The Cincinnati Reds have been NL Central contenders for the last few years, but Pittsburgh emerged and St. Louis doesn’t seem to have an off-year. They lost Shin-Soo Choo and Bronson Arroyo to free agency and didn’t do much in free agency.
Their biggest offseason move was firing Dusty Baker. They hired pitching coach Bryan Price as their new skipper. He’s an experienced and heralded pitching coach, but this will be his first season as a manager.
The Reds will rely heavily on Jay Bruce and Joey Votto to drive in runs this season. They also need Todd Frazier to bounce back from a forgettable 2013 season. It’s not much to ask since he looked like a future All-Star his rookie season.
Super prospect Billy Hamilton is expected to be on the Opening Day roster. He is one of the best base runners in all of baseball, but is expected to have issues getting on base. Will he succeed or end up in the minors at some point?
Here is the 2014 MLB season preview for the Cincinnati Reds.
2013 Win/Loss Record: 90-72
Key Additions: C Bryan Pena, OF Skip Schumaker, RP Pedro Beato & SP Brett Marshall
Key Losses: OF Shin-Soo Choo, SP Bronson Arroyo, C Ryan Hanigan, OF Xavier Paul & SS Cesar Izturis,
Interleague Schedule: AL East + Cleveland Indians
Projected Starters: Devin Mesoraco, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Todd Frazier, Zack Cozart, Ryan Ludwick, Billy Hamilton & Jay Bruce
Projected Starting Rotation: Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake & Tony Cingrani
Closer: Aroldis Chapman
Fantasy Sleeper: SP Tony Cingrani – He converted to a starter and showed he can be successful in the Majors as a starter. The red flag with him is that he doesn’t have a good secondary pitch. He just throws a variety of fastballs. His fastball is ranges from low-90’s to as high as 97mph. He didn’t pitch deep into games since Cincinnati tried to limit his innings as he was converting to a starter. If he can still pitch in the mid-90’s in the 8th and 9th innings, he doesn’t need much of a secondary pitch right now. Cingrani is all upside, but he could get burned if hitters figure out his fastball. He’s a risky pick, but he’s a must own in NL-only leagues and borderline in standard leagues.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: OF Billy Hamilton – I don’t consider Hamilton to be a prospect anymore, but the Reds don’t have any top prospects nearing a call-up. In 2015, maybe pitcher Robert Stephenson or outfielders Phillip Ervin and Jesse Winker will be in this section. Hamilton is worth keeping an eye on, but will be a high draft pick in every fantasy draft. He’s arguably the best base stealer in all of baseball. He could have an issue getting on base in the Majors, so impatient fantasy owners could drop him if he struggles early.
Team Analysis: Cincinnati’s playoff window could be closing. They had the opportunity to win a championship the last two seasons, but failed in the playoffs. They fired manager Dusty Baker, but I fear it could be a few seasons too late. Baker is successful at getting a team IN the playoffs, but isn’t a guy to WIN in the playoffs. St. Louis and Pittsburgh outperformed expectations last season and also made strides to improve their team this offseason. Cincinnati didn’t do much at all. They actually lost their leading run scorer (Shin-Soo Choo) and one of their most consistent starters (Bronson Arroyo). They hope Billy Hamilton can take Choo’s spot in the lineup and for Tony Cingrani to step into the rotation full-time. It’s a lot to put on those young players, but it’s a risk the Reds need to take. I don’t see Cincinnati competing for the NL Central crown, but may keep within striking distance for most of the year. They need big seasons from Joey Votto and Jay Bruce and for Johnny Cueto to stay healthy. If those guys have career years, maybe they can squeak out a few wins and be a player in the Wild-Card race.
2014 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 84.5 (Prediction: UNDER)
2014 Projected Win/Loss Record: 83-79 (3rd in NL Central)
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Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.