Fans' anger at Reds' bench players is sorely misguided and here's why

Reds fans need to stop blaming the bench players for the team's struggles.
Cincinnati Reds infielder Nick Martini
Cincinnati Reds infielder Nick Martini / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds are in a funk. The team managed two wins during it's six-game road trip and have laid an egg in their last two games since returning home. What's worse is that Cincinnati's starting pitching staff has kept the Reds in games of late.

Over the past three games, Graham Ashcraft, Hunter Greene, and Andrew Abbott have allowed a combined four runs over 16.2 innings of work. And while the bullpen has faltered a couple times late in games, the Reds' bats have been exceedingly quiet, making the margin for error razor-thin.

The team's four-game skid mandates a scapegoat or two, and while manager David Bell is always a popular target, players like Nick Martini, Stuart Fairchild, and Santiago Espinal have drawn the ire of the Cincinnati fanbase.

Nick Martini, Stuart Fairchild, and Santiago Espinal are not the Reds' biggest problem

Now each one of those players has been struggling of late, there's no denying that. Over the past seven days, those three players are a combined 4-for-43 (.093). Yikes! Fellow bench player Bubba Thompson has appeared in three games over the past week, but has yet to record an at-bat, much less a base hit.

So while common knowledge might lead one to believe that these three players aren't pulling their weight, the Reds have a bigger problem. Bell's most reliable hitters have been equally as bad. Spencer Steer, Jonathan India, and Will Benson are a combined 14-for-63 (.222) and have a 28.5% strikeout rate.

Tyler Stephenson, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and Jake Fraley have been scuffling of late as well, but that trio has also been in and out of the lineup over the past week. Both Stephenson and Encarnacion-Strand were hit-by-pitch last Saturday against the Texas Rangers and Fraley has been battling an illness. Still, those three players are hitting .087 combined over the past week.

Elly De La Cruz is the only Reds hitter pulling his weight

So while the Reds' pitching staff have all brought their A-game over the past seven days, Cincinnati's sluggers all decided to go dormant at the exact same time. The Reds are currently last in the NL in hitting (.213), and rank 29th among all major league teams sandwiched between the Oakland Athletics and Chicago White Sox.

There is a bit of good news, as leadoff hitter TJ Friedl is rehabbing down at Triple-A Louisville, and it would seem as though his return is imminent. The Reds chose not to call up Mike Ford after the former Seattle Mariners' slugger opted out of his contract earlier this week.

The Reds need a spark, and while the trio of Martini, Fairchild, and Espinal leave a lot to be desired, those three players are far from the team's biggest problem amidst their current losing streak.