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Contrary to popular belief, the Cincinnati Reds are going to be a serious problem this season; not just in terms of clinching a playoff berth, but being good enough to even win the World Series.

They haven’t had a winning season since 2013 which was also the last time they clinched a playoff berth, being bounced in the wild card game. But after a long, painful six year rebuild, hope has returned to southwestern Ohio.

They’ll start the order with Japanese import Shogo Akiyama, a 31 year old hitting machine who batted .301 in the NPB for 8 seasons. Behind him will likely come franchise legend Joey Votto, who is coming off a down year with the stick but he will be relied on less this season, taking pressure off.

Hitting third will be breakout star Eugenio Suarez who smashed 49 home runs last season and has improved his stats every season he’s been in the league. The power only gets better behind him in sophomore sensation Aristedes Aquino and the steady and consistent power and contact with Nicholas Castellanos.

Aquino’s 19 home runs in 57 games and Castellanos’ 300/30/100 numbers are very impressive and both are only becoming better players.

They have veteran leaders as well, with backstop Tucker Barnhart and slick shortstop Freddy Galvis. Young studs in Nick Senzel and Jesse Winker also will provide big contributions both with the stick and the glove.

Their rotation is one to fear with a three headed monster of young gun Luis Castillo, a revived Sonny Gray, and a devastating and fierce Trevor Bauer. These three are all virtual locks for an ERA below 3.50 and add them to solid veterans in Wade Miley and Anthony DeSclafani, and the Reds can start.

Their biggest issue last year was the bullpen. However, this looks to be resolved in 2020 as Raisel Iglesias is a good bet to bounce back along with veteran Pedro Strop.

And with an NL Central in which there is no clear favorite, Cincinnati is definitely in the conversation to win the division. With there only being one dominant team in the NL in the Dodgers, don’t be surprised if they stumble and the Reds take advantage and make a deep postseason run into late October.

Photo: Jamie Sabau / Getty Images