Cincinnati Reds: Week 9 Player Power Rankings
A rough trip to Los Angeles, a rebound in the desert. The Cincinnati Reds had another "players-only" meeting, and as of today, despite being three games beneath .500, the Reds sit 7.5 games out of first in the NL Central and just 2.5 out of the wild card.
Cueto has returned to the rankings, and a bullpen arm earns its highest rank yet. Some other names have returned to the list as well. Check out which Reds contributed most to the 4-3 West Coast trip.
No.1: Todd Frazier (last Week No. 3)
For the first time ever, an offensive player sits atop the Reds player power rankings. After Cueto was dethroned last week by Alfredo Simon, Simon was lit up by the LA Dodgers, and even though Simon's next start was good, it wasn't good enough to keep Simon ranked. Therefore, it goes to a guy who, right now, might be the most important Red at the plate.
Last week, Frazier had a team-high eight hits, including three doubles and two RBI. While the RBI aren't getting him MVP votes, he does lead the team on the year in RBI (29) and runs scored (30). He hit .296 last week.
Frazier didn't have a perfect week: His two errors in one game nearly let a win against the Arizona Diamondbacks slip, but his bat more than made up for it. He was also responsible for breaking up Hyun-Jin Ryu's perfect game with a leadoff double in the eighth inning of what had been a perfect performance by Ryu.
He was also the feature of Enquirer beat writer John Fay's piece, as he was cited as being a catalyst in the locker room following the shutout loss to Arizona and holding guys accountable. So if you invest anything in the subjective realm of "guts" or "fire," there's that.
No. 2: Johnny Cueto (last Week Unranked)
Johnny Cueto wasted little time returning to the Reds player power rankings. After a brief exodus, Cueto sits just beneath the throne for most productive Red in uniform at the moment.
Cueto was a recipient of a tough-luck loss in Los Angeles, as he took the loss after allowing just one earned run in 6.1 innings of work. He didn't have his best stuff that game, but he pitched well enough for a better result.
He bounced back masterfully with a 7.1-inning shutout of the D'Backs. He struck out seven batters, which was refreshing after only striking out three against the Dodgers.
With an ERA of now 1.68, Cueto, once again, owns the best ERA in baseball.
No.3: Devin Mesoraco (last Week Unranked)
Devin Mesoraco was dropped from the Reds player power rankings last week following a mini-slump. All Mesoraco did was respond by hitting three home runs last week, two of them in one game against Arizona.
Mesoraco had seven RBI last week, which led the team in that span. His slash line wasn't great. In six games, Mesoraco hit .250 and had an OBP of .286, by all means mediocre to below, but of his five hits last week, three left the park.
With Joey Votto still out and Jay Bruce recovering slowly, the Reds desperately need Mesoraco to continue driving in the guys in front of him. This kind of performance was pretty common before the injury, so it's promising to see him continuing to mash.
Mesoraco, on the year, owns the Reds' highest batting average, at .351 with a great OBP of .396.
No.4: Jonathan Broxton (last Week No.10)
Jonathan Broxton climbs to the highest spot ever occupied by a bullpen arm this year. Not only did the big man go 4.1 innings while allowing no runs, but Broxton hasn't allowed an earned run since May 9 against the Colorado Rockies, which also happens to be the only run this guy has surrendered all year.
On the year, Broxton has pitched 17.1 innings and struck out 13 batters. His WHIP sits at 0.69. Considering that he's pitching for a bullpen with an inflated ERA of 4.32 (an NL-worst), the value-add he delivers to this team is almost beyond measurement.
No.5: Brayan Pena (last Week Unranked)
Brayan Pena cracks the first five on the list this week, moving up one spot for a great performance in the last five games. Pena hit .444 last week and had eight hits, which along with Todd Frazier, led the team during this time. His eight hits included three doubles and an RBI.
Penya on the year owns the Reds' second-highest batting average (.290). Because of his consistency, he may even force the Reds to play Mesoraco elsewhere, which would enable the Reds to feature two of its best hitters right now in every lineup.
No.6: Homer Bailey (last Week Unranked)
Homer Bailey returns to the Reds player power rankings following a notable outing in which the right-hander outdueled the Dodgers' ace phenom, Clayton Kershaw.
Bailey threw seven innings and allowed just two earned runs, which was all it took for the Reds to salvage the remaining game of a three-game series in Los Angeles. He struck out seven and walked just one. It was a refreshing performance against a quality team, his second consecutive quality start against a 2013 playoff opponent in as many games.
Is the season turning for Homer Bailey? His ERA is "down" to just 5.04. He finished April with a 6.15 ERA and followed that with a 4.26 ERA for May.
No.7: Mike Leake (last Week No. 2)
Leake had a decent week, but with a limited workload, decent wasn't good enough to keep him from falling all the way to No. 7. You can credit that to great performances surrounding him.
Against the Diamondbacks, Leake tossed a quality start: six innings, three runs. That's about all you can ask from any starter not occupying the top two spots of the rotation. And this effort was good enough to earn Leake and the Reds a much-needed victory following the opening shutout in Arizona.
No.8: Aroldis Chapman (last Week Unranked)
Aroldis Chapman was brought in for three save opportunities last week and successfully converted all three. Chapman struck out six batters in three innings of work. But it was the fashion he did it in that has everyone talking about the Cuban Missile again.
Chapman brought the 103 mph gas, but what he also did was throw sliders and changeups for strikes. He didn't have a changeup last year, and its implementation has produced tangible results.
In every inning of work last week, Chapman struck out two batters, walked none and allowed no hits.
No.9: Brandon Phillips (last Week No.4)
By any measure, Brandon Phillips did not have a good week last week. In six games against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, Phillips hit .174 with an OBP of .174. A pretty miserable week by all standards. However, there were two games in which Phillips was instrumental to victory.
Phillips drove in four RBI last week, second-most on the team in that span. Two came in a first-inning home run against Kershaw, and the other two came in the final game of the Arizona series.
Because of this pivotal contribution, Phillips clings to the Reds player power rankings.
No.10: J.J. Hoover (last Week No.7)
J.J. Hoover pitched 4.1 innings last week and allowed only one run. He's come a long way since April, with his cumulative ERA "dipping" to 5.56. To put this into perspective, Hoover finished April with a 9.72 ERA and turned in a 3.14 ERA for the month of May.
Hoover, along with Broxton and Chapman, is contributing to help get the Reds' bullpen ERA out of the NL cellar. It's still last in ERA, but with performances like these, look for that to improve soon.
Dropped from Reds Player Power Rankings
Alfredo Simon (last week No.1)
Skip Schumaker (last week No.9)
Ryan Ludwick (last week No. 8)
Zack Cozart (last week No. 5)
Johnny Cueto (last week unranked)
Alfredo Simon (last week No. 1)
On the Cusp
Billy Hamilton, Sam LeCure, Alfredo Simon
All stats courtesy of ESPN.com.