The Cincinnati Reds are a little more than halfway through the season. After last night’s win over the Colorado Rockies, the Reds have played in 92 games, even though we aren’t yet to the All-Star break. ESPN’s David Schoenfield handed out midseason grades for all of the teams in Major League Baseball on Wednesday morning.

With the Cincinnati Reds sitting at 44-48 on the season, they aren’t exactly performing well. They haven’t been terrible, but they haven’t been good, or even average at this point, either. Expectations were a little bit higher than a sub .500 team. With that said, Cincinnati hasn’t exactly done well in the “health” column, either. The most valuable player on the team in 2023, Matt McLain, hasn’t played a single game this year and isn’t expected back until at least August at some point if things go well on his rehab. They’ve also missed time from Christian Encarnacion-Strand, who is out for the year, TJ Friedl who has made multiple trips to the injured list, Nick Lodolo who has made multiple trips to the injured list this season, Tejay Antone, Ian Gibaut, Emilio Pagan, Brandon Williamson, and multiple bench players who have seen time in the trainers room this year.

Every team has injuries that they have to try and overcome. Without pulling up the data, though, it seems like the Reds have had a lot of them. On a team that seemed to have very little wiggle room for error, especially after Noelvi Marte was suspended for 80 games, they find themselves four games under the .500 mark and nine games back of the 1st place Milwaukee Brewers (and 4th place in the division).

So what grade did the Reds earn from Schoenfield? He gave them a C-. Ten teams had grades lower than that, with the White Sox coming in with the only F-, which until today I didn’t realize was even possible. He notes that they’ve outscored their opponents this year, and just how good Elly De La Cruz has been, but that they need to also find more consistency on offense and take full advantage of the rest of their schedule leading into the All-Star break.

I think that feels quite fair. If the team had been a bit healthier and they were 44-48, the grade should be lower than it is. But they haven’t. And it’s been tough to overcome that. You can point to the front office for not having more depth to help supplement that and fairly ding the organization on their report card for it.

It’s tough to overcome a complete lack of offense from someone like Will Benson, though. While it’s fair to suggest he wasn’t likely to repeat his 2023 season, it’s tough to say it should have been expected that he would produce like he has to this point. How could the organization have foreseen Jake Fraley’s power disappearing like Thanos snapped his fingers at it?

If you were to give the Reds a grade for their 2024 based on the expectations entering the year, what would it be?

44 Responses

  1. BridgeMan

    The expectations I had entering the year were playoffs – still early on that but based purely on how I had hoped the Reds would be playing: D

    Now realistically with the injuries we’ve had I’d say B-. There’s no way around the fact that the Reds are underperforming. No one knows how much better anything would be with the full gamut of starters. Maybe Benson sees some better pitches if pitchers were also dealing with McClain, Freidl, and CES. Who knows, the Reds are still young and I am still excited for their future.

  2. Luke J

    It’s worth pointing out that the Reds have a +26 run differential. Their record doesn’t align with that. I suspect it’s all the one run losses, which of course, you can blame on the team. But there is a lot of luck involved in a one run loss as well. With that run differential this team could easily be sitting several games over .500, and we’d be having a different conversation.

    • VaRedsFan

      No credit should ever be given to run differential.
      One only needs to look back to the St Louis series results

      Won 11-4
      Lost 2-0
      Won 9-4
      Lost 1-0

      Outscored them 23-8

      One of the most bogus stats in baseball.

      • BridgeMan

        In small sample sizes run differential is entirely bogus. However, over longer periods it is a valuable (but flawed) measurement. Over any length of time I would want a positive run differential.

      • citizen54

        It’s actually a very good stat. Sure, if you base it on a 4 game sample it’s probably not going to be very accurate. But if you look at the expected win loss record based upon run differential for the 90 or so games that have been played so far, you can see that many of the teams have actual win loss records in line with their pythag record. The Reds(-5) and the Cards(+7) happen to be two teams which are outliers right now.

        https://www.espn.com/mlb/standings/_/view/expanded

  3. B-town Fan

    I agree with all of the above — D

  4. Roger Garrett

    C- sounds about right based on they had a winning record last year but I don’t remember any of the so called experts saying they would do better this year.Injuries have hurt and you mentioned Benson and Fraley.Fraley’s loss of power may be a bigger shock then Benson’s year.Young team with still some growing to do.Will they get there in time before guys leave for more money.We shall see.

  5. SultanofSwaff

    The Reds have had a boatload of injuries, and yet a playoff spot is well within reach. Viewed thru that lens, B-. The story of the season, and in fairness to the front office, will be written based on the second half. That’s when we’ll find out if the team they assembled can play sustained winning baseball. I believe they will.

  6. Nick in NKY

    The Hardy Boys and the Case of the Missing Fraley Homers was definitely not something I saw coming. In fact I thought if he could even slightly improve his bat against lefties he’d ascend from platoon status, and probably mash 30 or more this season. Maybe the biggest unforeseen slide. India’s June was a nice pick me up. Benson kinda turned into a slightly worse version of what I expected. The hole in his bat seems more pronounced than predicted. Elly is improving at a rate that makes me hopeful it’s not a fluke and that there’s yet another level he can get to. I wished upon a star that he would turn in the first 40/70 season, but if I have to settle for 30/90 I guess that will play. 🙂

    The big three starters have been good. I think the same thing about Greene’s improvement that I do EDLC’s; it looks like it’s sustainable and that there’s more of it. Ashcraft I had higher hopes for, but maybe this is who he is, and ultimately becomes a two or three inning swing guy.

    Overall, after grading on the curve for injuries, I say B-.

    • Brian

      This feels spot on to me. The reds needed more than just Greene, Lodolo, and Elly to take steps forward to truly contend this year (Marte? McLain? Phillips? Benson?
      Ashcraft?), but the fact that the cornerstone pieces (Elly, Greene, Lodolo) are developing solidly has been really good to see. Ownership spending money helps of course, but the FO can’t wave a magic wand and suddenly make a middling team good. Look at the Yankees right now. Hopefully the Reds keep seeing organic growth from their young players, add some complementary pieces, and catch fire in the second half. Maybe Rece Hinds is the answer. 😉

  7. LDS

    All teams have injuries. It how the team and the FO responds that matters. The FO hasn’t . Starting pitching is probably B to B-. Relief pitchers C. Offense D or less. Management, top to bottom, no better than D-. Graded against expectations? Probably a B. They are about where I expected, maybe a little ahead.

  8. Oldtimer

    I thought 85-77 without any injuries as of March 2024 beginning of spring training.

    I think .500 (81-81) is possible at this point. Maybe even a game or two over .500 by season’s end.

    C to this point.

  9. Rednat

    tough graders!
    we swept the dodgers and yanks! for gosh sakes!
    i predict we will be above 500 at the break. we are going to win our last 5 games i think!
    with all the injuries i think we are doing quite well
    the pitching has been an A
    baserunning -A
    defense- spectacular at times, frustrating other times – overall B
    offense- down throughout MLB so we are average at a C

    • LDS

      Man, if my professors had been that generous, I’d have had a 4.0

  10. MBS

    My expectations before the injuries and suspension were 87 wins. We are trending at 77.47 W’s. For me an A would be beating expectations, B would be matching expectations, C would be falling a bit short.

    D should be us, since we are pacing 10 games off of my expected win total.

  11. Jason Franklin

    Here are some highly scientific grades based on stuff on Fangraphs:

    Pitching staff the Reds rank 9th in total pitching WAR in all of the MLB
    Interesting side stats: The Reds rank 6th in the MLB in lowest amount of HR’s allowed by a pitching staff. That’s pretty good maturity/coaching showing through. Anyway, if you we grade just on total pitching WAR, the Reds pitching has been above average, so maybe in that mythical B range of grades.

    Hitting: Reds rank pretty poorly at 23rd in total hitting WAR. Which, with missing all the guys they have/injuries/regression, that is not a surprise. Reds rank 27th in batting average. 6th striketout percentage (you want to rank lowere here). Grade: C-/D+ no matter the excuses.

    Fielding: Reds are really bad here, which is probably not a surprise. They rank 28th in UZR/150 Grade: F

    • BridgeMan

      I think pitching and hitting line up to the eye test. I am a big fan of all statistics and think they all have their place but I have no faith in any defensive stats. Defensive is far too subjective and complex to grade, but I don’t think the Reds are bottom of the barrel.

  12. Rednat

    i don’t know how anybody could rate the defense an F. sure they have made some errors. maybe above league average but the reds have made some unbelievable, spectacular plays this year, especially in the outfield. EDLC at short is making plays that i don’t think have ever been done before by anyone in the leagues. maybe the advance defense stats are lying a bit in this situation

  13. VaRedsFan

    Starting Pitching: A- Three big steps forward for Greene, Abbott, and Lodolo. Ashcraft with a small regression. Montas about average. Spiers, a decent 6th guy.

    Relief pitching: B. They’ve been mostly good, but always seem to be living on the edge. If only Sims wasn’t used in games the Reds were leading.

    Offense: D. Injuries crippled this category. Inability to put together quality AB’s. Situational hitting. Too many strikeouts. Despite the stolen bases, the baserunning hasn’t been great. Getting caught stealing, or thrown out is part of the game. Getting thrown out at home relentlessly on the contact play, just screams of a fundamental flaw in philosophy.

    Defense D. Too many fielding errors. So many bobbles that aren’t called errors that lead to runs. Inability to turn double plays. And the biggest one of all, outfielders that throw to the wrong base.

    Management: D. They are 4 under .500. In my opinion they would bey at least 4 over .500 or better with a better field manager. Krall did a great job getting a team together that could possibly contend. Injuries sidetracked and sapped the life out of that possibility. With the 3 lost players and suspension, the GM needed to acquire a competent player or 2 back in April/May. Having to be stuck playing Ford, Martini, Hurtubise, Dunn, Espinal, Fairchild, and others more innings than the team could stand, really cost the team this year.

    In 2022, the Orioles won 83 games. The next year they won 101, and are on their way again this year. They developed their young hitting talent.
    I was hoping the Reds would take a similar path that the Orioles did, but it hasn’t happened yet. The Mclain injury aside, CES, Benson, Fraley regressed too far to be optimistic about them going forward.

    Overall grade C-

    • DataDumpster

      Outstanding analysis. Also easy to see that a lot of the foibles on this team are due to decisions, strategies, and the style of play (aggressive and undisciplined) foisted upon by David Bell.

    • Old-school

      On it VA

      I would add baserunning as a separate category ignoring elly as a D

      Elly skews the overall baserunning because he does cartoonish things

      The rest of the team is a D

      • citizen54

        That’s plain wrong. The Reds are number 1 in BsR (baserunning value). Even without De La Cruz the Reds would be in the top 5 in terms of BsR. Out of the regulars only Benson, India and Stephenson have negative baserunning values. The only one who is really bad in Benson, India is close zero and Stephenson is a catcher.

    • Daniel Kals

      Great analysis but one thing: Ashcraft has not really had a slight regression. This is pretty much exactly what he’s shown his entire career. His WHIP, OBA, OOBP, OOPS, and OSLUG are all within .013 of his career averages. It’s the fact that he was mislabeled as one of the “Big Three” that has clouded some people’s perceptions. He is Brandon Finnegan 2.0. Maybe he can be a swing guy, or long relief guy in the future,

  14. Brian

    My grade would be a D. The guys that got hurt all had very little of a track record so they were all question marks to begin with. The manager and the GM have been F’s. The actual results factoring in the actual talent and winning with this manager and Gm? They probably get a good grade for that because they aren’t that talented as a whole.

  15. Votto4life

    You are what your record says you are. The Reds are slightly below average so C- or D+. I suspect if they had been healthy, they would be slightly above average. Either way, they are not where they need to be to win a championship. Still work to do.

  16. Brian

    Wow…base running an A? There’s more to it than just SB’s.

  17. Melvin

    With the starting pitching we have we should be better. D-

    • Doc

      So you don’t give credit for the starting pitching being much better than forecast?

      • Melvin

        Starting pitching has been pretty good as I expected if that’s what you mean. The offense and defense, baserunning, even with the injuries, is way below expectations for me anyway.

  18. citizen54

    I’d say A. I expected the Reds to win 80 or so games and that was before all of the injuries. The fact that they are only 4 under with despite all of the injuries and bad luck means they have greatly exceeded my expectations. Greene, De La Cruz and India have been pleasant surprises.

  19. Doc

    Everyone seems to be grading relative to their own expectations and win number predictions, then docking the club because it hasn’t reached those individual forecasts. But, there is another way to look at this. The Reds are performing about as well as they could for this year but the expectations and win predictions were all wrong, all too high. In that case, it would be a B-C performance for the team, but a D-F performance for the predictors!

    Sort of like business analysts. They forecast what they think a company is supposed to do, then the company is criticized when they don’t meet analysts forecasts. I think the analyst forecasts were wrong.

    As I recall, most of the entities that do baseball forecasting for a living were figuring the Reds for 75-80 wins at season’s start. They are on that pace.

    Also, I am not a gambler, but what was the over/under on wins that was being offered by the gambling houses? How many of those who forecast number of wins on this site put their money where their mouth was and bet the over or under for the number of wins each was forecasting?

    • Brian

      Great and successful businesses have high expectations. Low expectations give you what the Reds do every year.

    • citizen54

      Good take. Most of the preseason expectations here were way to high. The Reds were predicted to win around 81.5 games at the start of the season.

    • VaRedsFan

      81.5 is accurate. I took the under after the injuries hoping I would lose, which would mean the Reds had a decent shot at the playoffs.

  20. Jim Walker

    The Reds record vs the Phillies, Dodgers, and Yankees (11-6) compared to their 33-42 record vs the remainder of MLB leave me thinking they are deficient in consistent preparation and leadership to play the best possible with the resources at hand.

    Consider that for all their injuries, this Reds team has been .500 or better in every month of the season (including 5-3 to date in July) yet somehow managed to lose 2/3 of their games in May (9-18) with 4 of their May win total coming vs the Dodgers. How does this happen? Largely by going 2-7 versus the DBacks and Giants.

    Overall grade C-/D+ Why? As Bill Parcells said, you are your record, particularly when there is no explanation for the Reds wild swings of inconsistency.

  21. Mark Moore

    First, +50,000 to Doug for the phrase “Jake Fraley’s power disappearing like Thanos snapped his fingers at it” – excellent use of the image!!

    When I saw the title, my mind jumped to “C-” immediately. That’s where I stand. It’s not bad enough to get them bounced or put on “academic probation” but it’s certainly not anything to crow about. Injuries definitely play into my grading.

  22. TJ

    Before I saw the grade I also thought C-. What killed the Reds last year has also hurt them this year, depth. Now, they haven’t dug too deep into the pitching well thank God, but most reserves besides Hinds haven’t added much. Defense is poor. Reds make highlight plays, but the routine plays are not a given. Very happy with the pitching overall. Base running is above average. Would like to see the Reds make more ” basebally” plays and recognize the situation they are in. Too many regulars underperforming.

  23. RedsGettingBetter

    The grading is to the Reds team as a whole, I mean the FO is included , Am I wrong? so I agree on C-. There are many underperformings. The FO has not made some expected moves to improve the team. However, the team has many players contributing and giving their quality game by game, especially the pitching staff and a few positional guys.

    • Mark Moore

      If I’m grading our FO/Ownership, that’s a D- or F … they hide behind the “small market” BS and appear to have zero feel for owing a professional sports franchise, let alone the oldest one in baseball.

  24. Andrew Brewer

    The only objective measure is in wins and losses, and their place within the Division. But is that really the only way to place a value on this team ? For those of us who have suffered with them thru this season so far, and enjoyed their successes as well, I cannot give them a moderate grade for the effort they have made. These Reds have played with gusto and all out effort. If they have come up short in the standings, let the cold critic put a less than passing mark upon this team, but if how they have played this game is the real measure, the real standard by which this team is to be judged, then I can only say that this is team we can be proud of, and I am glad to be just a small part of it.

  25. Bill Moore

    The lack of front office/game management should be separate grades. Bell gets about 6 A’s so far and about 6 F’s so far and about 70 games where fundamentals had a direct impact on the outcome.
    Front office D standard since 70’s
    Manager D
    Team C-
    Hitting D
    Pitching Bt
    Luck F
    This team can have a great 2nd half I think it depends on how Benson and Marte do at the plate with the other guys doing as they have so far. Thanks for site,good stuff for us diehards.