Over the course of 30 days (or so) I will be previewing all 30 MLB teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2015 season. This post is previewing the Cincinnati Reds.
After making the playoffs in 2012 and 2013, the Reds finished last season 76-86 and in fourth place in the National League Central. The only acquisition of note the Reds made in the offseason was getting OF Marlon Byrd from the Phillies. After trading away pitchers Alfredo Simon and Mat Latos, getting mainly minor leaguers in return, it looks like the Reds are in rebuilding mode and not a lot should be expected of them this season, especially with the Cubs — who finished in last place in 2014 — improving their team since the end of last season.
Byrd brings a career .278 average to the team, but that’s not probably not enough considering the club’s .238 average in 2014 was next-to-last in the NL. The 3.67 runs/game the team ecorded last season, third worst in the league, could have been significantly better if the hitters got more hits considering the squad’s 122 stolen bases ranked second in the NL, behind OF Billy Hamilton’s 56 steals, which provides for extra run-scoring opportunities. The pitching last season was better than the hitting, with the staff’s 3.59 ERA finishing slightly ahead of the league average.
There could be a chance for improvement this season for the Reds if 1B Joey Votto rebounds after a down year last year. If he can get his batting average closer to his .310 number than the .255 he hit last year, that would help the offense score more runs and potentially win more games. OF Jay Bruce, who hit just .217 last year, is another player who could be a key to an improved season for the Reds.
Even if the offense improves, I don’t think it’ll be enough for the Reds to succeed. They’re in a tough division and without any big signings or trades in the offseason, I don’t see them competing for the division title. I think it’ll be another year of below-.500 baseball in Cincy.