The All Star Game has come and gone, and now that the Reds have clinched home-field advantage in the World Series, we turn our attention to the second half of the season. But first, we look back on the first half that was and hand out some awards.
Team MVP: Joey VottoWere you honestly expecting anyone else? Votto is not only team MVP, but may be the favorite to take home National League MVP honors at this point. He leads the majors in doubles (35), walks (65), and OPS (1.087) and has driven in 47 runs. He gets on base 47 percent of the time and has carried the Reds for large stretches of the season. If the Reds can figure out how to get some runners on base in front of him, look out.
Team Cy Young: Johnny CuetoCueto may not be an All Star, but there is no question he is the best Reds pitcher at the midway point. He leads the team in wins (10) and ERA (2.39), the latter of which is good for fourth among all National League starters. And he’s been even more valuable than his record shows: Five of his wins have come after a Reds loss, making him the team’s stopper.
Biggest Surprise: Todd FrazierWith Scott Rolen injured for most of the first half and ineffective when he did play, third base could have been the team’s fatal flaw this year. Instead, Frazier has come in and performed well in whatever role the Reds have asked him to fill. In only 180 at bats, Frazier is hitting .278 with 9 home runs and 29 RBIs. With Rolen finally “healthy,” it’s difficult to predict how much playing time Frazier will get, but the Reds are more likely to win with him playing. C’mon Dusty, can Rolen hit a home run while dropping the bat? Frazier can.
Biggest Disappointment: Drew StubbsSure, anyone expecting Stubbs to be an All Star center fielder was fooling themselves from the beginning, but I had higher expectations for him than this. Stubbs is “hitting” .215 at the break and is a black hole in front of Votto. Dusty may like his speed at the top of the order, but what difference does it make when he is getting on base less than 30 percent of the time? The team has been linked to recent trade talks involving several outfielders, and if Stubbs doesn’t increase his production, the Reds may have a new center fielder this time next month.
Midseason Grade: BIf you had told me before the season that the Reds would be nine games over .500 at the midway point, one game out of first, and leading the Wild Card, I would have taken it in a heartbeat. The Reds may have dropped several games they should have won, and the poor hitting with runners in scoring position is starting to become a major problem, but overall the team is very much in contention to bring home its second playoff appearance in three years.
The second half starts this weekend with a big series against the St. Louis Cardinals (brawls optional). If the baseball season really is a marathon and not a sprint, the Reds are in mile 13. It’s going to be a wild race to the finish line.
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