The Cincinnati Reds enter 2018 in a weird spot after a 94 loss campaign a year ago. They feature one of the game’s very best players in Joey Votto who had 51 more BB than K, 36 HR and a 1.032 OPS. After Votto, the lineup relies on the speed of Billy Hamilton, the pure power of Adam Duvall and a few other 20+ HR bats. Eugenio Suarez is young, had a good year last year and looks to build off his 26 HR and .828 OPS. Scooter Gennett and Scott Schebler had good years but seem like regression candidates. Their pitching is an area for concern going into 2018 after an ugly 2017.
Jared Hughes, RHP
Zack Cozart, SS
Why they can win: They have great power throughout their lineup hitting 219 a year ago. If Billy Hamilton can learn how to get on base their offense will see a significant increase in production. This team feels a bit like an NL Orioles team that relies on power to win(in a hitters park). Joey Votto is elite at everything especially getting on base, so power behind him is key. They have some young talent that could produce as well like Suarez, Peraza, and Nick Senzel, who could be a relatively early call up.
Why they can lose:Because they have the potential to be the worst pitching staff in the Majors. Luis Castillo had a good rookie year but after that it is UGLY. They have an average to below average bullpen and if their hitting doesn’t step up, it could be a very long year in Cincy.
Bottom Line: Cincy could lose 90-100 games this year very easily. Not only are they not very good, their farm good at the top isn’t loaded and they play in a division that could possibly feature 3 playoff teams in the Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals. It’s a shame that they can’t grab some starters to make them maybe a undercover surprise and it’s even more of a shame Joey Votto goes to waste a bit.
Major4 Numbers Game:
Stud: Joey Votto, 1B
It was another elite year for one of the all-time bats of this decade. In 2017, he posted a 6.5 WAR on the strength of his stellar bat and control of the strike-zone. His 165 wRC+ (fangraphs) was 3rd best in the MLB, the highest walk-rate in the league (19.7%), and a .320 batting average (6th). He did this while not missing a single game (707 PA), and his counting stats were solid (36 HR, 100+ runs and RBIs), it’s too bad it’s on a rebuilding club. While his defence and base-running are below average by advanced metrics, his bat makes him among the games best first-basemen. Had he played on a playoff caliber team, he may have been the NL MVP (2nd in voting.
Sinkhole: Jose Peraza, SS
Yes, Peraza is only 23 years old, but his bat is atrocious (65 wRC+, fangraphs) and his glove doesn’t grade out well by advanced metrics (-6 DRS at SS). He is allergic to walks (3.9 BB%) and doesn’t get on base enough to utilize his plus speed (.297 OBP). That puts the Reds in a bad spot at one of the most important positions in baseball. One positive is that he was more patient in the second half the season (8.2 BB%), but expect pitchers to adjust and attack the strike-zone with more frequency as he posted a meager 83 MPH average exit velocity.
Regression Candidate: Scooter Gennett, 2B
Wow, what a breakout year for Gennett, 27 HRs including a MLB record tying 4 in one game, which nearly doubled his previous career high. While impressive, there are signs that this was a one off. He posted a well below average exit velo (85.8 MPH), so his HR/FB rate of 20% does not look sustainable and he doesn’t possess a great eye at the plate (6% BB rate). If you don’t hit the ball with consistent authority and swing aggressively, it’s hard to continue hitting home runs at an elite rate. He looks to be a solid everyday player, but he may never near the pinnacle he reached last season. Hot Take: Gennett hits 10 less home runs and his WAR is cut by 1 (<1.5).
Impact Acquisition: David Hernandez, RP
Hernandez quietly had a fantastic season. He posted solid counting stats (3.11 ERA, 18 holds) and backed that up with spectacular advanced numbers (2.76 FIP, 20.1 K-BB%). While his signing with the Reds went largely unnoticed due to the large contracts given to middle relievers, at 1/$2M, he appears like a solid setup man for the electric Rafael Iglesias. He has good experience in this role and his veteran presence should provide a good mentor to the young relief core in Cincinnati.
Major4 Prospects, (Top 100):
Nick Senzel, 3B (7)
Hunter Greene, RHP (21)
Taylor Trammell (43)
Jesse Winker, OF (82)
1 other in Top 100
Why We Love Them: They have some good building blocks like Suarez, Senzel, Castillo and Peraza. They have an absolute stud that is worth the price of admission in Joey Votto. They also have a great museum at their stadium of the team history and an awesome throwback logo.