Earlier today Jeff Sullivan wrote about Fangraph's Projected 2016 Strengths of Schedule. While he admits that the differences in difficulty between team schedules are "subtle" they do exist. So how does Cincinnati's schedule look heading in to 2016?
The Reds are projected to play the most difficult schedule in the National League in 2016. To which I say, "Bring it on!"
While that's not great news it isn't worth getting too upset about. By Fangraph's projections a teams strength of schedule only affects win/loss records by about two games in either direction. The Mets, who are projected to have the NL's easiest schedule, are expected to add just over two wins. Cincinnati's difficult schedule is only expected to cost them 1.5 - 2 wins this season.
Sullivan also notes that strength of schedule is based of of Fangraph's Projected 2016 Standings. A significant factor in the expected difficulty of the Reds' schedule is Fangraph's projections for the rest of the NL Central. The Cubs (96 wins), Cardinals (85 wins), and Pirates (84 wins) are all expected to have top seven records in the NL.
This was already expected to be a difficult season, and to some this might just be one more obstacle in the way of success. Or...could this make the tale of a scrappy Reds team that finds a way to win a Wild Card spot even sweeter? Only time will tell.