TheCincinnati Reds made significant progress as an organization lastseason, winning the NL Central and falling in the playoffs to eventualWorld Series champion San Francisco. However, the Reds showed they werenot satisfied with mere progress as they set out to bolster theirroster, most notably with outfielder Shin-Soo Choo from the ClevelandIndians.
Chooshould strengthen the outfield of the Reds, but Jay Bruce, the 26 yearold two-time All-Star who hit 34 HRs with 99 RBIs last season is theheadliner.
Anemerging pitching staff with only one starter, Bronson Arroyo, over theage of 27, the Reds should have some stellar pitching to rely on asthey seek to repeat as NL Central champs.
JohnnyCueto, a Cy Young candidate who went 19-9 with a 2.78 ERA, is the bestof the bunch with Mat Latos also coming on strong. The aging Arroyo hasalso been consistently reliable.
The Reds also boast one of the league’s better bullpens anchored by Aroldis Chapman, among baseball’s top closers.
Secondbaseman Brandon Phillips was the team’s MVP last season, hitting .281with 18 HR and 77 RBI. He also boasts a stellar glove and versatility inthe batting order though he will bat second, behind Choo.
Cincinnatiis also hoping for a better year from first baseman Joey Votto who wassidelined with injury for much of last year and then struggled to regainform. The star player batted a stellar .337, but only hit 14 home runsand batted in 56 runs which is well below his typical production level.
ToddFrazier, who finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting, shouldalso continue improvement from his .273, 19 HR, and 67 RBI season.
Overall,the Reds should be improved from their stellar season last year, andthey could prove to be a serious World Series contender. A youthful ballclub, a lot could depend on the development of those young players andwhether they can continue to live up to lofty expectations for managerBob Castellini.