Look, I’m not really so stupid. I mean, I’m pretty stupid. A man of superior intelligence would never succumb to eating as many legal pads as I do in a given month (the ruffage is agreeable to my valves). But I’m not stupid enough to actually think the Reds could be playing in October this year.
But what if they do?
But they won’t. But then, maybe they will?
They certainly won’t. It can’t happen.
But what if?
As everyone takes a few days off for the All Star Game, the Reds are more-or-less kicking around in the cellar of the National League. Here are the relevant standings:
As you can see (it sure is big enough), the Reds are 13.5 games behind the Cubs in the Central. They are 10 games out of the Wild Card, currently led by the Brewers and Braves. Of course, as we all know, it isn’t the games back that gets you: it’s the number of teams you have to jump. Currently, the Pirates, Nationals, Giants, Cardinals, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Braves, Phillies, Brewers, and Cubs are also ahead of the Reds. But when you cut out Division winners and the other Wild Card spot, that leaves four fewer teams the Reds actually have to pass up. It’s stupid to even talk about the Reds going on such a run as to outplay all of these teams to a sufficient extent that they overcome them and slide into the Wild Card Game.
Yes goddammit this is stupid please stop writing like this.
But you know what, it isn’t completely impossible. All of the websites that say such things say the Reds have a 0.00% chance of reaching the postseason. But while it is completely unreasonable, it isn’t completely impossible. The Reds’ recent run of quality form has a lot of us feeling much better than we did after that blackest of Aprils. I want to look at some of the biggest comebacks in baseball history today, mostly because I’m irrationally peppered up by their 18-9 record over the last month or so, but also because what the hell else are we gonna do the day after the All Star Game.
The 2001 Athletics were the season before the famous Moneyball A’s. They were very Moneyball too, but it just wasn’t a thing yet.
Those A’s checked in at the halfway point around .500, but they were supercharged jet fuel in the second half, going 58-17. That’s a .773 winning percentage. If the Reds can play to that level of quality through the rest of the season, going something like oh I don’t know 50-16 to close out the season, they’d end the year at 93-69 and surely be in the thick of it all.
And it isn’t like sour Aprils are always and forever disqualifying. Take a look at some data I got from Baseball-Reference.com:
April showers bring October champagne showers
|SEASON||TEAM||RECORD IN APRIL||SEASON RECORD|
|SEASON||TEAM||RECORD IN APRIL||SEASON RECORD|
|2001||Them A's I talked about||8-17||102-60|
That’s just from the previous decade. There was a bunch more out there that I didn’t bother sorting through because I was having the devil’s own time just getting the stupid spreadsheet into the daggum CMS. Thanks, SBNation.
Suffice to say, this kind of thing has happened before and it isn’t so other-worldly rare, either. Let’s say the Reds’ recent hot streak is a bit more than a hot streak. Let’s say this last month, when they’ve gone 18-9, is a level of play they can maintain for more than one month. Maybe they do this for three months. What would that look like?
Well, let’s say they finish out this season 44-22. They would end the season with a record of 87-75. Now, that’s not a lock for the postseason, but it’s a sporting chance.
Do you remember the 2007 Mets? They had a seven-game lead over the Phillies on September 12th. They went 5-12 to finish out the season and the Phils were able to catch them on the final day. And that was just over a few weeks. The Reds have two-plus months to make up this ground. Of course, they are ten games under .500 right now and they are looking up at more than a half-dozen teams, but while it is bleakly improbable, it is not completely beyond the realm of the possible. They have already proved they can play fantastic baseball and maintain a dominant pace for more than a month.
And the Reds have the opportunity to take these necessary games from each of the teams above them. They have at least three games against every team above them in the standings aside from the Braves and Rockies. They have nine against the Brewers and Pirates, seven against the Cubs, and six against the Cardinals. They play four against the Phillies and Nationals and three apiece against the Giants, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers.
Look, if I have yet to make myself clear, I really don’t think the Reds are going to make the postseason this year. I don’t even think they finish the season at or above .500. But there is a small part of me who is going to bookmark this page and then furiously retweet the hell out of it when the Reds are dumping ice-cold Budweisers on each other on September 30th.