We hope you'll enjoy reading these best-case scenario outlooks for the Reds in the second half as much we enjoyed writing them. Well, don't be bashful, dive on in!
@RedlegsWriter's best-case scenario:
After trailing the surprising Pirates by a game at the break, the Reds burst out of the gates by sweeping the hated Cardinals to start the second half of the season. Coupled with the Brewers taking care of the Pirates, the Reds regain first place. As they breeze through a less than daunting second-half schedule, they never relinquish their hold on the division. Hitters start to get on base in front of Joey Votto as he climbs the leaders boards in home runs and RBI, while sitting atop all of baseball in average to claim his second NL MVP in three years. As icing on the cake, he also breaks Earl Webb’s record of 67 doubles.
Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake, and Homer Bailey all stay healthy and finish with 3-something ERAs. None of them, and in fact no one in the NL can match Johnny Cueto though who dominates his opponents on his way to becoming the first 20-game winner for the Reds since Danny Jackson won 23 games in 1988. Cueto also sports an ERA dangerously close to starting with a ‘1’ to earn him his first Cy Young Award of his career and the first ever for a Reds’ pitcher. The Cardinals crumble down the stretch and miss the playoffs, while the Reds roll through the playoffs, before using their home field advantage to knock off the Yankees to become the World Series Champions, ending a long, long drought since 1990.
@Redlegs_Review's best-case scenario:
The Redlegs catch fire in the dog days of summer and build a comfortable division lead by July's end. They continue to take full advantage of the league's easiest, second-half schedule by pancaking any team that stands in their way.
Meanwhile, the Pirates revert to their losing ways and fizzle out mightily just as they did in 2011. Folks around Pittsburgh turn their collective focus to Steelers football by mid-August and attendance at beautiful PNC Park plummets faster than the Supreme Court Approval Rating after the passing of Obamacare. The Buccos fight valiantly to finish the campaign with a winning record, but lose their final game to cement their 20th straight losing season.
And let's not forgot about the reigning World Series champs. The dirty birds from St. Louis also flounder in the second half after having used up all of their luck, magic and goodwill during their unbelievable run in '11. Their collection of older players begin to feel the effects of a long, draining schedule and wear down with a quarter of the year left. Neither Tony La Russa or Albert Pujols 'walk through that door' to save them and the Cardinals find themselves on the outside-looking-in come October.
One of the teams they'll be watching is the Reds, who claim the division title for the second time in three years and they do so with relative ease. To further add injury to insult, Redbirds fans watch helplessly as their former star, Pujols, turns in a monster second half en route to the AL MVP. The honor of NL MVP goes to none other than Joey Votto, who's second MVP award in three years justifies his distinction as the best hitter in modern day baseball. Oh, he also smashes Earl Webb's doubles record by tallying a whopping 75 two-baggers. Johnny Cueto makes La Russa's decision not to include him on the All-Star roster look even more foolish after the right-hander earns Cy Young honors thanks in part to a 1.99 ERA. Todd Frazier overtakes Washington's Bryce Harper for Rookie of the Year as the Reds hit the trifecta of the league's three major awards. Aroldis Chapman continues to make hitters look sillier than a cat at a dog show while avoiding female escorts and speeding tickets to take home the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year award as well. Brandon Phillips wins yet another Gold Glove (duh).
Yes, spirits and expectations are flying high by the time early-October rolls around. Great American Ball Park is rocking as the home team sweeps their way through the NLDS and then dismantles the favorite San Francisco Giants in the NLCS in five games before meeting the storied New York Yankees in the World Series. In perhaps the most-dramatic and exciting series in recent memory, the Reds edge out the Pinstripes in seven games and the Queen City is left to celebrate its first world championship of any kind in over two decades. By then, even the most adamant haters of Dusty Baker extend their nod of approval for the toothpick-chewing skipper...at least until Spring Training.