Seeing Red

Not only are National League teams seeing a lot of “Red” this season but they are also witnessing quite a display of power when they square off against Major League Baseball’s first 15 game winner. The Cincinnati Reds came into this season with out too much support with many people not even expecting them to not pick up their 15th win of the season until mid-May sometime let alone the 26th of April. But why is this team collecting so many wins despite having little or no hope entering the 2006 season?

One reason: POWER.

Entering play today, here’s how the juggernaut Cincinnati Reds offense has faired in the Majors this season:

Runs: 136
Rank: 1st in MLB

2Bs: 54
Rank: 1st in MLB

HRs: 34
Rank: 1st in MLB

RBI: 123
Rank: 1st in MLB

When you lead the Majors in those four categories, chances are pretty good you’re going to win some games and that’s exactly what the Reds have done this season. Players like Adam Dunn (8 HRs) and Edwin Encarnacion (22 RBI) have lead the way to MLB’s most powerful offense. What makes their accomplishments even more amazing is considering they have been without centerfielder Ken Griffey Jr. for over half the season. While Ryan Freel has filled in well in centerfield and Brandon Phillips at second base with his bat, Griffey does look to return to the lineup this Friday which will only strengthen this offense.

Speaking of Brandon Phillips, he was awarded the National League player of the week for his outstanding week at the plate which saw him hit .452 (14-31), 3 hrs, and 17 RBI. That’s quite impressive for someone that used to be Cleveland’s top prospect before they traded him to Cincinnati on April 7 for some cash and a player to be named.

Phillips is just one of many great stories on this Reds team this year. The other being Boston Red Sox castoff Bronson Arroyo who was traded earlier this spring to Cincinnati for powerful Willy Mo Pena. Trading Pena loosened up a crowded Reds outfield and brought a starting pitcher in to a staff that has always had issues. In fact, other than Arroyo, the only way the Reds could have won this many games is from scoring a lot of runs considering they are ranked 22nd in MLB with a painful 5.06 ERA. Arroyo is 4-0 with a 2.34 ERA which comes to a delightful surprise to a Reds team that has been desperate for an ace on their struggling staff.

Although the pitching staff has been dreadful this season, as of late they have been holding opposing teams to fewer runs while the Reds offense has exploded more than ever. Over the past ten games, the Reds are 8-2 and have outscored their opponents 100-41. Yes you read that right. That means over the past ten games the Reds are average 10 runs per game and allowing about 4. That will win you some ball games and gain a little attention.

So can this team that wasn’t expected to finish higher than fourth or fifth in their division keep up their pace? We are about to find out as they start facing some more difficult tests. The Houston Astros (who lead the Reds by ½ a game) and St. Louis Cardinals (who trail the Reds by ½ a game) come to Great American Ballpark starting this Friday. We should get a good look at how this Reds team does against some strong pitching and strong offenses.

It seems as if the Reds can get out of the next 5 games with some big wins that it will go a long way in their confidence as they continue to impress and turn heads.

Who knows, if Cincinnati can beat up both Houston and St. Louis this weekend I think we can officially change their run from “Red” hot to white hot.

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