Myworld would have nailed this division but we picked Pittsburgh for second and St. Louis for third. St. Louis finished second after a Pirate collapse.
Overview - The Reds are more favored to finish with the highest pick in the draft than a first place finish. They are in the process of a major rebuilding project. They do have one nice piece in Joey Votto, but his salary, age and the surplus at the position he plays makes it tough for the Reds to get anything for him. The team was at or near the bottom in most defensive, offensive and pitching statistics except stolen bases. A young team with speedsters like Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza put them second in the major leagues in stolen bases with 139, though many teams seem to de-emphasize the need to steal a base. The Reds were finally able to trade Brandon Phillips after three years of trying, failing to get any minor leaguer of note. This opens up a spot for Jose Peraza at second base.
Strengths - Joey Votto had a career year last year with a .326 average, .434 OBA and .550 slugging percentage. He walked 108 times and he could see an increase in that number in 2017 because there is no good bat that can hit behind him. Billy Hamilton seems to have figured it out. His defense in centerfield was near gold glove and he seemed to have finally figured it out with his bat (.260/.321/.343). He was second in the National League in stolen bases with 58. Jose Pereza has now been given a position to lose - second base. Last year he had a career year in his rookie seasons hitting .324 with 21 stolen bases. It is doubtful he can repeat those numbers. Zach Cosart gives you solid production at short with his 16 homeruns and solid defense. It is unclear how long he will be in the Reds lineup before being traded to a playoff contender.
Weaknesses - It looks like they lost their veteran Homer Bailey to begin the season. It is unclear how much Homer has left even when he comes back. Their ace of last year Anthony Desclafina will miss the start of the season with a UCL sprain leaving the opening day starter a fight between Scott Feldman and Brandon Finnegan. Feldman has the experience while Finnegan brings the youth. After that the Reds starting five will bring out the youth in their first or second year of major league service. That is usually a recipe for disaster. The relief pitching lacks a proven closer, though that was Raisel Iglesias position in the Cuban professional league. The Reds were hoping to make him a starting pitcher but durability issues became a concern. The corner outfield is a little weak with the unproved Scott Schebler in right field and the defensively Adam Duvall in left field. Duvall struck out in 164 at bats which left his average down to .241. Schebler had some issues hitting lefthanders (.195) but the power stroke came easy with 9 homeruns in just 82 games. The catching has Devin Mesoraco behind the plate but he is having trouble staying healthy. Tucker Barnhart will get the starts in his place. His bat is too much vanilla but his defense Is solid.
Non-Roster Invitees - The starting pitching for the Reds is so thin Bronson Arroyo has a shot to make the rotation provided he can show his arm can stay healthy. Rob Brantley could take the back up catching position if Devin continues to battle injuries. Ryan Raburn is a right handed bat that the Reds could platoon with Schebler.
Breakout Prospects - The Reds are rebuilding, especially in the pitching rotation. Amir Garrett and Robert Stephenson are two pitchers who can make the rotation with decent springs. Amir is an ex-basketball player with a left handed fastball that can hit mid-90s but with rudimentary secondary pitches. Stephenson throws from the right side with a fastball in the high 90s. His big issue is getting command of the strike zone. The Reds would like to see more power generated from the bat of outfielder Jesse Winker. He is not a strong defensive player so if he doesn’t hit he probably will not play. Nick Travieso was a former number one pick in 2012. The stuff is not there with a low 90s fastball and average to below secondary offerings.
Prospects to Watch - The Reds have delved into the Cuban market, signing pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez and shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez. This will be the first year for Vladimir facing major league hitters. His fastball has gained velocity since arriving in the United States going from the high 80s to low 90s. His curveball is a good pitch. The Reds signed him for a $4.75 bonus. Alfredo Rodriguez struggled in rookie ball (.234) not something you want to see from a 22 year old. He will play a superb defensive shortstop but his bat will hit near the bottom of the order. Nick Senzel was the Reds first round pick in 2016. A college bat who can rise quickly if he can show the power for third base. Last year he slugged .567 at Dayton. Aristides Aquino can hit for power with 23 homeruns last year in High A. At 6′4″with a rifle for an arm he will eventually fill right field for the Reds. Tyler Stephenson was a Reds 2015 first round pick. The catcher struggled with the bat (.216) but injuries limited him to 44 games with the injuries probably having an impact on his offensive struggles. The Reds hope he can find his offense in 2017.
Expected Finish - The Reds will be battling for the first round pick in 2018. They have no expectation to contend.