I look back to July 16th, listening to Marty on my MLB.com audio feed when an announcement was broadcast in Great American Ball Park concerning Joey Votto. As my heart leapt into my throat I heard him relay the news that Joey would be out 3-4 weeks following the surgery to clean up his knee. In shock I listened to the Reds go on and lose the game and then drop 2 of 3 to the Arizona Diamondbacks. I remarked to a friend that I thought the Reds would still be okay, but they needed to win half of the games they played until Joey could return. I spent time imagining scenarios where the Reds could survive the next month. The word ‘maturity’ was not the word that I used when I described what I thought the team needed and yet it seems to be the theme several of the players have embraced.
This team lost its superstar and may have discovered the missing ingredient in a championship season. Consider the numbers:
It may be a small sample but without Joey Votto, who with a tip of the cap to Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp and Andrew McCutchen, is the best position player in the National League. Yet the Reds team batting average sans Votto is 20 points higher. HIGHER! The team has played as a team. And a few players who may not have been playing to their ability have stepped up. Let’s look at their totals:
While Bruce and Hanigan have struggled a bit and Cozart and Heisey have treaded water, the rest of the everyday players have excelled. Ludwick, Phillips, Rolen and Stubbs all exceed an OPS of .900. The one who excites me the most is the rise of Drew Stubbs, can you imagine the damage Votto would do with Stubbs always on base?
Game Break: Drew Stubbs just blistered a double off Francisco Cordero and has driven in 2 runs in the 9th inning for the second game in a row.
For the Reds to have success in the playoffs if they are successful in their drive to win the division, they must have production from the team, not just Joey Votto. This stretch without Joey may define the 2012 season and may represent so much more.
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Tags: Andrew McCutchen Brandon Phillips Chris Heisey Cincinnati Reds Drew Stubbs Francisco Cordero Jay Bruce Joey Votto Matt Kemp Ryan Braun Ryan Hanigan Ryan Ludwick Scott Rolen Todd Frazier Zack Cozart