The Reds jockeyed with several other NL Central teams (including the Pirates!) for the divisional lead for the first half of the season, but after July 19 they moved into first place and never looked back. The closest they got to losing the lead was on August 9th, after NL MVP Shawn Camp exerted his powers and defeated the Reds to bring their lead down to 2.5 games. After that the Reds went on a five game winning streak and were never less than six games up the rest of the year.
The Giants basically had one opponent this year in their longtime rivals the Dodgers. The Dodgers got off to a strong start to the year, and the Giants were 7.5 games back in late May. Tim Lincecum lost whatever it was that made him Tim Lincecum, but Matt Cain threw a perfect game in mid-June in a run that led to the Giants tying for the divisional lead at the end of the month. For the next month and a half the Giants and Dodgers had eleven lead changes, and oddly enough the Giants only kept the lead after their center fielder and MVP candidate Melky Cabrera was busted for using testosterone. I'm disapponted in Cabrera, only becuase I was looking forward to the stupid contract that the Royals were inevitably going to offer to him next year.
Projected starting lineups:
|2B Brandon Phillips||CF Angel Pagan|
|SS Zack Cozart||2B Marco Scutaro|
|1B Joey Votto||3B Pablo Sandoval|
|LF Ryan Ludwick||C Buster Posey|
|RF Jay Bruce||RF Hunter Pence|
|3B Scott Rolen||1B Brandon Belt|
|C Ryan Hanigan||LF Xavier Nady|
|CF Drew Stubbs||SS Brandon Crawford|
It's not exactly clear what's going on with the back end of the Giants lineup. Joaquin Arias has picked up a lot of starts at SS lately, and Nady/Blanco seem to be in a platoon situation in LF. The Reds have chosen Zack Cozart and his .288 OBP to bat in front of perennial MVP candidate Joey Votto. I guess he must have plus speed, because stolen bases what you really need when you have a high slugging batter right behind you.
Team Statistics (NL Ranks):
- wRC+: Giants 99 (4th), Reds 93 (9th)
- BSR: Reds 5.3 (4th), Giants 4.3 (5th)
- SP FIP- : Reds 98 (7th), Giants 102 (10th)
- RP FIP- : Reds 82 (1st), Giants 99 (10th)
- UZR: Reds 11.9 (4th), Giants 8.6 (7th)
- DRS: Reds 32 (2nd), Giants -7 (8th)
Maybe I should have picked the Giants as my most overrated team, huh.
Game 1 (@SFO): Saturday, 8:37 PM CT
Game 2 (@SFO): Sunday, 8:37 PM CT
Game 3 (@CIN): Tuesday, 4:37 PM CT
Game 4 (@CIN): Wednesday, TBA
Game 5 (@CIN): Thursday, TBA
Storylines you may or may not care about:
I wonder which Cabrera will be mentioned more tomorrow: Miguel's Triple Crown or Melky's PED suspension.
Will Big Time Timmy Tim show up in the playoffs? The Giants are considering starting Zito over him in game three, which shows how much his star has fallen.
The Reds are starting Bronson Arroyo in a playoff game. It would be fitting if he faces off against Barry Zito. If they make it to the WS, I hope the Orioles do too so he can face off with Joe Saunders in the LOL-Bowl.
Speaking of futility, Ryan Theriot was the Giants starting 2B for half the year, and batted second for 64 games.
Reds manager Dusty Baker was hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat for four days during the Cubs series last month, and may even have had a mild stroke. He's lost 20+ pounds and is back with the Reds to face the last team that he took to the World Series.
Buster Posey is probably the NL MVP, and has had a relatively quiet MVP season. I haven't really heard any buzz for anyone in the NL other than Posey, and that's just been from Giants fans. Joey Votto probably would have been the MVP if he hadn't missed a nearly two months with a knee injury in the middle of the season. He led the NL with a .474 OBP. Those are Playstation numbers. He also had a .567 SLG, 6th in the NL, but somehow only 14 HRs. He came in second to Rodrgio's 50 doubles with 44 of his own.
I can't seem to find the BPro odds either, but I think the Reds are the clear favorites in this series.