It’s that time of the year again, where hope springs eternal and optimism about the upcoming season is high. The Reds have lots of reasons to be hopeful entering the season. They have the makings of a good pitching staff, a core of talented bats, and several prospects worth keeping an eye on. The big question is, did the Reds do enough over the winter to address their needs to put a winning team, or dare to dream, a pennant contender, on the field?
Below is a position by position breakdown of the Reds to help us to preview their prospects for having a winning season.
Hitting RK Pos GP AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BA OBP SLG OPS 12 Reds 161 5435 700 1346 268 24 185 2217 673 .248 .321 .408 .729 NL 161 5505 730 1435 294 30 162 2275 697 .261 .331 .413 .744
Our offense ranked 12 out of 16 in the NL and we dumped our best hitter two thirds of the way into the season. Did the Reds add the offense they needed to be successful this season?
Catcher RK Pos GP AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BA OBP SLG OPS 11 C 162 538 56 126 23 2 12 189 57 .234 .330 .351 .681 NL 162 579 63 148 31 1 15 224 76 .254 .327 .385 .712 Name AB OPS Bako 299 .626 Ross 134 .747 Valentin 129 .737
Reds catchers were 11th out of 16 offensively last season. Bako and Valentin were both let go via free agency. This was a big area of need in the off season and the Reds addressed it by acquiring Ramon Hernandez for Ryan Freel.
Hernandez sports a big contract that ends after this season with a club option for next year. Hernandez’ last season of being an offensive plus was in 2006. His defense has also been in decline over the last two seasons. Hoping for an offensive and defensive rebound from a 33 year old catcher is not often a good bet. I expect a bit of an offensive gain for the Reds for this upcoming season as Hernandez will most likely be an average to slightly above average offensive catcher. Any gains defensively will most likely also be minimal. Hanigan will be a fine backup. Unless the Reds have designs of starting either Hanigan or Tatum next season, they will again be in the market for catching next winter.
First Base RK Pos GP AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BA OBP SLG OPS 5 1B 162 606 75 177 41 3 25 299 91 .292 .366 .493 .859 NL 162 614 88 170 37 2 28 294 103 .276 .358 .479 .837 Name AB OPS Votto 526 .874
Votto is a very good player. Expect him to produce a .850+ OPS and become a Reds fan favorite. The Reds will again be above average offensively at 1B. The big question at 1B is what are the Reds to do in the near future if Yonder Alonso tears it up at both the AA and AAA levels this year. Alonso can play 1B only, and Votto appears to be serviceable in LF. Will the Reds consider moving Votto to LF to make room for Alonso’s bat?
Second Base RK Pos GP AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BA OBP SLG OPS 10 2B 162 645 89 165 26 7 21 268 84 .256 .305 .416 .720 NL 162 633 90 171 35 4 15 259 74 .271 .338 .409 .747 Name AB OPS Phillips 559 .754
I’ve always thought Phillips bat was overrated and last season he was just above average for an NL 2B. He’ll be grossly overpaid in 2011 at $11M. I’ve always wanted him moved back to SS but that is obviously not happening. Great defense and average bat, just keep him out of the four hole and away from the top of the lineup.
Third Base RK Pos GP AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BA OBP SLG OPS 6 3B 162 591 80 148 34 1 28 268 78 .250 .339 .453 .792 NL 162 618 83 164 35 2 23 272 86 .264 .334 .440 .774 Name AB OPS Encarnacion 506 .807
Everyone keeps saying he is going to break out. I always thought of him as a solid .800 to .825 OPS kind of guy. Solid bat and rough on defense. With his recent raise in arbitration and our depth at 3B in the minors with Frazier/Francisco/Soto you have to wonder if his days with the Reds are numbered.
Shortstop RK Pos GP AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BA OBP SLG OPS 11 SS 162 657 76 179 39 3 6 242 60 .272 .321 .368 .689 NL 162 641 85 177 35 6 12 259 61 .275 .333 .401 .734 Name AB OPS Keppinger 459 .657 Hairston 261 .871
I like Keppinger, but I don’t like him as the everyday SS though. He’s a better hitter than he showed last season though. Hairston had a career season at 32 years old last season and can’t be counted on producing like that this year. I’ll believe Gonzalez will be able to spend a significant amount of time in the lineup when I see it. Shortstop was a position the Reds needed to upgrade last winter. They chose to roll the dice on Gonzalez’ health and a repeat career year performance from Hairston, both are bad bets. Hope for another big season from Chris Valaika in the minors to put him into position to be the Reds SS next year. Otherwise the Reds will be shopping for a SS again next winter. I’m not expecting any offensive improvement at SS next season.
Left Field RK Pos GP AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BA OBP SLG OPS 6 LF 162 582 94 144 29 2 38 291 95 .247 .361 .500 .861 NL 162 623 91 169 35 4 23 282 85 .271 .350 .452 .802 Name AB OPS Dunn 373 .901 Cabrera 115 .710 Dickerson 102 1.021
Dunn was dealt and we didn’t get a bat back, just a couple of pitchers and a utility catcher. Dickerson will not hit this much going forward, but could be part of the answer in the form of a LF platoon. This was the biggest position of need for the Reds over the winter. They made a good signing in Jonny Gomes, who will most likely provide a solid RH platoon partner for Dickerson and RH power off the bench. Look for below average to average production for a LF from the pair. Let’s keep an eye on Dickerson and hope that he can maintain his solid OBP skills and be at least a league average bat with above average defense. This could make him a future CF candidate should Votto be switched to LF in the next season or two.
Center Field RK Pos GP AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BA OBP SLG OPS 13 CF 162 659 92 164 34 3 20 264 74 .249 .299 .401 .700 NL 162 641 93 171 34 5 19 273 78 .267 .333 .426 .760 Name AB OPS Patterson 366 .582 Freel 131 .699
The Reds recognized this position as being one of dire need over the winter. So much so that they pretty much tripped all over themselves to ensure that they would be the first ones in line when Denver released Willy Taveras. They promptly opened up their check book and signed him for two years despite the fact that they had Chris Dickerson and Norris Hopper in house and Drew Stubbs on the horizon, all who can and will provide the same if not better offensive output. Expect Taveras to be an average defensive CF and below average lead off man for the next two seasons. The Reds will not even improve offensively in CF with the Taveras signing and could actually be worse. The Reds managed a .700 OPS in CF last season despite Corey Patterson’s horrid year thanks to Hairston’s career numbers and Bruce seeing time out there as well. Taveras’ lifetime OPS is .668.
Right Field RK Pos GP AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BA OBP SLG OPS 11 RF 162 621 85 151 30 2 28 269 84 .243 .331 .433 .764 NL 162 624 88 169 37 4 21 277 84 .270 .343 .443 .786 Name AB OPS Bruce 413 .767 Griffey 359 .787
Jay Bruce did well for his debut at such a young age. Expect him to start to blossom this year and give us years of above average production in RF. He’s going to be fun to watch this season.
PH/DH/Pitchers RK Pos GP AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BA OBP SLG OPS 11 PH 145 251 25 58 7 1 5 82 39 .231 .305 .327 .631 NL 140 234 25 54 10 1 5 81 32 .229 .317 .346 .663 RK Pos GP AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BA OBP SLG OPS 7 DH 9 35 5 7 0 0 3 16 5 .200 .282 .457 .739 NL 8 30 4 7 1 0 1 12 4 .239 .307 .399 .706 RK Pos GP AB R H 2B 3B HR TB RBI BA OBP SLG OPS 14 P 153 280 15 32 6 0 1 41 10 .114 .139 .146 .285 NL 154 297 16 42 7 0 1 53 16 .139 .177 .175 .352
The Reds brought in the likes of Daryle Ward and Jacque Jones to audition for bench depth and LH PH roles. Look for Laynce Nix and Adam Rosales to possibly be in the running for bench spots also. It will be interesting to see how Owings improves the pitchers hitting numbers this season.
Pitching RK Pos GP W L ERA Sv CG SHO IP H ER R BB SO BAA WHIP 13 Reds 162 74 88 4.55 34 2 6 1442.1 1542 729 800 557 1227 .275 1.46 NL 162 79 82 4.29 38 4 9 1446 1457 689 749 554 1122 .263 1.39
It’s strange that our pitching staff ranked 13th out of 16 in the NL and we are still so high on it going into this season. There is good reason for that also, let’s examine it by breaking down the starters and relievers.
Starters RK Pos GP W L ERA Sv CG SHO IP H ER R BB SO BAA WHIP 14 SP 162 51 68 4.97 0 2 0 917.1 996 507 550 343 762 .278 1.46 NL 162 54 56 4.43 0 4 0 932 959 457 493 335 690 .267 1.39 Name GS ERA Arroyo 34 4.77 Volquez 32 3.21 Cueto 31 4.81 Harang 29 4.78 Fogg 14 7.58
Starters were 14th out of 16 in the NL. There is a reason why the staff ranked so low overall. Volquez was awesome; he needs to show he can repeat next season, although I don’t expect him to do quite as well. All the other starters were below average. It’s like we had a #1 starter, three #4 starters, and an armless guy in the five spot.
Lots of reason for hope here though. Harang came on strong and looked like himself late in the season. His ERA was a full run higher than usual; look for him to bounce back strong this season. Arroyo fell of the cliff for a few starts, and he was his average self the rest of the season.
Cueto hung tough and pretty much did like what you’d expect from a young guy in his first year in the bigs. Cueto has the best stuff on the staff, and I expect him to be better this season as he continues to mature.
Fogg, Bailey, Thompson, and Belisle combined for 31 starts with an ERA of over 7. We can expect big improvement in that spot next season from Micah Owings who is throwing great this spring with no signs of the arm woes that plagued him last season. Bailey is showing great maturity and stuff this spring and appears to be placing himself in the position of being the first man called if another starter is needed. I can’t remember a year where I’ve been so excited about a Reds starting pitching staff.
Relievers RK Pos GP W L ERA Sv CG SHO IP H ER R BB SO BAA WHIP 3 RP 159 23 20 3.80 34 0 0 519.0 540 219 247 213 456 .269 1.45 NL 157 26 26 4.06 38 0 0 511 495 231 254 217 429 .255 1.39 Name IP ERA Affeldt 78.1 3.33 Cordero 70.1 3.33 Lincoln 70.1 4.48 Weathers 69.1 3.25 Burton 58.2 3.22 Bray 47.0 2.87 Majewski 40.0 6.53
I was happy to see that the Reds 3.80 ERA ranked them 3rd out of 16 NL clubs. But I find it worrisome that their 1.45 WHIP belies their 3.80 ERA. Cordero did all right; his wildness and 1.41 WHIP drove me crazy at times though and he is way overpaid for a reliever on this team. Weathers was resigned and will be solid in the setup role again.
Arthur Rhodes was inked to replace Jeremy Affeldt as the lefty setup man in the pen. Rhodes is coming off a good year but appears to be more of a guy who comes in to face a single lefty than a late inning setup man. Expect Bill Bray to handle the longer stints when a lefty is needed. Burton appears ready to step up into a setup role should Weathers be traded or falter. Lincoln was resigned and he will be back as a middle man this season.
Look for Masset or Bailey to be the long man coming out of spring training. Keep an eye on Josh Roenicke in the minors as a potential contributer later in the season.
Fielding RK TEAM GP E FPCT A PO TC 14 Cin 162 114 .981 1567 4327 6008 NL 162 99 .984 1642 4338 6079
Last season the Reds were once again pitiful with the gloves as they rank 14th out of 16th in fielding in the NL. Did they do anything for us to expect that to get better? I don’t see Hernandez and his recent defensive decline as much of an upgrade behind the plate. Taveras is average to slightly above average defensively which is actually a defensive drop off from Corey Patterson. SS will be the big question mark. Will Gonzalez be able to play enough to improve the Reds defense at SS? If not we are back to the same Hairston/Keppinger options we had last year which we know are sub par defensively. Encarnacion will still put fear into the fans behind the 1B dugout. We will gain defensively in the OF with Bruce and Dickerson playing 3/4 of time that we had Dunn/Griffey last season. I expect the Reds to be slightly better on defense this year overall, but still below league average.
I see the pitching, starters especially, being improved a lot this year and the defense slightly improved. I think the offense, however, is going to be a bit worse than last year. There are just too many long shots that will have to go right for the offense to improve.
I see this years Reds club knocking on the door of a .500 record with about 77 wins. This will be another development year for the likes of Votto, Bruce, Volquez, and Cueto with prospects like Alonso, Frazier, Valaika, Bailey, and Roenicke working to position themselves to contribute the following year. Should be a fun year to see the young guys developing again. We can only hope they do a better job of filling in the holes next off season to give us a lot better odds for a winning club.