The Cincinnati Reds did not make much of an impact at the 2012 All-Star game in Kansas City, going hitless at the plate and retiring just one batter from the mound. The fact that the National League won the game, and therefore home field advantage in the World Series, could ironically have the Reds thanking N.L. manager Tony LaRussa in November.
Reds' first baseman Joey Votto, who was elected by the fans to start the game, went 0-3. Outfielder Jay Bruce, selected by the coaches, was hitless in two at bats. Closer Aroldis Chapman faced two batters, walking one and striking out one.
In spite of the unremarkable performances in the mid-summer classic, the Reds reached the halfway point of the season in great shape to make a run at the World Series. They lead defending World Champion St. Louis by a game and a half, and trail the Pirates by just a game in the N.L. central.
Several publications, including one who predicted that the Reds would win their division in a pre-season issue, have created awards to mark the halfway point. Here is a sample of those various first half awards, applied to the Cincinnati Reds.
Biggest Disappointment: Drew Stubbs All winter Reds' fans were told that the center fielder who struck out over 200 times last season was determined to bring a new approach to his game. Unfortunately, Stubbs' numbers resemble those from last year, including nine home runs and a .215 batting average.
Biggest Surprise: Homer Bailey The right-hander is finally starting to look like the hurler the Reds took in the first round of the 2004 draft. His 4.14 E.R.A. is over a half run lower than his career number, and his complete game equals his total from the first five years combined.
Most Valuable Player: Joey Votto Not only is he the obvious choice for team MVP, but he is also likely to be the N.L. MVP as well. He is hitting .348 with 14 home runs and 48 RBI, while leading the league in doubles, walks, and on base percentage.
Least Valuable Player: Scott Rolen The veteran has been hitting under .200 all season, yet his $6.5 million salary is third highest on the club.
Cy Young Award: Johnny Cueto The ace of the rotation leads the team with ten wins and a 2.39 E.R.A. He is on pace to win twenty games and an E.R.A. title, which could make him the first Cincinnati pitcher to ever win the Cy Young award.
Most Likely to Not Finish Season with Reds: Sam LeCure The reliever has been a consistent arm out of the Cincinnati bullpen for three years, but he is one of among a plethora of right-handers. His numbers, a 2-2 record and 3.86 E.R.A., will make him a very valuable trade asset for a Reds' team in dire need of strengthening its bench and offense. Also, LeCure will be eligible for arbitration next season, and the Reds have few top prospects they would be willing to swap for a hitter to help them down the stretch.
Most Likely to Join the Reds Before September: Carlos Quentin The right-handed slugger is a perfect fit to hit cleanup at Great American Ball Park, since he averages 32 home runs and 100 RBI per season. His $7 million salary with the Padres expires this season, but he would be likely to sign an extension to play his home games in a hitter-friendly park. San Diego and Cincinnati made a mutually beneficial trade over the winter, so the two front offices could work out a deal here. The Reds could offer Drew Stubbs, who would be a great defensive fit in cavernous PetCo Park. Stubbs himself could benefit offensively by playing in a park that would force him to de-emphasize his detrimental tendency to hit for power.
We've Seen This Before Award : Jay Bruce After shedding twenty pounds over the winter, Bruce expected to become a more well-rounded hitter. The extra pounds obviously weren't the problem, since his 18 home runs, 56 RBI, and .249 average put him on pace for the same types of numbers he had last year.
Whatever Happened To Award : Devin Mesoraco The rookie catcher brought impressive offensive numbers from the minors; unfortunately, he left them in Triple-A. For Cincinnati this season he is hitting just .214 with five home runs.
Doug Poe once delivered newspapers to Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez, three customers who have made him a lifelong fan of the Reds.