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Cincinnati Reds 2022: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Jonathan India, Cincinnati Reds

Reigning NL Rookie of the Year Jonathan India and the Reds are hitting the reset button after a wave of offseason departures

On the morning of August 28, the Reds were 71–59 and in second place in the National League Central. They had the fourth-best record in the league and a 1.5-game lead over the Padres for the second wild card. They subsequently got run over by a 17-consecutive-win freight train coming out of St. Louis. But that glosses over the Reds' 12–20 record over the rest of the season, the fifth-worst mark in all of baseball.

After the season ended, the Reds traded catcher Tucker Barnhart to the Tigers to avoid exercising a $7.5 million option for 2022. Nick Castellanos opted out of his contract, choosing free agency rather than two years at $34 million in Cincinnati. And the team bought out the contract of Wade Miley, the team's top starting pitcher in 2020, to save $9 million. After those three departures, general manager Nick Krall stated, "Going into 2022, we must align our payroll to our resources." The timing of this "alignment" is disappointing. This doesn't sound like a team looking to capitalize on its competitive environment.

And that sentiment was only reinforced when shortly after the lockout ended, the Reds traded All-Star outfielder Jesse Winker and third baseman Eugenio Suarez to Seattle for outfielder Jake Fraley, pitcher Justin Dunn, left-handed pitching prospect Brandon Williamson, and a player to be named later.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Reds

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"There's talent here, for sure, but they play like a collection of players with no cohesion. It's a reflection of the front office — what's the plan? They invest in some guys but never really finish the job. Joey Votto has learned how to reconfigure his approach, and he's now a grip-and-rip guy. Jonathan India was really impressive as a rookie. They traded Tucker Barnhart to clear a way for Tyler Stephenson behind the plate, and he's rough back there for now but should develop into one of the game's best-hitting catchers. I don't know what their rotation will look like; trade rumors are always swirling around Luis Castillo. I do know that Castillo should have better results than he does — his fastball and changeup look identical, and hitters hate to face him. The bullpen has some potential; they've got a savvy and versatile veteran in Luis Cessa, a young keeper in Tony Santillan, and I'd make Lucas Sims the closer."

Beyond the Box Score

Pitch counts be damned For the second straight year, the Reds led the league in starts in which pitchers threw at least 100 pitches, with 46. The departure of Wade Miley, who had 10 such starts, opens the door for a younger pitcher who'll be treated more carefully, though Luis Castillo (16 such starts, tied for second in MLB) and Tyler Mahle (13, tied for eighth) return.

Cincinnati Reds Cleveland Guardians 2022 Baseball Cover

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Don't go west The Reds, at 43–33, were a game better than St. Louis against NL Central opponents, and their 20–13 record against the NL East was the third best in the league. But Cincinnati's 11–22 record against the NL West — including a combined 3–17 against the Giants, Padres and Diamondbacks — was third worst in the league.

Cooperstown case In 2019-20, Joey Votto slashed .252/.356/.421, below average for a National League position player, let alone a bat-first first baseman. His contract, which will pay him $25 million per year through 2023 when he'll be 39, seemed to be a millstone. In response, he retooled his swing, sacrificing contact for power (career-high 24 percent strikeout rate and career-high seven percent home run rate). He hit homers in a team-record seven straight games en route to a .266/.375/.573 line with 36 homers and 99 RBIs in only 129 games. He surpassed the 2,000-hit and 300-homer milestones. Instead of watching a great player in a long decline, we're watching the last years of a likely Hall of Famer.

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If you open it, they will come The Great American Ball Park didn't open to full capacity until June 2. From that point to the end of the season, the Reds drew 1,184,169 fans, an average of 21,530 per game. That was only 17th in the majors, but the team's per-game decline of 10 percent from a similar point in the 2019 season was well above average despite the club's late-season collapse.

Long drought The Reds qualified for the expanded pandemic postseason in 2020 but lost two straight games without scoring a run. And while they've made the postseason four times this century, they've lost every series (two Wild Cards, two Division Series) they've played. The last Reds team to win a Championship Series game was the 1990 world championship team. The team's failure to win a Championship Series game in the past 31 years is the longest streak in MLB.

Projected Lineup

LINEUP

2B    Jonathan India (R)
RF    Tyler Naquin (L)
C     Tyler Stephenson (R)
1B    Joey Votto (L)
3B    Mike Moustakas (L)
DH   Tommy Pham (R)
CF    Nick Senzel (R)
LF    Jake Fraley (L)
SS    Kyle Farmer (R)

BENCH

C     Andrew Knapp (R)
UT   Jose Barrero (R)
OF   Aristides Aquino (R)
INF  Colin Moran (L)

ROTATION

RHP    Luis Castillo
RHP    Tyler Mahle
LHP    Mike Minor
RHP    Vladimir Gutiérrez
RHP    Reiver Sanmartin

BULLPEN

RHP    Lucas Sims (C)
RHP    Luis Cessa
RHP    Hunter Strickland
RHP    Art Warren
LHP    Justin Wilson
RHP    Tony Santillan
RHP    Dauri Moreta
RHP    Jeff Hoffman

2022 Prediction: 4th in NL Central