This is art.
The Reds were a little tough to watch during that Phillies series, especially when they used their bats. But I can't seem to get too worried about the offense, what with Votto back, BP moving up in the order and Dusty possibly considering maybe working Heisey in against righties.
Also, the Reds are basically league average in runs-per-game and probably a tick above with these changes to the lineup. They're also fourth in the league in wOBA and - somehow - third in wRC+ (a league and park adjusted measure). Even factoring Great American Ballpark, they have a pretty good offense. It canbe argued that they're little unlucky in how they've scattered their hits. (Dusty's punchless 1-2 punches atop the lineup card might play a role in there somewhere too.)
Taken with the pitching staff - still among the top 3 or so in the league - the Reds are an elite major league team by the numbers. But have they also proven their mettle against good teams, rather than just padding their resume against bad ones?
Even while playing interleague series against the Yankees & Tigers, the Reds have played 58% of their games against teams who have a less-than-.500 record, which is above the 56% mark (9/16) of teams in the NL. Their Strength of Schedule is third-last in the majors, owing to the fact that thay've played a lot of games against the Cubs and Astros, the two worst teams in all the majors by record.
To the extent that strength of competition is a useful measure, it may give us some insight on how the Reds will fare in the playoffs. Although it's probably a crapshoot, like they say.
Reds' records vs. Different Groups of Teams
All opposing team records are as of September 4
|Group of MLB teams (by record)||Reds' record||Winning pct.|
|Top 5 Teams (MLB)||6-8||.429|
|Top 5 Teams (NL)||17-15||.531|
|Top 10 Teams (MLB)||19-16||.549|
|Top 7 Teams (NL)||24-23||.511|
|Bottom 7 Teams (NL)||40-17||.702|
|Bottom 10 Teams (MLB)||50-27||.649|
|Bottom 5 Teams (MLB)||27-13||.675|
|Bottom 5 Teams (NL)||31-11||.738|
Using raw W-L record isn't the very best way to group teams by caliber, but it'll do (Justin, HELP). There are also better ways to visualize this data, but they either break copyright law or I am not good enough at Photoshop to do them.
But I think this chart does a good job showing that while the Reds have definitely beat up on the dregs of the major leagues, they've also mostly held their own against good teams. Their records against even the best teams suggest they can at least play them straight up, with the biggest immediate threat being Washington (natch).
What this means for the final 25 games or the playoffs is anyone's guess.
And isn't that why we watch? Well, hopefully there's a better answer to why we watch than "because numbers are too boring."