Our look at the NL Central teams, part of our continuing series previewing all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2016 season, continues with the Cincinnati Reds, who finished in last place in the division last season.
The Reds’ 64-98 record last season was their worst mark since finishing 61-101 in 1982, as they faced tough competition in a division in which three teams made the playoffs. If anything, they got worse in the offseason, as they made a couple of moves to try to build for the future. The bigger of the two involved trading closer Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees in December, getting some minor leaguers in return. Earlier in December, the Reds were involved in a three-team trade that saw them trade 3B Todd Frazier to the White Sox, acquiring three players from the Dodgers, with the biggest name being 2B Jose Peraza, who played a few games for the Dodgers in 2015; he’s expected to start the season in the majors as a backup infielder.
As you would expect for a team that lost nearly 100 games, the Reds found themselves near the bottom of the National League in several key offensive categories, including batting average (.248) and RBI (613), but they had the sixth-most home runs in the league, with 167 — thanks in large part to getting 25+home-run seasons out of 1B Joey Votto, Frazier and OF Jay Bruce. The pitching also landed near the bottom of the NL, with their 4.33 ERA ranking as the fourth worst in the league. Their rotation was led last year by SP Anthony DeSclafani, who posted a 4.05 ERA with 151 strikeouts in 184.2 innings.
The Reds traded away one of their best offensive threats in Frazier, allowing 3B Eugenio Suarez to move over from shortstop in what should be his first full season in the majors. That lets SS Zack Cozart get more playing time to help make up for some of the offense lost with the departure of Frazier. The Reds may also get an offensive boost with C Devin Mesoraco healthy after playing just 23 games in an injury-shortened season. The team has a young starting rotation, with DeSclafani likely anchoring it early in the season while SP Homer Bailey continues to recover from the Tommy John surgery he had in May; he is expected back in early May, if he doesn’t suffer any setbacks in his rehab.
In a tough NL Central, the Reds don’t have much hope to have a good season in 2016. They’ll be competing with the Brewers for fourth place and to stay out of the cellar. With some of their young players, the Reds should be improved in the next few years, but they won’t be much better this year than they were last year.
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