Well, it’s been hard at times, but I’ve made it through my preview for another year. Now, let’s take a quick look at how the Reds shape up and how many games I think they’ll win…
First, the offense. I’m just going to look at WAR here. The number you see is how much better or worse I expect the Reds to be in that slot this year compared to last year.
Devin Mesoraco: +2.3
Joey Votto: +0.8
Brandon Phillips: -0.2
Todd Frazier: +0.5
Zack Cozart: +0.6
Ryan Ludwick: +1.3
Billy Hamilton: -3.2 (from Choo)
Jay Bruce: -0.1
Looking at everyone together, I’m calling for a 2.4 win improvement from the offense. Given how badly things went last year, I don’t think that’s unreasonable at all. Let’s look at the pitchers.
Johnny Cueto: +3.5
Mat Latos: +0.0
Homer Bailey: +0.0
Tony Cingrani: +1.0
Mike Leake: +0.0
Johnny Cueto is what it’s all about here. His potential contribution makes it look like a 4 win gain for the pitching, but I have to factor in the loss of Arroyo, which takes out a couple of wins and brings it down to a 2.0 gain.
That gives us, all together, a 4.4 win gain from last year. And that might happen if absolutely no one gets hurt. But, well, players are going to get hurt. In fact, the Reds three best pitchers all have serious injury histories. As do several of their starting position players.
We also have to remember that the various “should win” calculations all had the Reds at 93 wins, not 91, so that’s our base. Last year, I predicted 95. Pretty close.
Given the uncertain health of much of the pitching staff and my personal concerns about the health of Phillips and Ludwick, I am inclined to dock the Reds about six wins because of injury. Do all the math and, well, I’m calling for them to win 91 games next year.
I know people are going to disagree with me, and I know this is going seem overly optimistic, but I just don’t see much change here. The team underperformed last year and downgraded at one position (CF) in the offseason. Given that those two things should balance, this feels like a team that should end this year about where it was last year.
Argue with me, I guess, but I’ve been saying for a while that I think many were too pessimistic about the Reds. And, admittedly, if any pitchers see significant DL time, it’s going to get ugly. But, realistically, this is a good team.
We’ll find out how right I am in about six months.
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.