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MLB Cincinnati Reds

Brandon Phillips Continues Tear As Cincinnati Reds Top Miami Marlins

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Phillips has Cincinnati Reds fans and fantasy owners alike drooling after only three weeks into the 2013 MLB season.

Cincinnati scored eight runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, and held off a four-run come back by the Miami Marlins, to secure their 11th win of the season and 10th in Great American Ball Park. Phillips hit the go-ahead run in back-to-back games for the Reds, each of which led to eventual wins.

In the midst of a home run drought by former MVP first baseman Joey Votto, Phillips has emerged as the most prominent offensive asset for the Reds and is currently tied for second in RBI in the majors with 21 through 18 games.

Votto, who recently signed a 13-year contract worth $263 million with Cincinnati, has two home runs and six RBI thus far. In the last two games, however, Votto has homered and had three hits to shake off what some were deeming a slump.

With an offensive specimen like Votto, there wasn’t much worry that he would turn things around eventually for the Reds. He missed 48 games last season with a knee injury and may still be regaining confidence at the plate. Something seems to be clicking, as Votto now leads the National League in on-base percentage (.522) because of great performances in the last two games.

So, what can we really grab from Sunday’s matchup? The Reds play well at home, and Votto still knows how to hit. The nature of baseball revolves around romanticizing statistics and shying away from eye-balling player performance. Josh Hamilton of the Los Angeles Angels is clearly having a difficult time adjusting to his new digs, but Votto’s struggles haven’t appeared to be mechanical all season. All he needed was time.

Cincinnati entered this season as one of the early favorites to take the NL Central crown, seeing as the St. Louis Cardinals were expected to fall off from their championship form. With Phillips leading, and Votto finally catching up, the Reds won’t have to rely on late-game heroics to win games much longer.

John Engel is a Pac-12 basketball writer for Rant Sports and also works for ESPNLA 710 AM radio in Los Angeles. Follow John on Twitter: @engelsportsguy.