The Cincinnati Reds had a very good season but by no means would the good people of Ohio tell you it was a great one.
They barely made it into the playoffs after a long and arduous standings battle with the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates. Their best pitcher, Johnny Cueto, spent more time on the disabled list then he did on the mound. Arguably, their best hitter Joey Votto only knocked in 74 RBI’s and they lost their All-Star lead-off hitter Shin-Soo Choo to free agency.
On the bright side, their young pitchers matured and posted numbers well above most people’s expectations. Joey Votto led the league in on-base percentage. Jay Bruce’s power continued to develop and Brandon Phillips was one of the top RBI men in baseball.
Their once young prospects are beginning to reach the primes of their careers as fantasy baseball aficionados take notice at the amount of talent available on this team.
Let’s take a look at what the Cincinnati Reds have to offer your fantasy league team for the 2014 season.
Projected 2014 Reds Offense
|1. Billy Hamilton||CF||23||S||458||70||4||42||57||.266|
|2. Zack Cozart||SS||28||R||468||63||12||43||1||.254|
|3. Joey Votto||1B||30||L||557||92||25||81||6||.307|
|4. Brandon Phillips||2B||33||R||596||83||18||85||6||.271|
|5. Jay Bruce||RF||27||L||603||88||32||101||7||.254|
|6. Ryan Ludwick||LF||35||R||360||35||11||48||1||.251|
|7. Todd Frazier||3B||28||R||536||71||22||76||5||.250|
|8. Devin Mesoraco||C||26||R||363||40||11||42||1||.236|
- Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce.
– Votto: His statistics are a mix of great expectations with signs of reality. What I mean by this is his career highs point to even greater things to come, while his statistics from last season show where fantasy owner’s expectations should really lie.
Without a doubt Joey Votto will hit better than .300 this season. His career .314 average is outstanding for a first baseman. He hit .305 last season and as seen above, you can expect him to have an average in that neighborhood this season.
His career high average of .337 from 2012 is unlikely to happen again. He posted an extremely lucky .404 BABIP that season to push his average well above his career average.
A lot of people mistake Joey Votto as an elite power hitter because of the 37 home runs he produced in 2010. In reality, the 24 home runs he hit last season are more indicative of the kind of power he will produce going forward.
The previous two seasons he has produced very lackluster RBI totals, with 56 in 2012 and 73 last season. He could only manage 73 RBI’s with Shin-Soo Choo as the lead-off hitter. What kind of numbers will he produce with Billy Hamilton — who struggles to get on base — in that spot?
Joey Votto is turning into a different kind of hitter right before our eyes. He led the National League in on-base percentage at .435 and he scored 101 runs. He is helping the Cincinnati Reds win by getting on base and scoring runs sacrificing his RBI totals.
I think Joey Votto has a very good season but he is not worth his lofty draft position. You will find better power and RBI production from players that will go several rounds later in your draft.
– Phillips: Raise your hand if you picked Brandon Phillips to finish 4th in the National League with 103 RBI’s last season. It was one of the most surprising statistics from any player last year.
It’s very easy to see how Brandon Phillips amassed 103 RBI’s last year. Teammate Joey Votto was ranked first in OBP at .435 and leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo was ranked second in OBP at .423. When you have players get on base in front of you at that kind of pace you will have plenty of RBI opportunities.
I think Brandon Phillips RBI production decreases this season because Shin-Soo Choo signed with the Texas Rangers. It’s very hard to replace a player with an OBP above .400.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that he will hit 18 home runs. He has hit 18 home runs in each of the last four seasons. That kind of power production is hard to find at the second base position.
His run production should stay steady and he will have no problem scoring 80 or more times this year.
If you can get a player at second base with Brandon Phillips type power production you should grab him. Don’t get stuck drafting a second baseman in the later rounds because you didn’t want to overpay for a player of that caliber.
– Bruce: We know Jay Bruce has the potential to hit home runs at a prolific rate. At some point in his career he will have the opportunity to lead the National League in homeruns.
He hit 23 more line drives last season compared to 2012. That is a significant number for a player who is entering his prime as a power hitter. I wouldn’t be shocked if you see him hit 40 or more homeruns in the next two or three seasons.
He will never hit for a high average because he is not selective enough and his strikeout % remains above 25% but you know what you are getting when you draft him.
You will get a lot of power with RBI production to match. You will have to compensate somewhere else for batting average because he will struggle to hit higher than .260.
Jay Bruce’s potential for even better power numbers is excellent at this point in his career. He has a lot of upside with regards to home runs, RBI’s and run production. You can count on one-hand players who have the potential to hit 40+ home runs going forward and Jay Bruce is one of them.
Projected 2014 Reds Pitching
- Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Tony Cingrani, Aroldis Chapman.
– Cueto: A lot of people forget Johnny Cueto won 19 games in 2012. After an injury plagued 2013 he should be one of the pitchers you target in 2014.
Cueto has a very deceptive repertoire that keeps hitters off balance. Opposing hitters have a hard time making great contact with his pitches because of the amount of movement he generates from his release point.
The more hitters you keep from getting on base the lower your ERA will be. For the past three seasons he has had an ERA under 3.00, putting him in elite company with pitchers like Clayton Kershaw.
When you can limit opposing teams to fewer than three runs in your starts, you will win a lot of games for your team. I would expect a win total north of 15 wins this season if he can stay healthy.
He won’t amass a large amount of strikeouts but he will get your fantasy team wins and a very low ERA.
He will be underrated because of the limited amount of starts he had last season. Definitely pick him up if he is available when it is your turn to draft.
–Latos: There are not many pitchers more consistent then Mat Latos. An ERA in the mid 3’s with a K/9 near 8 will always find a place on a fantasy roster. He’s not going to be horrible one game and fantastic the next. He will remain consistent and contribute to your teams overall numbers.
He will not put up 20 wins any time soon but with some luck you could see 14 or 15 strong wins out of him.
Not a superstar but he won’t embarrass himself on a start-to-start basis either. He is an excellent number 3 or 4 starter for your roster.
– Bailey: The expectations that Homer Bailey had when he first came up with the Cincinnati Reds were totally out of line with his talent level.
He seems to have settled into being a very good pitcher in the National League but not a great one. He is very similar to Mat Latos in the amount of consistency he will give your pitching staff. Don’t expect him to post a Cy Young caliber season. At times he will throw like a Cy Young Candidate. He threw his second no-hitter in as many seasons in 2013.
His ERA will land somewhere in the 3.50 to 3.75 range. He is not a flamethrower but his K/9 of 8.57 was a career high last season. If Homer Bailey can maintain that strikeout rate he becomes a lot more valuable for your team.
With the Cincinnati Reds potent offense, he could better his win rate of 14 from last season.
Don’t have huge expectations for him but have enough confidence to draft him as a 3rd or 4th starter.
– Cingrani: More on Tony Cingrani a little later.
– Chapman: He is one of the elite closers in the game, striking out over 40 percent of the batters he’s faced. This isn’t hard to fathom considering his fastball averages 99 mph. Chapman doesn’t just occasionally throw his fastball 99 mph, that is what he averages with multiple pitches well above 100 mph.
I truly believe that Aroldis Chapman gets better as a closer. He is still learning how to pitch and will only get better as he learns how to set up opposing batters and overcome some of his wildness.
At some point he will lead the National League in saves. I could easily see him posting a 40+ save season in 2014. You will pay a hefty price for him on draft day but I believe he is one of the few closers worth the price.
- Fantasy star: Brandon Phillips.
Anytime you can draft a second baseman, who has the potential to knock in 90 or more runs and hit 18 to 20 homers, you take him regardless of the price you have to pay.
There are a handful of second baseman that can match the kind of offense Brandon Phillips is capable of putting up. The second base position gets shallow really fast, after the first five players are taken off the board.
Do yourself a favor and grab a top-tier second baseman for your team. You won’t be disappointed.
- Fantasy bust: Billy Hamilton.
Will he be able to get on base enough to utilize his elite speed? He set a minor league stolen base record with 155 steals in 2012. He followed that up with 75 stolen bases last season in the minors.
His on base percentage of .308 last season at AAA Louisville leaves a lot to be desired. Add to the fact that he only managed to hit .256. These are numbers for a bottom of the order hitter, not someone who will bat lead-off for a major league team.
He was called up to Cincinnati last September where he was 13 of 14 in stolen bases, mostly in a pinch runner capacity. It appears that the Cincinnati Reds limited his weakness of getting on base by making him a pinch runner.
A lot of owners will overdraft him for his speed. If he can’t get on base he will be back at AAA Louisville by mid-season. Make sure you have a backup plan if Billy Hamilton finds himself back in the minor leagues.
- Fantasy Sleeper: Tony Cingrani
If you want a pitcher with immense breakout potential and potential to fail miserably, look no further than Tony Cingrani.
He posted a 2.92 ERA in 18 starts and also appeared as a reliever for 5 appearances. His 10.91 K/9 is at an elite level. It is very difficult for hitters to pick up the ball out of his hand.
There is one rather large problem with the way he throws. He uses his fastball more than 80% of the time. It remains to be seen how long he will keep hitters off balance. He has got to develop some secondary pitches if he wants to have a long career.
As long as he can keep the fastball deception going he is an outstanding option. When you draft him and he has a couple of rough outings back to back you better be careful. The league might have figured him out and he could be horrible if he doesn’t come up with some secondary pitches.
I believe he is a risk worth taking in the middle rounds of a draft.
- Billy Hamilton, Vince Coleman, and Why We Should All Be Geeking Out
- Who’d You Rather: Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen?
- Jay Bruce: Evaluating OF’s Fantasy Value in 2014