MLB Playoffs: David Bell deserves credit for Cincinnati Reds turnaround

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 10: Manager David Bell of the Cincinnati Reds watches his team play an intrasquad scrimmage. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 10: Manager David Bell of the Cincinnati Reds watches his team play an intrasquad scrimmage. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

David Bell deserves credit for the Reds trip to the MLB Playoffs.

The Cincinnati Reds clinched their first trip to the MLB Playoffs since 2013 with a 7-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night. Manager David Bell, who’s been a punching bag all season long for fans, deserves a good amount of credit for leading his team to the postseason under unforeseen conditions.

Let me be very clear, David Bell didn’t step up to the plate in the fourth inning and launch a home run to give the Reds a 2-1 lead. That was Mike Moustakas. Bell didn’t come on in the third inning and toss 3.1 innings of one-run baseball in relief. That was Michael Lorenzen. I’m not big on blaming coaches and managers for the successes and failures of the players on the field.

However, it seemed as though David Bell received an unnecessary amount of criticism this season from Reds Country when things weren’t going Cincinnati’s way. Whether Bell was leaving a starting pitcher in the game too long, hitting Joey Votto No. 1 in the batting order, or calling on Raisel Iglesias in the ninth inning; everything that went wrong seemed to be dumped at the feet of the Reds skipper.

The Cincinnati Reds have now won 10 of their last 12 games and several of those games were against playoff-caliber opponents. Cincinnati was left for dead a little over two weeks when the team was sitting at  19-25 (.432), fourth place in the NL Central, and their odds of making the MLB Playoffs, according to FanGraphs, were sitting at 19.0%.

That is quite the turnaround, and it’s impossible to not give David Bell some measure of credit. The lineups that the second-year manager has been running out of late have been solid. The Reds have averaged 4.74 runs per game over the past two weeks. The Atlanta Braves lead the National League at 5.95 runs per game.

But, as good a the Reds pitching staff is, four runs is more than enough. Those same Braves are allowing 4.67 runs per game, while Cincinnati’s staff, anchored by the stellar contributions of Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer, allow just 4.02 runs per game. Over the last 14 games, Cincinnati hurlers have kept opponents to just 2.64 runs per game.

Clinching a berth in the MLB Playoffs, especially during a pandemic-shortened season is no small feat, and David Bell knows it. Here’s what the Cincinnati Reds manager had to say after the game via

"“So much work goes into something like this, and even though we continue on this season and have a lot left to accomplish, it’s important to stop and recognize the accomplishment, and recognize all the work that’s been put in, celebrate it a little bit, because you just don’t get a lot of opportunities like this.”"

The Cincinnati Reds currently sit in the No. 7 spot in the National League and, if the MLB Playoffs started today, would face the aforementioned Atlanta Braves. Regardless of how the Reds finish over the final two games of the season, they will play the Wild Card Series in an opposing team’s ballpark.

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David Bell has taken a lot of flack from the fans this season, and not every criticism has been unwarranted. Nobody bats 1.000. However, if we’re going to be critical of Bell when things go wrong, it stands to reason that he be applauded when things go right. Congratulations to Bell and his entire staff. Let’s hope this team keeps its momentum heading into October.