As I write this the Reds are on the verge of taking the opening game in the "Battle of Ohio." The big blows came tonight from Lance Nix and Jonny Gomes, which pretty much sums up the Reds success in recent weeks.
Since April 25th, Cincinnati is 17-7, and have surged into what is essentially a tie atop the NL Central. During that stretch, the Reds have been among the top scoring teams in baseball. Here are the stats for their regulars over that span:
C Ramon Hernandez - .326/.436/.413, 5 R, 6 RBI
1B Joey Votto - .325/.413/.629, 18 R, 22 RBI
2B Brandon Phillips - .289/.360/.444, 18 R, 2 RBI
3B Scott Rolen - .312/.356/.571, 10 R, 16 RBI
SS Orlando Cabrera - .283/.323/.348, 10 R, 6 RBI
LF Johnny Gomes - .369/.400/.600, 12 R, 15 RBI
CF Drew Stubbs - .210/.286/.395, 10 R, 13 RBI
RF Jay Bruce - .329/.442/.481, 17 R, 9 RBI
As you can see, pretty much everybody has been contributing, with even role players like Nix, Chris Heisey, and Ryan Hanigan chipping in. The same has been true on the other side of the ball. Here are the stats for the starting rotation over the same period:
Bronson Arroyo - 4-0, 2.73 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 16 K, 9 BB, 37 IP
Homer Bailey - 1-1, 4.13 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 27 K, 11 BB, 33 IP
Johnny Cueto - 3-0, 2.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 26 K, 4 BB, 27 IP
Aaron Harang - 2-2, 4.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 30 K, 5 BB, 31 IP
Mike Leake - 3-0, 2.25 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 26 K, 8 BB, 32 IP
The Reds rotation was 1-7 prior to April 25th, they are 13-3 since. Even Bailey and Harang, although they can't boast perfect records, have been piling up the innings and maintaining respectable ERAs. The Reds starters have averaged over 6 1/3 innings per outing.
The question one naturally poses at this point is this: Are the "real" Reds those that stunk up April, those that manhandled May, or something between? The safe answer is clearly the latter, but here are a few reason to believe the Reds could be as much a contender this September as they are currently:
1.) Bronson Arroyo has very quietly turned into a legitimate Ace, one of the National League's best pitchers. Going back to last year's All-Star Break, a span of 24 starts, Arroyo is 11-7 with a 3.00 ERA. As he showed during the middle of April, he may still be prone to rough stretches, but he's also capable of dominating good teams, as he did last week when he through a complete game against the Cardinals.
2.) Joey Votto has very quietly turned into an MVP-caliber player. So far in 2010, he's in the top ten in the NL in runs (28), homers (10), RBI (31), walks (26), OBP (.408), and OPS (969). And, based on how he finished '09, there's no reason to believe this is a fluke.
3.) The Reds have a considerable surplus of talent still waiting in the wings. The recently-promoted Heisey hit 22 HR with a .314 AVG and 900 OPS between AA and AAA in '09. Their AAA roster also includes power-hitting prospects Juan Francisco, Wladimir Balentien, and Yonder Alonso. And, of course, they've got that Aroldis Chapman kid you may have heard of.