2015 Reds

The 10 best things about the Reds in 2015

[Tomorrow, the 10 worst things about the Reds in 2015.]

#10 – The 10-year anniversary of the founding of Redleg Nation

Chad Dotson started this website on Feb. 28, 2005.

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#9 – Reds in first place at the end of week one 

It’s almost unimaginable in retrospect, but the Reds started 2015 by winning their first four games and sweeping the Pirates. They were still in first place eight games into the season with a 5-3 record. Devin Mesoraco was catching. Zack Cozart was playing shortstop. Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake were waiting for Homer Bailey to join them in the rotation the next week. On April 14, Anthony DeSclafani outpitched Jake Arrieta and the Reds beat the Cubs 3-2 at Wrigley Field to take a half-game lead in the NL Central.

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#8 – Billy Hamilton’s run-preventing defense

Whether using the eyeball test or defensive metrics, Billy Hamilton continued to excel in the field, primarily through his great speed and range. It seemed like every game he was saving runs by tracking down balls in the gap or over his head. It’s an indication of how tremendous he was in the outfield that his overall value remained positive despite his miserable season at the plate.

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#7 – Zack Cozart before he got injured

In addition to being in the midst of another stellar defensive season at shortstop, Zack Cozart had completely reversed his hitting woes of the previous three seasons. Cozart was batting .258/.310/.459 when he was injured running all-out to first base on June 10. Through 53 games, he was enjoying career-high walk and power rates as well as a career-low strikeout rate. He had hit 9 home runs.

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#6 – The promising returns on the Cueto and Leake trades

The Reds traded Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake at the deadline and the early returns on both trades appear positive. John Lamb and Brandon Finnegan pitched well for the Reds. Cody Reed might prove to be the best of the three acquired in the Cueto trade. Adam Duvall showed pop (ISO .265) during a short stint with the major league club in September. Keury Mella remains a top-100 prospect.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 15: John Lamb #47 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the first inning at AT&T Park on September 15, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

#5 – The emergence of Raisel Iglesias and Anthony DeSclafani

The Reds have stockpiled a large arsenal of young arms that might become major league pitchers. In 2015, two broke through. Anthony DeSclafani made 31 starts and pitched 184 innings, amassing an fWAR of 3.2 and an FIP of 3.67. Raisel Iglesias made 16 starts with an xFIP of 3.28. Among starting pitchers with at least 90 innings, Iglesias had the 11th best strikeout rate in baseball, ranked between Jake Arrieta and Madison Bumgarner. His K-BB% was 15th, between Matt Harvey and Jon Lester.

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#4 – Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce in the good times

From April 6 to July 1, in 337 plate appearances, Todd Frazier hit .283/.344/.606, with a wRC+ of 154. From April 27 to August 4, in 344 plate appearances, Jay Bruce hit .280/.358/.527 with a wRC+ of 135. Only 18 hitters in baseball sustained a wRC+ of 136 or more throughout the season.

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#3 – World-class hosting of the All-Star Game

The Reds hosted the 2015 All-Star Game and received widespread critical acclaim (Chad Dotson) for their hospitality and organization. They managed to dodge the rain that had been forecast for the week. It was an exciting week for the city, the Reds and local fans.

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#2 – Todd Frazier winning the Home Run Derby

Todd Frazier winning the derby in such a dramatic fashion was the single best moment for Reds fans in 2015.

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#1 – Joey Votto’s return to health and MVP form

The Reds first baseman demonstrated he had recovered from his leg injury in 2015, putting together a season that rivaled his MVP 2010 for the best in his career. Votto (.314/.459/.541) was second in baseball, tied with Mike Trout and behind Bryce Harper, in overall offensive production. Who knows what those numbers would look like if Votto hadn’t lost his wallet in May. His 7.5 WAR season would have been worth $56 million on the open market (the Reds paid Votto $14 million). Votto overpaid? Not worth it? Contract killing the Reds? Come on now.

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26 thoughts on “The 10 best things about the Reds in 2015

  1. Add to the list, perhaps for me only at #1A, a sweep of the Nationals in late May at the only three games I got to see in person, with beautiful weather, good seats, and great friends along for the road trip. Thanks for some positive Reds vibes in the middle of an otherwise discouraging off season. Thanks Steve.

  2. My entire list would have been Joey Votto, Joey Votto, and Joey Votto. I’m glad you could help me remember a few more good things that happened this season.

  3. Having Votto back to form is great. And I stop everything to watch him bat. But I would have to put it at number 2 behind Fraziers all star derby win. To be there and witness him win was one of the greatest spectacles I have ever witnessed. Would be hard to top.

  4. The HR Derby win – totally #1 from a fan’s perspective. That was something that slowly built momentum and that you could actively cheer – and perhaps the last thing in a while that could be exciting.

    Votto’s performance – awesome, significant, MVP caliber, but you can’t really cheer it, and it didn’t give you goosebumps like SuperTodd.

  5. I do not consider the HR derby to have any relevance to the Reds season. It was a an outstanding individual achievement in an individual skills competition which took place in the Reds home park by a player who played for the Reds at that time. However, he wasn’t even wearing a Reds uniform that night; and, what happened that night had no positive effect on the Reds play.

    I know many, even most folks feel differently; but, that’s how I feel about it.

    • That is somewhat how I feel about the Reds hosting the All-Star festivities. It wasn’t much fun for me to have my team hosting the thing with the team itself circling the drain. I couldn’t help wondering how much “WAR” went into hosting the All-Star festivities instead of trying to improve the team for years to come.

      • One could argue quite persuasively that the All-Star game set this franchise back at least 5 years.

      • This probably makes us more “old school” than OldSchool who comments here 🙂

        I pointed out shortly after the fact that the Reds budget crisis in the fall of 2014 came to public light at just about the time the team determined they were going to have around $10M more in All Star Game expenses than they had previously accounted for. The lipstick put on the pig locally was that these were largely capital improvement expenses that were going to be coming due over the next few years anyway. But…..

  6. Lamb pitched well for the Reds? C’mon mannnnn….

    I’m all for wearing rose colored glasses and giving the benefit of the doubt, but even I am hard pressed to label Mr Lamb”s 2015 campaign as good.

    • He had a better strikeout rate than Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels, Matt Harvey, David Price, Felix Hernandez and Zack Greinke. xFIP of 3.73 – better than Leake and DeSclafani – not bad for a rookie.

      • I agree with you Steve about Reed and the other young arms. There are a couple that will end up relief pitchers and I am glad for that. There will be some that don’t progress and will be also rans. The others that stand a very good chance of making the Reds a very strong rotation will probably not have much of a 16 season, between what looks like no run support they will be having growing pains. My take off is the Reds have about 12 cost controlled young arms that have potential if we get 3 or 4 quality starters and 2 good bullpen arms out of it for 17 and beyond I will be a happy camper.

        • Agree. My concern is that they will make an early decision to trade pitching for offense and choose the wrong guy(s) to trade.

          For example, Lamb is out of options. He looks right now in many ways to be a passable bottom of the rotation innings eater who gets burned by that one big hit in a bad inning but has shown the ability to miss bats. The Reds find somebody who will buy a little high on him and get a guy who turns out to be a very average regular/ high end utility guy for him only to see Lamb refine his game and become a solid 3+/ 2- slot starter who throws around 200 innings a year for a number of years.

  7. Always surprised with the lack of recognition Suarez gets for a really fine season. Cozart hit for about a month and half which was basically the first time in his career and he makes the list. The back of his baseball card tells me his production was not sustainable.

    • It’s fair to say there is a split opinion about Suarez among our writers. If a different person had written the Ten Best of 2015 list they well could have included him. I’m on the “meh, show me more” side of the fence. What I saw was a decent-to-good hitter for a shortstop, but he faded at the end. Poor plate discipline. Inconsistent in the field. Overall, solid. But nowhere near a “best thing” for me.

      Agree that Cozart was unlikely to sustain his output. But the post wasn’t about “encouraging things for 2016” it was a list of the best things in 2015. Cozart put together a 1.65 WAR season in 53 games. That’s really, really great over the first third of the season. By comparison, Suarez was a 0.7 WAR player over the last two-thirds.

      • Steve, Hopefully he’ll change your mind this year. I really don’t want him to start the year at another position. He is the future SS of this club until he proves otherwise. No one on here can convince me that Cozart is the Future or playing him there the first half of the year to increase his trade value is a good enough reason to stop the development of our SS going forward. Suarez should be there from day one this spring. Other then his fielding, Which he has shown good range and a solid arm does Cozart come close to his production. I think the mishaps he had last year will diminish as he gets more reps and gains some experience. He has shown enough to have earned the spot. Time for Cozart to transition into what he is a utility player.

  8. The next list installment I’d like to see…..10 things wish list items for the 2016 Reds.

    • 1. Nail the #2 overall draft pick
      2. Trade Chapman and Bruce
      3. Early retirement for Walt
      4. An honorable final season for Price
      5. Reds fans stop bashing announcers.
      6. A 100 loss season (nets top overall pick)
      7. Reduce GABP group ticket prices. If a group wants to see AAAA team they reap financial benefits.
      8. Jimmy Buffett fireworks night and bobblehead

  9. If only Mesoraco, Bailey and Cozart wouldn’t got hurt perhaps Cueto and Leake wouldn’t been traded and whole season had been different…perhaps

    • Losing Cozart wasn’t a game changer for us. Suarez more then filled in offensively. He did not field as well but I think he’ll improve.

  10. #1 best thing of 2015, the reinstatement of Pete Rose! What, he wasn’t and we have to deal with this nonsense even longer?! I have a vision of Yoko Ono (wait that’s Pete’s wife “Pete you know you aren’t allowed in the hall.”) standing at the podium in 2030 accepting for him…

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