Aug. 28, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Once again, there is no clear Cy Young contender on a playoff team in the National League. The Mets' R.A. Dickey has the best narrative of the league's elite pitchers, but New York is nine games under .500 and 18.5 games out in the N.L. East. Clayton Kershaw, Jordan Zimmermann, Kyle Lohse, and Matt Cain are all having excellent seasons for contending clubs, but none of them has a compelling storyline. Does this mean that a Reds pitcher might finally take home the Cy Young Award?
Fay looks at both of the Reds' potential candidates. Chapman is having a season that's eerily similar to Eric Gagne's 2003 season. Gagne posted 3.6 bWAR in 82.1 innings for Los Angeles while recording 55 saves out of 55 chances. Gagne's ERA was a cool 1.20, good for a 337 ERA+ in the middle of the sillyball era. The Dodgers pitcher struck out 15 batters per nine innings while only walking 2.2 per nine. It was a phenomenal season in relief, but Gagne won the award primarily because he had a great narrative (consecutive save opportunities streak) in a year without a clear winner.
Chapman has already posted 3.5 bWAR in only 64 innings. He will likely surpass Gagne's total bWAR, but post similar ERA, ERA+, K/9, and BB/9 numbers. Chapman has "only" 33 saves and will fall far short of Gagne's 55. Will that hold him back? Maybe, but the presence of another great pitcher on the Reds' staff will probably hinder him more. Fay thinks that "Cueto is probably the leading candidate to win the National League Cy Young. Cueto has been dominant as a starter. Starters have won 92 of the 101 Cy Young Awards . . . He leads the NL in both wins and ERA." Cueto also leads the league's starters in ERA+ (172), HR/9 (.446), bWAR (6.1 - 1.9 more than second place Clayton Kershaw), and RE24 (35.71).
Friend of the site, Hal McCoy, covers a variety of topics on the Reds' off day. McCoy believes that Joey Votto needs to take his time and come back strong rather than risk another injury. McCoy also looks at the lack of respect for Ryan Hanigan, lists his favorite Reds first basemen of all-time, and calls out C.B.Bucknor for the ejection of Bryce Harper.
The Cincinnati Business Courier reports that Reds merchandise sales have grown 4 percent in the last four weeks compared [sic] a year ago.
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[T]he growth in Reds merchandise sales bucks the trend of sales across MLB, which have plunged 25 percent.
Yahoo has this piece of fluff that breaks down the Reds' magic number. Notable is the fact that the author apparently slept through the 2010 season: "The last time I recall discussion of the Reds and their magic number was 1990."
The Reds continue to close in on the NL Central crown. Baseball Prospectus lists the Reds' division chances as 97.7% while CoolStandings.com gives the Reds a 94.7% chance of winning the Central. Life is good.
Tangotiger is currently accepting ballots for his annual Fans' Scouting Report. In an effort to tap into the "wisdom of the crowd", Tango asks fans from all thirty teams to evaluate the defensive abilities of each team's players. It's a great alternative/supplement to advanced defensive metrics. The readers of this site watch as much Reds baseball as anyone and could really add to the project. If you have some time, read the brief instructions, and consider filling out a ballot for the Reds.