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:
|Player||2013 Proj. WAR||Diff from 2012||2012 OPS||2013 Proj.|
|Ryan Hanigan / Devin Mesoraco||4.0||+0.6||.703/.640||.725/.765|
|Bench||1.0/600 PA||+1.1/600 PA||.633||.690|
|Player||2013 Proj. WAR||Diff from 2012||2012 ERA||2013 Proj.|
*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
Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.