The Cincinnati Reds: full of fight because they are just grinders by nature or are they full of fight because they are making up for their manager's shortcomings?
After Wednesday's 5-4 walk-off win (second in three days), the Reds have now won in their last at-bat nine out of 14 times. They are 4-0 in extra innings and 7-4 in one-run games. But, if you look at stats, you'd be amazed this team is anywhere near .500. Team batting average .241 (12th in the N.L.), runs scored 121 (10th), OBP .314 (14th), slugging percentage .391 (11th), team ERA 5.17 (14th).
They're getting practically nothing from leadoff hitter Drew Stubbs. His .174 average is easily worst of the regulars. He has struck out an unbelievable 30 times in 92 at bats. And every time he shows signs of life, he goes back into a deeper hole.
The starting rotation has started to come around of late, but they still only have five total wins and a combined ERA of 5.39 which is 15th in the N.L. They are not pitching deep into games and sapping the bullpen of life. Already, Francisco Cordero has pitched in 17 of the team's 28 games. That's a pace to appear in 98 games where he only appeared in 68 all of last season. Luckily, he has only blown two saves. The more he pitches, however, the more he's going to blow.
Nick Masset's ERA of 9.00 is also not helping matters. Last year's 2.37 ERA and ascension to the 8th inning gig seems like a decade away. His last two outings have been much better, but he'll need a month of perfection to get that ERA down significantly.
Dusty Baker is a capable manager for the most part. He has his downfalls for sure. The locals aren't too fond of his lineup-making skills (Stubbs leading off, Cabrera in the 2 hole, Phillips in the 4 hole, Hernandez over Hanigan, etc.). Baker insists on playing his guys no matter what and it infuriates a lot of Reds fans.
So the question remains: are the Reds full of fight or are they winning in spite of their manager?