NL Central standings ordered by run differential: Maybe the Cubs aren't as bad as we feared

The Cubs are sneaking back into the postseason picture and this metric suggests there might be cause for hope as the first half winds down.
Miami Marlins v Chicago Cubs
Miami Marlins v Chicago Cubs / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages
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NL Central standings ordered by run differential: #3 - Cincinnati Reds

The National League Central's hottest team - the surging Cincinnati Reds - are winners of nine straight and carry a half-game lead into action Tuesday against the Rockies.

Veteran clubhouse leader Joey Votto returned with a bang in the opener and rookie Elly De La Cruz continues to impress in his first taste of big league action. Despite their recent hot streak, the Reds still have a -18 run differential on the season, the fifth-worst mark in the National League.

Cincinnati ranks fifth in the league in runs and sit pretty middle of the pack in terms of OPS - but have the second-best on-base percentage in the NL. The Reds' starting rotation has been abysmal, ranking 14th in ERA (and it's not like the relief corps has been much better) - so this one can be chalked up firmly to an issue keeping runs off the board, not putting them up.

Flame-throwing right-hander Hunter Greene hit the IL this week, which will do the Reds zero favors. Averaging north of 12 strikeouts per nine, Greene has been a solid piece for Cincinnati this season and they'll have to find a way to keep the ship afloat till he returns (because the staff has barely managed to keep it from sinking even with him in the mix).