Last season both the Reds and Nationals finished with a below .500 record, and were watching the playoffs from their living rooms. This year things are different. The Reds and Nationals are the two best teams in the MLB, and are on pace to meet in the National League Final. . But who’s the better team between the two? Read below to find out.
And once you’ve done that, vote for whoever you agree with on the poll below the article. The author who gets the most votes in the poll gets $5, so vote wisely!!
[one_half] By: Charlie DiSturco
As we progress through this 2012 MLB season, people tend to wonder who is the best team in baseball. Many people only consider teams off their record, but I base my decisions on a mix of rankings on team statistics and record. This leads the debate to three teams: the Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees, and the Washington Nationals. My vote is for the Cincinnati Reds, who are currently 76-50 and the leader in the National League Central division. Here is why I say the best team in baseball is the Cincinnati Reds:
Wins With No Votto:
The Cincinnati Reds have played the past month of their season without team leader, Joey Votto. Votto, who last played July 15, has been on the DL because of arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. Votto wants to make sure he is 100% before he returns to the Reds team. Although the Reds have been playing very well in Votto’s absence, having Votto back in the lineup will be a huge addition to their team and help them finish another big season. Votto was currently batting .342, with 14 homeruns and 49 RBIs. If Votto was healthy, his Reds could easily have over 80 wins and he could have over 25 homeruns. But as for right now, the Reds are playing well through the DL stint. Infact, the Reds have widened their Central Division lead in Votto’s absence. To me, this shows the clutch character of the Reds and give them the edge as the ‘Best Team in Baseball’.
Key Players Leading to Success: There have been some key players this season to give the Reds the edge over the Yankees, Nationals, and other teams. Some key players consist of Ryan Ludwick and Johnny Cueto. Ryan Ludwick has been a big surprise this season, already hitting 25 homers and 69 RBIs. He has not played this well since 2008 with the St. Louis Cardinals. His addition to the team has made a great impact in steering the Reds straight to the playoffs. The best pitcher for the Reds this season has been Johnny Cueto. Cueto has amassed 16 wins and a 2.44 ERA. His ERA and wins are currently the best in the National League. Johnny Cueto has shown potential during the past few seasons, but now he is establishing himself as one of the premier starting pitchers in all of baseball.
Best Bullpen in Baseball:
There is no doubt that the Cincinnati Reds have the most dominant pen in all of baseball. Having Broxton, Marshall, and Chapman shut down hitters left and right, have drawn comparisons to the 1990 Red’s team with their dominating the ‘Nasty Boys’. Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton, and Randy Myers made up the ‘Nasty Boys’ who were able to shut down all hitters in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings. That is similar to what is happening for the 2012 Reds. Having Broxton, Marshall, and Chapman replicate the ‘Nasty Boys’ is having a huge impact, because opponents feel the pressure of falling behind early in the game. The bullpen does not stop at Broxton, Marshall, and Chapman, as the Reds have compiled a deep and talented bullpen.
Behind gold-glove second baseman Brandon Phillips, the Cincinnati Reds are easily a top defensive team in the MLB. The other gold-glovers on the team consist of Scott Rolen (8), Bronson Arroyo (1), and Joey Votto (1). If you watch any Cincinnati Reds baseball game, you will see ridiculous plays turned by the players, including many web gems. The Cincinnati Reds could see another 2 gold gloves this year, so watch out for this defensive team.
Overview: After struggling early in the season, the Cincinnati Reds have been very dominant in all aspects of the game.. Whether it’s pitching, offense or defense, the Reds have been able to dominate other teams, which have led them to such a phenomenal record. Watch out in the playoffs when the Reds add Votto to an already confident Reds offense. [/one_half]
[one_half_last] By: Adam Lufrano
The Nationals are 73-45, and hold a five game lead over the Braves in their division (who are 18 games over .500). The reason the Nationals are the best team in the league is because of their pitching. Their top five starters have ERAs of 2.38, 2.91, 3.21, 3.29, and 3.74. That dominance and consistency is going to win you a ton of games, and because the Nationals have more than the slightest bit of offense, they have won a ton of games. Pitching is the most important thing in the MLB to have, and the Nationals have the best. The team that usually wins the most games in the playoffs is the team that has the best pitching, or at least the hottest pitching, and as of right now that team has been the Nationals.
Looking at the other elite teams in the league that are leading their division, you see the Reds, the Yankees, and the Rangers. While the Reds have a case to be the best team in the league with more great pitching and a good lineup, you would have to give the edge to the Nationals over them because of the fact that the Nationals have scored more runs than they have, which has nothing to do with the Nationals great pitching.
The reason the Nationals are better than the Rangers is because of, again, their pitching. Yes, the Rangers offense is probably the best in the league, but the Nationals have an unquestioned ace in Stevan Strasburg and four other consistent pitchers. The Rangers don’t have an unquestioned ace and their pitching is not in the discussion of being one of the better groups in the league. It is a similar story with the Yankees, as they have CC Sabathia at the top and a good bullpen (like Texas), but they win as many games as they do because of their offense, not their great pitching.
The Rangers have been to the World Series in two straight years and both times they lost to National league teams. They can beat up on American league teams, but when it comes to teams that got to the World Series because of dominant pitching (especially the Giants in 2010), they falter. I know this is again a different season, but the Nationals have the best pitching and their offense is ranked 14th in the league. With the addition of Jayson Werth, the Nationals offense is more than capable of winning them games and keeping them in games when their pitchers don’t have their best games. They simply have proven all season that they are the team to beat in the National league.
If I had to pick a team that is the scariest in the American league, I might pick the Angels. They have three pitchers at the top of their rotation that can be considered aces, and their lineup is the definition of scary. Their bullpen has not been playing well recently, and that is big reason they’re not even in the playoff picture as of right now.
Overall, the Nationals are the most consistent and best team from top to bottom in the league. With the pitching that they have and their offense providing the runs when they need it, they will be the team that will be the hardest to knock off in the playoffs this season.[/one_half_last]