The Cincinnati Reds reached the halfway point of the 162-game season June 28 with a 34-47 record.
That was one game worse than last season — quite the accomplishment considering how the 2018 season began, with the Reds and their fans contemplating the possibility of one of the worst seasons in franchise history, if not baseball history.
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While a postseason berth or even a run at contention after the all-star break still seems as likely as Scooter Gennett again hitting four home runs in one game, the Reds have played well enough in the last month to keep hope alive for the future, winning for the 14th time in the last 18 games Friday.
Here’s a recap of where the Reds stand just past the midway point of the season:
MVP: Second baseman Scooter Gennett leads the Reds in WAR (3.2). That’s Wins Above Replacement, if you’re not familiar with the term. Votto and Suarez are tied for second at 2.9.
Gennett leads the league with a .331 batting average and ranks seventh in RBIs (57). He could end up finishing his season with a contending team if the Reds trade him, but he has turned into a fan favorite and an all-star caliber player in his second season with the Reds.
Top rookie: Tyler Mahle (7-6, 3.66) leads National League rookies in wins, starts, innings pitched and strikeouts. He hit his stride in June with a 3-0 record and 2.18 ERA in six starts. He delivered another strong performance Friday, allowing one run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings in a 3-2 victory against the Cubs.
Best offseason acquisition: Veteran reliever Jared Hughes ranks second on the team with 39 appearances and has the best ERA (1.37) of any member of the bullpen.
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Most improved: Shortstop Jose Peraza has raised his average from .259 to .275. He already has matched his career high with five home runs, and he’s eight RBIs away from hitting last year’s total of 37.
Most disappointing performance: Homer Bailey pitched well on Opening Day and had two other solid starts in April. However, when he went on the disabled list with right knee inflammation June 2, his ERA stood at 6.68. The Reds lost 11 of the 12 games Bailey started.
Consistency award: Joey Votto leads the league with a .426 on-base percentage. This would be the fourth season in a row he topped .400 and the ninth time in 10 years.
PETA award: Votto saved the life of a bird (maybe), shooing it out of the way as it walked around the grass in front of home plate, and then hit a grand slam June 19 against the Tigers.
“A hitter would prefer things to be stable in their line of vision,” Votto said. “I wanted to let it know, ‘Go on. Scoot.’ I was a little concerned about PETA’s reaction, so I figured I’d back off. Then I had to make sure I got the ball in the air, and I had to make sure I didn’t hit the ball in the middle of the field on the ground. I was taking good care of the bird while I was also hitting.”
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Attitude award: Nick Senzel, the top Reds prospect in the minor leagues, suffered a season-ending finger injury June 22 but remained positive about the future.
The day after the injury, Senzel wrote on Twitter, “I had a goal this season, and it was to make it to the big leagues and help the Cincinnati Reds win ballgames. Although I did not fulfill this goal, it will not stop my drive to continue to fulfill my dream. The support that has been shown is what makes me blessed and thankful for everything in my life, inside and outside of baseball. It’s what makes me keep going, and make no mistake, I will be back stronger than ever.”
Best victory: The Reds overcame a 5-0 deficit to beat the Cubs 8-6 on June 24 and complete their first four-game sweep of Chicago in Cincinnati since 1983.
Worst loss: The Reds fell to 3-18 and 0-3 under interim manager Jim Riggleman with a 9-2 loss to the Cardinals on April 22. Kevin Quackenbush gave up six runs on six hits in one inning of relief.
Craziest stat: The Reds hit nine grand slams in the first 84 games, tying the franchise’s single-season record. Through Friday, they remained three short of tying the National League record.
Two of the grand slams were hit by pitchers: Anthony DeSclafani and Michael Lorenzen. Prior to those grand slams, a Reds pitcher hadn’t hit a grand slam since 1959.