The Cincinnati Reds were a team that surprised many this season by rising up and claiming the N.L. Central from the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite not having a pitching rotation with a bonafide ace, the Reds were able to win their first division title since 1995 by riding one of the best offenses in baseball.
The Reds led the National League in a number of categories including batting average (.272), RBIs (761), home runs (188), slugging percentage (.436), and on base percentage (.338). This lineup will be a challenge even for the Phillies elite rotation. Four of the Reds starters (Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Scott Rolen, Drew Stubbs) hit at least 20 home runs, and two other players (Johnny Gomes, Brandon Phillips) hit 18 home runs each.
The Reds powerful lineup is anchored by MVP candidate Joey Votto. Votto hit .324 with 37 home runs and 113 RBIs. Votto is comparable in terms of production to fellow first basemen Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard.
Former Phillie Scott Rolen has found new life since arriving in Cincinnati after arriving via a trade with Toronto a season ago. Rolen has fit in well with the Reds lineup and is still a productive player (.285 avg, 20 home runs, 85 RBIs). He has previous playoff experience with the Cardinals, and will be motivated to stick it to Philadelphia one more time.
Jay Bruce is a player whose game is similar to that of Washington’s Adam Dunn. He is a home run threat, but will also strikeout a lot. Bruce hit 25 home runs, but struck out 136 times this season. He isn’t a guy that the Phillies pitchers want to make a mistake on.
Brandon Phillips is an electric player. Phillips hit 30 home runs several years ago, and though his power numbers have fallen off a bit (hitting between 18-21 home runs a season since 2008), he has played well against the Phillies in Philadelphia, taking advantage of the small size of Citizens Bank Park.
The weakness of the Reds is that they lack a true ace in their pitching rotation. However, that didn’t stop them from running away with their division. The Cardinals were the heavy favorites partly because of their elite pitching staff, but the Reds elite offense proved to be stronger.
If the Cincinnati offense is hot, they will be trouble for the Phillies even with a rotation anchored by Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels. This is no easy matchup for the Phillies, and in order to win this series, the Phillies will have to be on the top of their game.