The past few years have not been great for the Cincinnati Reds. In fact, they haven’t even been alright. The past 3 seasons have yielded below .500 records, including finishing with the 2nd worst record in all of baseball last year. It’s been 3 years since the Reds played in the post-season, and Reds fans are understandably frustrated with the direction of the team. Since 2013, the Reds have had to deal several talented players due to mediocrity including Todd Frazier, Johnny Cueto, Jay Bruce, Aroldis Chapman, and most recently one of the most loved Reds of all-time in Brandon Phillips. These trades have the Reds shoulder deep in young, unproven talent that have not panned out, at least not yet. With the Reds dropping their first Spring Training Game last night, we start to wonder, what can we expect from the Reds this upcoming season?
This season probably won’t be filled with too much success, but the Reds have several bright spots on the roster that we should be excited to watch. While 1B Joey Votto struggled the first half of the season, he had the best second half of anyone in baseball, finishing the season with a .326 batting average and almost 100 RBI. It will be exciting to see if the former MVP can play at that level all year. CF Billy Hamilton is the fastest man in baseball, period. He has put that speed to good use in center field, and was a finalist for a N.L. Gold Glove Award. If he can figure it out at the plate and get on base more (ended season with a lowly .321 OBP) he has the potential to steal 80 bases, at least.
While LF Adam Duvall only hit .241, he showed off his power by hitting 33 home runs and driving in 103 base runners. If he can mix that with hitting for better average, he potentially can be a very dangerous hitter. Other players looking to hold their own this season in the field and at the plate are LF Scott Schebler, 3B Eugenio Suarez, and C Tucker Barnhart.
Although the Reds have a lot to look forward to, they also have many issues that need addressed ASAP. Mainly, the pitching staff. Dan Straily was their best starting pitcher last year, and he only posted a 3.76 ERA, yet he was traded for prospects this season. With injury-prone Homer Bailey to start the season on the DL, it leaves an already mediocre staff short-handed. They will have to lean on pitchers Brandon Finnegan, Anthony DeSclafani, Tim Adleman, and newly acquired veteran Scott Feldman. While only Feldman had any success in 2016, the Reds will hope their young pitchers will continue to grow.
There does not seem like the Reds should have much enthusiasm heading into the 2017 season, I believe there is a lot to look forward to. The Reds almost posted a .500 record after the All-Star break last year, and will look to build off that heading into the 2017. With many players in the everyday lineup looking to further their success and a pitching staff needing to prove itself, the Cincinnati Reds have an awful lot to be excited about this season.