The Cincinnati Reds begin the second half of the season ranked 8th in the National League with 4.21 runs per game, which is right at the league average of 4.22 runs per game. Adjusting for ballpark, the Reds are 11th in the league with a 94 OPS+.

How have the Reds gone from the best National League offense in 2010 and 2nd best in 2011 to middle of the pack, at best, in 2012 with essentially the same cast of characters? I’ve been pondering that question most of the season, hoping that the law of large numbers would eventually push the Reds back to the top of the league. With half of the season in the books, there is an obvious need for improvement from either players in their current starting roles, or changes from either within or outside the organization via trade.

I’ve broken down the team’s OPS over the past three years by position in the table below, and also have shown the 2010 and 2012 league OPS by position for comparison.

Position NL-2010 Reds 2010 Reds 2011 Reds 2012 NL-2012
C 0.713 0.804 0.733 0.694 0.720
1B 0.813 1.018 0.953 1.058 0.774
2B 0.720 0.753 0.799 0.715 0.712
3B 0.752 0.824 0.692 0.674 0.740
SS 0.713 0.681 0.599 0.691 0.696
LF 0.771 0.776 0.680 0.743 0.772
CF 0.736 0.752 0.723 0.642 0.730
RF 0.778 0.805 0.811 0.806 0.790
DH/P/PH 0.479 0.548 0.585 0.545 0.494

Some of the items that stand out:

— Joey Votto is awesome. With offense trending down across the league during this timeframe, Votto is posting the best OPS of his career.

— In 2010, the Reds were above league average at every single position except shortstop.

— In 2012, only Votto, Jay Bruce, and the pitchers/pinch-hitters are performing above league average. Offense from second base and shortstop are at about league average.

— A lot of discussion here focuses on the need to fix left field, but offensive improvement in centerfield would provide better bang for the team’s limited buck.

— We know about Scott Rolen’s poor first half at the hot corner. The team either needs him to turn it around in the second half or give more time to Todd Frazier (.901 OPS.)

— On the surface, you may think that Devin Mesoraco is dragging the 2012 number down, but Mesoraco (.689) and Ryan Hanigan (.698) have posted very similar OPS’s while catching this season.

— Brandon Phillips (.750 OPS) is not matching his 2011 offense, and hasn’t had an OPS this low since his first season with Cincinnati in 2006, but it is Willie Harris’s 2 for 21 while playing second base that is dragging the team’s positional number down to league average at second base.

— Zack Cozart has been better than league average every month except May. Since May 31, Cozart has hit .273/.320/.420.

–Mike Leake has hit 2 of the 9 homeruns hit by NL pitchers this year.

It’s worth noting that the combined stats from the pitcher, pinch-hitter, DH splits is from approximately the same amount of at-bats as any other position listed. The Reds DH statistics in limited series is league (NL) average, but both Reds pitchers and pinch hitters have been above average, offensively.