Cincinnati Reds: Hottest Team in Baseball and No. 1 in Power Rankings?
At the beginning of play on Sunday, July 29th, the Cincinnati Reds sit atop the baseball world along with the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals with the best records in baseball—60 wins and 40 losses.
Of these three teams, though, it is the Cincinnati Reds that have stood out above the rest. The Reds lost the heart of their lineup and MVP favorite, Joey Votto, to knee surgery 13 games ago. Since that time they have managed to proceed with an 11-2 record.
The Cincinnati Reds have developed an identity that—with all bias by the national and New York medias aside—should place them at the top of all MLB power rankings.
Many may argue that the Reds have faced inferior competition during their current nine-game winning streak—I would agree with that. But what separates good teams from great teams is their ability to simply take care of business. Some teams play to the level of their competition and do not capitalize on these situations—great teams do capitalize.
Great teams have the ability to play better than .500 against good teams and to slam the lower teams. You cannot penalize a team for taking care of its business.
The Cincinnati Reds are playing excellent baseball all around, including against the good teams—sweeping the Cardinals in three games immediately after the All-Star break, and then following that up by taking 11 of 13 from the D-Backs, Brewers, Astros and Rockies.
Let's look at things from another direction. The Reds entered the All-Star break trailing the Pittsburgh Pirates by one game in the N.L. Central. The Pirates have gone 10-5 since the break and now trail the first-place Reds by two games.
You may be asking how a club that lost its best everyday player has managed to continue to come out on top. The Reds are being led by the second-best team ERA in baseball at 3.27. The pitching is backed up by Gold Glove-caliber defense around the diamond.
The Reds' defense doesn't only make the plays that they should, but they make the plays that they shouldn't—the plays that other defenses can't make. Pitching and defense win championships, and Cincy could make an argument that they have the best of both.
The N.L. pennant favorites and the No. 1 team in baseball right now are the Cincinnati Reds. A team that struggled to get started in April and slowly climbed its way to the top is finally hitting its stride—without its superstar—now that's scary.
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