2010 Preview: Cincinnati Reds

  • Thursday, March 18, 2010 6:28 AM
  • Written By: Andrew Simon

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2009: 78-84, 4th in NL Central. Pythagorean record of 76-86.
Key Additions: SP Aroldis Chapman, SS Orlando Cabrera, IF Aaron Miles
Key Losses: IF Adam Rosales, CF Willy Taveras
2010 Projections: PECOTA – 76-86, 5th in NL Central. CHONE – 81-81, 3rd. CAIRO – 85.5-76.5, 2nd (Wildcard).

Pitching: 2009 – 4.63 FIP (26th in MLB), 4.91 for starters, 4.09 for relievers
2010 – Edinson Volquez won't return until late in the season from Tommy John surgery, leaving room for Chapman to make his mark. The Reds need Homer Bailey to step up behind Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo.
Hitting: 2009 – .313 wOBA (27th in MLB)
2010 – The infield, led by the highly underrated Votto, should be solid, but the Reds' fortunes rest with the outfield. Willy Taveras and his .275 OBP are gone, which helps. Still, Jay Bruce and Co. have to make some serious strides if the Reds are going to be legitimate playoff contenders.
Fielding: 2009 – UZR of 52.6 (3rd in MLB)
2010 – With back-to-back UZR's of 14 and -15.3, Orlando Cabrera underscores the lack of dependability in one-season UZR totals. He's probably somewhere in between those numbers. His double-play partner Brandon Phillips, however, has put up good numbers three straight years.

Reasons to Watch
1. Aroldis Chapman: .The left-handed Cuban fireballer has been wowing observers so far in Spring Training with his 100-mph heat, his movement and his command. There are two big questions, however. First, where will Chapman begin the season? Second, how will Dusty Baker handle him? The Reds' manager doesn't have the best track record preservingyoung flamethrowers.
2. Joey Votto: He didn't get a lot of attention outside Cincinnati (except when he missed time to deal with depression issues), but Votto put up the fourth-highest wOBA of any player last season, trailing only guys named Pujols, Mauer and Fielder. He might have been a little lucky with a .372 BABIP, but with his blend of power and patience, Votto figures to be an elite first baseman for a while, as long as he is able to stay on the field.
3. The outfield: The Reds have put together an interesting outfield. There's Jay Bruce, a 22-year-old with monstrous power who hasn't quite put it together at the big league level. There's Wladimir Balentien, a former top prospect with the Mariners who has struggled mightily in the majors. There's Drew Stubbs, a former first-round pick with a glowing defensive reputation and solid plate discipline. Plus, the Reds have Chris Dickerson, Jonny Gomes and prospect Chris Heisey. It's a crowded but intriguing situation out there.

Paint By Numbers: Bruce had a strange 2009. Among players with at least 300 plate appearances, he had the third-lowest BABIP (.221) but also the second-lowest line drive rate (13.0 percent). That said, his .246 isolated power was 20th, and he improved his walk and strikeout rates from the year before. It would hardly be surprising if 2010 turned out to be a breakout year for Bruce. ... Aaron Harang has compiled a record of 12-31 the last two seasons after going 32-17 in 2006-07. True, he's giving up more home runs and walks and getting fewer strikeouts, but his FIP last year was a decent 4.14. For the sake of comparison, Andy Pettite had a 4.16 FIP for the Yankees but went 14-8. ... Despite that .275 OBP, Dusty Baker started Willy Taveras in the leadoff spot 85 times. Taveras' other 14 starts came in the No. 2 spot. The good news is that most of the other starts at leadoff went to Chris Dickerson (.370 OBP) and Drew Stubbs (.364 career mark in the minors).

Blog Jog: Red Reporter's Slyde takes a look at the "butterfly effect" of baseball defense. ... Red Reporter also does a fascinating interview with Jaime Cevallos, the swing coach who worked with Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist last season and also is working with Cincinnati utility man Drew Sutton. ... The great Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News addresses an important question: Which Reds player would you want on your side in a fight? ... Cincinnati Enquirer beat writer John Fay presents three questions about Aroldis Chapman to GM Walt Jocketty.

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