I have decided to take an early look at the Reds and see how they have matched up against the other teams in their division.
The Reds are currently tied for third with a record of 16-13. A good start like this was crucial in order to gain confidence in a team that is still young.
During this early season, the Reds have gone 13-8 against teams within their division and have a 10-5 road record. These stats paint a picture that shows the Reds are able to win the tough inter-division games and win on the road.
The biggest impact has been the Reds pitching (both starting and bullpen).
The team's ERA is currently 3.99, the only poor starts coming from Bronson Arroyo (16.34 ERA at home vs. 1.69 on the road), Micah Owings (5.08), and reliever Jared Burton (6.08).
On the bright side, starters Johnny Cueto (3-1, 1.59 ERA), Aaron Harang (2-3, 3.00), and Edison Volquez (4-2, 3.47) have joined relievers Franciso Cordero, Dave Weathers, Arthur Rhodes, and Danny Herrera in contributing to the early success.
As expected, the offense has been led by Joey Votto (.370 and 23 RBI) and Jay Bruce (eight home runs). Also, newcomers Willy Tavaras (.276 and six stolen bases) and Ramon Hernandez (.282) have chipped in.
Surprisingly, the Reds are only 11th (24 HRs) in home runs in the NL. This however, will change once Hernandez (1 HR), Brandon Phillips (5 HRs), Edwin Encarnacion (1 HR), and Alex Gonzalez (1 HR) get their groove going.
As for the other teams in the division:
St. Louis Cardinals
Tony LaRussa has to be considered one of the best managers ever, and along with Bobby Cox, the best in the past 25 years. Managers like them get 110 percent from their players, which is the exact reason the St. Louis Cardinals are in first.
The Brewers are currently in second, but they have too many question marks, especially their pitching.
Yovani Gallardo will continue to be the ace in this rotation but the only pitcher to produce.
Do you really expect David Bush, Braden Looper, and Manny Parra to strike fear in their opponents?
Jeff Suppan has been a big disappointment and is pivotal if the Brewers are going to succeed.
The offense will be called on to carry this team the whole year, but they will miss having Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia down the road.
Though they are also three games over .500, Lou Pinella is still ticked with their start to the season.
Remember, this is a team with a large payroll and high expectations.
But their hitting does not look well enough to win, as Geovany Soto, Derek Lee, and Milton Bradley are all batting below the Mendoza Line. The Cubs are currently 13th in batting (.248).
Each team has identified their strengths and flaws in the early going and adjustments will be needed to succeed.
I'm expecting an exciting race for the crown, as well for the wild card spot.
As the year goes on, I will take another look at the Reds and their division foes.
Good luck Reds!