While putting together their first winning season since 2000 the Reds won 91 games under manager Dusty Baker and reached the playoffs for the first time in 1995 by winning the National League Central division. Cincinnati battled tooth and nail with the Cardinals for most of the first five months of the season but won the division by five games after St. Louis faded down the stretch. The lineup was led by Joey Votto, who was second in the NL with a .324 batting average and was ranked third with both 37 home runs and 113 RBIs. Votto was supported by strong seasons from Scott Rolen, Jonny Gomes, Drew Stubbs and Brandon Phillips while Jay Bruce notched a career-high 25 home runs.
On the pitching side, Bronson Arroyo won a career-high 17 games while stream of young pitchers like Johnny Cueto, Travis Wood and Logan Ondrusek played pivotal roles. The season also marked the highly anticipated arrival of Cuban Aroldis Chapman, who garnered attention while regularly throwing over 100 mph. The Reds enjoyable run ended faster than they hoped as they were swept in three games by the Phillies in the NL Division Series.
Despite high expectations after winning their division the previous season, the Reds ended up disappointing with only 79 wins and a third-place finish in the National League Central. On the plus side, starting pitcher Johnny Cueto shook off an early injury and had his best year yet to develop into the staff ace. Second baseman Brandon Phillips displayed spectacular defense on his way to his third NL Gold Glove Award and was joined by first-time winner Joey Votto, who improved enough defensively to also win a Gold Glove. There were some infamous moments as well. Opening Day starter Edinson Volquez struggled and was demoted to Triple-A twice, while Bronson Arroyo smashed the club record by allowing 46 home runs and Drew Stubbs also set a club record by striking out 205 times.
The 2012 season was important not just for the present, but also the future of the Reds as it began when cornerstone players Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips were signed to long term contracts. On the field, the Reds won 97 games and claimed their second National League Central crown in three seasons. It was a year that saw ace Johnny Cueto win a career-best 19 games, Aroldis Chapman become one of the leagues best closers while saving 38 games, rookie Todd Frazier break out as a star and Jay Bruce win a Silver Slugger Award while hitting 34 homers with 99 RBIs. The club did some of its best work while its best player, Votto, was on the disabled list with an injured knee and went 32-16 in his absence.
There were tough times as manager Dusty Baker suffered a minor stroke near the end of the regular season and missed 11 games. After Baker returned, Cincinnati endured a crushing ouster from the NL Division Series to the eventual World Series champion Giants in five games.