By Robb Hoff @NFLNostradamus on June 30, 2014
The Cincinnati Reds have survived an injury-plagued first half of the season and a slow start by pitcher Homer Bailey to gain in the NL Central behind five players who have shown themselves to be the biggest surprises for the team so far this season.
Cincinnati Reds' closer Aroldis Chapman was expected to have a dominant 2014 season until a line drive in Spring Training put both his baseball future and briefly his life in question. The speed of recovery and success that Chapman has had this year have to make him one of the top five surprises for the NL Central second-place Reds.
For much of the first half of the season, Billy Hamilton looked like he could be a huge disappointment for the Cincinnati Reds as the leadoff hitter who replaced Shin-Soo Choo, but a torrid June for Hamilton has surprisingly propelled him into an All-Star candidate and perhaps the biggest difference-maker in the NL Central.
Cincinnati Reds' third baseman Todd Frazier had a sophomore slump last year, but he's rebounded this year to the point that he deserves to be the starting third baseman for the All-Star game after establishing himself as the best at his position in the NL Central.
If the Cincinnati Reds win the NL Central in 2014, Alfredo Simon will have a lot to do with it due to his remarkable ascension from waiver-wire middle reliever to dominant starter deserving of not only a spot on the All-Star team but also team MVP consideration.
The success of Cincinnati Reds' ace Johnny Cueto should come as no surprise since he does have the second lowest ERA among all starters since 2011 who have thrown more than 500 innings, but the kind of Cy Young Award caliber season Cueto has turned in so far this year is surprising enough to earn him the NL starting pitcher designation for the 2014 All-Star game.
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