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The Reds Have Hercules, but Does it Matter?

Baseball makes a habit of finding new ways to make me chuckle.  Whether it’s the infamous “scissor-ing” incident, or an umpire giving the Reds’ own Alexis Díaz the business, baseball can be as silly as any cartoon.  It’s no surprise, then, that the Reds new right fielder Rece Hinds has a backstory made for TV.

The 23-year-old Hinds is from Niceville, Florida, and if you watched him play at all in his first two games in the majors, you’d understand the irony immediately: this dude has been anything but nice since getting the call-up two days ago.  Well, not nice to baseballs or the pitchers throwing them, anyway.

Since making his debut, Hinds has five extra-base hits, two of which have been towering, destructive 450 ft.+ blasts to left field that left the ballpark in a hurry.  After the game yesterday, Hinds said he thought the baseball looked “slow” and “big.”  No kidding.

The Superman comparisons are right there, waiting to be exploited.  And no question, there’s a lot that adds up.  Niceville is a cover – just like Smallville was a cover for Superman.  We can all see that Hinds has super-human strength.  Let’s run with it, yeah?

I think he’s more like Hercules.  He’s the son of Zeus, raised by mortals, sent to uplift the weak (the Reds) and helpless (Reds fans).  Give me, Hercules over Superman any day.

Like Hercules too, Hinds has tasks he must complete in order to accomplish his mission of carrying the Reds to the playoffs.  Hercules had Twelve Labors.  The Reds might require more than that.

So far, Hinds has been up to it.  He is batting .625, after all.  His OPS is more than double Babe Ruth’s career OPS.  He’s been as impactful in two games as Jake Fraley has been all year.  If that’s not Herculean, I don’t know what is.

I don’t know how many labors Hinds will face, but he’s already checked one off his list.  Hercules’ fifth task was to clean the Augean stables in a single day -- which were renowned for their filthiness.  The Reds are a little nastier than that, so it took him two days, but Hinds has single handedly purged the stink from the Reds’ abysmal performance against the Tigers out of every fan’s mind.  It’s exactly what we needed heading into the All-Star break.

Too bad it won’t last.  And I’m not trying to be a sourpuss here.

But c’mon – Hinds isn’t going to have a 2.500 OPS for very long.  He won’t be making multiple highlight plays every game.  Unfortunately, he probably isn’t really Hercules.  His stats didn’t even approach this in the lower levels.

In fact, Hinds wasn’t playing particularly well when he was called up from AAA.  His ascension was just as much about the Reds desperately needing anyone to play outfield as it was about giving a talented young player a shot.  But through 77 games in Louisville this year, Hinds’ hitting splits were .216/.290/.409.  The book on him is that he’s a big swing-and-miss guy too.  Is it just me, or he’s starting to sound an awful lot like a right-handed Will Benson and an awful lot like a guy who’s not semi-divine and is just in the middle of an unholy hot streak to start his career?

Okay, okay, I’ll get back to the positivity.  He’s playing well right now, and that’s all that matters.  The Reds need to eke out as many wins as they can, and if Hinds can help them do that by channeling his inner-Greek-hero from time to time, I’ll take it.

His sudden appearance does raise lots of questions though.  Like, if he was capable of doing all this, why wasn’t he here sooner?  Why did the Reds head into the season with such a low-ceiling outfield in the first place?  Why have Fraley and Will Benson been soaking up so many at-bats?  Why did Jacob Hurtubise and Blake Dunn get called up before a demigod?  And why was said-demigod playing so poorly to begin the season anyway?  Why is the word inconsistent a hallmark of every single level of this organization?

There’s just a lot of “not-locked-in-ness” throughout this baseball team.  Even in last night’s win, Jeimer Candelario had a brain fart moment when he celebrated Tyler Stephenson’s double too early and nearly got thrown out at home, despite third base coach J.R. House waving for him to round for home like a madman – just another in a long line of team base-running errors this year.  The same goes for their fielding.  For every Stuart Fairchild great play, he makes a boneheaded decision.  Elly De La Cruz is spectacular in all areas, but between the amount of strikeouts, the times he’s been picked off or caught stealing, and the errors (oh, the errors), he’s going to make the entire city of Cincinnati go gray by the end of the season.

Can Hinds cover up all these blemishes by himself?  If this were a cartoon like Disney’s Hercules, maybe.  But this is real life and the Reds, now sitting at 44 - 48 on the year, are running short on time.  They’re still nine games back of the NL Central-leading Brewers.  It’s awesome that Hinds is crushing it, but if (when) he slows down, will the Reds have anyone to pick up the slack?  That’s been the theme of this season: an inability to string together multiple players hitting well at the same time.  How can we expect otherwise?

For now, though, Hinds is still hitting like Hercules.  And maybe, that’s all I need to say.  If the Reds are going to be defined by their inconsistency, then by golly, I’m going to enjoy the fun times. Hinds is supplying them in droves.

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