On April 19, the Reds fired manager Bryan Price after the club got off to an ugly 3-15 start. They named Jim Riggleman as the interim manager. After Wednesday afternoon’s 6-5 victory over the first-place Braves, the Reds are now 31-31 under Riggleman’s leadership.
The Reds, for as bad as they looked, weren’t a true-talent .167 team as their 3-15 record might have indicated. They were going to regress towards the mean almost no matter what. Still, Riggleman deserves some credit. The Reds had a -46 run differential in 18 games under Price and have a +5 run differential in 62 games under Riggleman. Run differential is, generally speaking, a good way to gauge the talent level of a team. By “Pythagorean expectation,” the Reds under Price should have had a 4-14 record. The Reds under Riggleman should have a 31-31 record. In other words, the Reds have played like a legitimately better team with Riggleman at the helm.
Some have suggested that Riggleman’s success with the down-and-out Reds earns him the right to have the “interim” part of his job title removed. The Reds would be doing themselves a disservice if they were to do that, rather than conduct a full and thorough search for a manager after the season. While Riggleman is a baseball lifer, he has managed a team to a .500 record just three times in 13 seasons: the Cubs in the strike-shortened 1995 season, the Cubs in ’98, and the Nationals through 75 games in 2011 before resigning because he felt ownership disrespected him. This is not to say that a manager’s record speaks wholly to his skill, but it’s worth at least considering other résumés before making things final.