Cincinnati Reds: How does the hitting rank against the NL Central?

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 19: Anthony Rizzo #44 of the Chicago Cubs confronts pitcher Amir Garrett #50 of the Cincinnati Reds at the end of the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park on May 19, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Benches cleared after Javier Baez #9 of the Chicago Cubs struck out to end the inning and got into a shouting match with Garrett. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 19: Anthony Rizzo #44 of the Chicago Cubs confronts pitcher Amir Garrett #50 of the Cincinnati Reds at the end of the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park on May 19, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Benches cleared after Javier Baez #9 of the Chicago Cubs struck out to end the inning and got into a shouting match with Garrett. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Reds
ST. LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 31: Harrison Bader #48 of the St. Louis Cardinals scores a run against the Cincinnati Reds in the second inning at Busch Stadium on August 31, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

2. St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals, arguably the Cincinnati Reds’ most-hated rival, come in at No. 2 and I really wanted to put them at No. 1. The Cardinals offense seems sneaky good, doesn’t it? After last year’s struggles, the Redbirds fired manager Mike Matheny and bench coach Mike Shildt took over. The Cards went 41-28 after the change and almost found their way into the postseason.

Matt Carpenter led the charge last season for the Cardinals and surely will be a big time factor in the team’s success this season. Carpenter blasted 36 home runs last season, but being in the leadoff spot put his RBI total at only 81. Having your best power hitter hit at the top of the order is odd, but that definitely did not stop Carpenter last season.

Yadier Molina was his same steady self in 2018 and shows no signs of letting up. Molina hit .261 with a .314 on-base percentage and recorded 20 home runs and 74 RBIs. Look for more of the same from the Cardinals’ backstop this season.

The case of Dexter Fowler was a curious one and one that most fans should follow throughout the season. Fowler was the only member of the Cards without an on-base percentage above .300 in 2018. Playing in only 90 games, Fowler hit only 8 home runs, his lowest total since 2014.

Oh yeah, the St. Louis Cardinals also traded for Paul Goldschmidt. Yes, that same Paul Goldschmidt who slashed .290/.389/.533 with 33 home runs and 83 RBIs in 2018. The same Paul Goldschmidt who’s been to six consecutive All-Star Games and owned a 5.4 WAR last season. Yes, he will make a big difference in the St. Louis Cardinals lineup.

There are some holes on the Cardinals roster, but overall it’s hard to find too many weaknesses. The team won 88 games last season without Goldschmidt, who I think has a very legitimate shot to win the NL MVP, and Mike Schildt only at the helm for less than half the season. St. Louis will be very good.