Although the Cincinnati Reds (83-55) have the second best record in baseball, sit atop the Central Division with a very comfortable 8 and a half game lead and are poised to seal the title by the third week of September, they are not what you would call “playoff ready”. There are many holes in their team, especially on offense, that must be addressed.
While the long ball, and the Cincinnati Reds have hit their (and a couple of other teams’) share of homeruns (2nd with 160), has masked a major problem for the Red much of the season, as the playoffs approach one of the holes the Reds must deal with is their inability to consistently score runs. Oh they can hit. They have slightly above the league average in the total number of hits. It’s when they hit. In baseball, there is such a thing as scattered hits – the Cincinnati Reds are the poster child for that (evidence being the series with the Philadelphia Phillies).
One of the major reasons for the lack of runs is the two leadoff spots for the Reds. Drew Stubbs and Zack Cozart are just not getting on base enough to be knocked in. After a great start of the season for Cozart (he hit .271), he has fallen on tough times. Right now he has a .243 batting average (that’s fourth on the team, by the way), worse yet he has a .287 OBP. A stat that jumps out on Cozart is first half/second half BA comparison. During the first half he has a respectable .252. In the second half, he is hitting .228. That’s why the 3rd and 4th place hitters end up hitting with no one on to drive in.
The most disappointing hitter for the Cincinnati Reds MUST be Stubbs. He is still striking out too much (141) and his BA is just not moving. Overall he is a .220 hitter with a .287 OBP. In the same 1st half/2nd half stat, Stubbs is .215/.227. When you look at his career, his BA is going down every year. I’m afraid it is time to move on without Stubbs in the lineup.
There is, however, a sliver of light in the future for the Cincinnati Reds in regards to this problem. With Joey Votto back, Brandon Phillips can move to his more natural leadoff spot. Phillips is having a career year and should be on base a whole lot more than what the Reds have now (.330 OBP now). Hopefully that will be the case. If it isn’t, they will not be long for the playoffs.