Don’t look now, but the Cincinnati Reds are starting to make a run in the National League Central division as they have finally returned to a .500 record. After winning seven of their last 10, the Reds sit in third place and 6.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the division. While that is all well and good, the important aspect for the team and their fans is plain and simple — the team is completely healthy at last.
While the Reds were held afloat by their starting pitching and Todd Frazier, the rest of the team is starting to come around; and for the first time all season, the offense is starting to take shape. Scoring 30 runs in their last three games combined, the Reds have a combined .317 batting average over their last seven games — a drastic contrast from their .245 2014 team average.
Perhaps the most exciting fact of the Reds’ current resurgence has been the evenly distributed production throughout the lineup. Take a look at these stats over the last seven games:
Ryan Ludwick: .667 batting average, .692 on base percentage, two runs batted in.
Billy Hamilton: .500 AVG, .538 OBP, seven RBIs, two HRs, four stolen bases, six runs scored.
Skip Schumaker: .385 AVG, .357 OBP, four RBIs.
Brandon Phillips: .360 AVG, .333 OBP, seven RBIs, one HR.
Joey Votto: .360 AVG, .448 OBP, five RBIs.
Zack Cozart: .318 AVG, .375 OBP, two RBIs, seven runs scored.
Todd Frazier: .286 AVG, .333 OBP, three HRs, nine RBIs, seven runs scored.
Devin Mesoraco: .267 AVG, .353 OBP, one RBI, three runs scored.
For a team that struggled throughout the first 65 games to find any sort of even consistency from their lineup, the last week has been a dream come true. Such distribution takes the pressures off of individual players. The impact of this success can be seen in many ways, not just in the team’s record. The joy and excitement can be seen in the dugout and on the field with the players. In many ways, it seems as though the team is playing with a newly found sense of pride and excitement.
Talk around the team throughout the first half of the season surrounded words such as “lethargic”, “complacent”, “content”, etc. There didn’t seem to be much emotion throughout the team aside from a few younger players. Now that has all changed — from the body language in the dugout to the horseplay on the field. As we have seen in the past, these Reds team plays best when it is relaxed and not pressing. Though he didn’t accurately express it, that is what Dusty Baker was trying to allude to last season with his “sense of urgency” remarks. Under pressure, this team tends to press and make uncharacteristic mistakes. When they are loose and having fun, they can become a force to be reckoned with.
It has taken a while for the Reds to get to this point in 2014, but if they are able to sustain their current level of success, Cincinnati could be primed for a run through the dog days of summer. And if you are Bryan Price, it couldn’t come soon enough.