The 2017 Major League Baseball season is not even one quarter over, with a long hot summer ahead, but one of the biggest surprises to the season is the play of the Cincinnati Reds.
The Reds are currently 19-15 and just a half game behind the first place St. Louis Cardinals in what appears to be a tight National League Central division. The Reds have won 8 of their past 10 games overall.
Cincinnati has pushed its record this season to five games above .500 which was the first time in 3 seasons and has been in first place as well.
The Reds early season success has been helped by its run differential of +18. Entering the season, Cincinnati was labeled as the NL Central’s last place team. That could still happen with over three quarters of the season left to be played.
However, for right now the team is on a pace to win 89 games and that would make them at this time the second wildcard team in the NL.
Chances of that happening are quite poor, but thus far after a month and a half of the season the team has defied baseball pundit logic.
Offensively, the Reds are No. 2 in the NL in scoring with 5.2 runs per game. They are No. 4 in the league in OBP and No. 3 in slugging percentage.
Individually, Joey Votto is hitting well and Adam Duvall is currently on pace to hit more than 40 home runs. Both shortstop Zack Cozart and Eugenio Suarez at third are hitting well with Cozart batting over .325 and Suarez close to .300.
Billy Hamilton already has 19 stolen bases in 21 attempts, which helps to score runs as he eliminates the need of a sacrifice.
Defensively the Reds lead the majors in defensive efficiency, which is the percentage of balls that are put into play that are converted into outs by the defense.
The bullpen is being used properly by Manager Bryan Price. The starting rotation might be a liability, but the strong bullpen play has helped to limit some damage. The Reds are No. 3 in bullpen ERA in the NL and No. 2 in WHIP for the bullpen.
Price has used his relievers in multi-inning appearances and the bullpen has the fewest number of relief appearances on no days rest in all of the majors.
It may only be the middle of May but Cincinnati deserves attention as the hot days of summer approach.