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Wednesday review
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MLB Wednesday review: Reds roll on, All-Star voting underway

With just a few weeks remaining before this season’s All-Star break, there’s still some time for teams to change the momentum they’ll eventually carry into the Midsummer Classic.

For some, they’ll be looking to continue hot streaks and the rise up their division; for others, they’ll look to reverse course and begin a late-season charge up the standings. 

Let’s take a look at some developing stories across the league. 

The hottest team in Baseball: Cincinnati Reds

Entering the season, many experts projected the Cincinnati Reds to be among the bottom-dwellers of the league. 

With a young roster, low payroll and unproven pitching staff, many expected this to be a bit of a transitional season for Cincinnati, a small step in the right direction as they begin to enter the competitive window of their seasons-long rebuild. 

However, it seems that the competitive window is open a bit earlier than these experts expected. 

Entering Wednesday’s games, the Reds have won each of their past 10 games and sit in first place in the NL Central, a half-game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers and three-and-a-half games ahead of the Chicago Cubs

The last place team in the Central – the St. Louis Cardinals, who many expected to run away with the division – are eight games back from Cincinnati. 

It truly can be any team’s for the taking, and the Reds are getting hot at the right time. 

Over the past two weeks, the Reds rank eighth in baseball in team OPS (.797), ninth in average (.258), fifth in home runs (20) and first in stolen bases (20). 

Despite this offensive prowess, the pitching has been slacking: the staff ranks 27th in MLB with a collective 4.89 ERA. 

If Cincinnati wants to make a playoff run this season, they’ll need one of two things to happen: their young pitchers, like Hunter Greene and Andrew Abbot pan out; or to make a move at the deadline and acquire some pitching depth. 

They can ride the hot bats for some time as there’s been plenty of teams to win a division without a top-tier pitching staff. 

However, if they want to avoid a first-round exit, the Reds’ pitching staff will be crucial. 

Keep an eye out as the deadline approaches: we would not be surprised to see Cincinnati as big buyers.

Race to the bottom: A’s vs. Royals

On the flip side of the Reds’ surprising success is some unsurprising failure. 

Many experts projected a handful of teams to be uncompetitive: the Oaklands Athletics, the Reds, the Kansas City Royals, the Miami Marlins and the Pittsburgh Pirates

Three of those clubs though – the Reds, Marlins and Pirates – are more than competitive, and certainly not bottom-dwellers. 

However, the other two clubs – the Oakland Athletics and the Kansas City Royals – have been mired in mediocrity. 

Much was made about the historically poor start the A’s and their fans had to suffer through, but they’ve won more games in the past two months than most expected, including a hot run as the winningest team in baseball over a small stretch. 

Their status as the worst team in the American League West is not in doubt, but they’re surprising the league with wins here and there. 

After all, with a miniscule payroll and a franchise with one foot out the door, it’s hardly reasonable to expect success. 

However, the Royals’ lack of success comes as a more of a surprise. They were never going to compete for a World Series this season, nor were they legitimate contenders in the NL Central. 

Still, they have a promising young core led by superstar-in-the-making Bobby Witt Jr., young slugger Vinny Pasquantino, catcher/outfielder M.J. Melendez, possible Hall-of-Famer Salvador Perez and promising young prospects in Nick Pratto and Michael Massey. 

However, the just-as-young pitching staff has been awful. 

Brady Singer, who was projected to be the staff’s ace, has one of the worst ERAs among qualifying starters in the Major Leagues. 

The team’s rotation is so bare, a 39-year-old Zack Greinke is the most consistent arm. And with the fading of Scott Barlow and Aroldis Chapman, the bullpen has been poor as well. 

Losing Vinny Pasquantino for the season will put a huge damper on any potential run production in Kansas City, and the poor pitching staff will make it difficult for the Royals to stay in games. 

With the future looking bleak, their goal should be to avoid becoming the worst team in the league. 

As of now, they’re 20-53, while the A’s are 19-56. 

If the A’s get hot and the Royals continue to play how they have, it’s possible the worst team in the league this season won’t be the club with the worst start in Major League history, but the Royals in their stead.

All-Star voting update: Acuna, Ohtani leading vote-getters

With just a few short weeks before the Midsummer Classic, All-Star voting has ramped up and we’re beginning to gain a stronger understanding of who is likely to be a starter. 

Here are the leaders at each position for each league, as of the most recent data released by MLB.

National League

Sean Murphy, ATL - 1,320,838 
Will Smith, LAD - 836,754

First Base
Freddie Freeman, LAD - 1,649,166 
Matt Olson, ATL - 638,984

Second Base
Luis Arraez, MIA - 1,056,439 
Ozzie Albies, ATL - 884,328

Third Base
Nolan Arenado, STL - 936,057 
Austin Riley, ATL - 832,996

Orlando Arcia, ATL - 1,060,559 
Francisco Lindor, NYM - 508,168

Ronald Acuna Jr., ATL - 2,201,468 
Mookie Betts, LAD - 1,411,557 
Corbin Carroll, ARI - 673,880 
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., ARI - 672,779

Designated Hitter:
J.D. Martinez, LAD - 879,474 
Bryce Harper, PHI - 722,285

American League

Adley Rutschman, BAL - 895,217 
Salvador Perez, KC - 645,650

First Base:
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., TOR - 1,195,052 
Yandy Diaz, TB - 1,124,166

Second Base:
Marcus Semien, TEX - 1,414,056 
Whit Merrifield, TOR - 715,967

Third Base:
Matt Chapman, TOR - 929,590 
Josh Jung, TEX - 876,096

Bo Bichette, TOR - 1,561,426 
Corey Seager, TEX - 827,499

Aaron Judge, NYY - 1,584,254 
Mike Trout, LAA - 1,174,001 
Randy Arozarena, TB - 1,116,525 
Yordan Alvarez, HOU - 1,092,322

Designated Hitter:
Shohei Ohtani, LAA - 1,885,144 
Brandon Belt, TOR - 497,887

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