Final R H E
Chicago White Sox (90-68) 7 10 1
Cincinnati Reds (82-76) 1 4 2
W: Lopez (4-3) L: O’Brien (0-1)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread

Reds fans already knew that the 2021 season was over, but the nail in the coffin was hammered in during the 8th inning while the Reds were trailing 5-1 to the White Sox. The Cardinals won their historic 17th consecutive game to officially clinch the second wildcard spot, and eliminate the Reds. The Reds would go on to lose 7-1 to end their four game winning streak.

Biggest Play of the Game


Source: FanGraphs
According to Fangraphs WPA statistic (winning percentage added), the biggest play of the game for the Reds was Riley O’Brien allowing a solo home run to Luis Robert, giving the White Sox a 1-0 lead. That play decreased the Reds probability of winning by 10.0% (from 47.4% to 81.2%).

Positives

Eugenio Suarez just keeps on raking. He hit his 7th home run of September to continue an incredible month. Suarez entered play with a 1.266 OPS in the month of September, only trailing Juan Soto for the best in baseball of anyone with 60+ plate appearances. Let’s hope Suarez can run with this month into the off-season and come out blazing to start 2022.

Negatives

The Riley O’Brien era did not get off to a hot start with the Reds. He allowed a pair of solo home runs and 3 walks. He only recorded 4 outs.

TJ Friedl did not have a good night in centerfield. He misplayed at least 2 balls. It might have been 3…..my toddler started crying and needed attention, so I lost count.

Michael Lorenzen and Amir Garrett each had rough evenings.

Not so random thoughts……………….

It stinks that it is officially over for the Reds. It doesn’t change the fact that overall, I had a very fun summer following the Cincinnati Reds. I know that not every shares the sentiment, and that is completely understandable. However for me this summer was entertaining, engaging,  and provided a sense of hope late in the a baseball season that in my 34 years on this planet has not often been available for the Redlegs. I will savor these last four games and can’t wait for 2022. This will be my last recap of the season. Thanks for all those who put up with me this season. I’ll look forward to doing this again in about six months. Go Reds.

Up Next:

Reds at White Sox
Wednesday, 8:10 PM
TV: Bally Sports Ohio
Sonny Gray (3.12 xERA) vs Carlos Rondon (2.67 xERA)

88 Responses

  1. Melvin

    Thanks Nick. Great job this year. Still hoping for 100 RBI for Votto.

  2. HOOF HEARTED

    Nick living halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee, I love following this site all of your writers make me think and like a great writer I don’t always agree but it makes me think, it’s my most trusted Reds info site from you and your cohorts, plus the passionate fans on here teach me ideas, at 62 this was a fun and frustrating year again thx for all of your articles

  3. Jim Walker

    Nick,
    I recall when we were discussing the Reds game tracking spreadsheet and struggling with thinking that predicting 90 wins actually seemed conservative at the time (late July) based on how the Reds had played the last 7 weeks and the number of games they had with each opponent.

    At least it wasn’t just us as a couple of the prominent projection systems had the Reds still north of 50% and the Cards at under 10% just ahead of the streak starting. There is a reason they play the games.

    For a guy like me who was in his early 20’s during the BRM era, it has been hard to accept the sitting on their hands stye of the front office. But I appreciate your excitement and optimism to the end.

    • D Ray White

      This front office is the proverbial wet blanket. Big Bob is no closer to bringing championship baseball to Cincy than he was when he bought the team.

  4. Votto4life

    It was a fun summer. I enjoyed following the Reds and I enjoyed the articles on RLN and an opportunity to interact with knowledgeable Reds fans.

    Thank you everyone. I know look forward to the Hot Stove league.

  5. Mark

    The young talent on the team and in the minors give me hope for the future.

  6. Jon

    What an absolute waste of a golden opportunity by ownership. Making it worse is the fact we are about to lose our MVP-caliber right-fielder and potentially our most consistent starting pitcher and Gold Glove catcher. It’s embarrassing that the Reds haven’t won the division in nine years and a playoff series in 26. I would love nothing more than for Krall (or Castellini) to make a statement after the season is over that the Reds will go all-in this winter to get the team not only back to the playoffs in 2022, but to the World Series. Anything else is unacceptable at this point.

    • Greenfield Red

      This I agree with. I want the Reds to win it all. The current formuka has no chance to do so.

    • RedFuture

      I will always lament FO decision to not keep Desclafani, Iglesias and Bradley. A far better team would have been on the field with those gentlemen.

      • JayTheRed

        I didn’t like losing any of those guys either. Disco was not expensive either and was fairly reliable too.

    • IndyDoug

      But it has to be a “good” all-in. The last one, although it brought the Reds Castellanos for 2 years, also gave us Akiyama and Moose.

  7. Jon

    Apparently the Brewers and Braves both made serious offers to the Pirates for Reynolds at the trade deadline, but the Pirates refused to trade him. Once again, Milwaukee looked to add a significant addition to their team while the Reds were content adding just relief pitchers.

    • greenmtred

      Well, the bullpen was the biggest weakness, so it stands to reason that they’d go after relief pitchers. Do you know for a fact that the Reds didn’t ask about other players?

      • Jon

        It was reported the Reds attempted to acquire Bryant, but they didn’t want to pay the remaining $7 million he was owed.

  8. Cyrus

    Remember back when Bruce, Votto, Cueto and Bailey were part of a young Reds team and Castellini penned an open letter to Reds Nation after a pretty abysmal season, committing to changing the narrative. No follow-up letters have emerged as far as I know.

    • Jim

      I agree that we need new blood. Nick will be gone and the heart of the reds lineup now can only hit against weaker teams and go dormant against the good teams, we need new blood in the 2, 3, and 4 holes, that can hit against good team and run the bases!!
      Move Joey & Geno to the 8th & 9th holes with the DH and spend some money for a ace pitcher, then bring on the good teams! Otherwise next year sos. Still back my Reds no matter what.

      • Doug Gray

        Wait, move Joey Votto to the 8th spot?

        If that’s going to happen the Reds are going to score 1500 runs next year because that lineup is going to be far and away the best of all time.

        You know Joey Votto’s been one of the like 10 best hitters in baseball this year, right? He currently ranks 9th in all of Major League Baseball in wRC+…..

      • RojoB

        Don’t fall for it Doug

        We know Joey wasn’t the problem.

        And by the way i’m still rocking the “Joey for Prime Minister” shirt you sent us back in the day…

      • Doug Gray

        One of these days I’ll share a funny story about the trouble that shirt caused me lol.

      • Melvin

        Haha I have to agree with you on that one Doug. Do they still give out a Come Back Player of the Year Award? I wander who would get it. 🙂

  9. RojoB

    My favorite moment of the season was India cranking a HR off of jerk-face Melancon to take the lead from SD, even though they lost later from abysmal pitching.

    I loved India, Votto, Stephenson, Naquin’s flashes, Guti’s surprise success until he got gassed, Farmer’s success, Castillo’s return after trashing the terrible advice he got to pitch up in the zone, Miley’s Hulk tattoo no hitter, Lopez’s 4 for 5 game, Castellanos and Winker hot streaks before the ASB, and Votto’s rebirth after the “Abigail game”, Mookie Betts getting Friedl’s HR ball from the fan for a signed bat.

    Hated with a passion putting Jose Barrero in CF, starting Suárez and Moustakas because of being stupid suckers for the sunk cost fallacy. Refusing to transition from Barnhart to Stephenson as primary catcher. Absolutely putrid that the Reds relied on Doolittle, Fulmer, Ramano, Brach, Hembree and I can’t even remember all of the sub-par bullpen arms.

    Garrett a huge disappointment.
    Suárez an unspeakable disappointment.

    India the best surprise.

    Bell extension absolutely indefensible.

    The 2021 Reds

    • GreatRedLegsFan

      Just to have a simple indication of how bad the bullpen was when season opened, only two arms (Sims and Garrett) are still part of the bullpen roster today, and Garrett’s presence is yet questionable.

      • JayTheRed

        I am hoping Suarez’s surge in September is something we can look forward to seeing again next season. Even if he hits half as good as he has this month it would be a big improvement. Here is to hoping the front office makes some smart moves but I have my doubts for sure.

    • Alan Horn

      I would add using Cabrera instead of trying Lopez/Schrock(until the very end). AA and Akiyama failures. Bell went far too long with them. Waiting too late to bring up Moreta. DeShields Jr. turned out to be a break even addition for me. On the good side I would add what Farmer did at SS. The additions to the BP at the deadline were good moves.

      • JayTheRed

        Agree the relievers we did get at the deadline were pretty good quality pitchers the rest of the way. I hope we are able to keep all 3.

  10. GreatRedLegsFan

    It was just a matter of playing again against a good team to end all hopes. The roster, as it stands, and assuming Castellanos leaves and everybody but Antone return from IL, is good for a 2nd or 3rd place again next season, so buckle-up Redlegs Nation!

    • CI3J

      Without Castellanos, there is no way this team sniffs second place next season unless they pull off some remarkable trade for a replacement and address their other shortcomings.

      As the team is currently constructed, removing Castellanos from the lineup all but guarantees they will have a losing record next year.

      • Jim Walker

        Well at the least they need a plan that doesn’t hinge on Sezel “coming back” (to what based on his prior on field stats?); or, declaring Barrero, the best shortstop prospect, the next CF.

        Hopefully, Stephenson starts 120-130 games in 2022 which should give them a boost. If Moose can recover enough to hit, he could be the primary DH (or 1B with Votto at DH) which should give them a bump too. But they need a lot more from the RH side.

      • MBS

        The plan with Senzel has to be as a utility player, if you count on him being a starter then you’re in trouble. There is about a 0.1% chance that Castellanos is back and about a 5% chance the spend money on an outfielder that would be a difference maker. They have to get rid of Shogo, even if it’s DFA’ing him, and eating his contract. Maybe Cedrola is ready to come up, he had a nice year in AA, better average and more power.

        Cedrola .317BA .356OBP .463SLG .819OPS

        Winker/Aquino LF, Cedrola/Senzel CF, Naquin/Aquino RF

        You also have to keep Aquino or get an equivalent back up, because if this is our outfield, it has 3 high injury risk players.

      • greenmtred

        Barrera, of course, might be the next center fielder. We’ve assumed he was going to be the shortstop and he may well be, but players have changed positions before. Pete Rose, for example. Tony Perez. Johnny Bench. Both positions are positions of need. Farmer was admirable, but he would have considerable value as a frequently playing utility guy.

  11. 2020ball

    To your not so random thoughts: +1, agree completely with all said

    Awesome year! Have a good winter y’all, see you next spring 🙂

  12. Jim t

    Thanks to RLN staff for all the great articles. Your time and passion is much appreciated. Hope to finish the year strong and look forward to seeing what the off season holds.

    As for the 2021 reds I enjoyed the season but want more. Hope the off-season nets us some good players that fills some holes and allows us to take the next step.

  13. Steven Ross

    Nick, it’s not an easy assignment juggling life, family and Reds recaps but you did a great job. Thanks for letting us come on here and vent.

    Now listen, in the offseason, we need you to lose 5 pounds and focus on stretching more. We have big plans for you next season.

  14. Jim t

    Thought I would throw this out there and see what you guys think.

    While watching game last night, when Garrett was brought in it got me thinking about how effective he was up to this season. What changed? Was it the pressure of making him the closer or could it be he was one of the players who is feeling the effects of not being able to use foreign substances. What got me thinking that way is he really doesn’t show a drop in velocity but what I noticed especially on the home run he gave up was when he used to throw his slider it had a much sharper break. Against RH it finished around their ankle. He seems to be hanging a lot more pitches. Thoughts?

    • greenmtred

      Interesting observation about Garrett. He also has had trouble throwing strikes all year. Thanks to to Doug, Nick and everybody else–commenters as well–for stimulating discussion. I’ve enjoyed the season and don’t share the pessimism going forward. There are unanswered questions. but almost every team has those.

  15. Old-school

    I would not put Cessa or Santillan back in the rotation.
    They are good where they area and controlled and they help fortify the bullpen.

    A righty pen anchored with Sims,Cessa,and Santillan is a good foundation. Art Warren and Dauri Moreta look like promising righties.

    They will need a good veteran righty as well for depth and back end thump. Maybe they sign Givens. I’d let Lorenzen go. But they need another power righty arm with proven closer/high leverage abilities

    From the left side, the cupboard is barren. Garrett might be able to change his pitch repertoire in the off-season and bounce back but he cant be counted on to be anything more than the last lefty in the pen. Wilson is owed too much money to cut so he is there. I dont know the plans on Sanmartin but he looks ready to compete for a roster spot- whether it be as a SP or RP. He’s not the power lefty with shutdown stuff that they need though.

    Reds need to trade or spend in FA to acquire (2) strong proven bullpen pieces and a power Lefty is priority #1 with a top righty #2.

    Assuming at least 25% of the bullpen will be on the IL at some part of the season and reflecting on the performance of the 2021 bullpen, Krall must spend resources to balance depth,talent,handedness, and high leverage capabilities from both sides to turn the 2022 BP into a strength. Anything is else a recipe for 3rd place.

    • Alan Horn

      Agree 100% with everything you said.

    • CI3J

      A starting pitcher is more valuable than a relief pitcher.

      That is and will always be true.

      Santillan came up as a starter, and he should be given every chance to start. It’s easy to go out and find decent bullpen pieces to replace him, the Reds front office simply refused to do so.

      So no, I and a copious amount of evidence/statistics disagree with you. If they keep Santillan in the pen, it will be yet another horrible decision by the Reds front office.

      • Alan Horn

        That depends on which starters we bring back next season. If we have to trade 1 or 2 for a Castellanos replacement the staff could have holes in it. Keep in mind we have Greene, Lodolo and Ashcraft who all could be ready at some time next season. Right now, I think the best move is to keep Santillan in the pen as he seemed to excel there but that could change depending on circumstances that develop this off season and during next season. We all saw what a terrible BP can do to you the first part of the season. I have never seen a team blow so many leads when they went to the pen leading in the game.

      • greenmtred

        A starting pitcher is more valuable than a relief pitcher. But a starting pitcher is not more valuable than a bullpen. Modern teams, particularly, rely on the pen for multiple innings every game, and we saw what happened when a team has a bad one.

  16. DataDumpster

    Thanks Nick and Doug for the crisp writing, interesting stats and biting analysis when it was called for. It has been a very interesting year as it seems a whole nucleus of a young team has emerged as a result of injuries. There was also the manager’s curious decisions and roster management issues which plagued this season but it looked like a respectable move into the post season and better expectations was very likely.
    Then we had the unexplainable collapse, extension of David Bell, and the seeming elimination of every significant initiative, coach, and player Williams brought to the organization. I don’t see any of this as a commitment to win by the ownership or a vote of confidence in the on field leadership for the next 2 years. Then there is a set of offseason decisions that seem way beyond the vision of Nick Krall and his advisory team. Good luck to all of you, time for me to move on to a different passion. RLN has been a pleasure for me.

    • Old-school

      Derek Johnson did a Q&A last weekend with one of the Enquirer Reporters- Charlie Goldsmith, maybe. It was reassuring to hear.
      He was very clear that analytics and technology would continue to be utilized and there was no going backward, just forward. He did however say there’s more to pitching than that and Reds would also emphasize how to pitch and develop as pitchers.

      Pitching is more than just throwing a pitch with higher spin and more velocity in the Boddy laboratory. It’s knowing how to get ahead, throw strikes, mix speeds, locate and get guys out and Johnson emphasized that.

      He also used the term professionalism repeatedly as part of the Reds pitching development process and an area of increased focus which I found interesting.

      He also said its good to have Bell sign back knowing “we” all will be together a few more years. DJ didnt sound like he was going anywhere.

      • Alan Horn

        That 3rd paragraph defines pitching. I would include not having “rabbit ears”. We had at least one pitcher fall victim to that this season.

  17. Mark A Verticchio

    When I look back on the season, the day it ended was September 11. At that time the Reds led St. Louis by 3 and took a 4-0 lead with Castillo on the mound. The Cardinals rallied to win 5-4 and haven’t lost since. A win would have put the Reds 4 ahead of St. Louis and who knows how that could have changed things. Overall a season better than most, but still not good enough. There is a lot of work to do this off season. I can’t say I agree with the first move for next season, bringing back Bell. The team could be young next season and he has not proven he has any idea how to handle young players.

    • Jim Walker

      I’ll see your call on the pivot point for both the Reds and Cardinals and go one further.

      Bottom of inning 6; Reds leading 4-2 with 2 outs and nobody on base for the Cardinals. Castillo hits a wall and cannot close out the inning cleanly. The Cardinals tie the game on the unfortunate play where Barrero and Naquin collided, both giving their all to try and make the play. Barrero appeared to come within inches of making the catch. However, not only did the ball fall in, Naquin was lost for the rest of the season.

      In the 8th Sims gives up a 2 out HR to Arenado with 1st base open which sets the winning margin of 6-4 in the Cards favor.

      The next day Arenado hits a 2 run homer in the bottom of the 1st for the only runs in what became a 2-0 Cardinals win. Game. Set. Match.

  18. RedsGettingBetter

    I would say that this season for the Reds has been relatively good, because if we consider the projections and the loss of players in the offseason added to other weaknesses, the final results are outstanding, however if we focus on the team’s position in August and its high chances of reaching the playoffs it can be disappointing for anyone who follows this team. Anyway, the Reds have plenty of talent to remain contenders for 2022 but the big question is what are the owners going to do in the offseason, are they going to invest or continue to sink the team by budget cuts?

  19. Michael B. Green

    We need to resolve CF and possibly RF. Guessing we need a solid #2 catcher that can help handle the pitching staff.

    We then need to shore up our bullpen. Copy what STL did to start their run. They brought in guys that threw strikes and did not walk people. That rubbed off on others. They were horrible at walks before that.

    We need guys that don’t walk people and don’t give up HR’s – especially in GABP. Since hitters are willing to strike out every other time up in today’s game, K’s will naturally come.

    I still think we are close. The SP is there with 2 great prospects getting really close now.

  20. LDS

    Every time an RLN article uses the Sparky statue, I think about where the team could have finished with decent field management. If the Reds win their last 5 games, Bell’s record will be one game over .500. Odds are, he’ll be under water still at season end. As for JV batting eighth? Votto has had a respectable year against RH’ers. His numbers against LH’ers, while better than Suarez, aren’t great, e.g., OPS is about .340 points lower. Despite the HRs and the mid-late season surge, he is not an everyday player any longer. He should be a Bell platoon player with someone else at 1B against LH’ers.

    • greenmtred

      Do yourself a favor and check Sparky’s records when he had bad teams. I also disagree that Votto was only “respectable” against RH pitchers: he may, as you say, be a good candidate for platooning (depending upon the other half of the platoon, of course), but his power numbers this year are outstanding, and his OBP is still good.

      • LDS

        Without Sparky’s tenure with the Reds, they are historically a less than .500 team. And unlike many, I don’t think this was a bad team at all. I think they underperformed their talent. So it goes. We’ll have next season though at this point, I can’t see much reason to be optimistic. Castellini, Krall, and the rest of the FO are unlikely to take positive action. And Bell is back meaning the young guys with potential will continue to rot.

      • greenmtred

        Not a bad team, but a team with significant weaknesses. The bullpen alone was enough to assure that they’d struggle to compete. I wasn’t saying that Sparky was a bad manager, just that, when he had bad teams, they didn’t win; a distinction he shares with every other manager.

  21. Tim

    Lesson of the season. Early games matter. Reds didn’t fix the BP or third base early on and the best offensive performance in years was wasted.

    • SultanofSwaff

      For sure—all games have equal value. April and May felt like extended spring training, no urgency.

  22. SultanofSwaff

    If he doesn’t start Sunday, you have to wonder if this was a Moonlight Graham moment for Riley O’Brien. Not a ton of stuff there, I could see him getting released in the offseason and kicking around with different teams.

    Man, Friedl had an awful night in CF. I still feel he’s an average defender, but that must’ve felt like an out of body experience for him.

    Now that they’re eliminated, do you think we’ll finally see Barrero at SS and Stephenson behind the plate? My gut says no, but hopefully they’ll be in there tonight because I’m going to the game.

    Barnhart’s pitch calling……gheesh. Down 5-1 and 7-1, he called for breaking pitches in full counts. Pick up the option, but sell high for a bullpen piece as he’ll likely be the best available catcher on the market. He’s not a starter on a playoff team, Tyler is.

    • Jim Walker

      I don’t think it is worth the risk of picking up the Barnhart option to try and trade him for more value.

      I’m guessing the Reds were trying to do just that leading up to the tender date in the 2020-21 offseason so they could sign Casali on the cheap for this year. If they could have moved Barnhart salary neutral (except maybe for the $500K option buyout on 2022 ) that was probably the difference in moving or keeping Raisel Iglesias who was dealt within a week after the tender date with a net salary reduction which almost exactly matched Barnhart’s 2021 salary.

      I agree Barnhart is not material for the lead catcher on a contending team; and, looking down the list of contenders, I don’t see any of them paying a backup catcher $7.5M annually. Additionally, it seems unlikely a noncontending team is going to pay an aging vet that money on a one year deal and shed significant talent in return unless the Reds send most all of the salary with Barnhart.

      The Reds should decline the Barnhart option, offer him what they think a ubiquitous journeyman backup is worth and let him decide whether he wants to stay for that money or test the market himself.

      • Jim Walker

        Another alternative with the Barnhart situation is to trade him ahead of the date when the option has to be exercised or declined. I am not certain the trade can be official until the World Series has ended but it could certainly be set up and ready for announcement.

      • SultanofSwaff

        We may have differing opinions on what his value is. I feel his steady if unspectacular body of work will appeal to a lot of teams for different reasons. He could be a starter/stabilizer on a non-contending team or a platoon guy for a deep pocketed contender. I think in either case we could leverage a 1 for 1 salary match or (my preferred option) would be a cost controlled bullpen piece…..maybe toss in a prospect sweetener. In any event, the idea is to clear his salary and put that $ to work in other areas of need.

      • Old-school

        @ Jim
        Barnhart OPS is now comfortably below .700
        No team is paying him $7.5 million so I think he will cut a deal with the Reds for a 2 year deal with a team option for 2023 and a buyout.

        Something like 2 years with 2022 @ 3 million and Reds team option for 2023 at $4 million with Reds buyout of $1 mil. That gives Barnhart potential for $7 million and Reds only on hook for 1 year and $ 4 mil.

        Reds need 2 catchers. If Stephenson gets hit on the wrist in April and misses 8 weeks, cant go with unproven AAA guys.

      • Chris Holbert

        I agree, but the issue is with DB. If Barnhart is a Red, the manager will play him as the #1. Anyone of the the other 29 managers would see the difference in the two catchers, but I am not sure DB would play TS more, and that would be a travesty.

      • Old-school

        I would have no problem with barnhart catching 80 games and Stephenson catching 80 games. It saves his legs. Let stephenson play 40 games at first base and save JV as well . TS can DH another 30 games. Gotta save TS for the long haul . Hes too important

      • Jim Walker

        @Sultan>> Think you are correct we see TB’s value as different. I see a guy who almost certainly was shopped last off season and couldn’t be moved at favorable terms to the Reds at a bottom line salary cost of ~$5.2m (2021 salary + buyout of 2022 option). Now he’s a year older and when all is said and done hasn’t increased his value since then (his current 2021 OPS is actually lower than his career OPS); but, the price has gone up by almost $2.5m.

        Committing to the option then trying to make a net talent gain on him just doesn’t seem like a viable strategy to me. There is a short window to trade him before the option declaration date. Do that or buy out the option and try to maintain him as a Red for less.

        Otherwise, I can just see the Reds being stuck with the 7.5M salary or paying a significant part of it with no matching return talent just to get the balance off the books.

      • Jim Walker

        Old-School>> I think the Reds are in deep trouble if Barnhart or anybody but Stephenson catches over 60 games for them in 2022 because it would mean TS is hurt or the team is not trying to put its best team on the field.

        The fewest games Buster Posey caught between his age 25-30 seasons was 99 in his age 30 season. All the others were 106-123 range with most <110. TS should be able to handle that load.

        With the probable backup of LH hitters best suited for DH/1B (Votto, Moose even Winker) there isn't going to be that much open time to move TS from behind the plate except vs LH pitching; and they certainly don't want Barnhart batting then.

  23. KDJ

    Nick, a big thanks to you, Doug, and the others who make this site happen. As one who lives in an area where Reds games are totally blocked out (even though I am 500 miles away!?), I rely on this site for my daily Reds fix. Thanks for helping provide that.

  24. Hotto4Votto

    After a brutal offseason, it was a very fun season for several months, followed by a deflating ending. But, sandwiched in between the bad was some very fun, good moments. Watching the big 3 of Castellanos, Votto, and Winker mash this season was a lot of fun. Votto’s renaissance at age 38 was very impressive, and I hope he still has some left in the tank. India’s emergence and ROY campaign, along with Stephenson establishing himself as an everyday player was also a lot of fun. Naquin provided some good, if not somewhat unexpected, moments. It’ll be good to have him back next season. Schrock showed a lot in a limited sample size, and should be a valuable bench piece moving forward. Gutierrez was impressive before running out of gas, and Santillan was a huge help to the bullpen. Solid debuts by both. I think we got a good reliever on our hands in Cessa, and Warren impressed when healthy. The rotation was good throughout most of the year, outside of the end (and beginning for Castillo).

    Moving forward, I think we need more roster flexibility. We need to get out from Akiyama’s contract however that can happen. It would be good to find a trade partner for either Suarez or Moose (preferably Moose). It’s probably time to cut ties with Aquino. Senzel needs to prove it in AAA before returning to the ML roster. I’d certainly try to resign Givens and Lorenzen for the bullpen. I’d like to see Miley’s option picked up. I’d like to see Barnhart’s contract renegotiated to something in the $3m range. I’d like to see Barrero given the reigns to SS to start next season. We also need to add a bat to the OF mix if/when Castellanos opts out.

    We’ll see if it’s more of the same from the FO/ownership, or if they’re actually committed to winning very soon. This team has some holes, but also has a good core and young talent close to contributing. Let’s have a good offseason and make some noise next year.

    • Jim Walker

      Like most all of this but do you think Bell understands yet Stephenson is an everyday player? 😉

      With this historic run by the Cardinals, it probably would have made no difference; but along the way, TS might have turned several games with more plate appearances. And maybe with some continuing pressure, it would not have been as clear sailing for the Cardinals to just keep winning every day.

      It is going to be really interesting to see if the Brewers are really as spent as they have looked versus the Cardinals or if they are just cruising because they’ve locked the #2 NL seed with home advantage versus the team they prefer to face given the alternatives.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Who knows? If Suarez didn’t start the season so poorly on offense, and Moose didn’t injure himself early on, would India have been an everyday player? Hard to say, but Barnhart’s offense has slumped significantly as the season’s gone on. At this point Suarez has a better OPS than Barnhart. I don’t think Koloszvary is quite ready to be a ML backup, which is why I hope they resign Barnhart. But it’s hard to tell how Bell will play it.

  25. SOQ

    I may be wrong, but I believe there is a reason Barrero has been playing CF. I think this means the organization has decided to move on from Nick S. He has great range and instincts so he is a good fit there. Farmer is more than adequate at SS until the NEXT S/S of the future comes up, Matt McClain. Just a guess tho

    • Old-school

      I dont think the Reds have moved on from Nick S.
      I think they look at 2022 payroll and see Votto @ 25 mil and Moose at 14 mil and Suarez at 11mil and Shogo at 8 mil and Sonny Gray at $10 mil and the math adds up to $68 million for those players.

      Recent article in Enquirer where Bell went to Senzel early and wanted more time in OF for Naquin and Senzel said sure…Ill go to the infield too. Senzel is cheap and a good player but obviously injured,

      I think the Reds are looking at their young players and Farmer as multi-positional so they can cheaply fill in holes on the roster since Moose and Akiyama are dead money and RF will now be a hole too.

      Winker is the every day LF
      Naquin is the RF against righties with Castellanos leaving.
      Senzel is the CF and and an infield option.
      Barrero is being viewed as the back up to cheap Farmer at SS- instead of the opposite and cheap CF depth if Senzel isnt ready.
      Akiyama is 26th man and 5th OF
      Schrock and Deshields and Friedl are depth.

    • Chris Holbert

      McClain is 2-3 years away, maybe. he has only played 31 games at Dayton. Are the Reds really going to go with Farmer as the regular guy for another 2-3 years?

      • Jim Walker

        +1000. Only in RedsWorld would Barrero be a backup to guys with career OPS+ of 78 (Senzel) and 80 (Farmer) without getting an extended everyday MLB look on the heels of what he did in AAA during 2021 (My guess is he gets the organizational minor league player of the year nod)

  26. Grand Salami

    A fun season for sure. A winning season and quite frankly a performance that should be the norm for this team with them winning a division every now and then. This type of season should be expected year in and year out.

    They certainly have more to do this off-season but the rotation looks good and the bullpen looks better heading into 2022. They just need to secure that right handed bat and look to improve

    • Jim Walker

      Agree 78-84 wins should be the baseline, hopefully tending to the high end. Then when a window is right and/ or opportunity presents, like this year, jump on it with both feet instead of hiding from it in the executive suites at GABP.

  27. burtgummer01

    Unfortunately with the worst ownership and front office in MLB I’m expecting a dismal off season
    Sonny traded
    Miley declined option
    Givens gone
    Lorenzen gone
    Nick C gone
    Probably more gone
    The Reds will replace with other teams castoffs and back to losing 90+ games

  28. CFD3000

    Thank you Nick for all your dedication and enthusiasm this year. It was a fun season in so many ways, and once again RLN was a big part of the 2021 Reds experience. Doug Gray you’re a badass and a warrior for all your hard work, late hours, and for putting up with so much nonsense from us all year. Thank you to Doug and everyone at Redleg Nation. Again. I remain optimistic about the 2022 Reds, and can’t wait for the start of the Hunter Greene era and another chapter in the resurgence of Joey Votto, for the return of Jesse Winker and Nick Senzel, the continued development of Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson, the arrival of Jose Barrero, the return of Eugenio Suarez, and so much more. Despite a ridiculous bullpen roster, the over use of ineffective aging veterans, the struggles of two all star pitchers, and so many injuries to almost every key hitter, this team won more than it lost. I expect 2022 to be even better (Mr. Castellanos, if I could just have a quick word?) and I’ll be so ready for Opening Day. Thank you for a full, fun season of Reds baseball and RLN. Go Reds!

  29. west larry

    Doug, you are incredible. Thanks for all of the articles and comments on the reds and the reds minor league system. It seems like you spend about 20 hours a day covering the reds. Nick, thanks for the write ups and your optimism. A moment of silence for the probable loss of Nick C. He was the heart and soul of this team, and was a great influence on the younger players. We will have a great core of young players coming back, as well as the ageless Votto. I don’t think this front office will sign a expensive free agent to try to fill in the void that Nick C will leave, so I guess we will have to depend on the farm system to replace players that we lose. I hope we keep most of our good bullpen arms, but sadly I think Lorenzen tests the free agent market. It will be a difficult year for Bell and company in 2022, as I don’t expect big Bob to pony up the money to try to improve this club. Always a red fan, regardless of the missteps.

  30. Eddie

    Luckily NBA n college and NFL starting bc what be like every year with this owner, gm and so call manager. Yes players have to perform but at the same time the manager don’t put those players in good situation this year. Hope bell can turn it around next year but doubt it

  31. CI3J

    I sincerely hope September Suarez is a sign he has finally got himself right. If the Reds are to have any chance of having a winning season next season, they need the old Suarez back.

    They still have a massive outfield problem, but not having to worry about 3B as well would be, as Forrest Gump would say, “One less thang.”

  32. CI3J

    Also, what exactly is the plan once Votto hangs them up? Do they hope to just luck into another 1B by the time that happens?

    • Old Big Ed

      First base in 2024 is the least of my worries. They have Winker, Naquin, and Stephenson (and even Suarez) already on the roster, plus any number of guys who could emerge from the minors over the next two years, or who could come from trades.

      I would never have said this at the start of the month, but I am now optimistic about Suarez. To me, it was always more about his approach — overswinging, trying to pull too much, or however it was categorized — as opposed to the loss of his reflexes. Using the entire field makes him a completely different hitter. If he is content with being a guy who hits .260 with some walks and 28 homers, he helps the Reds. If he tries to hit 45 homers, he doesn’t help the team. And I think he has learned that.

      • Jon

        Absolutely. If he can revert back to his 2018-2019 version, then we will have one of the most potent infields in baseball next year (Stephenson, Votto, India, Barrero/Farmer, Suarez). The outfield needs some major work in CF and RF, but everything else looks set.

      • Jim Walker

        Let’s hope so. Suárez in September has been refreshing. But then maybe he is busting his tail to get out of town after being benched in favor of a guy clearly playing on a leg and a half (Moose).

    • Hotto4Votto

      It’s pretty far out to project, but at this point, I’d say either Stephenson transitions there full time or maybe a current young prospect bat is ready. Rece Hinds is someone I’d pay attention to, if he doesn’t stick at 3B. If he stays healthy (which has been somewhat of an issue thus far) the timeline fits for him to be ready by 2024.

      • Jim Walker

        If Kolozsvary hits enough that certainly gives them an opportunity to move TS from behind the plate. But it becomes the same issue as with Barnhart. MK has to produce more than the guy who sits for TS to move in order for the move to really make sense. Kolozsvary would need to be more of a Ryan Hanigan who for the period of 2010-2012 compiled an even league average 100 OPS+.

  33. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I’m happy, but I’m not satisfied. I’m happy, but I’m, disappointed. So much to be happy about this season. But, still enough to be hanging your hat on, “Why?”

    The Bad?
    – The bullpen
    – 3rd base
    – Castillo (especially his start)
    – the dropoff at the end

    The Good?
    – Winker and Nick C – 2 AS Game starters
    – India/Stephenson/Mahle and their development
    – Vlad and Tony coming up and being about as successful as one could ask when thrown into a difficult situation subbing for injured pitchers
    – Farmer actually having a decent year as pretty much a regular starter
    – Votto/MIley having a bit of a resurgence
    – Has Tyler N given us our CF of the future?
    – Where many predicted where we would be in this division after dropping so much payroll, not to mention where this division would be in comparison to the rest of the league, and we hung in there till the last month of the season.

    There’s just too many good things here to only think of bad things for this team. Honestly, I’m looking forward to next season already, not to mention what we do during the off season. (I’m sure more on this later)