The Reds have become that nuisance of a little cousin who won’t leave you and your friends alone when you’re trying to have fun.
The Cardinals own the best record in baseball at 31-16 with a .660 winning percentage. If the Cardinals were in the East, their record would give them a three game cushion over the Braves. If in the West, the Cardinals would be four ahead of the Diamondbacks and Rockies. Yet the Cardinals are playing in baseball's toughest division.
The Reds have been nipping at the Cardinals’ heels for weeks now, sitting a mere game and a half behind and waiting for a Cardinal mid-season slump to take form.
Yet the Reds’ .625 winning percentage masks a telling fact and a stroke of scheduling luck.
The Reds are crushing. There is no denying it. However, even those in Cincinnati will admit—the Reds have been playing weak teams. For example, the Reds were afforded the luxury of playing the hapless Miami Marlins seven times already. It was an early season gift that, as of today, only the Phillies have been given as well. The Cardinals will not face the Marlins until the middle of June. In the Reds’ five recent series (including the current one versus the Cubs), the Reds have played four teams that are playing near .400 or below. The Cardinals have played two.
But credit needs to be given to both the Reds and the Cardinals (but especially the Reds). Both are beating the teams they need to beat. The Cardinals are 17-7 against clubs under .500. The Reds are an impressive 24-5. Only the Braves, at 16-3, have a better winning percentage.
Herein lies the Reds’ deception: Against winning teams the Reds are an abysmal 6-13. The Met’s have a similar line, holding a record of 5-14.
Of all the Major League teams who lead their respective divisions, three—the Braves, Rockies, and Diamondbacks—have sub .500 records when facing winning teams. But compare the Red’s .315 winning percentage against those of the Rockies (.433) and Braves (.444).
This may be a fluke that will balance out. If it is not, however, the month of June may be very cruel to the Reds. They will see their honeymoon schedule end--of the nine teams they play, seven have winning records, and two sit atop their divisions. (Cardinals will play five winning teams.) So let's sit back and see how long that 1.5 games behind lasts.