Cincinnati Reds: Feeble offense wastes team’s potential

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 18: Cincinnati Reds pitchers (L-R) Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer look on during a team scrimmage at Great American Ball Park on July 18, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 18: Cincinnati Reds pitchers (L-R) Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer look on during a team scrimmage at Great American Ball Park on July 18, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Like many dominant teams in American professional sports, the Cincinnati Reds boasted a big three… and the offense wasted it away in the Postseason.

Remember 2007? That’s when the first iPhone was released. That’s when Soulja Boy topped the charts with “Crank That.” And that’s when the Boston Celtics traded for two superstars – Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett – creating a trio with incumbent All-Star Paul Pierce.

Allen, Garnett, and Pierce garnered massive amounts of hype and graced the pre-season cover of Sports Illustrated with the title “The Big Three.”

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That was a foundational moment in recent sports history. Boston’s big three inspired Lebron James to team up with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, forming basketball’s most formidable, memorable, and most controversial “Big Three.”

This season, in a different major North American sport – baseball – the Cincinnati Reds boasted their own big three: ace pitchers Trevor Bauer, Luis Castillo, and Sonny Gray.

Bauer, Castillo, and Gray paved the postseason-path for Cincinnati, and sliced through opposing offenses with gravity-defying breaking balls. Led by Cy-Young-to-be Trevor Bauer, the trio combined for a 2.88 ERA and made the Reds a title-contending dark horse. Cincinnati’s big three made the Reds a force to be reckoned with. They opened the door for the team to do something special.

But the team’s offense slammed that door shut. The Reds slithered into the playoffs with a barely-above-.500 record, at 31-29, and the light-hitting offense was the culprit. Out of 30 Major League clubs, Cincinnati ranked dead last in batting average, at .212. I’ll say it again. .212. That’s the price of a Mountain Dew at your local convenience store, not an MLB team’s batting average.

The Atlanta Braves swept the Reds out of the playoffs on Wednesday, and Cincinnati’s futile offense pounded the nail into the team’s coffin. Here are some more stats to chew on: 22 innings. 77 at-bats. And zero runs. Zero. Zilch. Nada. That’s exactly how many runs the Reds scored across two games – 22 innings, including a 13-inning marathon in game one – against the Braves in their NL Wild Card Series.

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The Cincinnati Reds are the first team not to score a run in 22 Postseason innings.

Bauer delivered an electrifying gem in game one, spinning 7.2 scoreless innings while yielding only 2 hits and whiffing 12 batters. But Cincinnati threw Bauer’s marvelous performance in the garbage can.

One common theme will haunt the Reds: missed opportunities. The first inning of game one epitomized Cincinnati’s offensive woes. Nick Senzel attacked the first pitch of the game, and rocketed a single to right field. Next up, the other Nick – Nick Castellanos – received a chest-high curveball, and swatted the pitch into centerfield. Senzel scurried to third, and the back-to-back hits presented a perfect scoring opportunity for Cincinnati: two runners on and no outs.

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But the Reds couldn’t cash in – veteran leader Joey Votto bounced a weak grounder to first, clean-up hitter Eugenio Suarez lined out to shortstop, and Mike Moustakas rolled over, slapping a soft ground-ball to second.

And that was the predominant, recurring problem that plagued Cincinnati throughout the game. Here’s the most frustrating thing: the Reds finished with 11 hits! They had plenty of chances to score. But they couldn’t deliver when it mattered, finishing the game with 13 runners left on base while going 0-12 with runners in scoring position.

Bauer was incredibly dominant. But it doesn’t matter how good your pitching is if you can’t score. Believe it or not, you actually have to score a run to win a baseball game. You actually have to score a run to win a series.

Bauer is a free agent this offseason, and there’s absolutely no chance he re-signs with the Reds. That means Cincinnati’s window with the big three is closed. The bottom line: the Reds’ big three gave the team a chance to do something special. Pitching is what matters most in the postseason. You know the old adage “defense wins championships”? The same is true in baseball. Pitching wins championships.

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And the Reds pitching had the potential to win a championship. But their offense stomped all over that potential and wasted it. Because of the their feeble offense, we’ll never know what Bauer, Castillo, and Gray could’ve done. Due to the team’s complete and total inept offense, we’re left with one question: what could’ve been?