As the Cincinnati Reds slip deeper and deeper into oblivion or at least farther and farther behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central, the 2015 All-Star Game will become even more important.
The Reds host the game July 14 for the first time since 1988. Making the National League team becomes an even bigger honor for Reds players.
As of of Wednesday, the Reds (18-22) had played 40 games. They had 38 more games before the All-Star voting deadline on July 2. At this point, here’s who has the best chance to represent the Reds at the All-Star Game:
1. Aroldis Chapman: The closer has a great chance to make his fourth straight All-Star appearance. Through Wednesday, he was tied for the NL strikeout lead among relievers with 29 in 17 1/3 innings.
Chapman had seven saves in seven opportunities and a 1.04 ERA. In 18 appearances, he allowed an earned run twice.
2. Johnny Cueto: The Reds’ ace may not be around in Cincinnati much longer as the Reds could deal him before the trade deadline. He’s pitched well enough in the first half that his stock is as high as ever.
Cueto is 3-4 with a 3.03 ERA. He ranks sixth in the league with a 0.96 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) and sixth in strikeouts (60).
3. Todd Frazier: The third baseman led all NL players at his position in home runs (12) and ranked third in RBIs (23). His average climbed from .233 on May 11 to .252 on May 20.
Frazier’s top competition at his position comes from within the Central division. The Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter is hitting .313 with 24 RBIs and seven home runs. Cubs rookie Kris Bryant is hitting .291 with 25 RBIs and four home runs.
4. Zack Cozart: He leads NL shortstops in home runs (6). He ranks fifth in average (.287). The Reds moved him to the leadoff spot Sunday, and he was 1-for-13 in his first three games.
5. Brandon Phillips: The veteran second baseman ranks third in average (.314) in the NL at his position. He’s hitting .368 in May.
6. Joey Votto: After a hot start, Votto has faded, and so have his All-Star chances. He’s hitting .285 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs. In May, he’s hitting .242 with no home runs and four RBIs.
Looking ahead: The Reds play the final game of a three-game series in Cleveland today. They return home Monday for the first of three games against the Colorado Rockies. Then they host the Washington Nationals for three games.
As of Wednesday, the Rockies had the worst record in the league (14-23). At 24-17, the Nationals trailed only the Cardinals (27-13) in wins. Washington has rebounded after a 3-8 start to the season.