While we’ve gotten a chance to look at the ZiPS projections for individual players, today the ZiPS projections for teams were released by Dan Szymborski over at Fangraphs. This matters a bit more than simply just looking at the individual players numbers because here is where the playing time is also projected with more detail. The good news is that the Cincinnati Reds aren’t projected to finish in last place. The bad news is that they are projected to have a losing record, finishing at 80-82 on the season.

An 80-82 record doesn’t really put them much behind where they ended the 2021 season. Last year’s team finished 83-79 and in third place. That was 12 games behind first place Milwaukee and 7 games behind second place St. Louis. ZiPS has the Cardinals finishing one game up on the Brewers this upcoming season with an 89-73 record. Cincinnati feels like they should be worse than just three games when compared to the 2021 team since they are losing the contributions of Nick Castellanos, Wade Miley, and Tucker Barnhart (as well as a few others).

With that said, as we discussed yesterday, ZiPS thinks quite highly of Jonathan India, and the team still has plenty of good-to-better pieces around India in the rotation and lineup. Still, there are some weaknesses and or question marks on the team. Who plays center? Is it going to be Nick Senzel? Will it be Jose Barrero? Will either of them begin to hit how they have been expected to? What’s going to happen at shortstop? Does Kyle Farmer keep the job at short or does it go to Jose Barrero? Can the bullpen not be a proverbial dumpster fire in the first half of the season?

Of course another big question at this point in time is what the team will look like. Rumors have persisted since the season ended that the team was at least listening on offers for Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, and Sonny Gray. Listening to offers doesn’t mean a whole lot – of course you listen to an offer! That doesn’t mean you are actively trying to move the player, though. It’s been two consecutive offseasons where some in the national media have been talking about Castillo and Gray being on the move and so far they remain Cincinnati Reds.

Still, after Nick Krall said the team was going to align payroll to resources and they followed up by placing Wade Miley on waivers and getting nothing in return for him and then trading Tucker Barnhart for a guy in A-ball who has struggled to hit the ball out of the infield in his two professional seasons, it’s understandable to wonder if the team isn’t still looking to cut some payroll and not do much adding to it.

What we do know right now is that on paper the Cincinnati Reds aren’t really contenders for a division title. They don’t play games on paper, of course. Some guys will outperform their projections, some guys won’t. Injuries, trades, sheer luck – those things add up and matter (in both good and bad ways). But teams are built on projections. They may not say exactly what ZiPS says, but every team is projection some sort of baseline for their team and others and looking around and saying “we’re in this” and “we’re not in this” as things stand right now.

If Cincinnati wants to head into the season without needing a lot of things to go right for them in order to make the playoffs then they are going to need to add to the team as it’s currently constructed. Of course they can’t “go to work” right now because the owners have locked out the players and while the players seem to be negotiating, the owners are seemingly not. Trades for players on the 40-man roster are off of the table currently. Free agency for big league contracts are off of the table, too. We’re all just left here twiddling our thumbs and waiting for the owners to actually negotiate in good faith and actually try to get back to baseball.

30 Responses

  1. Don

    It is hard to imagine that with the subtraction of Miley, the starting rotation won’t slip (and I am not fully convinced that they aren’t open to moving Gray or Castillo). Then there is the bullpen, which was utterly gross last season. This collectively translates to a weaker staff unless management decides to be more aggressive once the labor dispute ends. Personally, given their penny pinching approach so far, I would not bank on much happening on that front. I can foresee that come mid season the bullpen is chocked full of guys with 5.00+ ERAs, many of whom were probably signed one cheap one year deals.

    • Redsvol

      80-82 seems about right. The bullpen was historically bad for a large chunk of the year – I believe until late July. It won’t be nearly so bad. Tremendous amount of position player injuries – can’t be as bad I would hope. The pitching staff won’t be as good and we will miss Castellanos ba. But third base, shortstop and center could be better.

  2. TR

    And the Bengals were projected to finish far away from the Super Bowl.

    • JayTheRed

      Gotta play the games as they say. You never know what will happen. Projections are estimates based on past performance. Who knows, some of our players may have better years overall.

      Until a labor deal is struck, and the freeze ends, I don’t have much faith in this sport, and team

    • Gonzo Reds

      Baseball really is a team game and you have to build a complete team to be competitive. Football can be highly skewed simply if you get a #1 pick to get an essential franchise QB and thus the Bungles become the Bengals. And of course there’s a salary cap that makes it possible for all somewhat competent teams to compete every few years (Browns/Lions not competent).

  3. Optimist

    TBH this seems about right – losing Tucker and Miley may not be as detrimental as feared, perhaps stupid, but not that big an effect on the record. Doubtful the bullpen can be worse. Nick C. unreplaced will cost a few games, as well as any sort of slumps/injuries from the younger players. Additionally, unless the Cubs step up quite a bit, the Brewers will likely falter a bit, and the Cards aren’t likely to streak thru September again.

    So – they’ve got a pretty mediocre team, with some strong younger/newer players, and FO/field management that might not do much of anything to affect the record. .500 here we come!

    • MBS

      I’d take Stephenson over Barnhart, and Greene and Lodolo need to be able to earn spots. Castellanos is the only major loss.

  4. Jeffrey Oakley

    All of these projections etc. Every year we see the same things, the names change but the results will remain the same until Bob and partners sell the team to someone who can afford to be a MLB owner. I for one am tired of it.

  5. Mark Moore

    I just want to see a start date confirmed. But my pessimism still persists. And you can’t play games on paper aside from the Strat-o-Matic version.

    We shall see what we shall see.

  6. LDS

    There are days when I doubt the Reds pull off third place. Still haven’t addressed the bullpen or the inability to hit LH’ers. Votto slides back, at least a bit. No reason to expect much from Suarez, despite a good September (same pattern two years in a row). Several guys that are unlikely to hit 100 games played: Senzel, Moustakas, and Naquin. Farmer will likely be the starting SS. No commitment to winning from ownership. And weak to lousy field management. Yeah, third place may be optimistic.

    • Earmbrister

      Sorry, but I see the glass as half full. A LOT of young pitching on the doorstep. Jose B. will be the starting SS. Between Suarez and Moustakas, one should step up. I’ll predict now that Senzel will have a healthy year (finally) and show why he was considered the best hitter of his draft class. Yeah, a lot of players need to progress, but it’s hardly a stretch.

      The biggest hurdle may be the lockout. The owners seem intent on killing the golden goose.

      • LDS

        On the lockout, we agree. On the rest, wow you are optimistic. But I still have the David Bell trump card making my outcome more likely.

      • Earmbrister

        I find being an optimist is a happier way to travel thru life … One of us is right/wrong or more likely the result will be somewhere in the middle. In any case, no biggie as we have no affect on the outcome.

        That is, if there is a season. Screw the owners, I’m tired of this act.

  7. Votto4life

    I think a third place finish would be quite an accomplishment for this team. The Reds have 3 solid starters. If one or more get injured, it will be a very long season.

    The Red’s offense is losing it’s best hitter. The team will attempt to replace Nick with the likes of Aquino or Shogo.

    The Cincinnati Red’s organization seems to be a mess right now. Ownership is in cost saving mode.

    The Bengals have been a great distraction for me this winter. I do hope they win the Super Bowl. I also hope that I will live long enough to see the Reds back in the World Series.

  8. CI3J

    I think the only way the Reds avoid a 3rd place finish or worse is if Greene and Lodolo both make the team out of camp and somehow magically adapt to life in the big leagues as lights-out pitchers. Think like what the Cubs had with Prior/Wood all those years ago, two young pitchers who just exploded onto the scene seemingly overnight. It’s a tall order, but stranger things have happened.

    If the Reds trade Castillo or Gray for a good, young outfielder or two, it’s not out of the question this team could be competitive this year and a contender next year. But that would require competence and a desire to compete from the front office, which I’m not sure we’re seeing.

    • Mark Moore

      I had completely forgotten about the Prior/Wood days. That was electric stuff and, perhaps, Greene/Lodolo might rise to that opportunity if it is available. Thanks for sparking that memory.

    • MuddyCleats

      Agree to a pt. Reds certainly need some offensive help. Resigning Castellanos would b a Giant step in the right direction. Moose, Senzel, Barrero, and Suarez have to put the ball in play more. Is Suarez WILLING to change his “swing for the fences” approach? Have seen it yet, but would luv to.

      As for SP, Reds need to consider the Rays OPENER philosophy w/ the young guys IMO. They still prepare like a starter, team can control their innings and keep them in positive situations while giving them a taste of the ML. Reds have done this via spot starts in the past. Either way, it’s a piggyback approach which makes a lot of sense one or two days a week when you throw in Ashcroft, Santillan, Hoffman and Sanmartin with Greene and Lodolo

      • Chris Wheeler

        Santillan is a much better reliever than starter and the bull pen is the bigger weakness. Hoffman doesn’t belong anywhere near a competent MLB staff. Just really does not have the talent.

      • MuddyCleats

        Hey Chris,
        Agree on Hoffman. However, I believe he’s under contract and it’s doubtful Reds cut him and pay him? Not sure anyone would take him in trade? So how do Reds best use him?? He’s been a starter his entire career and decent at times in Coors of all places….go figure. Santillan was pushed to the pen, but developed as a SP. Reminds me a little of Ashcroft. Both guys r big power pitcher types in minors, but like a lot of young Reds pitchers, they seem to lack that 3rd pitch necessary to succeed n ML? Opener or piggyback starts make the most sense to me to shorten the game and conserve the BP ??

  9. CFD3000

    Reasons for pessimism: well documented and I won’t repeat them here. The pessimistic version of the 2022 Reds might not win 70 games.

    Reasons for optimism: A year of Stephenson will be an offensive upgrade from last year’s duo. A year of Barrero will be an upgrade from last year’s mixed SS crew. 2022 Suarez will be an upgrade from 2021 Suarez (can’t be worse, right?). The bullpen is clearly better than the awful group that was available for the first four months of 2021. Castillo shouldn’t be 0-309 for the first two months of 2022 like he was last year. Winker and Votto (and Castellanos) all missed big chunks of time last year – more than half a season for Jesse and Joey combined. That shouldn’t happen again. And Senzel should be healthy for a full season, with plenty to prove. And I know everyone will be skeptical about that, but this is a list for optimism. And lastly, one or more young stud starters is likely to emerge from the strong group of Lodolo, Greene, Ashcraft, Santillan and Gutierrez. The optimistic version of the 2022 Reds is a playoff contender.

    The really optimistic version: The 2022 Reds play 162 regular season games, and win many of them. Hah! Thanks belligerent billionaires.

  10. Steven Ross

    Joe Burrow isn’t walking through that door so good luck to the Reds finishing 3rd.

    Sorry, not sorry but can’t get excited about the Reds this season. I haven’t seen any offseason moves which give me hope. Hope I’m wrong but I doubt it.

  11. Private Gripweed

    Right where Bob wants them to be.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      …okay that’s funny. And sad.
      But mostly funny.

  12. indyDoug

    “Players negotiating and owners not” may not be factually accurate. As an attorney who routinely negotiates settlements, sometimes it appears that one side is negotiating in good faith because they have “moved” quite a bit from their original demands, which may have been unreasonable to begin with, while the other has moved little off their more reasonable opening demands/counteroffers. Not saying that is what’s happening here and I’m sure you’ll have a reply supporting the players, but the owners have moved from their original positions as have the players. Both sides feel the other isn’t being reasonable, which is the normal result this early in negotiations. Most is for posturing and negotiating for the press to win public support. Hopefully they reach a new CBA but it seems clear that Spring Training and possibly the season will be pushed back a bit.

    • Chris Wheeler

      I hope the season is cancelled. Maybe Ownership and company sell out.

  13. JoshG

    doesn’t look tooo bad

    C Tyler Stephenson

    1B Joey Votto

    2B Jonathan India

    3B Eugenio Suarez

    SS Jose Barrero/Kyle Farmer

    LF Jesse Winker

    CF Nick Senzel

    RF Tyler Naquin

    DH Mike Moustakas

    • JoshG

      bench

      Farmer
      Akiyama
      Aquino ?
      Freidl ?
      back up catcher
      ?