Friday, September 30, 2011

Disappointing Season Comes Up Short

The Reds organization and all of us fans likely had high expectations for the Reds to repeat in 2011 as the National League Central Champions, but it was a dream which came well short of becoming a reality. It was mostly the same cast of characters in 2011 as it was in 2010, but most of them did not live up to the expectations. The purpose of this post is not to scold the Reds for what they didn't do, but rather simply to point out what could have been, and what could lie ahead for this young, talented team.

-The Reds as a team lost 33 one run games, which was the most in the major leagues. You can't define coming up short any better way than losing by just one run.
-Contributing to many of those one run losses were 22 blown saves, which means the Reds were in a position to win several more games before being let down by the bullpen. The only major league team to make the playoffs with more blown saves was St. Louis (26), but let's not talk about that.
-Perhaps one of the more heartbreaking individual moments was on September 6th when Mike Leake came one out short of his first career shutout, when the Cubs Bryan LaHair hit a two-run home run to tie the game in the ninth. Leake did finish nine innings in the affair.
-If that wasn't enough heartbreak over one player, we also had to endure Johnny Cueto missing out on a chance at the ERA title by just six innings, or basically one quality start, due to injury. He finished with 156 IP of the 162 needed to qualify, with an ERA of 2.31. Clayton Kershaw finished at 2.28, so who knows what could have happened.
-Bronson Arroyo missed 200 IP by just one inning, which ended his streak of six straight seasons with at least 200 innings.
-The Reds had three pitchers finish one short of 10 wins. Homer Bailey, Arroyo, and Cueto all ended up with nine wins on the season.

-What can be said about Scott Rolen and Jonny Gomes? They were awesome last year, but not so much this year. Rolen could never stay on the field due to injury, and Gomes never produced like expected en route to finishing the season with the Washington Nationals.
-Joey Votto put together another stellar season, but did come one homer shy of 30 on the year to go with his 103 RBIs.
-Jay #Bruuuuuce managed a career high 32 homers and 97 RBIs, but was just three short of 100 RBIs on the season.
-Drew Stubbs came up short a whole bunch of times when he had two strikes, leading the league with 205 strikeouts, landing him third on the all-time list for whiffs in a single season.
-Paul Janish failed to hit a single home run in 336 at-bats. Dontrelle Willis and Travis Wood each had one. While he was mostly solid in the field, he did make some head-scratching errors for a guy known for his defense.

-Perhaps some would say Dusty Baker came up short in his managerial duties for failing to find a suitable leadoff candidate early enough or for not playing Chris Heisey enough or what have you. Perhaps some would say that GM Walt Jocketty came up short by not making a significant deadline trade, despite having a plethora of young talent, and a soon-to-be free agent catcher in Ramon Hernandez. That's all subjective however, so I'll leave those up for you to decide.

In the end the Reds finished 79-83, three wins from a winning record, and when you add up all the shortcomings, the sum you get is a third place finish, 17 games behind the NL Central Champion Milwaukee Brewers and 11 games behind the NL Wild Card winner St. Louis Cardinals.

For there to be shortcomings, there have to be expectations, and for expectations there has to be the talent to warrant them. This club certainly has the talent to contend again next year, but every player must perform and be consistent, and management has to do their part as well. ONLY 189 more days till we get to find out!

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