Skip to content

2013 Preview: Cincinnati Reds

Mar 24, 2013, 9:43 PM EDT

votto getty Getty Images

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2013 season. Up next: The Cincinnati Reds.

The Big Question: Is this the Reds’ year?

It certainly has that feel. The Reds tallied 97 wins in 2012 and made a massive roster upgrade this winter, acquiring outfielder Shin-Soo Choo from the Indians as part of a three-team, nine-player trade that also involved the Diamondbacks. Shoo boasts a shiny .289/.381/.465 career batting line and will finally bring some stability to Cincinnati’s leadoff spot. Reds leadoff men hit .208/.254/.327 last season.

First baseman Joey Votto has led the National League in on-base percentage for three straight years, Brandon Phillips is probably the best defensive second baseman in the bigs and has averaged 21 homers per season since 2006. Ryan Ludwick, who was re-signed to a two-year, $15 million free agent contract in December, posted an .877 OPS, 26 home runs and 80 RBI in 125 games last summer. Right fielder Jay Bruce carries MVP upside, Todd Frazier brings the thunder at third base and Zack Cozart has flashed good power potential while playing a fine shortstop. Then there’s catcher Ryan Hanigan, who owns a .370 career OBP and draws rave reviews from those in the know for the way he handles the Cincinnati pitching staff.

The Reds also have decent depth in young backup catcher Devin Mesoraco and outfielder Chris Heisey. Utility infielder Jason Donald came over in the Choo trade and Jack Hannahan was signed as a free agent.

This is a team with ample big bats and a home stadium that caters well to raw power. Boom, suckas.

What Else Is Going On?

  • The outfield defense is iffy. Choo has started only 10 games in center field in his eight-year major league career, but that’s where he’ll play the majority of the time in 2013. Ludwick has good instincts, but he turns 35 years old in July and isn’t suddenly going to gain more defensive range. Bruce possesses a big arm but can’t be considered speedy. The group should do fine at Great American Ball Park — where the dimensions are tight — but there might be some unintentional comedy this year on the road.
  • The Reds’ top-five starters only missed one total outing in 2012 — and it was the nightcap of a mid-August doubleheader. That crew carries good health into 2013 and should again be one of the better rotations in the National League. Johnny Cueto finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting last year after posting a 2.78 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 170/49 K/BB ratio across 217 innings. Mat Latos was also excellent, posting a 3.48 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 185/64 K/BB ratio in 209 1/3 frames. Bronson Arroyo continued his inning-eating ways, Homer Bailey took a leap forward and Mike Leake was solid in bringing up the rear.
  • Aroldis Chapman was expected to finally make the transition from reliever to starter this spring, but the Reds cut the chord on that plan earlier this month. The flame-throwing lefty expressed a desire to remain in the bullpen and it’s what manager Dusty Baker wanted. Chapman’s value can be better maximized when he’s throwing more innings, but feeling comfortable is important too and he should again excel in the ninth-inning role. Setting him up this year will be Jonathan Broxton, who was signed to a three-year, $21 million contract this winter, and Sean Marshall, one of the steadiest middle relievers in the game.
  • Start stocking up on popcorn for the Billy Hamilton show. The 22-year-old speedster is converting from shortstop to center field and is scheduled to make his MLB debut at some point in 2013. He stole a record 155 bases in 132 games last season between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola while managing to hit .311/.410/.420. Baseball America ranks him the 11th-best prospect in the sport.

Prediction: First place in the National League Central, surpassing 100 victories.

Latest Posts
  1. Hyun-Jin Ryu set to return to Dodgers’ rotation on Sunday

    Aug 29, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT

    Hyun-Jin Ryu Hyun-Jin Ryu

    Hyun-Jin Ryu will return to the Dodgers’ rotation on Sunday after recovering from a strained glute.

  2. Video: Eric Campbell steals home against the Phillies

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT

    Eric Campbell, Juan Lagares Eric Campbell, Juan Lagares

    Eric Campbell stole home against the Phillies, helping the Mets improve to 12-5 against their NL East rival this season.

  3. Rangers tie a major league record, use their 59th player of the season

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:42 PM EDT

    rangers logo

    The injury-ravaged Rangers managed to tie a major league record for all the wrong reasons when they called up Ryan Rua from Triple-A on Friday.

  4. Royals designate Bruce Chen for assignment

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT

    Bruce Chen Bruce Chen

    A day after Bruce Chen allowed six runs in the 10th inning of the Royals’ loss to the Twins on Thursday, the Royals designated the lefty for assignment.

  5. Mariners end Jesus Montero’s season

    Aug 29, 2014, 7:22 PM EDT

    Jesus Montero Getty Getty Images

    The Mariners have ended Jesus Montero’s season so he can address his “non-baseball issues”, a day after he went after a scout who was heckling him.

  6. Daniel Murphy could miss most or all of the rest of the season

    Aug 29, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    Daniel Murphy Getty Getty Images

    The Mets could be without Daniel Murphy for most or all of the rest of the season, as the second baseman deals with a strained right calf.

  7. Joey Votto is still feeling discomfort in his quad

    Aug 29, 2014, 6:25 PM EDT

    Votto Getty Getty Images

    Joey Votto hasn’t been progressing as well from his quad injury as the Reds would have liked.

  8. The Cardinals activate Yadier Molina

    Aug 29, 2014, 5:38 PM EDT

    yadier molina getty Getty Images

    He’s in the lineup tonight, batting sixth against the Cubs.

  9. Troy Tulowitzki says he’ll retire before he switches positions

    Aug 29, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

    Troy Tulowitzki Troy Tulowitzki

    Whether this will turn into a Michael Young situation or a Derek Jeter situation is an open question.

  10. Masahiro Tanaka experiencing “general arm soreness”

    Aug 29, 2014, 4:42 PM EDT

    Masahiro Tanaka AP

    No doctor appointments are scheduled as a result, but soreness is not great news.

  11. Mike Trout is the best MVP choice, but . . .

    Aug 29, 2014, 4:17 PM EDT

    mike trout getty Getty Images

    If you’re going to make the same arguments for him you did the past two years, you may want to re-think things.

  12. The Indians sign Russell Branyan to a minor league deal

    Aug 29, 2014, 3:27 PM EDT

    Oakland Athletics v Detroit Tigers Getty Images

    There can be only THREE!! True outcomes, that is.

  13. Baseball is dying, you guys, because no one would recognize Mike Trout in a bar

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT

    Mike Trout Mike Trout

    Never mind that the dude has only been legally allowed inside a bar for about two years.

  14. Alleged ice-cream-sandwich-ordering Mariners scout says everyone’s got the story all wrong

    Aug 29, 2014, 1:53 PM EDT

    Ice Cream Sandwich

    The plot thickens. And becomes creamier. And is spread nicely between some two thin, chocolate cakes.

  15. Report: there is some major tension between Astros manager Bo Porter and GM Jeff Luhnow

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:26 PM EDT

    astros logo

    Could one or both of them be gone before the 2015 season begins?

  16. Video: Watch a Japanese batter try to hit a 186 m.p.h. fastball

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Video camera

    Afterwards, the pitching machine talked about wanting to work on his offspeed stuff because all big league hitters can turn on a fastball.

Featured video

Who are the favorites for Rookie of the Year?
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. Y. Molina (3220)
  2. J. Soler (3169)
  3. R. Castillo (2815)
  4. D. Wright (2203)
  5. S. Doolittle (2046)
  1. B. Colon (2032)
  2. D. Murphy (2030)
  3. D. Ortiz (2014)
  4. R. Cano (1930)
  5. T. Lincecum (1926)