SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Break up the Cincinnati Reds!

Why is it in this era of sophisticated statistical analysis that one team always seems to slip past the pundits, the Sabremetricians, the Vegas oddsmakers and the other kibbitzers of Major League Baseball? Sure, it's early in the season, and some who come out of the gate fast finish poorly (in contrast, most who have bad Aprils end up finishing out of the playoffs, with a few rare exceptions). Still, you have to admire the start of the Cincinnati Reds, who are playing .600 ball and have, at last look, the second best record in the majors behind the underpublicized Anaheim Angels.

At the season's outset, SportsProf told a friend from Cincinnati that the Reds couldn't win so long as Jimmy Haynes was in their starting rotation. Amazingly, two weeks later, the Reds cut Haynes, letting him go outright. So far, the great story of the season has been the Reds' Paul Wilson, who is 7-0. You may not remember that at one time Wilson was the top pick in the draft, by the Mets, and that he, Jason Isringhausen and Bill Pulsipher formed a "can't miss" trio of Mets' prospects. Pulsipher never really materialized (he had perhaps a thermos of coffee in the majors), and the Mets tired of Izzy and traded him to the A's. Wilson had awful arm injuries, and for a while it looked like he never was going to be able to fulfill his promise. Thankfully, through much perserverance, he's off to a fine start. As is closer Danny Graves, who already has 21 saves, and it isn't even June yet. And how many fans thought that Ryan Wagner would take over the closer's role this season? (And how many of you paid too much for him in your fantasy league?).

The hitting has been good too. Junior Griffey has his old swing back, and has 11 dingers. Adam Dunn is still striking out too much, but his OBP is .450. Sean Casey is hitting .379 with an OBP of .425, and all this success despite losing Jason LaRue to the DL and having Austin Kearns hitting .197 so far.

Break up the Reds? Not yet. Will Junior stay healthy? Will Kearns hit? Will the pitching hold? Stay tuned.

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