Sports Today: Assessing the state of the Reds at the All-Star break

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Sports Today: Assessing the state of the Reds at the All-Star break

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AP Photo/Matt York
Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt is tagged out at the plate by Cincinnati Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 9, 2017, in Phoenix.

So, how good are the Cincinnati Reds? 

I mean like how good are they really?

Maybe “good” is not the word since they're in last place and all, but you know what I mean. 

Let's see what the numbers say and how that compares with the general perception. And then how it reflects on what they should do next.

As far as traditional stats, they are fifth in the National League in batting average (.260), fourth in home runs (125), tied for first in stolen bases (75) and third in OPS (.778). They’re ninth in strikeouts and walks. 

Cincinnati pitchers have the worst ERA (5.05) in the league and the second-worst WHIP. They are 11th in opposing batting average (.262), 10th in strikeouts (696) and surprisingly only second-worst in walks (331). 

Reds fielders are fourth in percentage (.986) and defensive efficiency rating (.696). 

What about some of those fancy new numbers out there? 

Fangraphs has them not surprisingly with the worst pitching WAR (0.9) despite the relief corp being pretty decent (9th). That is, of course, because the starting pitching has been atrocious. A week’s worth of pretty good performances is not nearly enough to offset the first three months, and the starters’ collective WAR is still in the negative at minus-0.7. 

For those unfamiliar with WAR (wins against replacement), that means a group of random average major-league players would be better than the group the Reds have run out there so far this season. That is not true of any other team in the majors. 

So, yeah, the pitching is bad. 

What about the offense? How does it stand up to the nerds’ analysis? 

Hey, it’s still pretty good! 

According to Fangraphs.com, Reds batters are third in WAR and fourth weighted on-base average. Their batting average on balls in play is in the middle of the pack, so they aren’t getting unusually lucky, either. 

Defensively, Fangraphs finds them below average, so there is room for improvement there as well. 

Last winter, I wondered if the Reds would be worth watching in 2017. The conclusion was yes because regardless of wins and losses, the future would largely be on display — for better or for worse. 

As demonstrated above, that has translated into a pretty good present at the plate even if the same players out in the field are a work in progress. 

However, the first half was pretty much one huge flag for false start when it comes to the pitching. 

How many 5-yard penalties can this team survive? 

We may have already passed that mark. 

Ultimately at this point it’s fair to conclude they are no longer moving backwards. They’re not treading water, either. There’s forward movement even if the pace probably needs to pick up soon if the narrative is going to be any different for 2018. 

Later this week we’ll look at who the Reds have found, who they’re still waiting on and who they should keep vs. who they should build around... 

Bad news out of the world of Dayton basketball this morning as a report Kostas Antetokounmpo broke a bone in his leg turns out to be true

It remains to be seen how bad the break is, but it’s not a stretch to say coach Anthony Grant needs all hands on deck for this transition season. 

Replacing that fearsome foursome of Scoochie Smith, Kendall Pollard, Kyle Davis and Charles Cooke was never going to be easy, but it’s tough to predict how all the news pieces (including a coach) are going to come together. 

On the bright side, Wayne grad Xeyrius Williams has shown he can play at this level, and more minutes for some others could allow them to blossom. 

Perhaps a freshman or two will surprise, but let’s be honest: the 6-10 younger brother of a current NBA stud seemed like a convenient candidate for breakout player of the year, doesn’t it? 

We’ll see when he can get back on the court… 

Believe it or not, Ohio State basketball is in news yet again as Chris Holtmann reeled in another four-star recruit

Torrence Wilson is a St. Louis native and the third four-star Buckeye recruit for Holtmann, joining 2017 prospects Musa Jallow of Bloomington, Ind., and Kyle Young of Massillon Jackson. 

No matter how well (or not) this season goes, Holtmann has accomplished something that is not a given for Ohio State basketball: Made positive summer headlines. 

He did it again Tuesday with the hiring of Scoonie Penn, one of the stars of the 1999 OSU team that made the Final Four. 

Penn was a huge presence in the return of the Buckeyes from the really dark days that followed the greatness of the Jimmy Jackson era, teaming with Michael Redd to help Ohio State end a 31-year Final Four drought...

Which is not to say Columbus is not still a football town, first and foremost of course.  

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