18 Games at a Time - Capsule 7

In the last capsule recap, I suggested that the Reds needed 2 affirmative responses from three key performers to reach the postseason: Edinson Volquez, Mike Leake or his replacement, and Jay Bruce.  In this latest stretch, Volquez has fizzled, as has Leake.  But Homer Bailey and Jay Bruce, the once-upon-a-time top prospects have exploded as the Reds took the division by the collar, despite choking in the biggest series the team has seen in years.

It's been a season that has defied a standard narrative.  Indeed, this last stretch saw the Reds outscore their opponents by just five runs, but still win 12 of 18.  It was a volatile stretch full of trades and injuries and suspensions, but looking back, the regular 8 was pretty close to the suspected regulars to start the season.  Even the pitching stats were abnormally belied by some really, really bad outings.  The only consistent narrative that remains is that the team is benefitting from a relatively weak schedule, which still means that the Reds are beating the teams they're supposed to.

From this sport's beginnings, the how has always been less important than the what: Victory above all else.  The details, we'll worry about later.  Let's get to the numbers, shown through Tuesday's games.  Sharp-eyed readers will be on the lookout for some colorful wordplay.

2010 Reds, Capsule 7

Overview:

Wins/Losses: 12 - 6 (PSA), 72-54 (YTD)

Strength of Schedule: .483, YTD (16th most difficult in NL; 30th most difficult in ML) [Prev: .485 YTD SOS, 14th most difficult in NL; 28th most difficult in ML]

RPI (ESPN): .505, YTD (8th best in NL; 14th best in ML)

[Prev: .502 YTD RPI, 10th best in NL; 18th best in ML]

Baseball Prospectus playoff odds (based on team stats, YTD): 77.7% [prev: 59.3%]

Baseball Prospectus playoff odds (based on ELO concept): 78.1% [prev: 59.4%]

Baseball Prospectus playoff odds (based on team stats + PECOTA projections): 89.2% [prev: 66.5%]

Offense:

  • While the NL average hitting line was .253/.318/.392 (AVG/OBP/SLG), the Reds hitters turned in a line of .271/.339/.406
  • Hernandez, Votto, Phillips, Janish, Rolen, Gomes, Stubbs, and Bruce were the regular 8, as determined by plate appearances for the period.
  • Illustrating the sport's most valuable player mantle was Joey Votto, who actually lowered his season's OPS with his 947 OPS for the period.  Votto's 14 RBI paced the team.
  • Nobody on the team hit better, overall, than Jay Bruce, whose 340/410/566 really sparked what had become a rather listless offense.
  • You can refuse to take a walk and succeed, like Ramon Hernandez who walked one time in 44 plate appearances en route to a 390/409/610 stretch, or you can refuse to take a walk and struggle, like Brandon Phillips who earned one free pass in 81 plate appearances for a 282/309/385 line.
  • Left fielder Jonny Gomes turned in another poor performance, at 200/373/225, including just one extra base hit and one RBI.  Gomes, incidentally, has not hit well since the 3rd of these capsules.
  • Inspired, perhaps, by a semi-demotion, Drew Stubbs hit a couple dingers, and turned in an OPS of 840, although his 3/17 BB/K ratio was continued ugliness.
  • The definition of a failed opportunity: Chris Heisey had the chance to grab a starting role in LF or CF, but gakked it up for a 429 OPS.

Pitching:

  • The pitchers were a full run worse than average: 4.87 ERA against the league average of 3.87.
  • Lifting the fortunes of the team, however, were Bronson Arroyo and Homer Bailey, who combined for 5 victories, and had respective ERA's of 2.74 and 0.69 in 39.3 innings.
  • Each of the other starters had vicious stats, although as previously mentioned, there are some one-time bombs embedded in these figures: Cueto - 6.29 ERA; Leake - 11.77; Wood - 5.96; Volquez - 6.00.
  • Bullpen veteran Arthur Rhodes threw 5.7 innings of scoreless ball (just two hits allowed!) over 7 appearances.  Ho hum
  • Innings had to be spread liberally during the period, with some of the disaster outings.  15 different pitchers saw playing time in the 18 game stretch.
  • The best reliever on the team of late has been Nick Masset, who surrendered one run in 9.7 innings, which also saw 4 hits allowed, 3 walks, and 10 strikeouts.
  • CoCo hasn't quite been NoNo, but it's not quite Fireman material, either.  7.3 innings, 8 walks, 8 K's.  One supposes he doesn't know where the ball is going any better than the hitters do.
  • Home runs have been a problem for the group at large, with the team surrendering 1.5 HR/9, while the league average was just 0.9 HR/9.
  • Excellent defense continued, as the team's DER stood steady at .708
  • Season-to-date numbers for Arroyo are starting to get interesting: he's currently at 14-7, with a 3.82 ERA over 174.3 innings, meaning he's on pace for 224 innings, and has an outside shot at 20 wins.  When it's all said and done, Arroyo is likely to be the most valuable pitcher on the team again this year, which somehow continues to be a surprise.

The next 18:

  • 10 games at home, 8 on the road
  • 12 of the 18 against divisional opponents
  • 0 of the 18 against teams that are on pace for 2010 playoff slots
  • .464 average winning percentage for the teams in the next 18 games.
  • The Cardinals will face a 19 game schedule over the same time frame, with average opponents' winning percentages equaling .485
  • For most, if not all, of these games, there will be no Jim Edmonds available.  Let me now shrug my shoulders in an emphatic way.
  • The team will cross into September, which should mean-if nothing else-the debut of Aroldis Chapman.
  • 36 to go.  This is fun!
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