Cincinnati Reds: Why is the offense improving?

Votto, Winker, Peraza among players hitting well in last seven games

For weeks, the Cincinnati Reds talked a good game about breaking out of their offensive slump. It was all they could do until they starting showing progress at the plate.

“Yeah, we’ll get it going,” outfielder Scott Schebler said. “Everybody has those deals. We happened to have it early in the season.”

“The way to handle it is to get out of it,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “We are going to get out of it. The sooner the better, of course.”

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The Reds had the worst offense in baseball for much of April — not to mention the worst pitching numbers. In a seven-game span after they were swept by the St. Louis Cardinals, however, the offense performed as the Reds expected it would when the season began. The Reds scored 51 runs (an average of 7.3 per game) in four games against the Atlanta Braves and three against the Minnesota Twins. The Reds now rank 21st in runs scored (112), 14th in batting average (.243) and 13th in on-base percentage (.323).

The Reds went 4-3 in four games in the last two series. Entering a nine-game homestand, the Reds could boast about not having the worst start in franchise history. Their 7-21 record was one victory better than the 1931 Reds, the team they’ve been dueling with all season.

Here are seven reasons why the offense has improved:

1. Healthy lineup: Schebler missed 10 games, and the Reds were 1-9 in that span. They were 3-13 with third baseman Eugenio Suarez on the disabled list. Both players were in the lineup for the three games in Minneapolis last weekend, and the Reds won a series for the first time this season.

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2. Same hitter: No one doubted Joey Votto would start hitting like Joey Votto, and that’s what he’s done. He raised his batting average from .243 to .273 in the last seven games. He hit a home run in four straight games, falling one game short of tying the franchise record. He tied a career high by reaching base in six plate appearances Friday in a 15-9 victory over the Twins.

3. Hot bat: Jesse Winker was hitting .238 when Bryan Price was fired April 18, 15 games into the season. He’s now hitting .299. He has two hits in four of his last eight starts.

4. Rookie success: Alex Blandino has a seven-game hitting streak. His average climbed from .059 to .256.

5. More streaks: Jose Peraza also has a seven-game hitting streak. He was 15-for-34 in that stretch. He raised his average to .299.

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6. Consistent bat: Scooter Gennett was hitting even when his teammates weren’t. He leads the team with 34 hits and is batting .301.

7. Run producer: Adam Duvall has struggled at the plate, hitting .177. However, he leads the Reds with 15 RBIs and doubles (8) and is tied with Votto for the team lead with four home runs.

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