Cincinnati Bengals Position Breakdown: Defensive Line

In the second installment of Bengals Breakdown we’ll take a look at the Cincinnati Bengals defensive line. A group which many believe is the best defensive line in the NFL.

Marvin Lewis arrived in Cincinnati in January of 2003 with hopes of creating the type of defense he had helped build in Baltimore. Instead, the Bengals relied on offensive minded teams led by Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson. They consistently finished in the bottom half of the league in defensive statistics and often found themselves in shootouts with opposing teams.

Many fans and analysts questioned why the Bengals were so offensive reliant when their head coach was known as a defensive genius. Nobody knows for sure, but it seems fairly obvious there was a turning point between Marvin Lewis and Bengals owner Mike Brown. The last five drafts have proven Marvin Lewis is finally getting the players he so long desired.

Nowhere is this more evident than on the defensive line. The AFC North has the reputation of being a smash-mouth division that is “won in the trenches.” Furthermore, the new rules which protect the quarterback have put a premium on pressuring the QB and disrupting his rhythm.

Beginning in 2008, the Cincinnati Bengals have added big and athletic defensive lineman in every draft.

Pat Sims, Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Dontay Moch, Brandon Thompson, Devon Still, and Margus Hunt have all been acquired via the draft over the past five years. Pairing these young players with the experienced Domato Peko and Robert Geathers has created arguably the best defensive line in football.

Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap anchor the Defensive Line

Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap anchor the Defensive Line

The interior line is led by Domato Peko and the sensational Geno Atkins. Atkins led the Bengals in sacks last season with 12.5 and is widely considered the best interior lineman in the NFL. Peko is the leader of the defense and is most effective against the run.

The defensive ends are led by veteran Robert Geathers who recently agreed to a 3 year contract. Michael Johnson accounted for 11.5 sacks in 2012 while Gilberry and Dunlap accounted for 6 each, respectively.

One thing which makes the defensive line so dangerous is their ability to sub players in and out of games. The magnitude of talent allows players to stay fresh and consistently pressure the quarterback.

The biggest question going forward is how can the Bengals possibly keep all of these players in stripes. They used the franchise tag to keep Michael Johnson around this season, but have yet to work out a deal with the 26-year old. On July 16, the Bengals announced they reached an agreement with Carlos Dunlap to keep him in Cincinnati through the 2018 season.

The next step will be extending Geno Atkins before he’s eligible to hit free agency in March. Many are speculating a deal could get done before the start of the 2013 season.

Geno Atkins is the best interior lineman in the NFL

Geno Atkins is the best interior lineman in the NFL

It’s clear the Bengals value what they have along the defensive line and would like to retain as many players as possible. The signing of Carlos Dunlap and rumored extension of Geno Atkins proves the Bengals believe they have the formula to win in the AFC North.

There is no doubt the defensive line is the strongest position group for the Cincinnati Bengals. They have the ability to change every game and allow defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to be more aggressive with blitz packages while leaving the cornerbacks in 1 on 1 coverage.

Expectations are unusually high in the Queen City heading into the 2013 season. The Bengals have the opportunity to be a very strong football team in the coming years. The continued production from the defensive line will be key in maintaing a consistent and winning mentality in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Reds: 2013 All-Star Break

The Cincinnati Reds sit at 53-42 and 5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. They currently hold a 5 game lead in the NL Wild Card race over the Washington Nationals. If the season ended today, the Reds would play a one game Wild Card in Pittsburgh with the winner getting St. Louis in the NLDS.

To say the first half of the season has been a grind would be an understatement. The Reds have been bitten repeatedly by the injury bug since Opening Day. They have played the majority of the season without their ace, cleanup hitter, and two of their best relief pitchers.

All things considered, the Reds are still on pace to win 91 games and return to the playoffs for the third time in four years. So why does the first half of the season feel like a disappointment?

The Reds miss Ryan Ludwick

The Reds miss Ryan Ludwick

To start, the Reds haven’t passed the oft-used “eye test” of a champion. They still haven’t played close to their best baseball. They have experienced injury issues, a depleted bullpen, inconsistencies at the plate, and too many errors in the field.

This team entered 2013 with high expectations. The front office made it clear they were competing for a championship when it acquired Shin-Soo Choo for what looks like a one year rental. Trading homegrown talent such as Drew Stubbs and Didi Gregarious for Choo displayed a win-now mentality from Walt Jocketty and company.

You either believe the Reds are what they are, or you believe they can improve in the second half and contend for the division crown. I believe the Reds are a better team than what they displayed in the first half of the season.

In my opinion, if they can get healthy and take advantage of an easier second half schedule, there is no reason to believe they can’t challenge the Cardinals and Pirates for the division title. Over the course of a month, they have 10 games against the Cardinals. They end the season with 6 of their last 9 games against the Pirates.

There is still a lot of baseball left.

They key to the 2012 division title was a 15-1 record out of the All-Star break. Joey Votto was placed on the disabled list and the Reds promptly won 10 games in a row and set the pace for the remainder of the season. While it’s unlikely the Reds will duplicate those efforts this year, I still believe they have a hot streak or two in them for the second half.

Brandon Phillips is the first-half MVP for the Reds

Brandon Phillips is the first-half MVP for the Reds

As I’ve written numerous times throughout the season, baseball is a game of ups and downs and highs and lows. The Reds have had a lot of lows during the first half of the season. Call me an optimist, but I believe the Reds best baseball is still ahead.

Make all the fuss you want about how great the Cardinals have been this season, (and they have been tremendous) but I would rather be in first place at the end of the season than at the All-Star break.

Now then, let’s hand out some awards:

MVP

Brandon Phillips production at the plate has carried the Reds much of the first half. His defense remains among the class of the league and he’s hitting .404 with RISP. The team is hitting .252 with RISP. So yeah, Phillips is clearly the first half MVP.

Best Pitcher

This is a close race between Mat Latos and Mike Leake. Leake has been spectacular this season and arguably the biggest surprise on the entire team. His 2.69 ERA is the best among the staff and he has already won as many games as all of last season.

With that being said, I give the nod to Mat Latos. Latos has taken over the role as the team ace in the absence of Johnny Cueto and has delivered solid numbers while already notching 8 wins on the season. If the season ended today, Mat Latos would get the ball for the one game Wild Card in Pittsburgh.

Biggest Surprise

As I just mentioned, Mike Leake has been one of the few bright spots for the Reds this season. A lot of fans seem to forget Leake is only 25 years old and still learning the ropes. He’s transforming from a fifth starter to a legitimate number three and it’s been very fun to watch.

Biggest Disappointment

Todd Frazier has been far too inconsistent for the sixth batter in the lineup. He’s hitting .239 and striking out at an alarming rate. Frazier will need to turn things around in the second half if the Reds want to win the division.

Best Moment

This is easy. Homer David Bailey throwing his second no-hitter in the past year. Few sports moments make you stop whatever you’re doing and find a television or radio or computer. The no-hitter is one of those moments. The no-hitter is one of the most beautiful things in baseball and Homer Bailey made us all proud to be Reds fans.

Second Half Prediction

The Reds win the first series after the break against Pittsburgh and then tread water on their 10 game road-trip out west. They use a soft portion of their schedule in the middle of August to gain some momentum and get Ryan Ludwick back from the DL. For the first time all year, the Reds have Choo, Phillips, Votto, Ludwick, and Bruce in the same lineup.

The Reds play the Cardinals seven times in eleven days and use their balanced lineup to pull within one game of the Cards. The final month of the season is the most exciting race in baseball as the Reds, Cardinals, and Pirates battle for the division crown all the way to the last game of the season.

Alas, the Cardinals get Chris Carpenter back at just the right time and fend off the Reds and Pirates for the division. The Reds return to the playoffs for the third time in four years. The Pirates are the odd team out as the Washington Nationals earn the second wild card and play at GABP for the chance to play St. Louis in the NLDS.

Cincinnati Bengals Position Breakdown: Quarterback

We are nearly eight weeks away from the Cincinnati Bengals opening their regular season on the road in Chicago. To put things in perspective, the NFL Draft was just over ten weeks ago. Point being, the first meaningful game of 2013 will be here before you know it.

Over the next eight weeks, I will breakdown a different position group each week. Each week will contain my personal analysis along with tidbits and quotes from various sources around the NFL.

The eight position groups will be: Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver/Tight End, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Linebacker, Secondary, and Special Teams.

The first position for this new segment is Quarterback.

Andy Dalton arrived in Cincinnati during a tumultuous time for Bengals nation. Carson Palmer was demanding a trade and causing major distractions off the field. Marvin Lewis signed a new contract to keep him in Cincinnati despite minimal success during his previous eight seasons with the team. Wide receivers Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens were released by the Bengals. Finally, the Bengals fired Offensive Coordinator Bob Bratkowski and replaced him with Jay Gruden.

The odds were heavily stacked against Dalton during his first year in Cincinnati. The 2011 lockout meant no training camp or time to learn a new system and get comfortable with his surrounding cast.

Nationally respected writers such as Peter King from Sports Illustrated and Pete Prisco from CBS Sports predicted the Bengals would finish 3-13 and be in contention for the #1 pick in April of 2012.

Instead, Andy Dalton started all 16 games while throwing for 3,400 yards, 20 touchdowns, and leading the Bengals to a 9-7 record and trip to the playoffs via the wild card. Dalton joined fellow Bengals A.J. Green, Geno Atkins, and Jermaine Gresham on the 2012 Pro Bowl roster.

The time is now for Andy Dalton

The time is now for Andy Dalton

Despite losing convincingly to the Houston Texans in the first round of the playoffs, the 2011 season was considered a huge success and Andy Dalton had solidified himself as a legit NFL quarterback.

2012 was another successful season as Andy Dalton improved in nearly every statistical category. He threw for 3,600 yards, 27 touchdowns and once again led the Bengals to the playoffs via the wild card.

However, for the second consecutive year the Bengals were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Houston Texans. This time around, writers and analysts were critical of Dalton’s performance towards the end of the season and the wild card round.

Despite statistical improvements, there is no doubt Andy Dalton seemed hesitant during the 2012 season. There were too many errant throws and not enough game changing plays. Furthermore, Marvin Lewis challenged Dalton to become a better leader midway through the season.

There is no doubt Andy Dalton is capable of winning in the NFL. He has proven he can be a reliable and consistent quarterback in this league. The question is whether or not he can lead them to the Superbowl. The Cincinnati Bengals have enough talent and experience to be legitimate Superbowl contenders over the next three to four years.

Andy Dalton needs to become a more consistent quarterback and make more plays in the red zone for this team to take the next step. The third year is typically the measuring stick for NFL quarterbacks. Dalton has the experience and knowledge to excel at this level.

For the second year in a row, ESPN guru Ron Jaworski ranked Dalton #19 on his list of starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

“I felt there was a hesitancy to his play in the last half of the 2012 season. There were too many times he didn’t pull the trigger and too many poor reads for a quarterback whose arm strength limitations demand precise execution. This will be a critical year for Dalton. He’s a rock-solid NFL starting quarterback, but there’s too much inconsistency in his overall play.”

The Cincinnati Bengals have surrounded Dalton with even more weapons by adding Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard in the 2013 NFL draft. Expect some new formations and wrinkles in the offense to get the ball out of Dalton’s hands quicker and more effectively.

The majority of Dalton apologists point to the lack of weapons surrounding him over the past two seasons.

Dalton has all world wide receiver A.J. Green, Pro Bowl tight end Jermaine Gresham, slippery slot receiver Andrew Hawkins, and now a blend of running backs in Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard. Not to mention the return of Mohamed Sanu and addition of big time playmaker Tyler Eifert.

I believe Andy Dalton is good enough to lead the Cincinnati Bengals deep into the playoffs and possibly contend for a Superbowl with the right offensive scheme. I think he has the playmakers and coordinators around him to create that scheme. The only thing left is execution and consistency.

There are no more excuses for Andy Dalton.

Bengals Return to Hard Knocks

The Cincinnati Bengals return to "Hard Knocks" in August

The Cincinnati Bengals return to “Hard Knocks” in August


For the second time in the last five years, the Cincinnati Bengals will be featured on the HBO series “Hard Knocks.” “Hard Knocks” is a reality sports documentary which provides an in depth look at the training camp of one NFL team each year.

The Bengals were featured on the show in 2009 when big personalities such as Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens stole the spotlight.

Additionally, Carson Palmer was still the quarterback in Cincinnati and things were beginning to head south for him and the rest of the team. Within two years, Carson, Chad, and Terrell Owens were either traded or released by the Bengals and a new wave of talent and youth was on the way in.

The 2013 version of “Hard Knocks” figures to be a much different story. The Bengals are led by quiet superstars on both sides of the ball in A.J. Green and Geno Atkins. The team is a nice blend of experience and youth, a trait which has helped them reach the playoffs three of the past four seasons.

With loads of talent on both sides of the ball, there is no doubt the Bengals are a good choice to be featured on the award winning show. The progression of Andy Dalton and the impact of rookies Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard will be must see TV for fans and pundits alike.

The question is, will “Hard Knocks” help or hurt the Cincinnati Bengals?

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 10.01

In my opinion, there is a reason organizations like the Patriots and Steelers are never featured on “Hard Knocks.” Strong organizations don’t want the distraction that comes with cameras and film crews following their every move. Obviously, Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis feel differently when it comes to this type of distraction.

Marvin Lewis has earned the right to make the decision to appear on “Hard Knocks,” and I will enjoy watching every second of the show. However, it has the potential to become a distraction for a very young and talented team. Andy Dalton has a lot to prove in 2013. The defense is full of young talent. The majority of the playmakers on offense are still in their mid-20’s. How will they respond to the publicity and critique that comes with this show?

For now, I am cautiously optimistic.

What do you think?

Cincinnati Reds’ Bullpen Woes


The Cincinnati Reds are 39-26 and 3.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central division. The Reds are playing some of the best baseball in the majors through roughly a third of the season. Starting pitching has posted the second best ERA in the NL, while the offense has accounted for the third most runs scored in the NL.

Despite their best start in nearly a decade, the bullpen has become a legitimate concern.

Jonathan Broxton has struggled recently

Jonathan Broxton has struggled recently

In 2012, the Reds had arguably the best bullpen in baseball. They posted an ERA of 2.65 and were second in homeruns allowed per nine innings with .68. More importantly, the 2012 bullpen shortened games and helped the Reds win 97 games and runaway with the NL Central.

This season has been a much different story.

The bullpen has accounted for 13 losses and numerous blown saves to this point. Additionally, the bullpen is last in home runs allowed per nine innings with 1.27. Translation: relievers are giving up a lot of home runs. Home runs cost teams games.

Most recently, the bullpen blew games in Pittsburgh and then at home against the Rockies and Cardinals. Jonathan Broxton has looked uncomfortable in the eighth inning and is walking far too many batters. After looking nearly unhittable in the month of May, Sam Lecure has surrendered the lead in his last two appearances.

Furthermore, the bullpen is lacking a left hander to utilize in late game situations. Sean Marshall is out until at least July, and Manny Parra simply isn’t getting it done (posting an ERA of 9.00 over the last month). Outside of Aroldis Chapman, the Reds don’t have any left handed pitchers for Dusty Baker to rely on in crunch time.

Dusty has tried different pitchers in different spots to find something that will work. He’s already made it clear Chapman won’t pitch more than one inning at a time and he doesn’t want to wear out his arm.

The Reds miss Sean Marshall

The Reds miss Sean Marshall

For now, the Reds will continue to rely on starting pitching and clutch hitting to keep pace with the Cardinals.

History says the bullpen will begin playing to the back of their baseball cards and hopefully get back on track. Sean Marshall is feeling better and hopefully will return soon enough to give the bullpen a boost.

Even if the bullpen turns things around, don’t be surprised if Walt Jocketty brings in another arm around the trade deadline. Jocketty has shown he’s not afraid to make moves at the deadline if he can improve the team.

The Reds have a championship team and are among the 4 or 5 best clubs in baseball. There is still plenty of time to improve and solidify the back end of the bullpen. There is no doubt it will be needed come October.

Reds Review: May


The second month of the 2013 season is in the books for the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds finished the month of May 19-8 and stand 2-1/2 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals. With a third of the season already behind them, the Reds have a good idea of where they stand going forward.

After treading water in the month of April, the Reds found a groove in May and took advantage of playing some bad teams. The return of Johnny Cueto and Ryan Hanigan helped bolster the rotation and catching position. Furthermore, the platoon of Xavier Paul, Derrick Robinson, and Donald Lutz held there own in left field.

Phillips and Votto continue to lead Reds

Phillips and Votto continue to lead Reds

Despite playing some very good baseball over the last month, the Reds actually lost ground in the division. Entering June 1, the top three records in all of baseball played in the NL Central. The St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Cincinnati Reds are making the NL Central a national storyline. With nobody backing down or fading from the pack, it appears the division crown will be as competitive as ever.


The Good

Joey Votto has returned to his 2010 MVP form and once again looks like the best hitter in the National League. Votto currently leads all of baseball in runs scored (45), walks (46), and on-base percentage (.465). More importantly, he is driving the ball to every corner of the field and hitting for power when opposing managers actually decide to pitch to him.

The starting rotation continues to produce quality start after quality start. Johnny Cueto looks healthy and strong after spending time on the disabled list in April. Mike Leake produced one of the best months of his young career while going 3-1 with an ERA of 1.87. Nobody on the current rotation has an ERA over 4 and the Reds have Tony Cingrani in the wings if anything should happen going forward.

The Bad

Todd Frazier has hit a sophomore slump in a big way. Frazier didn’t hit a home run in the month of May and hit only .220. The Reds managed to produce enough offense from other positions to make up for the lack of production at third base, but there is no doubt they will need more from Frazier throughout the remainder of the season. Jay Bruce and Frazier supply the power this team needs in the middle of the lineup.

Should Sam Lecure get a chance as the setup man?

Should Sam Lecure get a chance as the setup man?

Jonathan Broxton has looked uncomfortable in the setup spot. Even when the big guy does his job, it isn’t easy. Relievers have ups and downs just like hitters throughout the year, but perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea to let Sam Lecure try his hand in the eighth inning.

Lecure has been near dominant this season and he has the mindset to succeed in that role. There is no shame in giving Broxton a break for a few weeks until he finds his stuff both mentally and physically.

Although Cueto and Hanigan returned, injuries are still a concern for this team going forward. It looks like Ryan Ludwick will be out until at least the middle of August. Sean Marshall is back on the disbaled list with a sore shoulder and Chris Heisey continues to rehab his hamstring. The Reds are continuing to get by with the active players on the roster, but at some point the injuries could catch up.

Looking Forward

As mentioned in a recent column, the Reds took advantage of a weak schedule in the month of May and established themselves as a force in the National League. While it’s somewhat depressing to go 19-8 and still lose ground in the division, the Reds have done a great job of keeping pace with the Cardinals and staying in striking distance.

June brings two big series at home against the Cardinals and Pirates as well as the first west coast trip of the year. The Reds have played extremely well at Great American Ballpark and need to take advantage of the seven games against St. Louis and Pittsburgh in the coming weeks.

With the first two months behind them, the Reds find themselves in the heart of what looks like a very exciting division race. Strong pitching, good defense, and clutch hitting from Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips has been the recipe for success so far. Strong pitching and remaining healthy will be the key going forward.

Stay tuned.

Bengals Update


While the Reds have been busy winning 10 of their last 12, the Cincinnati Bengals kicked off OTA’s this week. OTA’s are a good opportunity to look at some rookies and get a feel for where the team stands in the health department. It also means the NFL offseason is technically over and we can begin to think about football season again.

A few items of note:

Adam Jones

Adam Jones

Adam Jones

Adam Jones suffered some sort of injury to his calf muscle on the first day of OTA’s and will be held out for the remainder of practice sessions. Jones seems poised for perhaps his best season in Cincinnati.

He has been of the most underrated Bengals over the past three seasons and has filled in nicely when called upon. Furthermore, he has added a dimension in the return game.

Andre Smith

Andre Smith is once again absent from OTA’s. Resigning Smith played a huge role in allowing the Bengals to draft Giovani Bernard and Margus Hunt in the second round, rather than using one of those picks to replace the right tackle.

Everybody seems pleased with having Smith back in the fold, but he certainly hasn’t been easy since being selected 6th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. Hopefully he gets his act together and returns to OTA’s at a respectable weight.

Andy Dalton

This is a big season for Andy Dalton. The third year as a starter is traditionally a good measuring stick for NFL quarterbacks. With the addition of Giovani Bernard and Tyler Eifert, the Bengals have surrounded Dalton with plenty of fire power. Dalton and AJ Green have been vocal about wanting to improve on the long ball.

Perhaps this play is fueling the fire a bit.

James Harrison

OTA’s give coaches their first look at newly acquired linebacker, James Harrison. The former NFL Defensive Player of the Year brings a nastiness and edge to a young defensive unit. It will be interesting to see how Mike Zimmer uses Harrison and how much he will be called upon to defend tight ends across the middle, something he struggled with in years past. Harrison could become the x-factor of a very good defensive unit and possibly help take this team to the next tier.

James Harrison

James Harrison

It’s way too early to determine what this team will look like come September 8 for the season opener in Chicago. However, this team has weapons at nearly every position and there is reason to be optimistic going forward. The Bengals are building something special and it might be time for everyone to start paying attention.

Here Come the Redlegs….

The Cincinnati Reds won their fourth straight game last night and improved to 8-3 in the month of May. Meanwhile, Johnny Cueto pitched five innings and gave up no runs, three hits, no walks and struck out four during his second rehab start in Class A Dayton. All signs point to Cueto returning to the Reds rotation as soon as Sunday in Philadelphia.

For a team which was bitten badly by the injury bug in April, the Reds find themselves seven games over .500 and only two games out of first place in the NL Central. Sean Marshall, Ryan Hanigan, and now Johnny Cueto have all returned from the DL over the past few weeks and have been major contributors to the recent wave of success.

JOHNNY CUETO IS SET TO RETURN TO ROTATION

JOHNNY CUETO IS SET TO RETURN TO ROTATION

Perhaps now would be a good time to give Dusty Baker some credit. With left fielders Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey still on the disabled list, Dusty has done a good job of juggling Derrick Robinson, Xavier Paul, and Donald Lutz.

Rather than panic after losing his clean-up hitter on Opening Day, Dusty has kept the pulse of the team and guided them to the 4th best record in baseball.

The Reds find themselves on day two of a 9 game road trip against three teams with losing records. Is it premature to think they can go 6-3 or 7-2 on the road trip? The month of May was the springboard for a team that won 97 games in 2012. With key contributors returning from the disabled list, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce heating up, and sub .500 teams in their near future, the month of May could prove to be fruitful yet again.

This team certainly isn’t perfect, but nobody is perfect in May. They have suffered too many injuries and personnel changes to establish an identity. That’s why a 23-16 record is so impressive. They have beat the teams they’re supposed to beat and played near .500 ball against everyone else. That’s a recipe for reaching the playoffs. Once they make the playoffs, anything can happen.

IT'S TIME TO GIVE DUSTY SOME CREDIT

IT’S TIME TO GIVE DUSTY SOME CREDIT

For now, give Dusty Baker some credit for remaining calm and collected during a somewhat strange start to the season. Teams often take on the personality of their manager. Watching this Reds team the last few years should prove how valuable Dusty has been in that regard. The players never get too high or too low and they always believe they have a chance to win.

With four of their next five series against sub-.500 teams, don’t be surprised if the Reds surpass the Cardinals by Memorial Day. As previously noted, the month of May has been kind to this team in years past.

Now is the time to take advantage of a weak schedule and healthy pitching staff. Now is the time to make a run. Now is the time to trust Dusty Baker.

Cincinnati Reds All-Time Lineup


The Reds are one of the most storied franchises in baseball history. They were the first professional baseball team and have won five World Series titles. Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine” dominated the National League from 1970 to 1976 and won two World Series along the way.

The rich history of the Cincinnati Reds is filled with Hall of Fame players and MVP talent at every position. Some of the greatest players of all-time played for the Reds at some point in their career.

The infographic below details the Cincinnati Reds all-time lineup. There was no science or criteria for determining the best players at each position. The lineup is my own opinion and something unique to add to the blog.

Admittedly, the biggest question mark is the decision to put Joey Votto at first base over Tony Perez and Ted Kluszewski. I feel that Joey Votto will surpass both of these players by the time his career is over and will go down as one of the greatest Reds of all-time.

(The order of the names is the projected batting order. The number to the left of each name indicates the position for that player.)

RedsLineup

Reds Review: April


The first month of the 2013 season is in the books for the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds finished the month of April at 15-13 and stand one game back of the division leading St. Louis Cardinals. Unfortunately, injuries have been the storyline during the early part of the season for the Reds.

The famous saying goes “you can’t win the division in April, but you can certainly lose it”. The Reds did a good job of surviving their most difficult month on the schedule without their starting left fielder, number one pitcher, and starting catcher for a majority of the time.

Choo and Phillips have carried the Reds in April

Choo and Phillips have carried the Reds in April

As of May 1, Ryan Ludwick, Johnny Cueto, Ryan Hanigan, and Chris Heisey are all on the disabled list. With seven games against the Washington Nationals and six games against the St. Louis Cardinals (two of the best teams in the NL) in the month of April, the Reds proved they can survive without some of their best players.


The Good

The starting pitching has been sensational. There is no doubt the Reds starting rotation has carried them through the month of April. Despite losing their ace, Johnny Cueto, Reds starters posted a 2.95 ERA and accounted for 20 quality starts. Tony Cingrani has been lights out since taking over for the injured Cueto and the Reds are among the tops in all starting pitching statistics.

Shin-Soo Choo is everything the Reds could have hoped for and more. Choo leads the world in on base percentage and leads the Reds in nearly every offensive category. Through the month of April, Choo has posted a .337 BA, scored 20 runs, and is tied for second on the team with 4 home runs. It’s hard to believe Choo can continue at his current pace, but even a slight decline in production is a huge upgrade over what the Reds received the past few years in Drew Stubbs.


The Bad

The bullpen is a legitimate concern through the first month of the season. The Reds bullpen posted a 3.98 ERA in the month of April and lost several games set up by the dominant starting pitching. J.J. Hoover appears to have recovered from some early miscues, but Manny Parra and Jonathan Broxton have been horrible. Hopefully the return of Sean Marshall and possibly Jose Arredondo will give the bullpen a much needed facelift.

The Reds need more from Jay Bruce

The Reds need more from Jay Bruce

The offense has been subpar so far in the 2013 season. They rank near the bottom of the league in batting average and slugging percentage and near the top of the league in strike outs. Brandon Phillips has been a life saver in the clean up spot and helped lead the Reds to a winning month. However, with Ryan Ludwick out until at least July, the Reds need Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier to carry some more weight.

Additionally, it still doesn’t seem like Joey Votto is locked in at the plate. Pitchers are so careful when pitching to Votto that he really has to pick his swings and decide whether or not it’s better to take a walk. There is no need to be worried about Votto, but he still doesn’t quite seem like the MVP player of the 2010 season.


Looking Forward

The Reds played mediocre baseball in the month of April and still managed to produce a winning record and maintain striking distance in the NL Central. It looks like Johnny Cueto and Ryan Hanigan will return soon and hopefully the offense can produce like it has in years past.

As previously mentioned, the baseball season is long and arduous. It’s full of ups and downs and peaks and valleys. The key is to survive the slumps, injuries, and other obstacles to still be standing come October. As we’ve seen the past few years, anything can happen in October. There is no reason to panic that the offense is off to a slow start, just like there is no reason to believe Shin-Soo Choo will lead this team in home runs.

The Reds have done a great job of overcoming obstacles in the first month of the season and have left themselves in a good position going forward. The Reds will look to build on some positives going into the month of May and reaching their ultimate goal: October.