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Cincinnati Reds: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from 2012

Tyler DumaFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2016

Cincinnati Reds: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from 2012

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    The Reds were the Jekyll and Hide team of 2012, great in the regular season, and dismal when it counted most.

    The Reds fought through injuries and a mini-stroke for manager Dusty Baker finishing with a 97-65 record, one back of the Washington Nationals for best in the Major Leagues.

    Though the Reds season ended with three straight home losses to the Giants in the NLDS, there are some positives to take from the season, that on the whole, was a disappointment.

The Good: Brandon Phillips

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    Brandon Phillips played the second most games of any player on the Cincinnati Reds roster and in that span, had the most consistent season of any Reds player.

    Phillips numbers regressed slightly from last season but his early season hamstring injury can explain away some of those statistics.

    Overall, Phillips finished the season with a slash line of .281/.321/.429 with 18 HR, 86 runs, 77 RBI and 15 steals in 17 attempts.

    Reds fans are going to have to accept that Phillips isn't going to be the 30-30 guy he was in 2007.

    In the playoffs, Phillips was, by far, the best player on the Reds roster.

    Phillips played all five games and had 24 at-bats where he hit .375/.360/.625 with a home run, seven RBI, one run and a steal.

    At 31 years old, Phillips is going to start losing a step here and there but overall, as seen in 2012, he's still going to contribute good power, a solid slash-line and phenomenal defense from a middle-infielder, on a consistent year-to-year basis.

    As far as I'm concerned, for 2012, Phillips was arguably the best position player on the Reds roster.

The Good: Ryan Ludwick

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    Ryan Ludwick came out of nowhere in 2012 to have one of the best seasons of any player on the Reds roster.

    After two disappointing seasons in 2010 and 2011, Ludwick came to Cincinnati and posted a .275/.346/.531 slash-line with 26 home runs, 80 RBI and 53 runs scored. Ludwick also chipped in 28 doubles, good for the second highest single season total in his career.

    Early in the season Ludwick was stuck splitting time with Chris Heisey. In the first two months of the season Ludwick only compiled 107 at-bats.

    However, the rest of the season, specifically July-September, were very kind to Ryan. In those three months, he batted .323 with 15 HR, 14 doubles, 33 runs and 47 RBI.

    Ludwick compiled over 50-percent of his home runs, doubles, runs and RBI in that three month span and conveniently enough, that's when the Reds needed him most.

    Ludwick outperformed expectations again in the postseason as well.

    He played all five games and finished with a .333/.455/.833 slash-line with three home runs, four RBI and four runs scored.

    Outside of Brandon Phillips, Ludwick was probably the Reds best player from start to finish in 2012.

The Good: Pitching Staff

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    From top to bottom, the Reds had one of the best pitching staffs in all of Major League Baseball.

    I know Leake struggled in the playoffs, and Latos second appearance lacked in terms of impressiveness, but it doesn't discount what the team did in the regular season.

    Reds starters finished 2012 with a 66-43 record and ranked first in the NL in complete games (9), and fourth in ERA (3.64), quality starts (98) and shutouts (12).

    Maybe more impressive than their statistics is the fact that the Reds didn't have a pitcher miss a start all season. Only in a day-night double header with the Cubs did the Reds use a pitcher outside of their standard rotation.

    Although the Reds starting rotation had a great season, the bullpen was even better.

    In 434.1 innings pitched, Reds relievers amassed a 31-22 record, 2.65 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 2.64 K/BB, 9.90 K/9, 56 saves and 33 home runs allowed.

    Not one of these statistics was outside of the top three in the National League, in fact, their 2.65 ERA, 56 saves and 33 home runs allowed all topped their league.

    The pitching staff struggled in the final two games of the post-season, but overall, the Reds had a great season on the mound.

    Homer Bailey finally had his breakout season, Johnny Cueto competed for the NL Cy Young Award, Bronson Arroyo rebounded from injury and health issues in 2011 and Mat Latos proved to everyone that he was worth the high price the Reds paid for him last offseason.

The Good: Todd Frazier

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    Todd Frazier broke out in 2012.

    I'll be the first to admit that I cast him off, calling him nothing more than a career utility player in my preseason assessment of the Reds. However, Frazier proved me wrong in a big way.

    For the season, Frazier batted .273/.331/.498 with 19 HR, 67 RBI, 55 runs and 26 doubles.

    Based purely on season statistics, the 26 year-old third baseman put himself squarely in the debate over the  NL Rookie of the Year Award.

    More important than his individual statistics though is his contribution to the Reds. Frazier is a hell of a personality in the dugout and clubhouse.

    Additionally, when the Reds lost Joey Votto for 49 games between July 16th and September 4th, Frazier went off.

    In that stretch, Frazier batted .300 and clubbed seven home runs chipping in 32 RBI and 26 runs.

    Without Todd Frazier, the Reds would have had a vastly different season in 2012.

    In short, Frazier's contribution to the Reds is immeasurable.

    This offseason, with Scott Rolen looking to be on his way out, Frazier should have the opportunity to start an entire season in 2013.

The Bad: Injuries

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    Like many teams, the Reds suffered through injuries all season.

    Reliever Nick Masset, and closer Ryan Madson, never made appearances for the Reds this year.

    These two injuries don't seem to be such a huge deal now seeing how well the bullpen pitched, and how well Aroldis Chapman pitched as the team's closer, but these were considered to be major pieces of the Reds championship aspirations.

    On the offensive side of the ball, Scott Rolen was a victim of nagging injuries all season, and the team was without star infielders Brandon Phillips, and Joey Votto for periods of time during the season.

    Phillips missed several games early on with a hamstring injury.

    Although the length of his absence was far shorter than Votto's the injury did have an impact on Phillips' performance. The 31 year-old second baseman went 24 games between April 24 and May 22 without a home run.

    Additionally, Phillips baserunning was kept in check due to this injury. Phillips took until May 9 to attempt, and record his first stolen base and it wasn't until June 10 before he attempted another.

    Votto's injury is well documented on this point but it's still worth noting.

    Joey Votto missed 49 games between July 16 and September 4 and although the Reds went 33-16 without their perennial MVP candidate, one would have to wonder how the Reds season could have gone had he stayed healthy all year.

    The injury that really cost the Reds though was Johnny Cueto's in Game 1 of the NLDS.

    Cueto having to leave, forced the Reds to patch together a the next eight innings, add Mike Leake to the postseason roster, and pitch Mat Latos in Game 5 at Great American Ball Park.

The Bad: Scott Rolen

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    Reds fans have seen the writing on the walls for Scott Rolen for at least two years now. At 37, it's no surprise Rolen has health issues but they really came to a head in 2012.

    Rolen played just 92 games in 2012 including a stretch of 34 games missed from May 12 to June 17.

    In addition to that 34 game stretch, Rolen had three separate instances of extended absence including two six game streaks and another of four.

    Even when he did play Rolen was largely ineffective finishing 2012 with a .245/.318/.398 slash line, eight home runs, 39 RBI and 26 runs.

    Down the stretch it was most apparent that Rolen's time was running short.

    In the month of September, Rolen played in just 13 of the Reds 26 games and batted .205/.250/.295 with one home run, five RBI and one run.

    Rolen's futile play continued in the postseason where he batted .250/.294/.250 with one RBI and four strikeouts in 16 at-bats.

    Scott Rolen has had a great career for the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds but it's become clear that his time has come, and it seems like he'll retire this offseason.

The Bad: Devin Mesoraco

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    If it weren't for the fact that Devin Mesoraco was a rookie this season, I would quickly heap him in with "the ugly" portion of this slideshow.

    Catchers generally take a little longer to develop than position players and at 24, Mesoraco has time to rebound from his disappointing 2012 campaign.

    Mesoraco played in just 54 games, amassed just 165 at-bats, a slash-line of .212/.288/.352 five home runs, 14 RBI and 17 runs scored.

    Mesoraco was ejected from a game on July 30 this season for bumping an umpire and left the next game due to symptoms stemming from a concussion.

    He appeared next on August 9. Between that game and the end of the season, Mesoraco played in just eight games including a streak of 20 games from September 11 through October 3 where he did not play.

    Following the regular season, Mesoraco was left off of the Reds' postseason roster and was replaced with Dioner Navarro.

    Overall, Mesoraco's 2012 season was incredibly disappointing and it's hard to tell where he will go from here.

The Ugly: Mike Leake

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    Mike Leake isn't even the most disappointing player on the Reds this season, but his terrible year deserves another look.

    In 2012, Leake pitched to an 8-9 record with a 4.58 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and just 116 strikeouts to 41 walks in 179 innings pitched.

    Leake's regular season struggles were consistent.

    Outside of the month of May where he went 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA, Leake was horrible.

    The playoffs were no exception. In Game 4 of the NLDS, Mike Leake pitched just 4.1 innings allowing five earned runs, six hits (two HR) and two walks.

    At 24 years-old, it's hard to understand how Leake took such a big step back following his 2011 season.

    Last year, Leake pitched to a 12-9 record, 3.86 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 29 starts.

    It's not out of the realm of possibility that Leake just isn't that good. While I don't think that's the case, his poor postseason start could be damning for his young career.

The Ugly: Drew Stubbs

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    Drew Stubbs season, and career for that matter, have been defined by strikeouts, and unreached potential.

    In 2011, Stubbs struck out a whopping 205 times. Although he decreased that total in 2012 to 166, much of that can be attributed to his 111 less at-bats in 2012.

    Stubbs has a horrendous approach at the plate. 36 percent of Stubbs 166 strikeouts ended with him looking at the third strike. The league average in this statistic is 25.

    Stubbs is a superb outfielder and base stealer. His ability to hit for power makes him a perennial 30-30 candidate if he could just strike out less.

    I've been a fierce defender of Stubbs, his ability and his potential but 2012 was my breaking point.

    In comparing Stubbs three full seasons, you'll notice that in 2012, he stole the fewest bases (tied with 2010), hit the fewest home runs, doubles and triples, scored the fewest runs, had the fewest RBI and posted his worst slash line across the board (.213/.277/.333).

    To put it bluntly, by far, the worst Reds regular on the roster.

    When it comes to some players (Carlos Pena, Alfonso Soriano, Adam Dunn, Curtis Granderson) fans can deal with higher strikeout totals because they hit a ton of home runs. However, Stubbs game relies on his ability to get on base and rack up steals.

    After 2012, I'm officially jumping off the Drew Stubbs bandwagon.

The Ugly: The Playoffs

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    There really isn't much to say about the Reds playoff run in 2012.

    After staking themselves out to a 2-0 series lead, the Reds gave up a tightly contested, extra innings game three. From that point on, it was clear which side the momentum favored.

    The loss of Johnny Cueto undoubtedly hurt the Reds who then had to shuffle around their rotation, and add Mike Leake who struggled all season.

    The team's bats went quiet in games three where they were unable to give Homer Bailey the win he deserved, but on the whole they hit well batting .261/.327/.389 with five home runs and 22 runs scored.

    Leake had to pitch game four where he got completely dismantled. Then, Mat Latos had to pitch game five where one bad pitch to Buster Posey cost the Reds their entire season.

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