21 Left

Only a little more than three weeks remain in the 2011 season. In those 21, the Redlegs are on the road for 11 while playing 10 at GABP. While Reds fans can only contemplate what led to the downturn for this year, there are still a few things to look at for the remaining 21 games.

1. Jay Bruce

Last season was a personal blitz on setting career records for Bruce. He set career highs in just about every category. He’s already passed the marks for home runs (29) and RBI (88). He also has a career high in walks (59). He’s put this together in 12 less games this year (136) than last year (148). Yes, he’s also surpassed his career high in strikeouts (138) and hasn’t had the defensive season we expected.

You could argue that a lot of his success is based primarily on the month of May…and you would be correct. It is the only month where he had a batting average over .300. The only month of double digit homers and 25+ RBI. Still, a 30 HR, 100 RBI season is within reach.

2. Mike Leake

I remember back in the spring where a lot of people suggested (including myself) that Leake was the odd man out in the battle for a gig in the starting rotation. He has actually been the Reds second best pitcher. He leads the team in wins (11, going after 12 today). While that stat in itself tells you a lot you need to know about how the staff has fared in 2011 (11 leads the team?), Leake has proved to everyone that he is a major league pitcher. You have to ask yourself about his “spot” within the rotation going into next season.

3. Johnny Cueto

Began the season on the disabled list. Looked completely out of it during his rehab with Louisville, yet Cueto sits atop the majors in ERA (2.29). He hasn’t looked as sharp in two of his last three outings, but Cueto can still win the “title” for both the majors and NL. His nearest competitors are Justin Verlander (2.36) for the MLB lead and Clayton Kershaw (2.45) in the NL.

4. Joey Votto

How does Votto follow up an MVP season? He goes out and shows he’s as consistent anyone in the game. He’s tied with Bruce for the team lead in RBI (88), which also ranks as 6th best in the NL. He’s 4th in batting average (.316), tied for 12th in homers (26), tops in walks (100) and OBP (.428), and 3rd in OPS (.964). Needless to say, he’s the team MVP for 2011.

5. Dontrelle Willis

Some chatter out there about bringing Willis back for 2012. Not sure if that is a possibility with the arms the Reds have within the rotation, but there’s no denying what he brings to the clubhouse. While that can only go so far, there are signs of the Dontrelle from his days as a Marlin. The numbers aren’t particularly pretty (0-5 with a 4.21 ERA) and it is only 11 starts, but Willis has some numbers not seen since he donned a Marlins uniform. Willis has also appeared in more games this season since his last in Florida.

Oh, and can this guy please get a win? I’m sure it would bring relief to all the guys in the dugout.