is clueless, must not believe in using teachable moments, and must constantly look elsewhere to identify the problem instead of using a mirror – but is he a poster face of today’s American society?

An Addendum
The Cincinnati Enquirer has this story that states a smoking complaint hotline received five anonymous complaints. I assume the complainers were not in the room and probably not near the stadium.

Cincinnati Reds – NL Central Champions

In early August the Cardinals sweep the Reds in Cincinnati to take a one game lead. Although there were 41 games to go, many were discounting the Reds chances. After that series, the Reds won seven in a row, thus starting to distance themselves from the Cardinals.

I’ve only been up for 90 minutes this morning, yet I heard and seen the game-winning, title-clinching home run by Jay Bruce at least 10 times … and probably many more before the day is done. For this life-long Reds fan, what a special moment.

It’s been a long 15 years since the last playoff appearance, especially when most of the teams weren’t contenders – so today is special!

Image property of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

PS: This video with the radio call by Hall of Fame announcer Marty Brennaman wasn’t available this morning. Enjoy this memorable moment in Reds history.