The Reds have been just good enough all season to hang around the top of the NL Central standings, but the Reds fully expect to play better baseball in the second half of the season.
In a quote from the Reds website, Jay Bruce had the following to say regarding the Reds positioning in the standings.
“We played well enough in the first half,” Bruce said. “I think everyone always wants to play better. This is a good division. There are three teams at the top that are going to be in the conversation all year. The Cardinals speak for themselves, and the Pirates are here to stay. We control our own destiny, and if we play well, I believe we’ll take care of what we need to take care of.”
Outfielder Jay Bruce has been streaky as always, but still is having a good enough season to be named to the All-Star team, batting .249 with 18 home runs and 56 rbi.
The free agent signing of outfielder Ryan Ludwick has paid off to a certain extent, as Ludwick has hit 12 home runs and drove in 34 runs.
Overall the Reds rank third in home runs behind the Rockies and Brewers in the National League with 96.
One category the Reds would certainly like to improve in is stolen bases. The Reds rank dead last in the National League with only 43 stolen bases.
Veteran Scott Rolen returned to the lineup this past weekend after being out with back spasms, but youngster Todd Frazier has been hot, hitting nine home runs with 29 rbi in Rolen’s absence.
Frazier is the future, but Manager Dusty Baker still wants to get Rolen at bats. Moving forward it will be interesting to see how the third base situation works itself out.
The Reds pitching has been good to this point, compiling a team ERA of 3.39, good for third in the NL. Johnny Cueto has led the way for the starters this season, going 10-5 with a 2.39 ERA. Cueto has been vocal about not being named to the All-Star team this season. While he has a legitimate complaint, there were others just as deserving to make the team.
The Reds made a big move in the offseason, which brought stud pitcher Mat Latos to the club. Latos, 24, had a rough start to the season, but has rebounded nicely as of late.
Overall, Latos is 7-2 with a 4.13 ERA. The Reds need Latos to bring the ERA down and consistently be the pitcher he was the past two seasons in San Diego.
The great Aroldis Chapman has turned into quite the weapon out of the Reds bullpen in 2012, gathering 11 saves so far. Through 39.1 innings pitched, Chapman has registered a stunning 71 strikeouts.
Down on the farm, the Reds have one of the most intriguing prospects in quite some time. Drafted in 2009, shortstop prospect Billy Hamilton has been making a ton of noise for the Reds in Single A this season with his blinding speed.
Hamilton, 21, has stolen 104 bases in only 82 games so far in 2012. The all-time record for stolen bases in a season is 145, set by Vince Coleman in 1983.
Hamilton has just been promoted to AA for the Reds and if he continues the success, he could very well be a September call-up to help push the Reds towards the playoffs.
The Reds will absolutely be in the NL Central Division race conversation all season long. Should be quite a three-team race between the Reds, Pirates and Cardinals through the late summer months.