Cincinnati Reds: Top 10 Reds of Week 14
A three-game sweep at the hands of the last-place San Diego Padres preceded an emphatic series victory against the first-place Brewers. If there were ever a week to illustrate the roller-coaster ride of Reds baseball in 2014, this past week would suffice.
Joey Votto may once again be headed to the disabled list, so the Reds will turn to their greatest strength, the starting pitching, to help keep the team in the playoff hunt. You'll notice as much in this week's list.
Despite all of the bumps, the Reds have put themselves right in the mix. As the final week of the first half begins, the Reds sit just six games behind the Milwaukee Brewers and only three back of the final wild card slot currently occupied by the Washington Nationals.
But that's conversation for a different piece. Here are the top 10 Reds who most contributed to an awkward 2-4 week with a feel-good ending.
No. 10 Jay Bruce (Last Week No. 2)
By any measurable metric, Jay Bruce had a terrible week, one that included a career-worst 0-for-26 slump. But Bruce makes the list because he was the sole difference between the Reds being eight games behind Milwaukee instead of six.
First, the bad: Bruce hit .045 last week with an OBP of .045. He struck out five times and worked zero walks. Monday through Saturday were sure to send Bruce off of this list, but his final at-bat of the week changed everything when he launched a late go-ahead two-run homer off of left-handed specialist Will Smith.
It was the first home run Smith had allowed to a left-hander the entire season. It was the first two runs he had allowed from a left-hander all season. What Bruce accomplished in the finale against the Brewers was completely unexpected and unlikely.
To emphasize how bad the Reds offense was last week: Bruce's three RBI that he tallied in the closing game against the Brewers were the most RBI by any Red for the entire week.
No. 9 Billy Hamilton (Last Week No. 4)
Similar to Jay Bruce, but by no means equal, Billy Hamilton has also been struggling of late. The rookie recorded just four hits in 24 at-bats last week, making for a .160 average and .160 OBP in that time frame. Furthermore, Hamilton struck out 10 times, making him, by far, the leader in strikeouts for the week.
Hamilton did, however, hit an important home run in the first game of the Brewers series. His two-run blast ultimately proved to be the difference-maker in a 4-2 Reds victory. Hamilton also recorded another stolen base last week, bringing his total to 35, third best in baseball.
No. 8 Skip Schumaker (Last Week Unranked)
Skip Schumaker pitched in during a week when the Reds desperately needed production from somebody. Schumaker played in four of the six games last week, recording four hits, a double, an RBI, one walk and a stolen base.
Schumaker's OBP for the four games he played was .417. He was just one of five Reds to record a walk all of last week.
No. 7 Johnny Cueto (Last Week No. 5)
Johnny Cueto was the recipient of another tough-luck loss against the San Diego Padres. After a three-run first inning, which occurred after a ball came out of a diving Billy Hamilton's glove, the score would remain the same for the entire game and Cueto would receive the loss for what ended up being a quality start.
Cueto allowed seven hits and walked three batters, but he also struck out eight and kept his team within an inning's worth of outs short of tying.
Cueto will also be celebrating his first selection to the NL All-Star team.
No. 6 Alfredo Simon (Last Week No. 3)
Alfredo Simon continues to impress. In a pivotal opening game against the Brewers, Simon went 7.1 innings and allowed just two earned runs on six hits and two walks. He also struck out three. Simon's year-to-date WHIP is a very good 1.05, third in the starting rotation to Cueto and Mat Latos.
No. 5 Brandon Phillips (Last Week No. 8)
Brandon Phillips didn't knock the cover off the ball last week: His No. 5 placement is really the result of a lackluster offense surrounding him. In six games played, Phillips recorded five hits and three walks. He struck out six times.
Phillips hit .263 for the week and had an OBP of .364. His five hits were third-most on the team for all of last week.
No. 4 Homer Bailey (Last Week No. 9)
If Cueto's last start was tough luck, Homer Bailey's last start was just sad. Bailey went eight innings against the Brewers and surrendered just one earned run, which happened to be enough that evening to give Bailey the loss.
Bailey allowed seven hits and three walks but struck out eight. He gave the Reds precisely what they needed to sweep the Brewers, but the Reds' offense wasn't able to overcome Matt Garza.
No. 3 Devin Mesoraco (Last Week No. 6)
Devin Mesoraco continues to be a staple of the Reds' offense. Last week, the newly elected All-Star catcher recorded seven hits, two doubles, a homer and two RBI. He hit .412 and worked an OBP of .444, the highest of any Red for the week.
Mesoraco leads the team in overall batting average for the year (.317) and is second on the team in home runs and RBI, despite playing in 30-plus fewer games than the team leader in both.
No. 2 Mat Latos (Last Week Unranked)
If Cueto's loss was tough luck and Bailey's loss was sad, then the loss Latos took at the hands of the Padres was just egregious. Mat Latos allowed one hit and a walk, which was good enough to eventually make him the loser of a 1-0 contest.
He responded with another brilliant outing against the Brewers, which helped the Reds take two out of three and narrow the gap between them and first place.
On the week, Latos pitched 15 innings and surrendered only three runs over five hits and two walks. He struck out seven batters last week. His WHIP in that time span was a stellar 0.47.
No. 1 Todd Frazier (Last Week No. 1)
Todd Frazier makes his seventh consecutive appearance atop the Reds' top 10, tying teammate Johnny Cueto for most weeks on the throne. Cueto began the year with seven consecutive No. 1 appearances. The next seven have been occupied by the now All-Star third baseman.
Last week, Frazier's slash line was .348/.400/.391. He recorded eight hits, the most of any Red last week, including a double and one RBI. He also drew two walks.
On the year, Frazier leads the team in home runs and RBI. Frazier will officially become the focal point of a Joey Votto-less offense for the foreseeable future.
Dropped from Rankings: Aroldis Chapman (Last Week No. 10), Mike Leake (Last Week No. 7)
Biggest Jump: Mat Latos (Last Week Unranked)
Biggest Drop: Jay Bruce (Last Week No. 2)
On the Cusp: Zack Cozart, Jumbo Diaz