Thursday, September 14, 2023

Will of the People

 When the Reds took over the NL Central midyear, everyone knew that it wouldn't last, and that they would eventually stagger back towards the middle of the division, but there was just this feeling that whatever good things they came into during this season, they'd deserve them. Like, even a few years ago when the team had all their pieces, it was hard to root against the Reds. They've built their teams admirably, have had excellent pieces, and aren't, like...antagonistic. 

Like, if you look at Joey Votto, 'evil' or 'hateful' doesn't exactly come to mind. He's a big strong hitting guy who loves baseball and has a great time. How do you dislike that? Same with somebody like Elly de la Cruz. Big tall shortstop that runs like hell and outhits you. You just kinda have to respect it.

The Reds have, like the Giants, D-Backs and Marlins, ebbed and flowed enough to make the wild card race really interesting. The Phillies seem to have a handle on the first spot, and the Cubs are looking like a good choice for the second, but that third spot is turning into a four-man race and it's gonna come down to who catches fire when. The Marlins and Giants have had nice stretches recently, but the Reds have won 2 straight and have a series against Detroit. As I'm writing this, their game against the Tigers is looking pretty good, though not a lock yet.

The Reds' biggest asset is that just when you think they've settled, they bring up even more young guys that can nail you. Noelvi Marte has been the big newer one that's raised eyebrows, and he's only had 7 RBIs in 21 games, but 6 steals though. Christian Encarnacion-Strand has been an intriguing DH piece, he already has 22 RBIs and 6 homers in 49 games. Connor Phillips was the latest rookie starter to join the cause, and he's at least slightly steadier than some of the other options. And then you've had the steady core of Matt McLain, Spencer Steer, Elly de la Cruz and Will Benson, all of whom have been having great first years in Cincinnati. And now on top of all of that you now have Bader and Renfroe adding power, and...slowly getting the hang of it.

The Reds may be a lower-tier favorite for the wild card spot, but I'd still like to see them sneak in. Honestly, even if they don't they're probably still gonna be good going forward, they're not breaking up the youth movement, the only big piece that might be gone next year is Joey Votto, and it's less about star power and more about the fact that he's 40 [the Reds could bring him back for '24 though]. I think it could be like the Orioles, where they just miss the playoffs this year but break out big the following year, and I'd be very happy to see that.

Coming Tonight: One of the few opening day Angels who are still either healthy or still on the team.

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