A pet peeve of mine is that I continue to see the same complaints. Dusty's lineups. Dusty's bullpen choices. Cozart. Stubbs. Leadoff and cleanup hitters. Lack of lefty hitters, especially on the bench. And that these are all critical type deficiencies, the kinds that will absolutely sink this team in October.
Let's take a look at the NL contenders and some of their soft spots.
Washington: Team OBP is .001 better than Cincy's. Leadoff OBP is sub .300. OPS vs RHP is .014 better than Cincy. ERA is best in NL, slightly better than Cincy. They may lose Strasburg
Atlanta: ERA is 3.98, way off the pace. Scoring runs but OPS is slightly worse than Cincy's.
Pitt: Team OPS is .030 less than Cincy, same vs RHP. They are one spot better than Cincy in leadoff OBP, which is nothing to brag about and now have a rookie hitting there, fresh out of the minors. Pitching has been good, but still behind the Reds.
St. Louis: Biggest difference in Cincy's favor is the bullpen is about 1.60 runs behind in ERA. They do give me reason to pause as they have talent, especially at the dish.
SF: Strong pitching. Cincy has .030 edge in OPS, both overall and vs RHP. 11th in leadoff OBP. #5 hitter has a .701 OPS.
LA: Fading. 15th in the NL in OPS, .055 off Cincy's number. .688 OPS vs RHP. Right behind Cincy in ERA. We will see if Hanley makes a difference.
Now things can obviously change and I would love to see Cincy add some talent to the roster. Would be a solid boost. But even if things stayed as is, do we think that they wouldn't be one of the top choices to go to the WS, if not the top choice? Who is materially stronger than them top to bottom?
Looking around I see a lot of the same warts across the league. If Cincy ends up getting taken out by Washington, for example, are we going to blame it on Cozart/Stubbs even though the Nats have Steve Lombardozzi leading off for them?
Cozart, Stubbs, Dusty's lineups, etc. don't seem to be having the detrimental effect that many act like they are having. The team, overall, is quality and is playing great right now. That's what counts.
So the question is...who do you think the Reds are chasing? Who is the team that they have to better themselves to get in front of?