The Cincinnati Reds have to feel a bit like they have entered the twilight zone. Here they are with only a little more than a month and a half left in the MLB baseball season leading the St. Louis Cardinals by two and a half games, and nobody really seems to notice. Occasionally you will get the story on the major news outlets such as ESPN.com, but for the most part they are being largely ignored. While the rest of the sports world ignores this playoff powder keg in the making, they keep rambling along racking up wins and maintaining their lead.
Can the Cincinnati Reds be this year’s Tampa Bay?
Here are five reasons why they certainly can:
Votto is simply cruising along having an MVP caliber season while the rest of the baseball world watches the Yankees and Red Sox. Joey Votto is having a huge season with 28 home runs, and 79 RBIs. Best of all, he is doing it while batting .324. That is what sets him apart from other sluggers around the league. The list is rather short when you talk about power guys that hit for average as well. Even the mighty Albert Pujols is hitting a mere .314 though he has a couple more home runs. Votto is going to lead the Reds to a playoff spot and make a name for himself.
Everyone knows that pitching is where it is at when playoff time rolls around. The Reds have a long line of starting pitching and plenty of good bullpen help to put them among the elite. What really makes this pitching staff stand out is that it is a nice mix of young arms and solid veteran leadership. The pitching staff is among the top five in most important categories in the League, and should remain so as they get back some arms down the stretch.
The Reds are also one of the quickest teams around, as evidenced by their 67 stolen bases. This also translates into defensive speed, as the Reds get to balls that other teams do not. Defense still wins ball games, and it is a large reason why the Reds pitching has been so great. Expect more from this group as they mature further, but they are already among the best in the Majors.
Every MLB team that seems to come out of nowhere to enter the playoff picture for the first time in years has a guy like Edmonds. Edmonds is not even close to the player he was in years past, but he has one thing that the Reds desperately needed-veteran leadership and poise. When the Reds are against the wall in the playoffs, Edmonds will earn his money either on or off the field. His real value is in keeping the youngsters in line and in the ball game.
Baker is one to keep everybody in line as well, and he knows how to win. What makes this team particularly interesting is that Baker seems to genuinely like his players-not always the case in teams from the past. Dusty will have these kids ready, and they will make some serious waves in the post season.
Cincinnati Reds ESPN Stats Page