Monday, July 9, 2018
When 5th Place Isn't a Death Sentence
There's been a habit this year of last-place teams fighting back and attempting to catch up to the next possible contender. The Padres have won a bunch and are trying to lap the Rockies and Giants. The Marlins are trying to catch the Mets. The Rangers are...dangerously close to lapping the Angels.
And then you have the Cincinnati Reds. Who took the month of June and became one of the most dangerous 5th place teams in baseball. They were taking down the Royals, the Cubs, the White Sox, the Braves, the Brewers. All these midwest teams, many of which were actually doing pretty well. And down they all went. Why? Because as bad as the Reds' record is, and as hit-miss as the pitching may be...the Reds' lineup is pretty deadly.
Eugenio Suarez, Scooter Gennett and Joey Votto are all All Stars, and they all deserve it. They've been playing beautifully this year. If it weren't for JT Realmuto, I'd even suggest Tucker Barnhart as well. Or even Scott Schebler, who shook off a disappointing 2017 and started hitting for power like it was his business.
Even guys like Adam Duvall, who's never been great at hitting for average, or Jose Peraza, who's a better defensive player, or even backup catcher Curt Casali...have all been playing really well. Hell, Jesse Winker's not starting everyday, but he's a fantastic clutch hitter.
Plus, for the first time in a WHILE, they actually have a reliable ace in Tyler Mahle. He can get a ton of strikeouts, win games, and go several innings without showing a ton of wear. And yes, Luis Castillo and Matt Harvey are both alright, but Mahle might be for real. And on a better team, he'd be a solid arm to have. And...I must once again reiterate how powerful of a closer Raisel Iglesias can be. Aroldis Chapman would be proud.
So many pieces of this team are not only good, they're GREAT. And although a lot of the rotation is still disappointing, and although the bench needs a bit of work, this is still a team that could be dangerous if competitors, like, say, the Pirates, slip up any more. I could be wrong, and some players could be dealt this month, but...after June? Maybe this team has a chance to become huge sometime soon.
Coming Tomorrow- One of the more satisfying first time ASG nominees out there.