After finishing off a dominant sweep of the Giants the Cincinnati Reds sit alone in first place. Yes, you read that correctly, on May 8 with 31 Reds games in the books the first professional team in baseball is leading the NL Central. The path has not been easy, and nor will it become any easier but this team has shown it's ceiling is just a little higher than most expected.
As many of you know we go by the 20/30 rule here on A Seat at The Table, which to summarize means you do not judge baseball teams until game 20 and then you re-evaluate at game 30. There are still some pretenders who hang around after 30 games, and there are still some teams who will rise late but by this time of the season the sample sizes become large enough that you can see what a team's maximum potential is.
The Reds have been an offensive machine so far through 30 games, scoring 163 runs, which checks in at third most in all of baseball. Now this has been effected by a massive onslaught of runs against the Giants as the Reds scored 31 runs in their last three games, but the team had already been playing well offensively to that point having scored 132 runs in 28 games which in itself is no small feat.
However, all Cincinnati fans knew that it was not the offense this year they had to be concerned about, but instead it was the pitching. To this point the Reds have an era of 4.27 which is at about the middle in major league ranks, but the statistic that stands out is batting average against. Reds pitchers are letting opponents bat only .225 against them which is second best in all of baseball.
In fact, the team who is first in that category is the Reds next opponent the New York Yankees with a .224 BAA. Essentially what a stat like that suggests is that the Reds era is higher because they have had a little bit of bad luck, which if you watched any of the Cubs vs Reds series earlier this year you know that the Reds were a bounce or two of good luck away from a sweep against the defending World Series champions.
To put into perspective how good the Reds could be all you have to do is look at the teams who led the league in batting average against last season, it went Cubs, Dodgers, Nationals, Blue Jays, and Indians in the top 5. Needless to say that is not bad company to be with.
Reds fans should be excited, because if this team scores like they are and keeps pitching like they are the runs scored will stay up and the era will come down and October baseball in Cincinnati might not be such a far fetched dream after all.