The Reds have gone from worst to first in this key statistical category

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 26: Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates after hitting a two run home run. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 26: Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates after hitting a two run home run. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /

Last night versus the World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cincinnati Reds racked up five doubles. In a span of one season, Cincinnati has gone from worst to first in that category, and it is big reason why this year’s team appears ready to compete for a division crown.

Last season, the critics and even the Cincinnati faithful pointed to the lack of extra base hits as a big reason why last year’s Reds team was unsuccessful. Cincinnati was second-to-last in the National League in doubles (76), trailing only the St. Louis Cardinals (73) who played two fewer games than the Reds in 2020.

The Reds lead the National League in doubles.

Jesse Winker started last night off with a bang, literally. Cincinnati’s leadoff hitter took the first pitch he saw from Walker Buehler and deposited into the seats at Dodger Stadium, giving his team a 1-0. But the long ball wasn’t the problem last season.

While the Reds were not the best in baseball last season, Cincinnati showcased its power night-in and night-out and was 4th in the National League and 7th in all of Major League Baseball in home runs. However, outside of the round tripper, last year’s team failed to snag extra base hits.

Combined with just three triples, Cincinnati’s 76 doubles put the team dead-last in terms of extra-base hits that weren’t a homer. Even having played in only 58 games last season, St. Louis’ 80 extra-base hits that did not include a home run bested Cincinnati’s number of 79.

This season, however, we’ve seen a stark contrast, and the Reds own a National League leading 42 doubles. The team’s four triples through less than one month of the season are already better than the three that Cincinnati recorded in 2020. Only the Dodgers 47 extra-base hits, not including home runs, are better than the Reds’ 46.

Nick Castellanos is leading the way for the Reds.

During the 2020 offseason, the Cincinnati Reds surprised the baseball world by signing Nick Castellanos to a four-year/$64M contract. Castellanos led the league in doubles during his 2019 season that was split between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs. He is picking up where he left off in 2019, as he leads the team with six two-baggers. Castellanos had just 11 last season.

Winker, who’s been setting the tone all season, has five doubles on the young season, and Tucker Barnhart (5) has already surpassed his total from last season (3). An increased focus on aggressive base running has helped, and some of the advanced metrics have likely led to an increase in extra-base hits as well.

According to Baseball Savant, Cincinnati’s exit velocity has increased from 88.2-MPH to 88.3-MPH, but their launch angle has stayed about the same from 2020 (14.3) to 2021 (14.4). However, the Reds have seen a dramatic increase in barrel-rate from 2020 (8.5%) to 2021. Cincinnati’s 10.8% barrel-rate leads all of Major League Baseball.

Reds Top 10 all-time leaders in doubles. Next

If the Cincinnati Reds can continue to get extra-base hits off quality pitching, this team will be in the hunt all season. Every fan throughout Reds Country has concerns about the bullpen, but those shortcomings can be overcome by the type of hitting we’ve seen from the Reds during the first month of the season.