Okay, so I've once again been of two minds lately about my beloved Cincinnati Reds. On some days, I get excited about their young nucleus of offensive talent (Dunn, Kearns, Lopez, Phillips, Encaracion) and on others I can't stand them. I've tried to represent these two voices as accurately as possible below. I'd like to emphasize that my own opinion probably lies somewhere between these two points of view:
Don't get too excited. The young talent the Reds have right now is good, but we need to maintain perspective on their potential. Major league hitters, history shows, will usually display a 'plateau' in their abilities, and further discussion of what a player 'might do' with more experience is often futile. A player, in most cases, is what he is after a few time around the league. Dunn, for example, looks to be a .240 to .260 hitter with plenty of pop and lots of walks. But don't look for him to ratchet those stats up a notch. He may have a career year where he puts up 50 and .265 with a few more RBI's, but the numbers we see now are the numbers to expect. Likewise, Kearns has shown that he is consistently inconsistent; that he is capable of major league at-bats, but that he doesn't have the gumption to keep healthy and focused long enough to be the ML RBI leader we envisioned pre-Ray King. Phillips, Lopez and Encarnacion are perhaps less-known quantities, as all three still seem to be in the process of 'figuring it out'. But don't bet on any of them.
These players, if all goes right, are the makings of a Little Red Machine. Dunn is just reaching his prime and already has a HR pace fit for a champion. His monster OBP and OPS more than make up for his paltry BA, and if he advances one more step, we could have a 50-120 monster on our hands. Kearns shows the intangibles to be a solid Kevin McReynolds-type player for the next 10 years, probably with several All-Star appearnces in the mix. Lopez, Phillips and Encarnacion have the talent to form the best offensive infield in the National League. Lopez, the most 'advanced' of the three, is already one of the better hitting SS in the game. Phillips shows all the signs of becoming a Roberto Alomar-type anchor, and Encarnacion, despite his defensive lapses, really has the look of a natural talent. The next few years will be exciting to watch, as these five young players learn to play together. Remember 1990, when the Crown Jewels finally put it all together. There are good years ahead in Cincinnati!
What do you all think?