The Cincinnati Reds are in second place in the NL Central. No, that’s not a joke, and it’s not a typo, it’s actually happening. Going into this season, it was widely believed that the Reds would finish last in their division. Not only that, they were also expected to be one of the worst teams in baseball.
The Reds have been rebuilding for two years now, with seemingly no end in sight. They dealt some of their most notable players and seemed to get little of value in return. Aside from Joey Votto, there was little to like about this team going into this season.
The Reds are now 18-15. This isn’t great, but it’s certainly much better than anyone was realistically expecting. How have they done it? Let’s evaluate some of the key reasons for Cincinnati’s solid start to the season.
Offense- In years past, one of the biggest areas of criticism for the Reds was they simply could not score runs consistently. Even when they were very good a few years ago, it was mostly their pitching that carried them. That has changed this year. The Reds have scored the third most runs in baseball, and own the third highest team batting average.
While the load has been shared with most of the lineup make solid contributions, several players stand out. Zach Cozart is having by far the best start of his career, hitting .350, good for fifth in the National League. And Joey Votto, who is hitting .289 with 10 homers and 31 RBI’s, looks to be up to his usual standard, only this year he isn’t waiting until after the all-star break to turn it on.
The Bullpen- The Red’s starting pitching has certainly been nothing to brag about this season, as they are ranked dead last in the league with a 5.29 ERA. Lucky for the Reds, the bullpen has picked up the slack, posting a 3.26 ERA which ranks eighth in the league. Most of this is due to closer Raisel Iglesias, who has been just about unhittable this season with a 0.89 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP.
The Manager- Given the Reds performance the past couple of seasons, you would be forgiven for wondering why Brian Price still has a job. But this year, he has proven to be at least be effective given the overall talent level of this team and deserves credit for the teams solid performance so far this season. Right now, this team is playing good baseball. They’re hitting, advancing runners, and playing with an edge not seen from them in a long time. Much of that is due to Brian Price’s leadership.
Obviously, it’s still very early in the season. It would be foolish to predict playoffs for this team, especially when they’re only three games over .500 and failing to get length out of their starting rotation. True, they may collapse over the next couple of months and be right back where they started. But so far, there seems to be something different about this year’s squad –and Reds fans have to be pleased.