Cincinnati Reds: 2011 MLB Season Preview
Last Year: 91-71, First in NL Central
Manager: Dusty Baker
C- Ramon Hernandez (R)
1B- Joey Votto (L)
2B- Brandon Phillips (R)
3B- Scott Roles (R)
SS- Paul Janish (R)
LF- Johnny Gomes (R)
CF- Drew Stubbs (R)
RF- Jay Bruce (L)
The Reds won the NL Central in large part because of a consistent lineup that finished in the top five of most major offensive categories. Joey Votto, the 2010 NL MVP, leads the way in the No. 3 spot in the lineup.
He has an amazing combination of hitting for power, average, plate discipline and speed. He will strikeout like most power hitters these days, but his 35 home runs, 15 stolen bases and .315/.410/.570 line will make up for it. Brandon Phillips, who will hit in front of Votto, knows how to handle the bat and provides good power for a second baseman.
He should hit 20 home runs with 15-20 stolen bases and a .275/.330/.440 line. Paul Janish will be playing SS and batting in front of the pitcher in this lineup. Janish does not do much with the bat, which should lead to Edgar Renteria splitting time with him at the position.
GM Walt Jockety was questioned frequently by the media after trading for Scott Rolen in 2009, but that move served the 2010 club very well. Rolen still hits for some power (15-20 home runs), and will provide a solid line around .290/.360/.470.
Jay Bruce provides additional left-handed power out of the No. 5 hole. Bruce struggled in his sophomore season in 2009, but rebounded to put up his best numbers in 2010. I expect an even bigger year from Bruce in 2011 by posting a .285/.360/.520 line and adding a little more than 30 home runs.
Drew Stubbs had a great first full season for the Reds in 2010 hitting out of the leadoff spot. He strikes out way too often for a leadoff hitter, but he does provide atypical power out of the spot. Stubbs should provide 30 stolen bases, 20 home runs, and a line of .260/.335/.440.
Johnny Gomes will start the season as the everyday left fielder, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Fred Lewis or Chris Heisey get some playing time there. Gomes does provide some power, but not enough to justify a starting spot. Ramon Hernandez will get most of the time at the catchers position, and if he stays healthy enough, he should hit 10 home runs with a .260 average. Hannigan is more than a capable backup at the position.
The Reds were the fourth rated defense in terms of UZR and eight out of the nine starters are returning. The infield defense is stellar. Paul Janish is starting at SS because of the quality defense he provides.
Scott Rolen, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips are in the top five in UZR ratings at their respected positions. Ramon Hernandez is a good catcher who has an above average CS%. Jay Bruce was the Reds' best defender where he put up the best UZR rating among all right fielders and second among all major league defenders. Drew Stubbs is an above average center fielder, but Johnny Gomes is a disaster in LF. Fred Lewis and Chirs Heisey would be significant upgrades over Gomes.
IF- Miguel Cairo (R)
IF- Edgar Renteria (R)
OF- Chris Heisey (R)
C- Ryan Hanigan (R)
OF- Fred Lewis (L) or Jeremy Hermida (L)
RHP- Edison Volquez
RHP- Bronson Arroyo
RHP- Homer Bailey
LHP- Travis Wood
RHP- Mike Leake
RHP Johnny Cueto (Will start season on DL with forearm tightness)
The Reds have a lot of depth in the rotation, and it will be needed to start the season. Johnny Cueto would have been the Opening Day starter, but he has experienced forearm tightness over the last few days that should lead him to start the season on the DL.
The scouting report on Cueto shows that he uses a 93 MPH fastball with a good slider, cutter and average change. He should be back sometime in the first half. Volquez will get the ball on Opening Day after coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2010. Volquez averages 93.7 MPH on his fastball while suing a good curveball and an excellent change-up. I see Volquez putting up numbers similar to his fantastic 2008 season, where he struck more than a hitter per inning and recording a 3.20 ERA.
Will Aroldis Chapman be the closer by the end of the season?
Veteran Bronson Arroyo will start the season as the No. 2 starter. He has put up solid 3.80 ERAs over the last two years even though his xFIP is somewhere in the 4.60 range. Arroyo doesn't have great stuff (88 MPH on fastball), but he uses an array of sliders, curveballs and change-ups to keep hitters off balance. I see him posting around a 4.00 ERA while striking out 5.5 per nine innings.
Homer Bailey will slot behind Arroyo in the rotation. Bailey has had trouble staying healthy over the last few seasons, but he has shown glimpses of the starter many project him to be. He averages 92.8 MPH on his fastball and compliments it with a good slider, average curveball and splitter.
If Bailey can stay healthy, I see him putting up a low four ERA and striking out seven per nine innings. No. 4 starter, Travis Wood, is detailed in the breakout player section. Mike Leake will start the season as the fifth starter. Leake started last season in the Reds rotation after being drafted in 2009. He pitched well in the beginning of the season, but it was obvious that he got tired and he ended up going on the DL with a fatigued shoulder.
Leake has been compared to Greg Maddux using an 89 MPH fastball with natural cutting movement with a good slider, cutter, change, and curveball. I'm not sure how many starts he will make with the club, but he should have around a 4.10 ERA with a 6 K/9 rate.
RHP- Francisco Cordero (Closer)
RHP- Nick Masset
LHP- Aroldis Chapman
LHP- Bill Bray
RHP- Logan Ondrusik
RHP- Jared Burton
RHP- Carlos Fisher or LHP- Dontrelle Willis
The veteran, Francisco Cordero, struggled some in 2010. Cordero's strikeout numbers have decreased over the last three years, which is a usual sign of decline. The velocity on his fastball and the movement on the slider are still there, and I feel that he will bounce back to striking out a hitter an inning.
Aroldis Chapman will be a weapon for the Reds in the bullpen. He is detailed under the Prospect to watch section. Nick Masset will be the primary right-handed setup option after having another nice season. Masset averages 94.7 MPH on his fastball and complements it with an average cutter, great curve and splitter. Look for Masset to repeat his strikeout and inning rate and walk 3.5 per nine innings.
Logan Ondrusek isn't a bad seventh inning option for the Reds. He will throw mostly fastballs and cutters with an occasional curveball. He has decent control and should improve on his strikeout rate this season. Ondrusek will also get his fair share of groundball outs.
Bray will be the primary left-handed specialist for the Reds. Bray can handle left-handed hitters, but he gave up some HRs because of his inconsistent slider. Jared Burton will pitch in the middle innings after spending most of 2010 in AAA. He uses mostly cutters, sliders and change-ups to induce grounballs and strike out seven per nine. Either Carlos Fisher or Dontrelle Willis will probably be the last member of the pitching staff.
Notable Non Roster Invitees
LHP- Dontrelle Willis
RHP- Chad Reineke
C- Corkey Miller (R)
OF- Jeremy Hermeida (L)
Breakout Player- Travis Wood
Travis Wood pitched very well for the Reds in 17 starts last season, and I think he can continue that success this season. Wood averages 90 MPH on his fastball, and complements it with a cutter, change and curveball. Wood's best pitch is his fastball, which looks like like a mid 90s fastball because of Wood's motion. If Wood makes a full season's worth of starts, I see him striking out almost eight per nine with a 3.40 ERA.
Prospect To Watch- LHP Aroldis Chapman
This one was an easy one to predict. Chapman impressed in his brief stint with the big league club last season blowing away hitters with his 100 MPH fastball and nasty slider. Chapman has struggled with control but his strikeout rate will make up for it.
There are various scenarios that could play out for Chapman this season that include taking over the closer role or even being groomed for the rotation. It isn't clear what he will be doing at the end of the season, but he will probably be excelling at it.
Projected Finish- First in NL Central
The Reds were the best this team in this division last year, and most of that team has returned this year. They have great depth in the rotation, a great defense and the lineup will score the most runs in the NL Central. The other teams have improved, but the Reds might have a better year in 2011 than 2010.
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