2013 Reds

Redleg Nation 2013 Preview: Wrap-Up

Welcome to the end of this series. I hope everyone has enjoyed it. I’ve certainly enjoyed reading your comments and I’ve really appreciated all the feedback from you.

Last year, when I made this update, a lot had changed. Ryan Madson was hurt. Todd Frazier was sent down. This time, well, not much has changed. Mark Sheldon thinks Jason Donald is on the bubble, and maybe he is, but I don’t see it. He’s out of options, and I think he makes the team.

The best thing though, is that J.J. Hoover appears to have the team made. His name isn’t mentioned by anyone as being on the bubble unless they’re concerned with options. Indeed, it seems Logan Ondrusek may get sent down. Correspondingly, I’m going to make one small adjustment and tack half a win onto the bullpen WAR total. Now, let’s look at an overview of my projections:

Offense

Player 2013 Proj. WAR Diff from 2012 2012 OPS 2013 Proj.
Shin-Soo Choo* 4.0 +2.7 .610 .830
Brandon Phillips 3.5 -0.5 .750 .740
Joey Votto 7.5 +1.6 1.041 .990
Ryan Ludwick 2.0 -0.8 .877 .795
Jay Bruce 3.5 +1.1 .841 .860
Todd Frazier 3.0 +0.2 .829 .760
Zack Cozart 3.5 +0.8 .687 .730
Ryan Hanigan / Devin Mesoraco 4.0 +0.6 .703/.640 .725/.765
Bench 1.0/600 PA +1.1/600 PA .633 .690
Totals** 32.5 +7.3 .726 Get Real

Pitching

Player 2013 Proj. WAR Diff from 2012 2012 ERA 2013 Proj.
Johnny Cueto 4.5 -0.3 2.78 2.90
Mat Latos 4.0 +0.9 3.48 3.20
Bronson Arroyo 2.0 -0.5 3.74 4.00
Homer Bailey 2.5 -0.3 3.68 4.00
Mike Leake 2.0 +0.5 4.58 4.20
Bullpen 6.5 +0.2 2.65 2.75
Totals** 17.5 +0.5 3.34 Nope

*2012 numbers are for Drew Stubbs
**Assuming 900 PA from bench (a fully healthy team)

So, am I predicting an 8 win improvement from at team that won 97 games last year? Am I really predicting 105 wins? No, I am not. I’m a Reds fan, but I’m not crazy.

First, it is worth noting that my brother-in-arms Greg Dafler has been playing around with my projection and sees an 80 run offensive improvement (I believe he’ll have a post on this shortly, maybe even later today). That’s pretty consistent with my WAR totals.

It is easy to see a big improvement, too. Scott Rolen is gone. So is Drew Stubbs. A full season of Votto. Reasonable improvements from an assortment of young players. Nothing looks ridiculous to me. So yes, this team will likely hit better. If everyone stays healthy, it might get a little silly.

In terms of pitching, I see the Reds as basically the same team as last year. This shows me the value of approaching these one at a time and then looking at the team as a whole. I wouldn’t have expected this result but seeing it, it feels right.

But then there’s the injury bug. Someone is going to get hurt. I think the lineup should be more stable with Rolen gone, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Phillips, Ludwick, or Choo spend significant time on the DL. In the rotation, Bailey is the prime injury candidate with injuries to Cueto and Latos also conceivable. I want to be bearish, so let’s say the Reds lose four wins to the DL. That’s, essentially, any starter except Votto gone for a full season. In some cases, you could fit two players (Ludwick and Leake, for instance) into that number. Of course, it’s unlikely anyone loses a full season, but I think that’s a reasonable guess for the overall impact of injuries.

So 101 wins then? No. Keep dreaming. The Reds run differential had them as a 91 win team in 2012, so that’s my baseline. A four win improvement on that would put them at 95 wins, and that, Reds fans, is my projection, along with an easy win in the Central.

I don’t want to undersell this team, however, because I think they are special. I was born in 1980 and the more I look at it, the more I think this is the best Reds team, on paper, of my lifetime. If they get a little lucky, if players stay healthy, I can absolutely see them topping 100 wins. Of course, things could break the other way and they could win 88 and finish two back of the Cardinals. That, as they say, is why we play the games. But this team is special. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Okay, let’s have some fun out there. This game’s fun, right?

Redleg Nation 2013 Season Preview

Joey Votto – 2/27
Brandon Phillips – 3/1
Todd Frazier – 3/4
Zack Cozart – 3/6
Ryan Ludwick – 3/8
Shin-Soo Choo – 3/11
Jay Bruce – 3/13
Ryan Hanigan & Devin Mesoraco – 3/15
Bench – 3/18
Johnny Cueto & Mat Latos – 3/20
Homer Bailey & Bronson Arroyo – 3/22
Aroldis Chapman & Mike Leake – 3/25
Bullpen – 3/27

32 thoughts on “Redleg Nation 2013 Preview: Wrap-Up

  1. Thanks for the Previews, Jason. Sorry that so little has changed. Has there ever been such an uneventful and predictable spring training before? I’m not sure. If Hoover, Simon, and Donald make the team there will be no surprises anywhere on the roster.

  2. Thanks for all of your time and effort putting these out over the last few weeks, Jason. Looking forward to a lot of it coming true. Go Reds.

  3. I enjoyed the whole series. Your 95-win projection seems like a good one to me. Baseball Prospectus has them at 92 wins and I have them projected at 93 wins. I think 90 wins will take the division. I just made my projected standings out a couple of days ago and I have the NL Central as: Reds, Cards, Brewers, Pirates, Cubs. I had the Pirates ahead of the Brewers prior to the Lohse signing. My projections have historically been pretty good but I must admit that the last two seasons haven’t been the best for them.

  4. Jason, if I wasn’t excited enough, now I’m just effervescent. I could easily see the Reds winning 100 or 88. Just as there is a little luck in the game, due to the difficulty of the Reds schedule this year, what no Astros, improvements to the teams in the NLC, and playing the ALW instead of the ALC I’d still be tickled if the Reds 88 wins. The Reds are an improved team, but so it the competition. IMO, the NLC is the 2nd most competitive division in baseball.

  5. Based on Hardball Times projections (of which they project 49 more total wins than are possible in a season), they project the ALE to win 438 (of course). They then project the NLE and NLC to win 418 games. I think they way, way over project the Braves at 95 wins and Philly at 88. They also under project PIT at 83 wins and MIL at 80 wins.

    Anyone ever notice a huge east coast bias at Hardball Times? Worthless rag.

    • @TC: If the projection system can’t even make the W’s and L’s balance out in the end should be totally disregarded. What a joke. I’m not very familiar with HBT, but I now have a terrible impression of it.

      And speaking of other bad sports websites, ESPN has been ranking the top 500 players in MLB for the year. Votto ended up at #9, with five position players ranking ahead of him: Cabrera, Trout, Braun (really?!), Posey, and Cano. Cabrera and Trout I guess I understand, although Cabrera’s defense should forbid him from being “the top player in baseball”. Braun’s numbers are good, but he’s a dirty cheater and shame on him. Posey is a very good hitting young catcher, but we will soon find out if last year was his peak. I don’t get to see a lot of Cano, although he is certainly the best player on a mediocre Yankee team this year. I just don’t see how anyone can not pick Votto as one of the three best position players in the game today. Maybe if they are worried about lingering injury issues, but the way he got on base last September erased any concern in my mind.

    • @TC: Pardon, but do you mean The Hardball Times or Hardball Talk?

      I write and edit at The Hardball Times and I can tell you right now we don’t do record projections. I wrote the Reds preview this year and did not project a win total as that wasn’t my job.

  6. Jason, I echo the thoughts of many others regarding your posts this spring…thank you. I found all of the projections insightful, thoughtful and thorough (not to mention entertaining). Trying to maintain a neutral bias as a fan can be difficult at best, a challenge I personally find insurmountable, but I think you performed admirably in that regard.

  7. If everyone stays healthy, it might get a little silly.
    That’s my favorite part. I’m down with this.

  8. Ok, I am officially psyched for this season.

    Thank you for the analysis, Jason. This sort of breakdown helps me understand just why I should be excited.

    Looking at the April schedule, this team will be tested right out of the gate. It’s a chance for them to make a name for themselves early on. Go Reds!

  9. Throwing the world “special” around so freely makes me cringe, but the analysis is very methodical. Solid work.

  10. Great series, Jason.

    It’s really important for the club to stay healthy. We don’t have much of a back-up for any of the infielders. Heisey and Paul are passable in the OF, but if Choo or Bruce get hurt for any length of time, that’s trouble. Also, if either Hanigan or Mesoraco gets hurt, our second catcher would be a big drop off. And obviously, the starting rotation is paper thin after the first five.

    That said, if the team stays healthy, they should make the post-season.

    • @Steve Mancuso: You are right about that, Steve. I do thing a Heisey/Paul platoon could cover an injury without a terrible drop off, but there isn’t much depth elsewhere. Hopefully, some players progress in the minors this year.

      Fortunately, there’s enough pitching depth in the organization that a trade can be made if it comes down to it.

  11. Tigers just announced a five-year extension for Justin Verlander, running through the 2019 or 2020 season. The pitcher could be paid $202 million over that time. Verlander was eligible to be a free agent after the 2014 season and this adds five years, with a sixth possible. That’s a lot of money for a pitcher through his age-37 season.

    • @Steve Mancuso: And almost immdiately following, Posey inked an 8 year extention. What’s say the Reds get in on the act and log extentions for Latos and Bailey, then for good measure, ink Choo while we’re at it!

  12. “If the Nationals aren’t the best team on paper, I’d like to nominate the Cincinnati Reds, even though they’re trying to dance in the outfield with three left feet. The lineup is mostly deep — made worse by Dusty Baker’s insistence on batting Zack Cozart second — and the rotation and bullpen are among the best in the league.”

    Looks like you and Keith Law are in agreement here, but i’m kind of confused about his remark about Cozart batting 2nd. Is he referring to last year or does ESPN do no research whatsoever?

    • @CharlotteReds: At least the weakness in the lineup that they came up with was their own lack of understanding of the Reds’ lineup. And the bad decision by Dusty that they focused on is a bad lineup decision that Dusty didn’t even make.

  13. I waited until the last one to comment.

    An exceptional job with the previews!

    I think you should do a “week in review” every Monday during the season. It might help some of us grounded during a long season.

    I’m going to stay positive this year and not let the short term struggles of the team or an individual get me down.
    Unless the Reds have a rash of injuries, they will win the division going away.
    Heck, look at the Cardinals and Brewers. The Cardinals have already lost Freese to start the season and the Brewers were so hard up for starters that they paid a ton of money for Kyle Lohse at the last minute.

    Thanks again.

  14. Yeoman’s work there, Jason. Well done. Agree with TC, the schedule toughens, especially without the Stros to kick around, so that could take two or three off the win total. There’s no question this is a better team than the one that won 97 last year. It may come down to how the Reds handle any injuries to the rotation. If they can weather that the way the regular lineup weathered the loss of Joey, they could even surpass last season’s win total.

    I say 94 and at least a shot at the NL Pennant.

  15. Another shiny set of kudos for the series, Jason. And you’re *so* right, if some things fall into place for this team… it really could get silly.

    Let’s roll!

  16. The key I believe is going to be a type of “sophomore jinx” possibility or not. Not to say I hope for it, for I don’t. For example, with Ludwick, he came back last season after a couple of horrible seasons. Can he repeat? Frazier had a great season. Can he repeat? I can’t remember our pitching staff being that good last season. Can they repeat? Can Devin and Cozart get out of their hole from last season? Can Homer repeat? Not to mention, can we repeat winning the division? If anyone thought it was hard to do it last season, it’s always harder to do it two in a row. The more of these that are answered “yes”, we are looking good, not that we aren’t looking good right now.

  17. Loved the entire series.

    With Sparky Anderson, this is a 108 win team.

    We will win 95.

    That said, it is amazing how far above projections we finished last year. However, that managerial magic left in the playoffs.

    • @reaganspad: Sparky’s axiom was that regardless of what the manager did a team would win a third of its games an conversely lose a third of them; and that the manager’s job was to not to be responsible for the team losing any of the remaining third.

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