|Reds are legitimate World Series contenders||| Print ||
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on September 15, 2012
We really hear nothing about the Cincinnati Reds, who have flown under the radar for most of the season but are certainly a legitimate World Series contender.
The Reds ran away with the NL Central a few weeks ago and even opened up an 11 1/2-game lead in mid-September. That lead was built over the St. Louis Cardinals, who are not too shabby themselves.
Photo by Keith Allison, used under creative commons license.
The most surprising aspect of the 2012 Reds is that they’ve survived the loss of former NL MVP Joey Votto, who missed 49 games after undergoing knee surgery. Not only did the team survive, but it seemed that the Reds played even better without Votto, compiling a 33-16 record (.673 winning percentage) in the 49 games Votto missed.
The team has some stars other than Votto that really paced the Reds offense in his stead. Brandon Phillips and All-Star Jay Bruce have been productive hitters in the middle of the order.
However, it’s been the unsung heroes on Cincinnati’s roster that have carried the team to its current position. Who would have thought that Ryan Ludwick would experience a resurgence. Sure, the bandbox feel of Great American Ballpark has helped, but Ludwick’s hit 25 home runs and driven in 75 runs.
In addition to Ludwick, it seems every time Todd Frazier or Chris Heisey gets called upon, they deliver. Both had filled in nicely when needed, and Frazier can even be considered a candidate for NL Rookie of the Year.
Veteran third baseman Scott Rolen hasn’t put up his normal stats, but don’t think he’s not eager for the chance at another World Series title, since this might be his last chance.
On the pitching side, the Reds have received solid performances from basically every pitcher in the rotation from the starters to the bullpen. NL Cy Young candidate Johnny Cueto leads the way, while Mat Latos and Bronson Arroyo have turned in consistent starts each time out.
The bullpen will be dangerous in October if it keeps up its current pace. Dynamic closer Aroldis Chapman is actually being rested the next few weeks so that he is fresh for the playoffs. In the meantime, not enough can be said about how Alfredo Simon, Sean Marshall and Jose Arredondo have held the bullpen together.
It’s a safe bet to assume that the Reds will capture the NL Central. The Nationals, Braves and Giants also appear to be locks to reach the postseason.
All these teams will rely on their pitching staffs, especially in a short series. Cueto, Latos and Arroyo can certainly match up to any of those teams, even more so that Stephen Strasburg will not pitch in October.
So although the Reds maybe haven’t been in the national spotlight as much as they deserve, they’ll receive the attention in October.