Cincinnati Reds odds to win the World Series are 10/1 on Bovada. That’s not bad — at least compared to the Nationals at 9/1 or the Angels at 8/1. Given that you could have gotten somewhere in the neighborhood of 45/1 at the start of the season, though, the steep drop is a clear sign of both how impressive and how surprising this team has been.
Whenever a team drops dramatically like that, bettors need to be particularly aware. It could be that it is a sign that the team is one to watch — a legitimate contender. Or it could be a sign that the team is significantly overhyped, and that there is no value at all to be had in betting on them.
So, where do the Reds fit this year? Let’s take a look:
This team can pitch. There is no question about that. They have the third best combined ERA in baseball, and it’s that pitching prowess that has largely been the key to their success.
The rotation has stayed healthy and has, for the most part, done its job. Johnny Cueto has been among the best arms in baseball. Mat Latos is thriving out of San Diego and is living up to his potential. Homer Bailey isn’t the star he was once expected to be, but at 9-7 with a 3.98 ERA and a nice 1.36 WHIP he’s more than competent for a mid-rotation guy. Despite his advancing age and lousy hair Bronson Arroyo keeps finding ways to get it done. His 7-7 record isn’t great, but his 1.26 WHIP shows how effective he has been. The weakest link has been young Mike Leake, but a lot of teams would kill to have a fifth starter as comparably reliable as he has been. He doesn’t blow teams away, and he has lost more than he has won, but he doesn’t make a ton of mistakes, and he eats innings. He also has a very deceptive record — the team is 7-3 in games in which he started but did not earn the decision. That means that he has been a very attractive pitcher to bet on because he far outperforms the numbers he puts on paper.
The team isn’t a disaster at the plate by any means, but they certainly don’t hit as well as they pitch.
They sit 18th in baseball in both batting average and on base percentage, 16th in runs scored, and 12th in slugging percentage. There are obvious bright spots — Joey Votto isn’t what he was last year, but he’s still very good, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips have displayed solid power, and Ryan Ludwick has been solid. They don’t have a lot of depth, though. Votto is the only regular player who is hitting above .300, and they are far too vulnerable to team-wide slumps because of their issues.
The bright news here, though, is how the team has played without Votto. He is clearly the star of this team, and teams can get into the bad habit of relying too heavily on a player of that stature. He has missed 24 games since the beginning of July, though, and the team is an incredible 17-8 without him — and that includes the last four losses. It’s obviously never positive for a team to be without a star player when crunch time rolls around, but if they can be that effective without such a massive part of their offense then they are worthy of some respect.
Cincinnati Reds Schedule
There is a big reason to be concerned about this team based on their schedule.
The team has the best winning percentage in baseball against teams with a losing record. There is a positive side to that, of course — it means that despite their current four-game losing streak that includes three in a row in Milwaukee, they are largely take caring of business in the games they need to win. On the flip side, though, if they have won a higher percentage of their games against weak teams than any other squad that means that their record is more inflated than any other team, and therefore it is less indicative of their true power than any other top team.
Frankly, I just don’t respect Dusty Baker. He has never really shown that he can get the full potential out of a team when it matters, and that is especially true in the last decade. His reputation is built more on long-ago accomplishments than what he has done recently, and I don’t truly believe he is the guy to get the most out of this team down the stretch and beyond.
I don’t rule the team out because of his presence, but he certain isn’t an asset to them.
Pittsburgh is feisty and is determined to hang around. The Cardinals have been unlucky and are better than their record and seasoned to the pressures of a stretch drive. The team has little margin for error right now despite their current 2.5-game lead in the NL Central.
What makes things more positive, though, is that the Central is well positioned to tie up one of the two wild card positions, so they likely only need to maintain a lead over one of their two key contenders to get a shot at the postseason.
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