Every single team in Major League Baseball has at least eight wins on the season entering play on Friday. Every team except the Cincinnati Reds, that is.
The Reds have three. Yep. They’re 3-22.
And the 22nd loss, on Thursday afternoon in Milwaukee, somehow felt crueler than most of the first 21, if that’s possible. Cincinnati jumped out to a 3-0 lead, with uber-talented right-handed rookie starter Hunter Greene on the mound. It was get-away day, with the promise of a seven-day homestand waiting at the end of nine innings. Hope! Excitement! Momentum!
By the bottom of the first, though, the game was tied at 3. By the bottom of the third, the Reds trailed, 8-3. They wound up losing, 10-5. Brutal, but unfortunately not unfamiliar.
The Mets lead baseball with 19 wins heading into Friday’s action. At their current pace — three wins every 25 games — the Reds won’t get to 19 victories until the last week of the entire season. Cincinnati’s .120 winning percentage maths out to a 19-143 record over a full year. The worst winning percentage in MLB history belongs to another Ohio team; the 1899 Cleveland Spiders went 20-134, for a .130 mark. The worst post-integration winning percentage belongs to the 1962 Mets, who went 40-120 (.250).
The worst start in MLB history belongs to the 1988 Orioles, by the way, who went 0-21 before winning a game, so Cincinnati is safe there.
The Reds have the worst run differential in baseball, having allowed 87 more runs than they’ve scored. Think about it this way: Cincinnati would have to win its next 11 games by a score of 8-0 to get to a positive run differential. Remember how the Mets lead baseball with 19 wins? The New Yorkers scored seven runs in the ninth inning on Thursday to rally past the Phillies; the Reds haven’t scored seven runs in an entire game all season. No, really. They scored six runs in three of their first four games and have topped five runs only one other time this year.
The Reds’ offense is dead last in OPS (.583), strikeout percentage (26.4), on-base percentage (.267) and wOBA (.266). They’re bottom three in runs scored and total bases and their collective team fWAR is minus-2.0.
Know where the Reds are not at the bottom, though? Attendance.
The Cincinnati baseball club ranks 21st in attendance this season, through eight home games. It’s not that their attendance is stellar — an average of 19,487 fans — but that’s still better than nine other teams. The Reds have only played eight home games so far because, of course in this season from hell, the traditional Opening Day contest in Cincinnati was taken away from fans, too. The extended owners’ lockout pushed back the start of the season, meaning the Reds started away from home for just the third time since 1890.
Who knew the season would almost immediately get worse than that?
The Reds split the season-opening series in Atlanta against the World Series champion Braves and then lost 11 games in a row. They snapped that skid with a 4-1 home win against the Cardinals — rookie lefty Nick Lodolo looked great, striking out seven in 5 2/3 innings — but they haven’t won since, nine Ls and counting. In the past four games, they’ve been outscored 44-13. And here’s how bad it’s been: Those 13 runs in four games are actually an improvement. In that 11-game losing streak, Cincinnati scored 20 runs, total.
Reds fans deserve better than this.
And if you’ve read this far, you know the blame here does not rest with the players or the coaches. This debacle begins and ends with the ownership group. It’s the ownership group that made the decision to tear down a roster that was playoff-competitive most of last season. It’s the ownership group that jettisoned productive players getting basically only monetary savings in return.
And, maybe most importantly, it’s the ownership group — specifically Phil Castellini, son of principal owner Bob Castellini and the team’s president and chief operating officer — who insulted and talked down to Reds fans before that delayed home opener. The “be careful what you wish for” is especially infuriating. Then, he doubled down on his tone deaf — but rather unintentionally insightful — comments.
Finally, someone convinced Castellini to stop talking, and he issues a statement saying he was sorry for his words.
Reds fans definitely deserve better than this.
That the Reds have struggled this year is not surprising. Remember how the offseason went, at the ownership directive? They traded away fan favorite and heart-of-the-clubhouse guy Tucker Barnhart almost immediately after the World Series ended, and then let veteran starter Wade Miley — who was coming off a year with a 5.8 bWAR, with a 3.37 ERA in 28 starts — leave via waivers because they didn’t want to pay his salary.
Those both happened before the lockout.
Nick Castellanos opted out, too, knowing he’d be able to land a larger deal than what he had on his current contract. After the lockout, the Reds traded away Jesse Winker — talk about a fan favorite; Winker was a 2012 draft pick and fans had watched him develop to the point he became an All-Star in 2021 — Eugenio Suarez, Sonny Gray and Amir Garrett. Basically, just about any player who had any value and was less than two years from free agency was shipped away to save money, if the Reds had any say. Joey Votto’s still there because he has no-trade power and doesn’t want to leave. Mike Moustakas is still there because he’s guaranteed at least $38 million and produced a combined 83 OPS+ in 2020-21.
So, yeah, everyone knew the Reds would struggle. Nobody knew they’d be quite this bad, though. Not will-they-have-the-worst-record-in-MLB-history futile. And nobody knew the owners would mock the fan base for being frustrated.
Yep, Reds fans definitely deserve better than this.