Before this season, no baseball fan or analyst was giving the Cincinnati Reds any chance to compete in their own division. The reigning World Series Champion Cubs were back and the roster looked as strong as ever. The Cardinals always seem to compete for a division title and a playoff spot and the Pirates were projected to be a solid team with McCutchen and Marte handling the outfield. The Reds, after losing 94 games in 2016, made very few moves to improve and shipped off a few more of their fan-favorite players like Brandon Phillips. The names on the pitching staff looked too similar to last year when the Reds bullpen was one of the biggest pieces of garbage I’ve ever seen. The two “biggest” additions to the poor rotation were an aging Scott Feldman, who was thrown into the role of “ace”, and Bronson Arroyo, who is a 40-year-old legend coming off of Tommy John surgery.
Hopes were not too high for this team. Many fans said that they would be happy with the Reds if they lost less than 100 games. However, the season has gone surprisingly well for them. They are only 1 game behind the Cardinals for first place and they seem to be clicking. The pitching staff has gone deep into ballgames and the bullpen has been able to close down games well due to consistency. The hitting has been clicking as well. Votto looks to be playing at the clip we all expect from him and Hamilton is getting on base before him and stealing bases with his unbelievable speed. This team is playing with a sense of false confidence. They believe they can win even though the talent to win games isn’t all there. They are competing in a tough division so far through the first month and a half. If this roster can continue to improve over the course of the season, there is no reason that they can’t earn a spot in the wild card round of the playoffs. Of course, I may be overexaggerating the talent of this team and they may go on a losing streak of 10+ games again like they did many times last season, but I am starting to develop a sense of unearned confidence in this team. There is still about 130 games left of baseball this season but I believe the Reds can scrap their way to a wild card position in the playoffs. However, I will most certainly be wrong like I am about most of my predictions in sports.