After beating the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night, the Cincinnati Reds are in the midst of a season-high four game winning streak. Winners of five of their last six, the Reds have been riding the success of a regenerated offense — an offense led by players sitting at the bottom of the team’s payroll.
All teams shell out large contracts to their star players, and the Reds are the same — Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce are all making over $10 million in 2014 (and rightfully so). However, the success and failure of teams rely on those situated behind such stars. And currently for the Reds, those are the players who are helping this team succeed in recent days.
Take a look at the payroll breakdown of last night’s starting lineup:
1. Billy Hamilton — $500,000
2. Todd Frazier — $600,000
3. Brandon Phillips — $11,080,000
4. Jay Bruce — $10,040,000
5. Devin Mesoraco — $525,000
6. Brayan Pena — $875,000
7. Skip Schumaker — $2,000,000
8. Zack Cozart — $600,000
Phillips and Bruce = $21.12 million per year
Other six players = $5.10 million per year
Five of the starting eight position players for the Reds are making less than one million on the season. In fact, the Reds paid Phillips and Bruce a total of $130,370 to produce three hits and four runs batted in during last night’s game (that is $43,456.78 per hit and $32,592.59 per RBI). The other six players combined made $31,481.46 to produce five hits and three runs batted in (that’s $6,296.30 per hit and $10,493.82 per RBI) for last night’s game.
What’s the point of all of these numbers? First off, it’s just more proof that some of these guys make more in one game than I ever will in a year. But most importantly, the numbers are proof that the Reds’ “other guys” are more than pulling their weight as of late — something the Reds must have in order to succeed.
The team leaders in home runs and runs batted in are Frazier (10 home runs; 29 RBIs) and Mesoraco (nine home runs; 27 RBIs). Combined, the two are making $1.25 million on the season. How do their numbers compare to the big three (Votto, Bruce, Phillips)?
Frazier/Mesoraco: .296 average; 19 home runs; 56 runs batted in ($1.25 million total ’14 salaries)
Votto/Bruce/Phillips: .248 average; 13 home runs; 52 runs batted in ($33.12 million total ’14 salaries)
Big-money contracts grab the headlines, but it’s the other six guys on the field who can determine a team’s success or failure. The Reds are currently being led by a group of young players who play with passion and vigor day in and day out. Perhaps their success has to do with not having the pressure that comes along with a massive contract, or perhaps it comes from the desire to one day earn such a contract.
Regardless, the Reds are currently riding a wave of optimism on the back of their “other” guys, and it’s a persona that fits this team perfectly. It is also a persona that could (and should) help the team decide on how to approach the future of the franchise.
They aren’t sexy names that are known in households around the country, but they are the type of players fans in the Queen City love to cheer for — gritty and passionate players who leave it all on the field, night in and night out. And for manager Bryan Price, maybe he is finally starting to field the team that best represents him.