The Reds: Bound to fall?
Contending teams usually feature strong pitching and defense. The Reds are deficient in both areas, making it doubtful that they'll be a serious threat in the NL Central.
The Reds' split personality isn't as pronounced as it was last season, when they led the NL in both runs scored and runs allowed, finishing 73-89.
They were again first in runs scored entering Friday's play, but third in runs allowed — progress of sorts. Two of their projected starting pitchers, right-hander Paul Wilson and lefty Eric Milton, are on the DL, though neither is certain to be a significant contributor. Veteran reliever Rick White, 37, might have the best fastball on the club.
The defense doesn't help matters. The Reds committed 22 errors in their first 22 games, most in the majors, and ranked 25th out of 30 in defensive efficiency, a statistic that measures the percentage of balls in plays that are converted into outs.
The defensive struggles of third baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who leads the majors with eight errors, are curious; Encarnacion, 23, does early work every day with bench coach Bucky Dent, according to G.M. Wayne Krivsky.
"He has enough raw ability that it shouldn't be so difficult — he's got a good arm, good enough feet, good enough reactions," says a scout who recently saw the Reds. "But it might just be that he's a bat who belongs in the American League."
Left fielder Adam Dunn, who has made four errors, is another issue.
"He's worse now than he has ever been in the outfield," the scout says. "His range is limited. His routes to balls are a little scary. They're going to have to move him to first base."