8 Reasons This Is the Year the Cincinnati Reds Return to the World Series
The Cincinnati Reds are currently in a battle for the best record in baseball. Soon, however, they will find themselves in a battle for immortality as they strive to cap off their season by accomplishing every athletes' dream—capturing a world championship.
The Reds seem poised and in excellent position of earning an invite to the World Series. They have proven all season long that they are a force to be reckoned with and are now showing everyone that they are the team to beat in the NL.
You heard me right. They are a force to be reckoned with and the top team in the NL.
Let's analyze eight reasons why the Cincinnati Reds will be representing the National League in the 2012 World Series.
Gold Glove Defense
Brandon Phillips highlights what many consider the best defensive team in all of baseball. They may not lead all of baseball in fielding percentage (4th in MLB and tied for 1st in NL), but they make more spectacular plays than everyone else and they do it with consistency. Make no mistake here, the Reds' defense covers more ground than other defenses.
But even better than the spectacular plays, they make the routine plays.
Cincinnati's pitching staff boosts some power arms, but for the most part they are a pitch to contact type of staff. In order for them to be successful, they require help and they have the best in the biz. Reds fielders arguably save more runs than any other Major League club.
Which leads me to my next point...
Hanigan, Cozart and Votto: Leadership on the Field
The on-the-field leadership is absolutely astounding. Their defensive superiority is instigated by the leadership and play of three players, SS Zack Cozart, C Ryan Hanigan and 1B Joey Votto.
Cozart mans the shortstop position like a 10-year veteran. Make no mistake—he is the on-field leader of this team. Hanigan handles everything with care and completely shuts down the opposing running game, throwing out an astounding 30 of 62 attempted steals. Then there is Joey Votto, who has taken it upon himself to learn Spanish in order to better communicate with his teammates and serve as translator on the field.
This on-the-field leadership is championship caliber and will help to carry the Reds into the Fall Classic.
The 2012 "Nasty Boys"
The 2012 "Nasty Boys" have been lights out for most of the season. Anytime you can shorten the game to six innings you have created a recipe for success.
The Reds have the ability to do just that and to get the best out of their starters, removing them before they can get too worn down, and then replace them with fresh arms that will dominate the rest of the way. It's crazy how dominate this relief corp has been for the entire season.
Not only have they been dominate, but they have carried this club at times and will continue to do so through the end of October.
Team Chemistry and Veteran Leadership
Team chemistry is a term that gets throw around often—sometimes too often. And because it is so overused, it is just as often dismissed as being a false contributor to a team's success. But those who have been a part of very successful teams understand the true importance of team chemistry.
It's all about the human psyche my friends and great teams click on this level. Just like depression and negativity can affect how humans perform, so can great chemistry between groups.
Ask any player on this club about the vibe in their clubhouse and they will tell you it is better than any they have been a part of. They will also tell you that it starts with veteran leadership. Scott Rolen, Ryan Ludwick and Bronson Arroyo all bring track records of success and experience. They have brought that to this team.
Playoff experience is no longer an issue for this club. The Reds may have been three and done in 2010, but do not let the experience gained during those three games go unnoticed.
If you take that cumulative experience and add yet another World Series champion into the mix in Ryan Ludwick, then you begin to see the big stage experience this team has. They aren't playing with "eyes wide" this time around. They are playing like they have been there before.
Scott Rolen Will Begin the Playoffs Rested and Healthy
As much as we all love Todd Frazier, this club wins and loses with Scott Rolen. The Reds play like a confident and undaunted team when Rolen is in the lineup. His importance is visually evident on the field—just watch—you will see it.
If Scott Rolen can enter the playoffs healthy, then the Reds will have a major boost to their lineup. Many think that it was only Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier that carried the offense in Joey Votto's absence, but on't forget that it was Scott Rolen who led the team in hitting with runners in scoring position during that stretch.
Scott Rolen is clutch and is going to help carry his team to the Fall Classic.
The Starting Rotation
The Reds are going to throw out four starters who have the ability to dominate a game on the mound. We will get to Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos in the next slide, but Bronson Arroyo and Homer Bailey are about as good as it gets as your third and fourth starters.
Bronson Arroyo boasts a 3.67 ERA and a 12-8 record while Homer Bailey boasts a 3.92 ERA and a 12-10 record. I have to say, I think nearly any other playoff team (excluding the Nationals) would take that three/four combo over their own.
Every playoff team has an ace, but not all of them have rotation depth—Cincinnati does.
The Cueto-Latos 1-2 Punch
Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos can match up with any other 1-2 combo out there. Cueto still has an outside chance at a 20-win season and the Cy Young while Latos has been a true ace himself down the stretch. Latos has actually been outperforming Cueto for the past two months.
With two legitimate aces at the top of the Cincy rotation, the Reds have the ability to jump out to a quick two game lead on any team. Johnny Cueto could very well be Cincy's 2012 version of Jose Rijo. It was Rijo that mowed through the powerful lineups and paved the way for the Reds' 1990 World Series sweep of the mighty Oakland A's.
Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto seem poised to set Cincy up for success this postseason. Lineups beware, these two will be leading the Cincinnati Reds all the way to the 2012 World Series.
The Final Word
Frankly, the number one reason the Cincinnati Reds will represent the NL in the 2012 World Series is that they simply match up very well against all of their possible NL opponents. They have dominated the Braves this season, edged out the Giants, ran over the Brewers, split with the Cardinals and played very close games with the Nationals despite losing the season series with them.
With Cincy starters on a roll and the lineup getting healthy at the right time, it is now Cincy's time. It takes a combination of stars aligning, talent, and people getting hot at the right time and the Reds meet all the criteria.
Check out my article here, detailing how the Reds match up against all possible NL opponents.
You can follow Josh Ramsey on Twitter @JRamCincy