12 Reasons to support the Cincinnati Reds

In my humble opinion. If you are looking for an MLB team to support, even as your second-choice team, then it should be the Cincinnati Reds. Here are a few nuggets to chew … 

(1) History: Cincinnati Reds are baseball’s first professional team. Founded in 1869. That’s older than every single Premier League football team.

(2) No easy games: The Cincinnati Reds are in the most competitive division, none of this beating up against the Marlins or Orioles or Tigers.

(3) Old v new: Progressive front office and novice manager battling against a fan base mired in traditional values.

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(4) Exciting youngsters: Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, Nick Lodolo, Tony Santillan, Josh VanMeter, Aristides Aquino, Jonathan India, Hunter Greene, Phil Ervin, Lucas Sims, Tyler Stephenson and Tyler Mahle, to name just 12.

(5) Modern-day superstar: Joey Votto is the greatest player of the last 10 years not named Mike Trout.

(6) Ticking upwards: Accordingly to an unsubstantiated source, the Cincinnati Reds have one of the fastest-growing fan bases in the UK. Make sure you are following @UKRedsMLB

(7) Winning isn’t everything: Six straight losing seasons, 418-554 (.430 W-L%). It takes a true sports aficionado to jump on board the Cincinnati Reds bandwagon.

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(8) Ohtani who? In Michael Lorenzen, the Cincinnati Reds have the best two-way player currently in the majors. In fact, he also plays outfield and swiped five bags, so maybe he’s a four-way player.

(9) Groundhog Day: The Cincinnati Reds suffered 33 one-run defeats last season. Following them is … character building.

(10) Hot takes: Outstanding account highlighting some of the most ludicrous opinions posted on the Reds Facebook page. Check it out @TodayinRedsFB

(11) It ain’t just country: When the Reds win the World Series, manager David Bell wants the parade song to be Pearl Jam

(12) The city: Cincinnati is beautiful. It is was also home to Neil Armstrong, Doris Day, Charles Manson, Stephen Spielberg, Mr Heimlich Manoeuvre and George Clooney’s dad.

And of course, Who can forget Amir Garrett deciding to single-handedly take on the entire Pittsburgh Pirates, captured magnificently by Sam Greene (AP).

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter @UKRedsMLB as we try to grow the sport in the UK and get as many newly-converted fans to join the Reds faithful.

Despite Sonny & Trev & Luis, Reds need more pitching

Given that Stephen Strasburg ($245 million/seven years) and Gerrit Cole ($324 million/nine years) signed for record-breaking deals, it was always going to be unlikely that the Cincinnati Reds were ever realistically targeting either starting pitcher to bolster our rotation.

Apparently the Reds were runners up to the Philadelphia Phillies ($118 million/five years) offer to Zack Wheeler.

Madison Bumgarner, who is the same age as Wheeler, was also on the Reds shopping list, but he opted for the sunny climate of Arizona for a bargain price of $85 million/five years.

I don’t know if Cole Hamels was ever seriously considered, but he signed an $18 million/one year contract with Atlanta. And you know what they say, there is no such thing as a bad one-year deal.

Kyle Gibson ($28 million/three years) and Jordan Lyles ($16 million/two years) are heading for Texas, along with two-times Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, who the Rangers snapped up in a one-sided looking trade.

Michael Pineda ($20 million/two years) rejoins the Twins, and Rick Porcello ($10 million/one year) has moved to the Mets.

One of the most intriguing signings is that of Josh Lindblom who joins the Brewers for $9 million/three years. He is fresh off a 2.50 ERA, sub-1.00 WHIP, 30-start campaign in Korea.

At the time of writing Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-jin Ryu remain unsigned. The Reds need to get one of them.

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Let’s not mess about. The Reds rotation was awesome last season, with both Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray putting up career years.

In 2020, we will get a full season from Trevor Bauer, who, don’t forget, was the best pitcher outside of the two Cy Young Award winners in 2018.

According to xFIP, the Reds starters were the fifth best in the league last season, but success breeds complacency, and complacency breeds failure.

In 2018, the Reds had five pitchers make more than 20 starts. This is an impressive achievement that was only matched by five other teams.

  • Reds (Castillo, Harvey, Romano, DeSclafani, Mahle)
  • Astros
  • Dodgers
  • Mariners
  • Phillies
  • Tigers

In 2019, the Reds once again had five pitchers start more than 20 games each. This time only four other teams joined them.

  • Reds (Castillo, Gray, DeSclafani, Roark, Mahle)
  • Cardinals
  • Cubs
  • Twins
  • Yankees

Obviously there is a degree of luck involved in keeping the rotation healthy all season. The fact that the Reds are the only team to appear in both years suggests that we were very lucky.

Look, I know this is not scientific, but we are unlikely to have all of our top-five starters healthy for a third straight season. And with the greatest respect to Tyler Mahle and Anthony DeSclafani, they are unlikely to give us the quality of innings we could expect from a Keuchel or Ryu.

We need to land one of Keuchel or Ryu to take the pressure of Mahle and to give us a realistic shot of contending in the division.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter @UKRedsMLB as we try to grow the sport in the UK and get as many newly-converted fans to join the Reds faithful.

Photos by Jim McIsaac and Gregory Shamus.

Jesse Winker, the new Cody Bellinger?

I didn’t write an article this time last year predicting that the Dodgers Cody Bellinger would win the NL MVP award.

It would have been a ludicrous suggestion. Bellinger had proved his rookie season was a fluke and his struggles against left-handed pitchers made him a victim of the Dodgers exuberance for platooning.

I’m not waging any cash that Jesse Winker will be the 2020 NL MVP, but I think his talents and potential are being undervalued by the media and many Reds fans.

Prior to the 2019 season, there was still concern that Bellinger was not equipped to be an everyday player, a notion he proved farcical before April was over.

Let’s take a look …

Bellinger (2018)

.260/.343/.470

25 home runs in 162 games.

Winker (career)

.285/.379/.466

ave 20 home runs per 162 games

There is not much to choose between them, although it should be noted that Winker’s outstanding .379 OBP is good for joint-20th in the majors, sandwiched between Paul Goldschmidt and Josh Donaldson.

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In 2018, Bellinger posted .880 OPS vs. RHP and .681 OPS vs. LHP. Winker’s career splits are more extreme at .907 OPS vs. RHP and .543 OPS vs. LHP.

But then, Bellinger transformed himself into a lefty-masher. No-one, not even you, saw it coming. 18 home runs and .982 OPS with a lefty on the mound.

Obviously the Reds left fielder has a lot of room to improve against Southpaws, but his patience at the plate suggests that just a small tweak could produce substantial gains.

Reds fans who have been trying to package Winker in a hypothetical deal to land Starling Marte or Joc Pedersen, need to remember that he is still only 26 years old with fewer than 900 big league plate appearances to his name.

The introduction of new bullpen laws forcing a LOOGY to face at least three batters will certainly help Winker, but a full, healthy season could be all he needs.

I suspect 2020 will be huge for Jesse Winker, and if he wins the NL MVP, remember you heard it here first.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter @UKRedsMLB as we try to grow the sport in the UK and get as many newly-converted fans to join the Reds faithful.

Photos by Dylan Buell and Andy Lyons

Reds get an infield power surge by signing Mike Moustakas

The Reds Front Office are not messing about this offseason with an audacious swoop to secure the services of one of the best free agent sluggers, Mike Moustakas.

I’m not interested in whether it was an overpay or if they could have persuaded the 31-year-old to agree to a shorter deal, or even if the contract might look unfavourable in Years 3 and 4. I’m interested that the Reds were proactive in improving the offense.

One things is for certain, Moustakas hits.

Over the last three seasons combined, only 15 players have hit at least 100 home runs. Moustakas hit 101.

Studs like Bryce Harper, Christian Yelich, Freddie Freeman and Jose Abreu didn’t reach triple-digits despite more plate appearances. And certainly none of them can play second base.

Colour me sceptical, but I can’t believe that Moustakas was signed to be the Reds everyday second baseman. I have the upmost admiration for the brains in the Reds Front Office, so I’m confident they know what they’re doing.

The consensus of opinion is that a defensive downgrade at second base is more than compensated by Moustakas power potential, but I’m expecting another move to clarify the picture.

I’m just throwing it out there, but Eugenio Suarez‘s trade value has never been as high.

From a personal point, I’m really happy that Moustakas got paid, and doubly-pleased that it was the Reds who ponied up a decent amount. I reckon Moustakas got shafted more than anyone in this new era of free agency.

When the long-time Kansas City Royals’ third baseman hit the open market for the first time in 2017, he was coming off a franchise record of 38 homers. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors suggested he would be signed to a five-year, $85 million deal.

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As it transpired, Moustakas re-signed with the Royals for $6.5 million and then agreed another one-year deal with the Brewers in 2019 for $10 million. This four-year, $64 million contract with the Reds duly pays the 120th best player of the decade what he deserves.

Whether Moustakas plays first, second or third, it is his bat that we are most excited about seeing in action at Great American Ball Park, so what can we expect?

Over the last three years, Moustakas has averaged 34 homers with .319 OBP to give 113 OPS+ (ie he is 13% above average – that’s a significant improvement to the Reds lineup).

Moustakas can mash against both righties and lefties, and has not shown any noticeable decline in power, batting eye or swing speed.

Looking at his splits against NL Central rivals, his career .968 OPS at PNC Park looks good and .799 OPS at Busch Stadium is none too shabby.

Hopefully his career .578 OPS and .190 AVG at GABP are more due to the impressive pitching he faced.

My favourite stat is that on 21 September 2020, Reds travel to Miami where Moustakas has a 2.029 OPS at Marlins Park. Don’t talk to me about small sample sizes.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter @ukredsmlb

Photos by Mary DeCicco and Jason Miller

Cincinnati Reds Team of the Decade: Third Base

Third base is a good position for the Reds offensively, so this was the toughest one so far. We had three third basemen with wRC+ above 100.

Although Scott Rolen was 35 years old when the decade started, he played 290 games for the Reds and was an All-Star twice in the three final years of his career.

I didn’t get to see Rolen at his peak, but 70.2 WAR (9th best for a third baseman in history) speaks volumes. The fact that he only received 17% of the HOF vote in 2019 is nonsense. Fingers-crossed he makes a bigger jump in the 2020 vote.

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The current incumbent at the hot corner is Eugenio Suarez. The Reds were overly reliant on Geno’s power last season. His 49 home runs was better than everyone in MLB except New York Mets’ Pete Alonso.

Take Joey Votto (who has seven of the top eight) out of the equation and Suarez’s 2019 season was the third best offensive campaign by a Reds hitter this decade.

Although Todd Frazier never produced a year with the bat like Suarez’s 2019, or his 2018 for that fact, The Toddfather handled defensive duties at the hot corner with consummate ease.

Frazier scored 305 runs in 633 games with 108 home runs and 113 wRC+. He generated 15.0 WAR over the decade, putting him third among Reds hitters behind Votto and Brandon Phillips. Our choice for Reds Third Baseman of the Decade is Todd Frazier.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter @ukredsmlb

Photos by Jared Wickerham & Thearon Henderson

Cincinnati Reds Team of the Decade: Second Base

Barring a big-money offseason signing, second base at Great American Ball Park will be manned by a combination of Freddy Galvis and Josh VanMeter. Fine players, but perhaps not All-Star quality.

Brandon Phillips, is unquestionably the Reds star second baseman of the 2000s. In 1,614 games, DatDude hit 191 homers with 196 stolen bases while playing magnificent defence. It was a tough decision, but he failed to get the nod as our second baseman of the decade.

It is often forgotten (by moaning Reds fans) that Jose Peraza is still only 25-years-old. The Venezuelan was at risk of being non-tendered, but I feel he still has a lot to offer. He needs more seasons like 2018 and fewer like 2019 to win back the love of the Cincinnati faithful.

I’m not sure any player in Reds history made as much impact in such a short time as Derek Dietrich, yet he left the club with an underwhelming stat line.

Dietrich led the league with 12 home runs in May, he swagged his way to first base after getting plunked, he donned a bee-keepers suit and he enjoyed watching his homers as much as we did. The good work of his first half .893 OPS was undone by hitting just .071 AVG in reduced playing time after the All-Star break.

The possible probable controversial choice for the Reds second baseman of the decade is Ryan Joseph “Scooter” Gennett.

2019 was an injury-hampered campaign for Gennett as he battled with a groin strain that impacted the whole year and it was heart-breaking when the Reds cut ties at the trade deadline, sending him to San Francisco for a player to be named later.

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He was immense during his breakout 2017 and 2018 seasons. Over those two years, he hit 50 home runs with 52 doubles while batting over .303 with .351 OBP and .508 SLG.

Still disagree? Look at it this way, Joey Votto with eight and Eugenio Suarez with two, are the only other Reds hitters this decade with multiple seasons of at least 123 wRC+.

And obviously, the highlight of his spell with Cincinnati was the four-homer game against the Cardinals.

One of our Christmas wishes is that Scooter regains his fitness and gets a job back in baseball in 2021. After all, he will still be in his 20s on Opening Day.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter @UKRedsMLB

Photos by Mike McGinnis and Michael Hickey

Cincinnati Reds Team of the Decade: First base

Surely there cannot be a more obvious choice in the whole of baseball.

Joseph Daniel Votto is not only the best first baseman the Reds have had this decade, he’s arguably been the best hitter in the whole game over the last 10 years not named Mike Trout.

Let’s take a look …

  • Home runs: 231 (18th best)
  • RBI: 759 (20th)
  • Runs: 847 (4th)
  • Batting average: .306 (4th)
  • On-base percentage: .428 (1st)
  • wRC+: 153 (2nd)
  • WAR: 48.1 (3rd)

Also, he hit more doubles than anyone else, his 0.96 BB/K is the best rate of the decade, and he took over 100 walks more than second-place Carlos Santana.

One of the most frustrating aspects about following the Reds is the constant online drivel from fans stuck with a 1970s-mindset who overvalue hits and RBI, and therefore continuously under-appreciate the Canadian.

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Votto is unquestionably the best player the Reds have had in my time of watching baseball. I dont’ think he will be fully appreciated until he retires … which I hope is in many years.

Just so you know, the best of the other Reds first base contenders was Yonder Alonso who hit .299 with .354 OBP in 69 games. Jack Hannahan and Brayan Pena combined for -1.0 WAR in nearly 1,000 plate appearances.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter @UKRedsMLB

Photos by Abbie Parr & Joe Robbins

Cincinnati Reds Team of the Decade: Catcher

I was quite surprised to see that, over the last 10 years, the Reds are an average team behind the plate, ranking 16th out of 30 teams both offensively and defensively. To be honest, I didn’t think we were that good.

Going deep 48 times, Devin Mesoraco hit the most homers but he also had the lowest batting average of the eight catchers with at least 100 plate appearances.

He enjoyed (I’m sure there is a more suitable word) eight seasons in Cincinnati but injuries prevented him from ever fulfilling his obvious potential.

To be honest, I’m not sure if he has retired now. I know there was animosity with the New York Mets for going back on a verbal agreement earlier this year. Apparently they had promised a spot on the 25-man roster but instead wanted to send him to Triple-A.

Venezuelan Ramon Hernandez hit .290 AVG, which is the best for the club, and his 113 wRC+ is also the highest among Reds catchers.

In a career which saw him represent six teams, Hernandez saved some of his best baseball for Cincinnati, posting a career-best .348 OBP while with the Reds.

Curt Casali is another catcher with an on-base percentage above .340 and triple-digit wRC+. We will look forward to seeing both traits again in 2020.

The former Tampa Bay Rays catcher matched a career-high with 84 appearances for the Reds last season. He is not only useful with the bat, but Casali also ranked as one of the best defensive catchers in the league.

In 348 games for the Reds, Ryan Hanigan accrued 11.7 WAR which is slightly more than Yankees Gary Sanchez has achieved over a similar number of games. I bring up this comparison to demonstrate how outstanding Hanigan’s work behind the plate was.

During the last 10 years, Hanigan ranks as a top-20 catcher but my choice for the Reds Catcher of the Decade is …

TUCKER BARNHART

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In the 10 years since 2010, Barnhart leads all other Reds catchers in runs and RBI. I know he has played more games, but there is a skill to always being there.

He is the beating heart and soul of a team that, at times, struggles to find a leader.

According to Baseball Prospectus defensive metrics, the 28-year-old was a top-5 catcher last season. That’s no mean feat given the quality of catchers across the league, and is an unappreciated reason for why our pitching staff produced such a good year.

Barnhart is only 28 years old, and I’m very happy if he is behind the plate when the Reds face the St Louis Cardinals on Opening Day on 26 March 2020.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter @UKRedsMLB

Photos by Tim Clayton

Gone with a whimper not a bang

So the 2019 season is at an end. The Reds finished 75-87, although our Pythagorean record suggested the 701 runs scored and 711 runs conceded should have equated to a 80-82 win-loss record. It was still sub-.500 whatever way you cut it.

Here is the season in eight stats:

  • Home record: 41 – 40
  • Away record: 34 – 47
  • One run games: 24 – 33
  • May was the only month with a winning record
  • We swept the Astros
  • 4th in division with 87 wins is the best finish for five years
  • 227 homers broke the franchise record
  • According to WAR, it was our worst season since 2003.

Eugenio Suarez was easily the best hitter on the roster. His 47 home runs tied for second for the franchise record. He led the club in runs, RBI and OBP.

With Yasiel Puig‘s deadline move, the Reds didn’t have another 20-homer player on the roster. Quite amazing considering 129 players hit at least 20 homers this season.

Whether you think the rotation exceeded expectations or over-performed, there is no argument that both Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo enjoyed career years. Gray had a lower ERA than any of our relievers.

Closer Raisel Iglesias set a career-high 34 saves, but was also tagged with six blown saves and 12 losses.

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Free agent acquisition Jose Iglesias led the team with .288 AVG. That’s right, no-one hit above .290.

Joey Votto‘s .261 AVG was 50 points lower than his batting average for the last 12 years combined.

Amir Garrett and Yasiel Puig both attempted to take on the Pirates, single-handedly, and on separate occasions.

Rookie Aristides Aquino finished with 19 home runs in just 205 at-bats. The only players more prolific were Twins’ catcher Mitch Garver and Angels’ superstar Mike Trout.

Centre fielder/clutch-hitter/high-leverage reliever Michael Lorenzen is the best all-round player in the game.

We are going to try to come up with player reviews and 2020 season previews over the next couple of months. Make sure you’re following us on Twitter @UKRedsMLB

Another day, another disappointing loss

The good news about the three-game series vs. the Mets was that two of the games were at UK-friendly times. Saturday’s match, which Cincinnati won 3-2, with Raisel Iglesias securing his 34th save of the season, was easily the best.

On Friday, Luis Castillo tossed a gem, only allowing three hits. Two of which the Mets hitters reached for and deposited in the stands. Mets’ starter Jacob deGrom allowed four hits with no walks while striking out nine. He looks like the best pitcher in the NL that I’ve seen this season. Another Cy Young award coming his way?

The Reds managed just one run off deGrom, which further illustrates our run creation problem. This month, the Oakland Athletics lead MLB with 130 runs, while the Reds are in 27th place with just 69.

The Mets had a 3-0 lead going into the eighth inning, but scored five runs off our bullpen. Sal Romano & Keury Mella getting their ERA destroyed.

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The only thing remotely close to a silver lining was the 17th home run from Aristides Aquino. By the end of the series, the rookie had 17 homers in just 181 at-bats this season.

The victory on Saturday was good viewing. Cincinnati scored twice off Zack Wheeler in the first inning. He allowed eight base runners as he struggled to settle down. They were the only runs the soon-to-be free agent allowed, and he was mighty impressive. I didn’t realise he threw so hard.

The Reds final (and what proved to be the winning run) was scored by Jose Iglesias being driven in by Christian Colon. The 30-year-old journeyman is the stereotypical Quad-A player. A .292 hitter in eight seasons in Triple-A, but just .634 OPS over 145 games in the majors.

The Mets had the bases loaded a couple of times, but fortunately were unable to deliver the knockout punch.

Sunday’s game was a disappointment. I was late to the party and we were already 4-1 down when I joined. Michael Conforto had hit a three-run homer off Trevor Bauer.

This was doubly frustrating, as I needed Bauer to put in a good performance to get my fantasy team back on track in the final.

For the rest of the game, the right-hander pitched like the ace we know and love, racking up eight strikeouts over seven innings with no walks. But the damage had been done.

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Romano gave up a homer to Brandon Nimmo in the ninth inning, taking his ERA to 9.24 and extinguishing the threat of any final inning heroics from the Reds.

Rest day on Monday, but Reds face the red-hot Brewers on Tuesday who are looking good for the Wild Card spot ahead of the Cubs and Mets, thanks to their four-game win streak.

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