(This article is a two-parter in which we examine the reasons to be both optimistic and pessimistic on the Reds so far. A “Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” take if you will)
The Cincinnati Reds are now fifty-plus games through the 2019 season, which is insane to think about. I can still remember what I was doing, thinking, and feeling both in and out in terms of baseball when opening day arrived. Maybe you do too, in which case I applaud you for such a vivid memory. If you’re one of those people, do you think you’ve made major life changes within that short time period? If you were to put present-day you right next to fifty-plus days in the past you, do you think you could tell any noticeable differences between the two? Perhaps you’ve set out a goal for yourself, and maybe you haven’t exactly achieved that goal yet, and that’s a major factor for your answer. Well if that’s the case, probability states you have plenty and plenty of time to figure things out, so don’t worry about it.
Unfortunately for the 2019 Reds, they don’t have that luxury, as time begins to grow shorter to flip things around this season.
What’s the point of this article you may be asking? Why Am I such a hater? Why am throwing in the towel so early? Aren’t we supposed to blindly follow our teams to the depths of Hell and back no matter what their record is?
The simple answer is it’s smarter to realize what exactly this team is made of sooner rather than later, because then we can figure out how to salvage anything from this roster through trades at the deadline, and start planning for next year. It’s to avoid the mistakes of making crucial roster moves at the wrong time (Todd Fraizer, Aroldis Chapman, Zack Cozart). Although it sounds rather cynical to say so, here’s why the season may be a lost cause for the Reds, if they want to have any sort of game plan to improve before it’s too late.
Christian Yelich, Paul Goldschmidt, Kris Bryant, Josh Bell, Zach Davies, Marcell Ozuna, Anthony Rizzo, Trevor Williams, Lorenzo Cain, Javier Baez, Josh Hader.
It’s a good thing we have to face these guys like what, every other series right?
Against all NL Central opponents, the Reds are 10-16. That’s including a record of 4-2 against the NL Cenral leading Chicago Cubs. Let that one sink in for a moment. Do you think the Reds can sustain that pace against them?
These are the teams the Reds need to play on par with if they want any success this year, and so far they haven’t answered the call.
Looking at baseball reference’s playoff odds simulator, The NL Central is predicted to be the strongest division in baseball when it’s all said and done, with the finally over 500. Reds still sitting fifth with a projected record of 85-77. There are wild card teams who have snuck in at that record, look at the 2017 Twins for example. The cramped NL Central just isn’t the right environment for a team like this to survive.
I suppose you could argue that finishing above .500 would be a success for the Reds, even if it comes at the cost of finishing last in the Central again. Just know that doing so is celebrating over a participation trophy, which doesn’t sound so fun.
In losses for the Reds, the team as a whole is slashing a putrid .204/.270/.325 . By comparison, Chris Davis, the feared and revered Orioles slugger is pounding a similar .171/.257/.319. Not good Bob, not good.
Looking at team rankings, the Reds are 24th in batting average and on-base percentage with rates of .223 and .305 respectively, and they’re also 22nd in slugging with a percentage of .411 .
Regular names like Yasiel Puig, Jesse Winker, Jose Peraza, Tucker Barnhart, even Joey Votto have just been tough to watch so far. Really unless your name is Eugenio Suarez, Derek Dietrich, or Jose Iglesias, chances are it’s been a tough go around for you so far.
Of course, April was a dreadful month for the team as a whole. They’ve begun to heat up recently so perhaps there’s hope? As a team in their past 7 games, they’ve slashed .328/.387/.564 . Hopefully our sluggers can tap into this short hot streak.
One Run Games
Sure, if you’ve been paying attention to the telecasts, or doing some research on your own, you already know how dreadful the Reds are in one run games, but it’s worth reiterating.
The Reds as I type away, are simply not clutch when the situation calls for it. As of publishing, the Reds are 8-13 in one run games. However, in blowout games, (5+ runs) they’re 9-5. This is partly where you get that wonky run differential the Reds have at +36, but still have a record that speaks less.
Flat Out Luck
Baseball is a sport that is depended on luck more than any other, and unfortunately for the Reds, the theoretical ball is simply not bouncing their way this year. Of course, the previously mentioned run differential is at +36, which is second best in the division to the Cubs, and second best of all the teams in the wild card hunt behind the Diamondbacks at +43. Baseball Reference’s Pythagorean W-L has the Reds pegged at 32-24, which would tie the Cubs for the division lead. It really hurt me to type that so I’m going to guess that it’s going to hurt you to read as well.
Mailbag: Senzel, Winker, Votto, and More
Time for an offseason mailbag to get your focus on what the Reds need to do th be better for 2021
It’s been a while and we have all had a chance to process that Reds playoff performance. Yuck. However, it is time for offseason talk. Let’s get into the mailbag.
What are the Reds going to do at catcher? The Reds and pitchers seem to like Casali and Barnhart behind plate..
The Reds once again went with the duo of Casali and Tucker behind the plate in 2020. The results were underwhelming, but not miserable. Tucker is a finalist for a gold glove while hitting .204/.291/.388 and an OPS+ of 77. Casali hit .224/.366/.500 with an OPS+ of 126. However, we all want to see the exciting prospect, Tyler Stephenson, take his reign of the position. I expect exactly that next season. Having a veteran backing him up is important so I’d imagine Tucker plays that role as he is under contract while Casali will enter arbitration.
In terms of how the pitchers like Casali and Tucker, I think that just comes with time. I am sure once the pitchers get to work with Stephenson more, they will learn to pitch well to him.
If there is a DH in 2021, shouldn’t #19 fill that role and let Da Wink and (place RH bat here) platoon at 1st?
The only thing the Reds have now is time (between now, and next season). So, what is their excuse for not putting Senzel at 2B, and give him regular ABs? (This makes Votto the DH, and Moose 1B)
What’s the odds of moving Senzel to 2nd, Moose to 1st and Votto to DH.
Well this is my intake everybody has one with the Outfield I guess we’re not going to have a DH going forward so Jesse Winker needs to be traded along with Nick Senzel I definitely keep Shogo, and hopefully we can keep Castellanos and let’s go try to get a productive outfielder
I want to clump all these together because it’s pretty much all the same gist. So, let’s breakdown what it could look like with and then without the DH.
WITH: Votto to DH, Moose to first, Senzel STAYS in center, second is open to add speed/OBP.
Explanation: Votto’s defense is terrible. His contract isn’t going anywhere, so put him at DH. He still has something left with the bat. When Moose signed he wasn’t signing on to play second for the duration of that contract. No way. Move him to first and the defense at first likely improves. Keep Senzel in Center. Injuries and swing changes have stunted the development of Senzel enough. Asking him to change back to second after 2 years of focusing on becoming a CF just feels like something they will not do. He hasn’t done any work (that we know of ) at second since he moved to CF.
Now for 2B. Bringing back the same team that barely sneaked into an expanded playoff (while maybe losing Bauer) seems like a bad idea. Changes have to be made. The Reds added plenty of HR power last offseason, now add a 2B that might be a better OBP guy. Speed and better baserunning would be welcomed as well. In theory, this could increase the defensive ability at second as well.
WITHOUT: Votto at first (with plenty of days off), Moose at 2B, Senzel in CF, Winker traded.
Explanation: Votto really doesn’t have anywhere else to go besides the bench. There is not an option at this point, when they play him he will be at first. Which leaves Moose at second. Again, not a thrilling defensive side of the infield, but Moose held his own at second but as he gets older his range will continue to drop. Senzel in CF for the same reason’s I listed above. Winker is traded. In this scenario, I am still looking to shake up the team from 2020. ( I am also assuming Castellanos is returning) An OF with Winker and Castellanos fielding would be far less than ideal. I really like Winker, but Shogo could be ready for a bigger role. Winker has trade value and could strengthen the team in other areas by moving him. If the Reds make a big trade like many fans are hoping for, they will have to move MLB talent. They do not have enough top-end prospects to trade. If they do move the top prospects, they will deplete their farm system because it lacks depth. Remember, to acquire top-end talent you have to trade high value. Prospects out of the top 5 usually aren’t considered too high by many other organizations.
Goldstar or Skyline and Cut or Twirl
I have never even had Goldstar. No need to. Skyline fills my needs. Twirl
Predicting the Final Stretch
Let’s take a look at what’s left for the Reds in the 2020 Regular Season and what they need to do to make it to the Playoffs
September 18th, the weather is cooling down, football is starting (Bengals 0-2), every restaurant is putting pumpkin in everything, and the Reds have playoff hopes……wait what?! Yes, that’s right. The Reds are alive in September. Usually, these are the days of expanded roster players eating up innings as the season drags to the end. Not this year. Your Cincinnati Reds are playing for postseason baseball.
We all knew the Reds needed to get the four-game sweep of the Pirates. 4 games against one of the worst teams with so much on the line. Well, the Reds got it done. A clean sweep. This sweep, combined with the Cardinals losing a few games, leaves the Reds in sole possession of second place in the central. Now, I wouldn’t assume they will be there come September 27th. The Cardinals do have doubleheaders today (Friday) and next Friday and we know it can be hard to win twice in a day. They also play the Pirates (15-34), Royals (23-26), and Brewers (21-29) to finish the season. Favorable to say the least. The Reds have the White Sox (33-17), Brewers (21-29), and Twins (31-21).
The White Sox might be my favorite team to watch this year. A mixture of young studs and all-star vets, this team has a ton of offense. Tim Anderson might win back to back batting titles. I don’t want to sound like a southside fan, but let’s be honest, this team is likable. It’s going to be tough to win this series. They did recently clinch a playoff spot, but don’t confuse that with them “resting” starters. Reds pitching will have to be damn near flawless and the offense probably needs to give them 4 runs for a win. Prediction: Take 1 of 3 (Reds: 26-28)
We all know the Brewers. A team that has been solid the past few years lost some key players and Yelich is hitting .208. They aren’t what they thought they would be, but they won’t just fold. They will not give up on their postseason hopes until they are officially eliminated. The Reds are 4-3 vs the Brew Crew this year. An important 3 game series, the Reds could pick up ground here. We have seen how they have played the Brewers to a nearly .500 record this year, so I doubt a sweep happens. Prediction: Take 2 of 3. (Reds 28-29)
The Twins are right behind the White Sox. 1 and 2 in their division. However, I don’t find them as “scary” as the White Sox. Like the White Sox, the Twins are in the same division as the Indians, who Trevor Bauer pitched for before the Reds. Bauer will know some of these Batters and that alone could help him steal a win (assuming he pitches in the series.) The Reds will have their backs against the wall with their playoff hopes on the line. However, the Twins have a better lineup. Prediction: Take 1 of 3 (Reds 29-31).
*Keep in mind I do not have pitching matchups*
Will that be good enough to make the playoffs? Hard to tell. Many have said 30 wins gets you in. Maybe another team falls apart down the stretch. We are in the time of scoreboard watching. In that time of year where we stay up late to watch a west coast game and cheer hard for a Diamondbacks win (or some other “random” team). I love it. I love the intensity and game on the line feeling. Each win feels monumental.
Enjoy the ride.
Dugout Mugs Chat with Pete Rose September 15 at 9 PM
Join our friends from Dugout Mugs Tuesday night as they chat with Pete Rose
Our friends from Dugout Mugs are having a chat with Reds legend Pete Rose tomorrow night, September 15th, at 9:00 PM EST. They will be promoting their new line of mugs which feature the Hit King (and look good, too) as well as holding an “ask me anything” type segment where fans are encouraged to submit questions here.
Though embroiled in controversy off the field, Rose was one of the best to ever play on the field. I’m not sure we will ever see anyone approach 4256 career hits mostly because I’m not sure we will ever see a player put together a 24-year career with a 162-game average of 194 hits. It’s not just longevity but also the consistency with which Rose played for the length that he played.
Most Reds fans would agree he is one of the best to ever wear a Reds uniform and you will have a chance to drop Rose a question that they will talk about on the Dugout Mugs Facebook live event. Make sure to also tune in at 9:00 PM!