The Cincinnati Reds June games have been something special to watch as the team soars to within .5 a game of the NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers. There are a few aspects to look at when breaking down this performance so far. Plus, a look ahead at the Bengals season with an exclusive interview with new punter Brad Robbins.
Cincinnati Reds June – Hottest Team in Baseball
Hot might not even be the correct term at this point, with the Redlegs scorching hot. Even as I am writing this article, they just completed their 8th straight victory which included a sweep over the 2022 World Series winning Astros. Cincinnati is currently two games above .500 and they have proven time and time again that they won’t back down from any team. They are a half game back from first place in the division and finally get to return back to the Queen City with upcoming series’ against the Rockies, Braves, and Orioles. If you haven’t spent a lot of time watching the Reds this Summer, tune in over the next week, as Nick Krall and the Front Office have created something special here!
“I Wanna Go Fast”
Just as Ricky Bobby wanted to go fast in Talladega Nights, many fans wanted the Reds to attempt to put together a fast team for years. Ask and you shall receive Reds fans, as Cincinnati might be the best base running team in all of baseball. In June, they have 29 stolen bases, which is 11 more than any other MLB team (you read that correctly). McLain, De La Cruz, Benson, Friedl, India, and Fraley are as scary as it gets for opposing teams once they reach base. It’s got to a point where I am getting greedy every time one of them reach base, as it is nearly automatic to turn a single or walk into a runner in scoring position. This team isn’t slowing down anytime soon, enjoy the show!
Is Jonathan India All Star Worthy?
Jonathan India is proving time and time again how important his leadership on this team truly is. He now leads the team in homeruns (10), hits (75), stolen bases (12), doubles (17), and runs scored (55). He has put together some clutch at-bats, while providing leadership at the young age of 26. There is no question that he is the heart of this team and his leadership is needed for their success going forward. His toughness is on display every day and he is everything you could want in a leader for a young team. If you are voting for a Red to the All-Star game, India deserves a vote!
This team is playing some of the best baseball I have watched in years. Along with the recent success, Cincinnati has some players soon to return to make this team even better. While this isn’t what I expect to happen, this is how I would like to see the roster shape up:
Ideal Pitching Staff: Hunter Greene, Andrew Abbott, Graham Ashcraft (soon returning), Luke Weaver, Ben Lively, Brandon Williamson, Alexis Diaz, Lucas Sims, Alex Young, Buck Farmer, Tony Santillan, Ian Gibaut, and Fernando Cruz.
Ideal Offensive Roster:
C- Tyler Stephenson, Luke Maile
IF – Elly De La Cruz, Jonathan India, Matt McLain, Joey Votto, Spencer Steer, Kevin Newman
OF – Will Benson, TJ Friedl, Jake Fraley, Nick Senzel
DH – Christian Encarnacion-Strand
I truly don’t expect this to happen, but this is just my ideal lineup. I expect Cincinnati to hold off on Christian joining the team just yet, along with returning time to Wil Myers. I hate to see anyone not make the roster, as everyone deserves to be a part of this team. However, it seems to me that going to a 2-catcher approach is the easiest decision to get our returning players back in the lineup.
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Will Benson Interview
Will Benson kindly joined Matt’s Take for a second time this season. Will has been extremely generous with his time and we appreciate him taking the time to do these Q&A’s. Will Benson is “Red Hot” and puts 100% effort out on the field each and every game. He puts his body on the line routinely, is batting over .300 since returning, provides insane speed on the bags, and energy that is contagious around the clubhouse. His iconic walk-off homerun against the Dodgers still has me ready to run through a brick wall.
Q: Your walk-off earlier in the month is one of my all-time favorite Reds moments. How did it feel when the baseball left your bat?
A: “For starters, I didn’t feel it at all, so that’s how I know I got it good. After that, this rush of joy and excitement overcame within me.”
Q: You have continued to be a threat on the bases. What is going through your mind once you reach first base?
A: “When I get to first base, I’m thinking how can I get to the next base safely and score. I want to use my speed to impact the game.”
Q: What does your pre-game routine look like?
A: “My pregame routine is relatively simple. I’ll eat right before or once I get to the field. Then, I get to the cages to get loose. Shortly after, we have team stretch on the field for batting practice. After batting practice, I play a few games of chess and then it’s game time.”
Q: If you had to describe your game in one word, what word would you choose?
A: “Hustle is the word I would use to describe my game because that’s all I know. That’s how I’ve played the game to get where I am today.”
Q: Have you had a chance to try a Skyrosa (Skyline and LaRosas pizza combined)? If not, would you try it if John Sadak or Barry Larkin tried it with you?
A: “I’ve never had a Skyrosa, but I’d go if they’d be willing to take me.”
Q: I always enjoy your walk-up song at G.A.B.P. What made you choose a Rick Ross song?
A: “I had that walk up song last year and it was giving me the energy I needed. I feel like a boss every time I hear it and the crowd gets into it as well. It’s A+ all around.”
Brad Robbins Interview
Cincinnati Bengal and former Michigan Wolverine kindly joined Matt’s Take this week for an exclusive interview. Brad Robbins is the new punter for the Bengals who was drafted this year in the 6th round. Brad grew up in Ohio and he will surely become another fan-favorite in Cincinnati. He is a three time All-Big Ten honoree and finished his career at Michigan with a punting average of 42 yards (2nd in school history). Cincinnati is more than excited to welcome you to the “orange and black” and we also hope to see you at an upcoming Reds game!
Q: How did it feel when you heard your name called at the NFL Draft?
A: “When I heard my name called, my family and I were full of emotion, excitement, wonder, gratefulness, and all sorts of positivity. I gave myself a couple hours to let it sink in, then I knew it’s time to continue work. I am super excited for the opportunity and can’t wait to compete.”
Q: What is your favorite memory or moment from your college career?
A: “Easily, favorite memory of mine was beating OSU in the Big House and a year later, doing it again at their place. Those two victories paired with winning my job back in 2020, as well as our game winning field goal against Illinois in terrible conditions were my favorite.”
Q: What is something you are working to improve this offseason?
A: I’m always a work in progress, working to prove consistency in all facets of the game. I pride myself in maintaining positivity and consistency in performance, but one could always get better in their craft. It stinks to know that I’ll never be perfect, but I will strive for that in every facet of the game.”
Q: Have you had a chance to try Skyline Chili yet?
A: “I’ve had Skyline before since I’m from Columbus. It’s fire and I grew up with black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream from Graeters!”
Q: What is your goal for the upcoming season?
A: “My goal for the season is to maximize my opportunity and do whatever it takes to get the job done on and off the field in order for our team to win.”