Reds take Central by storm

Cincinnati Reds fans on Twitter have been going full out in their support of the hometown team constantly using the phrase #TakeTheCentral; and for the second time in three years, the Reds are the National League Central winners after beating the Dodgers 6-0 Saturday.

Many players and games fell into place this season which resulted in the Reds division championship status. Cincinnati was the first team to clinch a divisional title and they accomplished it with the following:

– Todd Frazier could be in consideration for the NL Rookie of the Year Award. He

Todd Frazier has been a key to the Cincinnati Reds’ success this year.

excelled from the time he got called up early in the season all the way to the end. Scott Rolen’s inability to stay healthy gave way to Frazier’s emergence. Filling in at third base, he gave Reds’ fans something to cheer about from winning the NL Rookie of the Month in August to his diving catches in the outfield to his continuous clutch hits. Entering the final week of the season Frazier ranks among the top five NL rookies in average, runs scored, home runs, runs batted in and slugging percentage. When Joey Votto went down with a bum knee, Frazier stepped in at first and did a bang-up job defensively while still driving in runs.

– Do not forget about Zach Cozart over at shortstop. He ranks among the top five in some categories and has had a decent rookie season overall. His speed and strong arm over at the shortstop position won him the job coming out of spring training. Besides a couple of injuries, he has been consistently in the lineup. The downside to Frazier and Cozart is that both strikeout quite a bit. As their major league experience increases, the strikeout totals should decrease but only time will tell.

– All season long Dusty Baker has turned to a bullpen that leads the NL in earned run average. While they fail the eye test and may not be names some fans have heard of, they are certainly the most effective bullpen group of any team. They have a Major League Baseball-leading 2.64 ERA. It has also helped that they have gotten a low percentage of inherited runners – scoring about 21.5 percent of the time before Jonathan Broxton. On that note, any fan would have been skeptical of the lone trade-deadline move in acquiring Broxton. But to prove the nay-sayers wrong, he has been a shutdown eighth-inning pitcher with an occasional save. Broxton’s presence in the bullpen lowers the inherited runners scored percentage to 18.4 percent. Overall, Reds relievers have allowed only 22 percent of inherited runners to score when the league average is 29 percent.

– However, in order for the bullpen to be good the starting pitching needs to set them up; and they have done just that all season long. Four of the five starters have 10+ wins and all have fewer than 10 losses. Leading the way is Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos. The three combined have 43 of Cincinnati’s 92 wins and provide a 63.7 percent chance of winning when they start. If there is one thing that needs to be known about the pitching staff as a whole it is that only one pitcher (Todd Redmond) has started a game besides the Opening Day rotation. Yes, just one time all season; and it didn’t come until Aug. 18.

Going into the last week of the season other National League teams that jump out at me are the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, and Milwaukee Brewers. Hopefully the Reds don’t go down and out like they did in 2010. But this is a better pitching team than two years ago. The concern is the lack of depth in the infield, something that should have been solved at the trade deadline. Overall any fan has to be much more optimistic about 2012’s Reds compared to 2010.

The Reds took the Central and now October baseball can’t come soon enough.

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