Cincinnati Reds: Yasiel Puig looks inject some swagger into Cubs rivalry

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
CINCINNATI, OH – MAY 03: Nick Senzel #15 of the Cincinnati Reds hits an infield single for his first Major League hit in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Great American Ball Park on May 3, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Giants won 12-11 in 11 innings. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Nick Senzel must set the table

Since making his MLB debut on May 3rd, Cincinnati Reds’ center fielder Nick Senzel has been as advertised. What has been most impressive about Senzel is his ability to hit in the lead off position. In 6 starts hitting in the No. 1 hole, the 23-year-old Knoxville, Tennessee native is hitting .276 with 4 extra base hits including 2 home runs.

Granted it’s a small sample size, but Nick Senzel has been feasting on left-handed pitching. In 14 at-bats, Senzel is slashing .357/.400/.857 with an eye popping 1.257 OPS. Three of his five hits against southpaws have gone for extra base hits. Don’t say you weren’t warned Jose Quintana.

When it comes to the flair department, the Cubs’ Javier Baez will have a worthy adversary in Cincinnati Reds’ right fielder Yasiel Puig. During the Reds 6-game road trip to the Bay Area last week, the Wild Horse is showed signs of emerging from a prolonged slump to begin his Cincinnati career.

Smashing 2 homers and knocking in 5 runs with 3 stolen bases, Yasiel Puig is starting to display the talents Reds’ fans have been craving. The right fielder has found GABP to be very accommodating. Producing a slash line of .296/.350/.519, Puig has been endearing himself to the Reds’ faithful when playing games on the banks of the Ohio River.

Before the season started, much attention was given to newcomers Yasiel Puig, Sonny Gray and Alex Wood. One guy hardly receiving any notice was newcomer José Iglesias. A strong argument can be made that he’s been the Cincinnati Reds best player not named Luis Castillo.

Signing a minor league deal on February 23rd, many anticipated Iglesias would be a nice defensive replacement who could spell José Peraza on occasion. It’s now obvious that someone forget to tell Iglesias about those plans.

Once second baseman Scooter Gennett went down with a groin injury during the last week of Spring Training, the Reds infield plans underwent major revisions. Iglesias was given the opportunity to be the every day shortstop and he hasn’t looked back.

Not only is Iglesias making spectacular plays on defense, he’s also leading the team with a .288 average. The 29-year-old Cuban has excelled under pressure. In high-leverage situations at the plate, the right-handed hitting Iglesias is slashing .310/.394/.517 with a homer and 6 RBI’s.

Next. Reds Top 10 all-time leaders in WAR

Prediction

Is Cincinnati big enough to hold the swagger of both the Cubs’ Javy Baez and the Reds’ Yasiel Puig? We’ll soon found out. The Cubs have dominated the Reds in recent years going 38-19 since 2016.  However, these aren’t the same ol’ Redlegs. I predict the Reds send an early season warning shot to the Cubs by winning 2 of the 3 contests.