|#7 The Cincinnati Reds
Team Ace: Johnny Cueto
Most Valuable Position Player: Joey Votto
Breakout Candidate: Todd Frazier
Notable Offseason Additions: Shin-Soo Choo, Jack Hannahan,
Notable Offseason Losses: Drew Stubbs, Ryan Madson
Biggest Team Weakness: Starting Pitching
The Reds always come into the season projected as one of the best teams in the league because of one man, Joey Votto. Votto can do it all, hit for power, average, play stellar defense at first base, but when he went down from injury for most of July and August, the Reds proved that they as a team can do it all, even without him. The rest of the lineup stepped it up, starting with the power hitting 25-year-old outfielder Jay Bruce, who’s had a jump in power in each of his first 5 seasons in the league. Veteran 2ndbaseman Brandon Phillips is still the best defensive infielder in the majors and contributes a mix of speed, power, and discipline at the plate. 2012 marked breakout seasons for the left side of the infield, made up of Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart. Both were inconsistent at times but contributed immensely in Votto’s absence.
This season they’ve added Shin-Soo Choo to replace Drew Stubbs in the outfield. The change will make their defense a little weaker overall, but the downgrade will be worth the huge contribution Choo will have on the offensive side of the ball.
If there’s one knock on the team it’s that the pitching staff is top heavy. Johnny Cueto finally had the win total to match his low ERA, going 19-9 with a 7 K/9 rate, the best of his career, while Mat Latos was a strong number 2, during his bounce back 2012 campaign. After that things get a little shaky, and guys like Homer Bailey need to become more consistent. Because their bullpen is really solid, and if the starters can bring a lead into the 6th inning they shouldn’t have a problem closing games out. Cuban pitching prospect Aroldis Chapman became one of the most exciting closers in the league, lighting up the radar guns with a triple digits fastball that helped him have one of the best strikeout rates in the league.