It is still less than two weeks away from Ground Hog day but not too early for Caesar Cliffius to pop up out of the ground with his preseason predictions.
We will start with what will surely be the opening day lineup against the Miami Marlins on April 5.
At first base, Joey Votto will continue his quest to be the best in the business. With the yearly All-Star competition at first gone from the National League (Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez and perhaps Prince Fielder) it is time for him to own the position. He will hit 35 HR with 125 RBI and bat .320. With the Reds winning their division and the NL pennant, he wins his second MVP award.
Second baseman Brandon Phillips is playing out the last year of his contract with the Reds. Look for him to show it all in 2012. He will make the All-Star team, bat .295 with 25 HR and 88 RBI.
Third base is a critical position for the Reds' success in 2012. If Scott Rolen can stay healthy and punch the clock at least 100 times, the Reds should be able to not only win, but win big. If Rolen can give 100+ games, he will bat .285, hit 23 HR and knock in 75.
Shortstop Zack Cozart will come back big from surgery and have a very good season. He will hit .275 with 10 HR and score 95 runs.
Left field is a touchy position this spring. Some say Chris Heisey deserves to be the starter. Others, like myself, believe Dusty Baker will see it another way. He will start with experience and trot out Ryan Ludwick in the beginning. Ludwick will wind back the clock—just not all the way back to 2008 when he put up monstrous numbers. He will bat .278 with 25 HR and 91 RBI.
Drew Stubbs still won't have any idea which pitches to swing at and will do the bicentennial number again. That's right folks—210 strikeouts this season. He will, however, offset that with a career-high 31 HR, score 110 and swipe 65 bases.
Jay Bruce will finally put the season together that everyone knows he is capable of. His strikeouts will drop, his average will raise to .300, he will hit 45 HR (leading the league) and knock in 105.
In a reserve and pinch-hitting role, Heisey will bat .260 with 20 HR and 61 RBI.
In the pitching department, Johnny Cueto will win 18 games and boast an ERA of 2.30. Mike Leake will surprise everyone by winning 20 with an ERA of 2.88. Mat Latos will be a bit of a disappointment with a 12-12 record and an ERA of 3.75.
Aroldis Chapman will start and be productive at 13-8 with a 3.04 ERA. Bronson Arroyo continues to do the lions share and starts 33 games, winning 16 and losing 10 with an ERA of 3.65. Homer Bailey will implode, and will be on the block by the trade deadline.
Closer Ryan Madson will get 41 saves with only three of them blown, and boast a microscopic ERA of 1.24.
Wishful thinking? Only time will tell. Write your predictions down and put them on the fridge. We can compare notes in October.
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