Article Written By: Julian Beck
2013 Record: 90-72 (3rd place in NL Central)
Key Additions: Skip Schumaker
Key Loses: Shin-Soo Choo, Bronson Arroyo, Ryan Hanigan
Impact players for 2014: Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Billy Hamilton, Homer Bailey, Tony Cingrani, Aroldis Chapman, Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos,
Despite the losses of Shin-Soo Choo and Bronson Arroyo, the Cincinnati Reds did not have any clear needs this offseason. Top prospect Billy Hamilton will step into the role of lead-off hitter and everyday center fielder, while Tony Cingrani looks ready to assume a regular rotation spot.
Signing Schumaker will help with outfield and infield depth when a player needs a day off for rest or if a player gets injured. He is a great left-handed hitter that is able to slap the ball anywhere in the outfield. His versatility will be huge for this ball club. Schumaker can play any outfield position and also the middle infield positions. If needed he can play third base as well. He is a very smart ball player and knows the situation he is in while in the batters box or out on defense.
One player that will have some big shoes to fill in 2014 is Billy Hamilton. The Reds let Shin-Soo Choo sign with the Texas Rangers because they had Hamilton waiting for his chance to shine. Well, now is the time for the young player. He won’t be able to produce the power numbers or drive in runs like Choo did, but he won’t be asked to do so. He is a speedster and will be called upon to set the table for their power hitters. Once Hamilton reaches first you might as well pencil him into second, because it won’t take long until he steals it.
Cincinnati has a very potent offense. That has to do with the core of this squad, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips. Votto is the face of this franchise, and there is no arguing that. He is one of the best all around players in the MLB, and probably the best first baseman in all of baseball. Votto has great patience at the plate and is an on-base machine, while Bruce is the power hitter. He drives in all the runs while the ducks are on the pond. His power stroke is unreal as well. Phillips is the swagger of this ball club. He plays with such confidence. He had a great season at the plate in 2013, driving in 103 RBIs. Phillips shines out at second base. He makes gold glove plays on a regular basis.
The starting rotation is very strong. Mat Latos, Johnny Cuteo, Tony Cingrani, Homer Bailey, and Mike Leake make a very solid starting five. Cuteo had a down season in 2013, but that was because he was injured for most the year. Matt Latos carried a bulk of the load though, and he shined doing it. He was able to rake up wins and strike out players at a great rate. Bailey once again threw another no-hitter, making it two in the past two seasons. The dark horse of this rotation has to be Cingrani. He is a very talented lefty that is able to strikeout many batters. Cingrani struggled with his pitch count and location at times in 2013 but will have the off-season to work on those flaws. With a full workload in 2014 look for him to have a solid season and help carry this Cincinnati team to the playoffs once again.
Cincinnati has one of the best closers in all of baseball in Aroldis Chapman. He practically has one pitch, and that’s his 100+ blazing fastball. All Chapman has to do is locate his fastball in different locations in the strike zone and no batter can catch up to it. He looks to continue to be an elite closer in the league and will have plenty of opportunities to rack up his saves total.