The sentiment among many Cincinnati Reds fans last week was “our team might not be doing well, but thank God we aren’t the Chicago Cubs.” That is true; the Cubs are 9-17 while the Reds have a 12-15 record in 2014.
However, these teams are nearly identical offensively when you take a deep look statistically:
REDS: .253 average | 25 home runs | 104 runs batted in
CUBS: .236 average | 22 home runs | 94 runs batted in
The difference offensively between these two teams this year lies solely on the position behind the plate. It has been no secret that the Reds’ catchers have been the heartbeat of the offense through the first 28 games. Take a look at their statistics:
Devin Mesoraco: .468 average | 3 home runs | 13 runs batted in
Brayan Pena: .319 average | 2 home runs | 5 runs batted in
And with slim playing time, even Tucker Barnhart has contributed with a .214 average, one home run and one run batted in. If you take away the production of these three players, the offensive statistics between the Reds and Cubs are identical:
REDS: .237 average | 19 home runs | 85 runs batted in
CUBS: .235 average | 18 home runs | 83 runs batted in
Even a breakdown of key position players for each team shows that overall, these two teams are not that different offensively.
First Base: Anthony Rizzo (.283/4/12); Joey Votto (.281/3/13)
Second Base: Darwin Barney (.136/1/4); Brandon Phillips (.254/1/6)
Shortstop: Starlin Castro (.308/4/14); Zack Cozart (.194/1/9)
Third Base: Mike Olt (.164/4/11); Todd Frazier (.258/5/15)
Left Field: Junior Lake (.221/2/4); Ryan Ludwick (.259/2/12)
Center Field: Emilio Bonifacio (.337/0/5); Billy Hamilton (.245/1/6)
Right Field: Nate Schierholtz (.217/0/10); Jay Bruce (.220/3/14)
These numbers show just how important Mesoraco, Pena and Barnhart have been to the Reds this season — and we haven’t even discussed their impact with the pitching staff. With those players, the Reds are a 13-15 third-place team. What would this team be without these players?
Statistically, most likely a last place team with a 9-17 record.