Reds have "beaten the best," so that must mean...

"We don't low-five after outs. This isn't basketball."

In team offense, the Reds are solidly middle-of-the-pack. They're 6th in wRC+ in the NL and 8th in runs scored per game (slightly above league average). They're a team that's capable of busting out offensively - especially at home - but not one you might expect would master some of the league's elite pitchers.

The expectations that I decided that you have are wrong:

Reds' offense vs. some good pitchers

Pitcher IP G ERA AVG OBP SLG
RA Dickey 12.0 2 6.00 .326 .373 .696
Matt Cain 13.0 2 5.54 .296 .333 .611
Wade Miley
5.2 1 4.76 .348 .348 .435
CC Sabathia 7.0 1 3.86 .231 .375 .462
Adam Wainwright 11.0 2 6.35 .267 .313 .511
Chad Billingsley
6.0 1 4.50 .308 .333 .385

The Reds even managed to tie two runs and 6 hits (including 3 doubles) on Justin Verlander.

One quick retort to this is that these pitchers are cherry-picked. The Reds didn't fare particularly well against Madinson Bumgarner, Gio Gonzalez or Jordan Zimmermann. Besides, it's a small sample and you can always find a few dud performances against by good pitchers in any given season. Adam Wainwright, for one, faced the Reds before he really hit his stride in his post-Tommy John season.

So it's mostly just a curiosity that the Reds have done well against some legitimate Cy Young contenders. But I also wanted to look into whether there was anything in common with these guys beyond having off-nights against the home nine.

Two of the them are lefties (Miley and CC), but the rest are righties. Not very conclusive. They all have different repertoires, with Dickey obviously making it impossible to link them all together by pitch type. The site of these ace-shamings is pretty well balanced between home and away. The strongest common thread is that, with the exception of CC, none of these pitchers could be called hard-throwers.

There isn't really a strong unifying theory here, although I do think the Reds' righties - Rolen in particular - benefit from seeing slower stuff.

The larger point here is more aspirational. The Reds appear to have the talent level to hang with the best and their right-handedness doesn't seem to be a deal-breaker. In the playoffs, just one breakout performance against a team's best pitcher can turn a series. I'm taking this as an encouraging sign that his team is more prepared for the playoffs than the 2010 squad - although "no hits" is a pretty low bar.

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