Ed: Occasionally, we like to feature contributions from you, the Loyal Citizens of Redleg Nation. Today, we bring you a post from Lawrence Wheat, known as “LWBlogger” in the comments. If you’d like to contribute, feel free to contact any of the editors.

We’ve seen it many times from fans here at Redleg Nation. We’ve heard it on sports-talk radio. We’ve even heard it from our broadcasters from time-to-time. We’ve seen and heard about how the Reds’ offense is “feast or famine”. That is to say that they score runs in bunches or they don’t seem to score much at all. This implies that the Reds are less consistent than many, if not most, offenses in baseball and that their overall offensive numbers are inflated by high-scoring games.

Early in the season I decided to take a look at April and explore how the Reds had been doing compared to other NL teams in this area. I set some conditions: the bar for a “feast” game is 10 runs or more and a “famine” game is 2 runs or less.

Sure enough, in April the Reds led the NL in what I’m now calling “feast” games and were among the top 3 teams in what I’m calling “famine” games. There appeared to be something valid in the perception that our beloved Reds possess a “feast or famine” offense. I keep hearing that the Reds offense has been this way for a while so I decided to do a deeper study. I looked at the Reds as compared to the rest of the NL, in 2011, 2012, and so far this year (through 5/22). Here are the results.

“Feast” Games: First of all, I don’t think we should be too terribly worried about the offense having “feast” games. Yes, they can inflate the overall offensive numbers but over the course of a 162 game season, they don’t really inflate the numbers all that much. Also, teams win feast games. I mean, they win them big time. Since 2011, NL teams have compiled a record of 276-8 when scoring 10 or more runs. That’s a .972 winning percentage!! The overall number of 284 such games however tells me that these “feast” games are relatively rare. Especially in comparison to the “famine” games of 2 runs or less. So, for the sake of saving space, I am not going to publish my complete findings on these high output games. The Reds are our team so I’ll publish how much feasting the Reds’ offense has done.

Reds’ “Feast” games 2011: The Reds had 11 “feast” games in 2011. Good for the 3rd most in the NL behind the Rockies (13) and Phillies (12). The Pirates and Marlins had the fewest such games at 3 games apiece. In 2011, we could certainly say the Reds had a decent amount of “feast” games.

Reds’ “Feast” games 2012: This one came as a shock to me. Last season the Reds tied the lowly Astros and Mets for the 2nd fewest “feast” games with 4. The only team with fewer was the Marlins (3). The 2012 Reds didn’t do much feasting offensively.

Reds’ “Feast” games 2013: So far this year the Reds have already blown away their “feast” game total from last season. The Reds have scored 10 or more runs an NL leading 7 times. They are trailed by the Cardinals with 6 and then the Giants and Rockies with 4. The Cubs, Dodgers, and Phillies are at the bottom this year. None of the 3 teams has managed a single 10-run explosion. So far, no NL team this season has lost a game in which they’ve scored 10 runs.

“Famine” Games: Not surprisingly, in this study I’ve found that when a team scores fewer than 3 runs in a game, they generally lose. Since the beginning of the 2011 season, NL teams compiled a record of 280-1637 in games scoring less than 3 runs. That’s a pretty paltry .146 winning percentage. As you can see there are many, many more “famine” type games than feast type games. Not surprisingly when a team struggles to score runs, they lose those games. I know it’s shocking that when your team doesn’t score, they don’t win. Clearly the “famine” games have more meaning than the “feast” games in the grand scheme of things. I’d say it’s really these “feast” games that are more indicative of a team’s offensive performance. So without further ado, here is how NL teams stacked up as far as “famine” games.

2011 “Famine” Games
Team: games (record in those games)

Giants: 70 (13-57)
Padres: 67 (7-60)
Dodgers: 62 (14-48)
Marlins: 56 (5-51)
Pirates: 56 (6-50)
Astros: 54 (4-50)
Nationals: 53 (13-40)
Cubs: 52 (7-45)
Braves: 52 (12-40)
Phillies: 49 (12-37)
Mets: 48 (7-41)
Rockies: 48 (3-45)
REDS: 45 (7-38)
Brewers: 43 (7-36)
Diamondbacks: 41 (7-34)
Cardinals: 36 (7-29)

2012 “Famine” Games
Team: games (record in those games)

Astros: 64 (7-57)
Marlins: 62 (4-58)
Padres: 59 (13-46)
Dodgers: 58 (7-51)
Braves: 57 (10-47)
Diamondbacks: 57 (4-53)
Cubs: 56 (3-53)
Pirates: 55 (9-46)
Mets: 51 (6-45)
Phillies: 51 (4-47)
Rockies: 48 (4-44)
Giants: 47 (8-39)
Nationals: 47 (10-37)
REDS: 45 (8-37)
Cardinals: 44 (5-39)
Brewers: 38 (4-34)

2013 “Famine” Games (Through 5/22)

Marlins: 29 (5-24)
Nationals: 24 (4-20)
Padres: 19 (5-14)
Phillies: 18 (2-16)
Dodgers: 17 (3-14)
Pirates: 16 (3-13)
REDS : 15 (3-12)
Rockies: 15 (2-13)
Brewers: 14 (0-14)
Diamondbacks: 14 (4-10)
Giants: 13 (4-9)
Cardinals: 13 (3-10)
Cubs: 13 (2-11)
Mets: 13 (2-11)
Braves: 13 (1-12)

Brief Summary: Judging from what I defined to mean a “feast” game and my definition of a “famine” game prior to my study, it would seem that the Reds over the last 2 ½ years don’t have what I’d call a “feast or famine” offense, at least not in comparison to their NL opponents. They’ve done some feasting in 2011 and so far this year but had almost none of those types of games last season.

As for games in which they’ve scored fewer than 3 runs, the Reds have had many fewer such games than several of their opponents. It looks like the offense was pretty consistent in the 3-9 run range up until this season. In April, the Reds played several “feast or famine” games but in May this trend hasn’t really continued.

I suspect as the season goes on, we’ll see the Reds probably around the top third in “feast” games and in the bottom half of “famine” games, relative to the rest of the NL. The Reds have a pretty good offense. It could be better but it’s still pretty good. Teams that score a lot of runs in general are going to tend to have fewer low-scoring affairs and it’s those low-scoring affairs that a team clearly wants to avoid. It looks like the Reds have been one of those teams over the last 2 and a half seasons. So, what do you think Nation?