by Tommy Gimler
Most people don’t plan summer vacations to Cincinnati unless they’re looking to get stabbed or pick up chlamydia.
But if you’re looking to catch the best baseball team in the country, you’re going to have to make a detour to the Queen City because the Cincinnati Reds at 66-41 own Major League Baseball’s best record. They have won 22 of their last 25 games. They are 19-3 since the All-Star break. And they are doing all of it without their best player Joey Votto.
This is how good the Cincinnati Reds have been. On July 6th, the Pittsburgh Pirates were leading the Reds by one game in the NL Central. Since then, the Pirates have played pretty good baseball, going 14-10 over that stretch. Only now they’re 5.5 games out of first place. Or how about the St. Louis Cardinals? On July 6th, they were only 2.5 games behind the Bucs. Since then, they have been hitting the piss out of the ball and also have a 14-10 record, yet they are now eight games out of first place.
We established yesterday that Albert Pujols has been the best hitter in baseball since the All-Star break. Then there’s Mike Trout. After that, there’s Ryan Zimmerman. After him, Matt Holliday. But take a guess at who is a close fifth. If you guessed Cincinnati’s Ryan Ludwick, you’re either a fucking liar or a huge fantasy dork. Since the Midsummer Classic, Ludwick has hit .324 with 7 home runs and 23 RBI (2nd to Pujols). That has to be salt in the wounds of Pirates fans, who saw Ludwick join their club before last year’s trade deadline and do absolutely nothing.
Everybody knew the Reds would hit. Joey Votto was hitting .342 with an unreal .465 OBP before he went down. Jay Bruce has 21 bombs and 66 RBI. But an even bigger surprise than the Reds owning baseball’s best record is the success of their pitching staff. Pitching in an oversized little league ballpark, Reds pitching is sporting baseball’s third best ERA, sixth best WHIP, and 12th best BAA. Aroldis Chapman is actually closing out games, Johnny Cueto has 14 wins, and Mat Latos has 122 K’s.
Now, as Cubs and Giants fans will tell you, we’ll have to wait and see how Dusty Baker fucks this one up…