The Cincinnati Reds are off to their worst start to a season since 1931. Here are some highlights of 1931 for reference. The Empire State Building opened in New York City. Al Capone was convicted of tax evasion. Mao Zedong created the Chinese People’s Republic, and the Star Spangled Banner was officially named the national anthem of the United States.
While there are a number of operational misfortunes that have led to this point, let’s take a look at how the Reds have gotten to a 2-12 start from a statistical point of view.
Cincinnati sits at 28th in baseball in wRC+, or weighted runs created. The Reds are 25th in both strikeout percentage (25.2%) and wOBA (.284). They have scored the third least amount of runs in the Majors and have the worst offensive WPA (win probability added). Even with all of this, the hitting has not been the aspect of the team that has struggled the most.
Let’s start with the bullpen. While ERA is not the most accurate of pitching measures, especially when the Reds have committed the fifth most errors in baseball, the Reds still sit at a disappointing 28th with a 6.61 ERA. Relieving FIP, fielding independent pitching, is the worst in baseball at 6.00. The next closest are the Royals at 5.46. The bullpen has a -0.5 WAR—also the worst in baseball. Walks and hits per innings pitched? Cincinnati’s bullpen is dead last with averaging 1.70 BB/H per inning. Furthermore, Reds relievers have the worst walk percentage in baseball at 15.3%.
Again, beginning with ERA, Reds starters sit beneath every other Major League team with a 5.64 average. FIP is second worst, with the Marlins sparing Cincinnati of that crown. A -0.2 WAR, a 1.37 WHIP and the 25th best strikeout to walk ratio round out the starting pitching.
What does the future look like?
After reading that, I hope I do not come off as overly-critical of this Reds team. After all, this is a rebuild. Struggling is expected, and trying out new lineups is part of life in a rebuild. However, Cincinnati is on pace to win 23 games this season. Will that happen?
Probably Hopefully not. I love the Reds as much as any other die hard baseball fan from the Queen City. However, something has to change. This is the worst start to a season since the Great Depression, and no amount of rebuilding can explain that. Still, there are some bright spots in the future. Joey Votto is dead set on staying in Cincinnati, Scooter Gennett is off to a hot start at the plate, and Nick Senzel and Hunter Greene are on the horizon. Nonetheless, buckle up Reds fans. This has the potential to be a very long season.