It has been a long time since the Cincinnati Reds swept the Oakland Athletics in 1990 for their last World Series title. The farm system has been stocked with talent for the last few years, but the Reds were a big disappointment last year. A year after winning the NL Central title, the Reds went just 79-83 and finished third in the division.
The front office made several big moves in the offseason. The Mat Latos acquisition was certainly the biggest of the bunch. The Reds gave away some high-end prospects, but they definitely got a solid starter to bolster their rotation. Ryan Ludwick was brought in to give the lineup another solid run producer in the middle of the order.
Expectations are high for the Cincinnati Reds this year. Most of the books have the Reds listed as the favorites in the wide-open NL Central. Great American Ballpark always makes things interesting, and you can definitely expect to see plenty of balls leaving the yard in Cincinnati again this year. Can the Reds bounce back from a disappointing season?
Here are Doc’s Sports 2012 Cincinnati Reds predictions and MLB futures odds:
2011 Record: 73-89
2012 Wins Over/Under: 87.5
Odds to Win 2012 NL Central: +125
Odds to Win 2012 NL Pennant: +600
2012 Odds to Win World Series: +2000
Cincinnati pitching gave up the most home runs of any team in the league last year. Part of that has to do with the park they pitch in, but that wasn’t all of it.
Bronson Arroyo gave up a mind-boggling 44 home runs last season. Arroyo will start the season in the third spot in this rotation. The Reds don’t need him to be tremendous, but they need him to eat up innings and keep the ball in the ballpark.
Johnny Cueto was amazing last year. Cueto finished the season with a miniscule 2.34 ERA. The only thing he needs to do now is become slightly more durable. Latos will push Cueto for the top spot in the rotation and between the two of them the Reds have a nice one-two punch.
Mike Leake had a breakout season in 2011, and he has the potential to be a star in the long run. Homer Bailey is one of those guys that just hasn’t put it all together yet. He is consistently listed as a great sleeper in fantasy leagues, but the Reds need more consistency out of him. Don’t be surprised if Aroldis Chapman gets a shot as a starter sometime this year.
Ryan Madson was picked up to be the Reds new closer. I consider this an upgrade over Francisco Cordero, and the Reds are saving some money as well.
Madson converted 32 out of 34 save opportunities last year.
Sean Marshall was another great acquisition by Walt Jocketty, and he should be the left-handed specialist the Reds need. Throw in Nick Masset and Logan Ondrusek and the Reds should have one of the most reliable bullpens in all of baseball.
Joey Votto is one of the top three or four hitters in the majors right. Votto has hit better than .300 in four of his five major-league seasons. He has a great eye and his ability to hit the ball to all areas of the field is second to none.
Jay Bruce had a nice season in 2010, but he took a step back in 2011.
Bruce led the team in home runs, but he also hit only .256. He turns 25 at the beginning of the season, and I still think he is a candidate for a major breakout season this year. Drew Stubbs has loads of potential, but his 205 strikeouts set a new team record last year.
Despite hitting just .243 last year, he managed to steal 40 bases. The team really needs him to get on base more often.
Brandon Phillips hit .300 with 18 home runs and 82 RBI last season. Other than Votto, he has been the Reds most consistent hitter over the last few years.
Scott Rolen is still a great hitter, but his health is always a major question mark. Ludwick will likely split time with Chris Heisey in left field and both of them should have a good season.
Keep a close eye on youngster Zack Cozart at the shortstop position this year for the Reds. Cozart doesn’t need to be a star, but the Reds need him to contribute to the offense. Ryan Hanigan will start the year behind the plate, but prospect Devin Mesoraco has the highest upside and will see plenty of action as well.
2012 Cincinnati Reds Predictions
Cueto and Latos should give the Reds plenty of quality starts at the top of the rotation. I expect Mike Leake to be a solid starter as well, but I’m not sure about Arroyo and Bailey.
The Reds have had problems with the back of their rotation for several years, and that could hinder them again this year. The bullpen should win them quite a few close games.
There is no reason why this lineup shouldn’t put up a ton of runs, especially playing in a hitter-friendly ballpark so often. The key will be cutting down on strikeouts and coming up with clutch hits with runners in scoring position.
2012 Cincinnati Reds MLB Season Win Totals Predictions
Take ‘under’ 87.5 wins.
This was a tough call for me, because I do think the Reds have the potential to win the NL Central this year. I expect this team to be several games better than last year, but I think the bar has been set just a little too high here.
The Brewers and Cardinals should both be good, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a three-way battle for the top spot in this division. Look for the Reds to finish with 85-87 wins in 2012. I have just a slight lean to the under 87.5 wins.
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