Cincinnati hoping to avoid slide

The Reds are looking down at teams that everyone figured would smoke them before, after and during dinner.

Updated: June 1, 2004, 4:05 PM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
Last year at this time, the Reds found themselves at 24-22, good enough for a three-way tie for second, one and-a-half games behind the Cubs. They had gotten to that mark courtesy of numerous come-from-behind victories and last-second heroics. In spite of their .500 record, they had been outscored by nearly 50 runs and were clearly playing way over their heads. Soon enough the reality that they had no starting pitching started to wear on the team. Actually, they had too much starting pitching; the trouble was that none of it was any good. No less than 17 different Reds found the ball in their lockers in 2003. Injuries began to take their toll as well and, in no time at all, the Reds were free-falling toward the bottom of the division.

Danny Graves
Danny Graves has already notched a remarkable 21 saves.
Which brings us to 2004. At the same juncture, the Reds are three games better than last year and sitting atop the National League Central Division, looking down at the teams that everyone predicted would smoke them before, after and during dinner. Aside from the three games, is there a difference between this year and last? Can Rhineland fans expect another fade this time around? Let's look at some Reds stuff and see:

Run differential: The news is better here than it was last year, but it's still not promising. After 46 games in 2003, the Reds were down 238-284. This year, they're dead-even at 216-216. In other words, they're in over their heads again but nowhere near as deep as they were last year. Based on runs scored and runs allowed, here's how the N.L. Central standings would look:

Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at bottlebat@gmail.com.

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