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MLB Power Rankings: Red Means Go

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Cincinnati Reds vs Arizona Diamondbacks - April 9, 2021 - Redleg Nation

It may be premature to start comparing the current Cincinnati Reds lineup with the Big Red Machine of the 1970s. But the numbers that Reds hitters are putting up so far would even make the likes of Rose, Bench and Perez smile. And it’s a big reason Cincinnati sits at No. 5 in this week’s Dunkel MLB Power Rankings.

The bats cooled off a little in the Arizona desert over the weekend, but through the first 8 games, Cincinnati led the NL in team batting average (.312), HRs (16), Total Bases (160), RBI (63), Slugging (.567) and OPS (.952). Center fielder Nick Senzel is hitting an even .400, while Jonathan India (.379), Nick Castellanos (.364) and Mike Moustakas (.360) are all in the MLB Top 30 in batting average.

Tyler Naquin, who joined the Reds after 5 seasons in Cleveland, is tied for the MLB in HRs with 5. He’s just one ahead of Castellanos, who begins his second season in Cincinnati following a split season between the Tigers and Cubs in 2019.

A big question of how far this Reds team can go will center around the pitching. Thus far the results are mixed. Cincinnati is in the bottom half of the NL in ERA (4.38), Quality Starts (2) and HRs (13).

The rotation of Tyler Mahle (3.18 ERA), Jeff Hoffman (3.86), Luis Castillo (6.97), Jose De Leon (3.60) and Wade Miley (0.00) isn’t spectacular, but should get help when ace Sonny Gray (5-3, 3.70 in 2020) returns from back spasms that landed him on the IL.

The bullpen is anchored by closer Amir Garrett, who has been shaky in his 3 appearances. He has 2 saves, but has more walks (4) to Ks (3) and has given up 5 hits and 5 earned runs in just 3 innings of work. He’ll need to be better for David Bell’s team to stay in contention in a very competitive NL Central.

ASTRO-NOMICAL

Baseball fans may wish the Houston Astros would just go away following their 2017 signal-stealing scandal. Garbage cans have been a common sight from opposing fans. And the roster has taken some hits with the loss of offensive catalyst George Springer to Toronto and ace Justin Verlander likely out for the season following Tommy John surgery.

But so far, none of this seems to faze the Astros. Under the steady leadership of 71-year-old manager Dusty Baker, Houston is off to a solid 6-3 start and No. 4 rating in the Dunkel MLB Power Rankings.

Even with the loss of Springer, the offense looks to still be productive. The Astros lead the AL in team batting average (.280), HRs (16), RBI (52), hits (90), Slugging (.498) and OPS (.844).

Yuli Gurriel (.355), Jose Altuve (.351), Carlos Correa (.333) and Alex Bregman (.310) are all in the AL Top 30 in batting average. Kyle Tucker is second in MLB in HRs with 4 and 4th in RBI with 11.

And the pitching has been solid even without Verlander in the rotation. The Astros rank 5th in the AL in ERA (3.49), 3rd in OBA (.212) and 4th in WHIP (1.14). Zack Greinke has looked sharp in his two starts (1.38 ERA, 8 Ks, 1 BB in 13 innings) and Lance McCullers Jr (1.80 ERA in 2 starts) is starting to regain the form that had him go 10-6 with a 3.86 ERA back in 2018.

The window may be closing on this Astros team, but they still have the pieces to make another run and keep the season from ending up in the garbage can.

Make sure to check out all of Dunkel’s MLB Power Rankings.

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