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The Cincinnati Reds Weird Week
There’s an old Japanese proverb that says, “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” It’s a sobering thought about how true uniqueness can become a target. There are serious implications to this proverb that speak to a variety of topics, including politics, religion, culture and more. At some point, all people will feel like they’re being hammered, because they are different than the mass.
But we’re not going to talk about any of that. Let’s talk about baseball.
The Red’s have had a weird week. To pull from the above proverb, this week is a metaphorical nail sticking up for all to see. Today, I don’t want to try to hammer the Reds. I just want to admire the true weirdness that occurred last week.
Weird #1: What the Heck is Going on with Nick Senzel?
But for real. What the heck happened? The former first round draft pick and #2 ranked prospect in baseball was recovering from a knee surgery that landed him on the IL. At the end of his rehab assignment in AAA, it looked like he was about to join the team and help make a push for the playoffs.
Instead, he got optioned to AAA. Which is really weird right? He hasn’t played very well during his limited time in the big leagues, but why stick him in the minors? It’s not like Moustakas, Suarez, Naquin and Akiyama are playing at an irreplaceable level right now. Why not let one of them get some extended rest, plugging in the young and talented Senzel in their spot?
After getting optioned to AAA, another weird thing happened. He got moved BACK to the IL. Speaking to the press, Red’s general manager, Nick Krall, said that at the time Senzel had, “Deemed himself to be healthy.” But I guess he wasn’t? Whatever is going on with Senzel, there was a lot of passive aggression in Krall’s statement that makes me feel like the Red’s front office is getting really frustrated with the former top prospect. It will be interesting to see how the Red’s use him down the stretch, or what they do with him in the offseason.
Weird #2: Losing to the Cubs
After the trade deadline, the Cubs became a very different team. The players that were supposed to make up the core of a dynasty were traded, signaling a white flag in the battle for the NL Central. After playing .500 ball against the talented Braves and Phillies, the Reds looked to gain ground in a three game series against Chicago.
Except they lost two out of the three.
After crushing the Cubs in game one, one of the strongest offenses in MLB came to a screeching halt, only scoring a single run in each of the remaining two games. Coming out of the series, the Reds lost more ground to the Brewers, with a run for the division title getting increasingly unlikely.
Weird #3: Jonathan India’s On Base Percentage
Jonathan India has been a blast to watch this year. The Rookie-of-the-Year candidate has played exceptionally well at second base. One of his most valuable skills has been his ability to get on base. Currently, his OBP is an incredible .393. That’s 7th for all MLB and 6th for the National League. In spite of this, over the last 7 games, India has had a Billy Hamiltonesque OBP of .290.
Weird #4: Joey Votto the MVP Candidate?
A few months ago, I made the (I thought) bold argument that Joey Votto was an above average hitter. Since then, he’s mashed his way into the MVP conversation. Holy cow. Is there any doubt that this guy is a future HOFer? In the last 7 games, he’s hit two more home runs and slugged an even .500. Currently, he’s 7th in all MLB in OPS and 5th in the National League. Only Max Muncy and Fernando Tatis Jr. have more home runs than him in the league. It sounds crazy, but if he continues at this pace through September, he might be looking at a second MVP award to add to his already decorated career.
Weird #5: Jose Barrero: AAA to MLB, Shortstop to Centerfield
I’m really high on Jose Barrero. Take that for what it’s worth, because I was also the low man on Jonathan India. However, in Barrero, I see not only a future starting shortstop, but a possible All-Star for the Reds. Literally one day after Nick Krall told the media that they were going to keep Barrero in AAA to continue his development, the announcement was made that he was getting a big league call up.
So that’s weird.
The shortstop was also seen to be taking reps in the outfield this past week. While it’s not unusual for players to take reps out of position, it’s interesting to see where they placed him.
AKA, Nick Senzel’s position.
While this is by no means an indication of long term plans for Barrero or Senzel, I am curious if there’s more here than what meets the eye.
Baseball is Weird
The MLB season is long. It’s one of the beautiful parts about the game. We get to watch and celebrate the National Pastime for the majority of the year. When a season is that long, there’s bound to be weird things that happen.
This past week has been super weird so far.
I wonder what next week will hold for Reds fans.
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