The Reds are definitely very much in contention, if not not serious contention right now, and not only has not everything gone right, but at the very least has had as much go wrong than any other team they are competing against.
Reds Bad Luck:
Losing Votto for two weeks worth of games. That's like the Cards losing Pujols or the Brewers losing Braun. The Cards did lose Ankiel, the Brewers Weeks, and the Cubs Ramirez. Only the Cubs are close in comparison, and they have other bats to fill his void.
Losing EE for pretty much the whole season so far. He was a key RH power bat in that lineup.
Losing Volquez, the Ace of the staff for two weeks. Granted he has not been the Ace this year, but he was pitching like a solid #2-3 pitcher.
Major slumps by EE, Gonzo, Dickerson, Phillips to start the season.
These are not issues that other teams don't also deal with, nor are they catastrophic. But I think this shows that the Reds can and have overcome adversity, and do not need "everything to go right" for them to compete.
The Reds are in contention, without a RH power bat, and not everything has gone right so far. Give them a RH bat, with the same luck and they move up to serious contention. Just my opinion.