CINCINNATI, OH: Edgar Renteria of the Cincinnati Reds sits in the dirt after fouling a ball off his leg during the game against the Colorado Rockies at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Tuesday night, the Rockies beat the Reds in a squeaker.
Wednesday night, the Reds beat the Rockies in a squeaker.
Thursday afternoon, the Reds and Rockies wrap up their four-game set.
And unless you're a truly serious Reds or Rockies fan, you couldn't care less about any of that.
Which I bring up only because it wasn't supposed to be like this.
The Reds won a division title last year, and brought back all their key players this year.
The Rockies didn't win a division title, but there were in first place for a good chunk of last summer, wound up winning 83 games, and seemed like up-and-comers with the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.
This series was supposed to feature one and quite possible two contenders. Instead the Reds are 11 games out of the running, the Rockies 9-1/2. Barring some sort of miracle, both clubs are done.
How did this happen?
The answers might be simpler than you think.
For one thing, neither of these teams profiled as world-beaters entering the season. According to Baseball Prospectus's , both opened the season figuring to win approximately 84 games. Now, there's some play in those numbers. Even if we knew precisely who would be injured (we don't) and exactly how talented the players are (we don't), we're still just looking at a number within a 10-win range (five on both sides).
Which is simply to say that if we think a team's going to win 84 games and they actually win 89 or 79, we shouldn't be surprised. Or rather, if they actually post the run differentials that characterize 89- or 79-win teams.
Well, look at the Reds. They're just 56-61, but their run differential is actually +32 -- exactly the same as the first-place Brewers, 11 games ahead of them. The Brewers are 24-15 in one-run games, the Reds 18-27. That's almost the entire explanation for that 11-game gap, right there. Sure, you can point to Scott Rolen's injury and the Reds' lousy play at shortstop and their shaky rotation. But the Brewers have had some problems, too. But all the luck this season has gone Milwaukee's way. And on such things, division titles are made every season.
The Rockies' story isn't exactly the same, as they've been outscored ... though not by much. And let's be honest here, their run differential is actually better than the Giants' ... and yet somehow they trail the (now second-place) Giants by nine whole games. Except there's really no somehow about it. The Giants are 28-15 in one-run games, the Rockies 17-21. Oh, and the (now) first-place Diamondbacks are 21-13 in one-run games. The Rockies have had their problems, but so have the Giants and the Diamondbacks.
The preseason projections were actually wrong about the Giants and the Diamondbacks (so far, anyway). Of course, nobody could know that Buster Posey would get knocked out. But the Giants were supposed to play better than this, the Diamondbacks substantially worse.
Really, though, the only thing that's truly surprising about the Rockies is their poor luck. And the same goes for the Reds. When you start the season figuring on 84 wins, a little bad luck is way too much.