Cincinnati Reds: "En Fuego" Does Not Begin to Describe the Amazing Reds
Red-hot, scorching, sizzling, blistering, calorific, sweltering, torrid—en fuego—no matter what "thermally hot" synonym you use to describe the Cincinnati Reds, it just does not do them justice.
Owners of the best record (66-41) and best bullpen in baseball (2.55 ERA), the Cincinnati Reds have been simply unbeatable of late. As the old adage goes, pitching and defense wins baseball games—the 2012 Cincinnati Reds are prime examples of this.
Let's delve into some stats and facts about why Cincinnati has gone 18-3 since the All Star Break and why they have won 22 of their last 25 games.
The Reds' bullpen has been absolutely dominant this year. Their 2.55 ERA not only ranks first, but by a long shot. Only two other clubs—Pittsburgh and Oakland—have bullpen ERA's under 3.00 and the Pirates' pen ranks second at 2.80. That 25-point difference is huge.
The Reds' pen is the only bullpen averaging over 10 K's per nine innings at 10.13, they own the second best BA against at .213 and have recorded 21 wins—most in the Major Leagues. The 2012 version of the "Nasty Boys" has essentially transformed the opponent's offensive game into a six-inning game—practically giving the (often) anemic Cincinnati offense three more chances to score runs than the opposing offense.
The Cincinnati starters have been impressive as well. Actually, much more impressive than most people probably realize. The Reds' rotation ranks sixth in the MLB with a 3.68 ERA. They have also allowed the second fewest walks while accumulating the fourth most innings pitched. All of this while sending only five starters to the mound all season.
We see here that the club is excelling at the first facet of the "old adage," pitching. But what about that second facet, defense?
The Reds are tied for first in the National League and sixth overall, with a .986 team fielding percentage. Let's break it down even more. Up the middle, the Reds are second in fielding percentage at catcher (.996), second at second base (.994), third at shortstop (.978), fourth among pitching staffs (.970) and 10th in center field (.987).
The corner outfield positions rank in the middle of the pack while they bolster Gold Glovers at the corner infield positions. Not only are these guys making the plays that they should make, but they are making the plays that others can't—with regularity.
It may seem arbitrary, but Brandon Phillips leads all MLB players in "Web Gems" on ESPN's Baseball Tonight with 13 thus far in 2012. Zack Cozart also ranks in the top 10 this season.
Pitching and defense. Let me say that again, pitching and defense. This club excels in these two areas and it is their ability to consistently excel at them that kept them at or near the top of the N.L. Central for the better part of the season's first half.
Since the All-Star break however, the Cincinnati Reds are third in the senior circuit (N.L.) in runs scored and second in slugging percentage. The bats have finally caught up to their performances in the other two facets of the game. It was a given at the beginning of the season that Cincy would be at or near the top in offense, but that "given" never panned out—until now.
With superstar Joey Votto out and All-Star Brandon Phillips MIA in recent days, the offense has continued to thrive—led mostly by the veteran bats of Ryan Ludwick and Scott Rolen. Both Ludwick and Rolen have continued to come up with timely hits that have brought new life to the lineup.
This team has proven that they are more than just one or two players, they have proven that they have a roster full of players that know their roles and how to win.
With the returns of both Phillips and Votto just around the corner, it's scary to think of how the Reds could finish the rest of the season, and it's going to be very fun to watch.
Be sure to check out my latest article, Reds vs Pirates: A Big Brother vs Little Brother Rivalry in the Making.
Also be sure to follow me on Twitter @JRamCincy
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