After watching this club take the field for the first seven games of the 2013 season, I offer these seven observations.
Choo has been everything we expected. Offensively and defensively. The fanbase was told that he will be a drastic uptick batting leadoff over former centerfielder and whiff-meister Drew Stubbs. We were also told to be realistic about the fact that the Reds were making a defensive concession at the position but the offensive gain would more than make up for it. Today’s 13-4 throttling of the St. Louis Cardinals was a perfect example of the double dynamic. Choo dropped two balls in center leading to three unearned runs but also went 2 for 5 with 3 RBI. He essentially negated what he allowed. Today was a wash; in a big park. He will only improve defensively given time and half of his games are within the friendly confines of Great American Small Park. I love this dude’s game. The whole dynamic of this team feels different with Choo atop the order. He’s batting a measley .379. That’ll do Choo…that’ll do.
2. Todd Frazier
Flava Fraz entered yesterday’s game at 11 for 22. At the close of business today, he strolled off the field with a jaw-dropping batting average of .414 and an OBP of 1.278 in tow. Frazier is playing a man posessed and garnering national attention. I don’t see any sophmore slump on the horizon for Frazier. ESPN’s Buster Olney shared on Twitter.
Spoke to some Angels today who were really impressed by the Reds’ Todd Frazier; he’s 11-for-22 so far this season. espn.go.com/mlb/player/_/i…
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) April 6, 2013
Chapman has been all but perfect so far this season and continues to keep hitters off balance and own the ninth inning. The Cuban Missle has been nuclear every outing so far. I had the chance to watch him fan Bryce Harper on Saturday at GABP from a seat much closer than my paycheck would normally allow. It was so nasty that Harper exited the batter’s box with this eyes on the ground and shaking his head. The starting rotation experiment was the point of much contention during Spring Training and I personally found myself on the fence at times over whether or nor Chapman should start but there is no denying that he is absolutely dominant as a closer.
4. The Bullpen
Outside of J.J. Hoover‘s mishaps, the Reds bullpen has been fantastic. Marshall, Broxton, Chapman? Good luck with that. Sam LeCure is probably the most under-rated reliever in the National League. I still believe in Hoover’s stuff despite his getting shelled early this season. Chicken Alfredo Simon and Manny Parra round out the ‘pen. Still the best in the league if you ask me.
5. Xavier Paul
The X-Man has been an X-factor so far this year. I’m so glad this dude made the cut. He’s an enormous and capable left-handed bat in the linup and kudos to Dusty for not being afraid to cram him into the lineup early. Paul is 3 for 8 so far this season with 5 RBI and 1 HR, a stunning grand slam during the 15-0 routing of the Nationals Friday night.
6. The Lumber
The Reds have scored 40 runs since Friday. Choo on that. See what I did there?
7. The Confidence
This team has a confidence now that feels different from last year. Almost a swagger. It’s like they finally got the killer instinct that they lacked last year. When being asked about taking the first two series from two powerhouse teams, Jay Bruce dropped the best line of the season so far (paraphrasing) when he said that they [Angels and Nationals] were playing one of the best teams in the league too, referring to his Reds.
I know that we are only 1/23 of the season deep but this feels like the year…