Ach! We’ve got to get out of this trap
Before this decadence saps our wills.
I’ve got to be strong, and try to hang on
Or else my mind may well snap…

As the Reds sit in Philadelphia preparing to play in Coors East (HR Index of 123) Eric Milton has to be thinking of Bert Blyeven and his 1986 season with the Twins when Bert served up 50 Dingers in a single season (279.2 IP) 1986 seems a long time ago, that’s for sure. Pretty good year for me, lived in Berkeley, took a year off school, met my wife. The Reds ended up 86-76 that year, I spent that year listening to the Giants games just to hear the Reds updates, it was even better when they beat the Giants out of second place that year and I could rub it in to the local Giant fans I crossed paths with every day.

All in all it was a pretty good year… didn’t start out that way though.

In fact the first 33 games for the Reds that year were as bad as this years teams first 33 games.

Or were they?

The 1986 Reds were in many ways similar to the current Reds team, one aspect was there was a “legend” on the team (Griffey & Rose) one of Cincinnati’s favorite players of all time (Perez & Casey) young OF Talent (Davis, Daniels, Jones, WMP, Dunn, Kearns) an older SS on the downside of a career (Aurilia & Davey) a AL transplant at 3rd (Bell and Randa) a steady, unspectacular catcher (Diaz and LaRue) and finally a 2b of limited power, but scrappy (Oester, Freel/Jimenez)

The 1986 season was supposed to be promising after the 89 win season that popped up in 1989, this season is/was suppose to be interesting after the 16 million dollars increase in payroll popped up.

I think that looking at the seasons that precede a season help shape what you can expect from a team.

The 1986 team also sported two new starters like the 2005 Reds. Gullickson and John Denny were the Front Office’s promise of a better pitching staff. Denny a volatile fellow pitched a fit that would have made Danny Graves blush in Early May and later that month he was charged with assault by a Cincinnati Post writer, in September he confronted and threatened another writer on the team bus.

He sounds like a sweetheart!

After 33 games in 1986 the Reds stood exactly here.

		W	L	 WP%	 GB	 RS	RA
Cincinnati   	11   	22  	.333   	9.0   	112  	147	

3.39 Runs scored a game to 4.45 allowed

Things weren’t looking up in Cincinnati, the bloom was off Rose’s return and Marge wanted to see a little
payback for the “Christmas Present” she thought she had given to the city with her purchase of the team in
late 1985.

Looking back I wish this current Reds team had the same problem of the 1986 Reds… namely hitting and the
lack of hitting in April. Much of the slow start can be pinned on poor hitting and Rose’s inability to
stick with the youngsters over himself (in May) and others throughout the early part of the season.

Below is essentially the starting nine for the Reds in the Month of April, Estaskys poor showing convinced Rose that he should be the one to log the AB’s at first in May, horrible results failed to convince him that he was finished, though by the end of the season it was self evident.

 		BA    OB%   SLG%		 BA	 OB%	 SLG
Oester	April	.200  .238  .233	season	.258  	.325  	.356
Jones	April	.349  .406  .453	season	.349  	.406  	.453	
Parker  April  	.286  .315  .557	season	.273  	.330  	.477
Bell    April  	.157  .228  .235	season	.278  	.362  	.445
Davis	April	.185  .290  .370	season	.277  	.378  	.523
Davey 	April	.175  .200  .298	season	.260  	.314  	.344
Estasky April	.196  .317  .451	season	.230  	.325  	.403
Diaz 	April	.250  .311  .393	season	.272  	.327  	.380

Daniels April	.353  .405  .647	season	.320  	.398  	.519 34 ab's only
Rose	May	.194  .271  .226	season	.219  	.316  	.270

Seven of the top eight had OB% below .318, four had Slg% below .371. It was just plain horrible; but also
something that could be expected to get better, no team hits that bad all year. By July the Reds were 4
games within of first. In late August Barry Larkin the 1st round draft choice stepped up as a Red for the
first time, wearing number 15. In early April Paul O’Neil showed up for his second cup of Coffee only to
disappear until the next year, Daniels finally beat out Jones for the LF job.

Reds fans could actually see the sun setting on the Big Red Machines and finally the shadows they had cast
were receding to reveal a future that looked a lot brighter than the early 80’s one painted by Dick Wagner and his cronies.

At the time it was as chaotic as it could get as Pete played with lineups like Boone and Miley combined and double switched more than many managers in the league.

Here are some notable moves from early that season as Pete tried to find a way to get the team going

Venable PH for Davis, 2-3 pinch runners nightly, moving outfielders left to right to CF in the game, Jones vs. LH’s and Kal RH’s are just the tip of the iceberg.

The Reds didn’t have a winning month until July when they finally scored more runs than they gave up, only after the were out of it did a nice 39-24 finish pull them out of the early hole their lack of offense had dug. It helped make the season look much better; and helped light the candle for 1987 at the same time.

For the year the Reds at home had a 4.08 ERA and on the road a 3.75 ERA. The Reds Park was rated as 110 as a hitters park so that slight bump in ERA was to be expected.

For the season the Reds had a slightly better than league average OPS, but managed to score 57 runs more than the average. A third of a run a game adds up over the season and is usually the sort of result a team gets from having the proper batting order as well as the proper players on the field day in and day out. That then (as it is now) was talk radio fodder and as the season progressed Pete got a better mix from the players he went with.

The pitching staff managed to bring in a sub 4.00 era (that’s what a fleet CF does for FB pitchers) and keep the team in many games until the offense got cooking,

And cook it did, jumping from 3.39 RS a game during the first 33 games to 4.8 Runs over the next 129 games. All while the pitching stayed steady at 4.45 allowed, it’s easy to get wins when your team scores more then the other team.

 	 AVG  SLG  OBA  OPS    
League	.253 .380 .322 .702 	675 Runs
Reds	.254 .387 .325 .712    	732 Runs

YEAR  	ERA     HR   	H/9   	BR/9  	SO/9  BB/9   
League	3.73	8.57 	12.11  	6.00  	3.38  1.78    
Reds	3.92	8.98 	12.30  	5.66  	3.21  1.76      

This leads us to this years team, currently on track to score less than last year and allow more (if that is possible) One can only hope that many things will happen to turn this around, including Lopez taking the Larkin role of the 86 team (stabilizing the middle) and that the pitching AND the offense could match the 1986 offense in turning itself around.

	W	L	 WP%	 GB	 RS	RA
Cincinnati	12	21	.364	9.0 	150	192	4.45 RS and 5.8 allowed	

On pace to give up 939 Runs 721 Runs scored.

The first step is the hardest.

Best get going.

One Response

  1. Heath

    Good work .. ahhh the days of Ron Robinson, Max Venable, Sal Butera, & Andy McGaffigan…..oh to be young and a Reds fan….