Reds ready to contend

Just a week to go until the start of the Major League Baseball season now and all 30 teams will have their hopes and aspirations; some eyeing up a World Series appearance, where 81 wins would be a massive year for others.

While most MLB Betting pundits know all they need to know about the likes of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs, there are plenty of less-heralded teams ready to make their challenge for a place in the post-season.

Chief among those could be the 2010 Cincinnati Reds, so long in the wilderness, but a team that showed signs of improvement last season and look like they could even be a little improved again as they head into a new NL Central campaign.

Although the Reds lack the stars they once sent out on a daily basis – Ken Griffey Jr, Adam Dunn, etc – they now look to be more of a team if they can cut out one of their main problems, striking out too often.

The Central is not the easiest division to compete in, but they performed well against their best-known rivals in 2009 and it was only a poor record against teams in the West that cost them a run at the post-season, ending as they did 13½ games behind the St Louis Cardinals.

A couple of bounce-back seasons are all the Reds really need, and on the batting side of things plenty is expected of Jay Bruce as he heads into his third season in the pro ranks. He may never hit .300, or even near to it, but getting back to .260 would be a huge boost from last season and he has plenty of natural power.

Add him in to Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Scott Rolen (albeit past his prime) and the middle of the order is taken care of, and if Drew Stubbs follows up his cameo at the end of 2009, then the Reds will score plenty of runs.

Pitching has often been their problem, but in Homer Bailey they finally have a young hurler who should be ready to step up as a No 2 or 3 starter to add to Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang, who was so unlucky to go 6-14 with an ERA of only 4.21 in 2009.

Stud Edinson Volquez should be back from Tommy John surgery around the All-Star break and there is also Aroldis Chapman waiting to make his MLB debut, which could come early in the season if he wins a rotation job.

The Cuban defector was Cincinnati’s big off-season add at over $30m but he throws 100mph at times and was impressive in Spring Training – if both of those are able to boost the Reds, even in a small fashion, some NBA Predictions will believe that the playoff drought could soon come to an end.

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