Saturday, December 24, 2022

Uncustomed Heroes of 2022: Reds


It's not surprising that the Reds lost 100 games. With everything they gave up going into the season, and the emphasis on the rookies, it was bound to happen. What is surprising is how much of this team worked despite the tanking. Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft and Alexis Diaz, all rookie arms, ruled this team statistically, and kept it standing once Mahle, Castillo and Drury left. It's a decent foundation for future seasons, as Greene and Lodolo already looked MLB-ready despite some usual rookie misfires. 

With so many departures, including Mike Moustakas' recent DFAing, Nick Senzel is one of the nearest things to a veteran these Reds teams have. True, he hasn't quite lived up to the expectations set upon him once he was called up several years ago, but he was at least as present as he could be this season. Senzel played in 110 games, and hit .231 with 25 RBIs. 
2023 Prediction: Senzel is eventually gonna give the Reds one season that's something like what was promised, and I reckon it's gonna be next year. I also reckon the Reds are gonna get their hopes up too much because of it, or perhaps another team will.

SPEAKING OF GETTING ONE'S HOPES UP...Aristedes Aquino once again continued to shutter any fan hopes from 2019 that were still left. Yes, Aquino did hit 10 homers and 30 RBIs this year, and managed to still make a 1.4 WAR out of it, but his average was .197. For a lot of this season, the hopes and dreams of a fanbase were being put upon a guy hitting .197. That's not good at all.
2023 Prediction: Perhaps a slight upgrade overseas?

Mike Minor's career died and came back in the last 5 years, and it has sadly died again. The Royals flipped Minor to Cincinnati, and while he didn't become active til a few months into the season, Minor acted as a trusty innings-eater while posting a 6.06 ERA and a 4-12 record in 19 starts. I get they wanted him to train the kids, but he can just coach and do that.
2023 Prediction: I reckon he retires, but he might still try a minor league, heh, deal somewhere.

Along with Greene, Lodolo and Ashcraft, former Pirates prospect Connor Overton was another young arm in the mix for the Reds. Things were going great for him through his first 6 games, as he had a 2.73 ERA and a 0.970 WHIP. Then Overton got hurt and missed the rest of the season. Hence Mike Minor.
2023 Prediction: With Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft and Vladimir Gutierrez looking at the first four rotation spots, Overton has a slight edge over Justin Dunn, and I think with a good spring he'll take the fifth spot.

Jake Fraley, coming off a great 2021, was a pretty big piece of the deal that robbed the Reds of Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker. While expectations were high for the outfielder, he spent the first 3 months of the season on the IL and only appeared in 68 games. Granted, he made up for it by hitting .259 with 12 homers and 28 RBIs, but some outfield misfires kept him from being a truly helpful presence.
2023 Prediction: An improvement, and possibly a big year given the lack of big stars to compete with.

I'd worried we'd seen the last of Donovan Solano after quietly leaving the Giants just a year removed from his ASG-caliber year in 2020. But alas, he signed a minor league deal with the Reds and became a fairly useful replacement player at 2nd, hitting .284 with 79 hits in 80 games, including 24 RBIs. Donnie Barrels is a fairly useful guy to have around, and I sincerely hope teams keep this in mind.
2023 Prediction: A nice backup role somewhere, I hope.

The big outfield piece the Reds have their eyes on for the future of this team, due to lack of other concrete options, is T.J. Friedl. This year was Friedl's big coming out party, and he hit .240 with 25 RBIs and 8 homers in 72 games. I think the Reds are priming him for a big role in the 2023 team, and I sincerely hope he lives up to expectations.
2023 Prediction: ...wouldn't it be funny if he has the better season than Senzel?

UPDATE: Not long after I posted this, I discovered I was the recipient of one of, ironically, Reds fan Chris at Nachos Grande's end of the year superlatives. In a category that was unbeknownst to me until I read the post, I was one of the finalists for the 'Best Under the Radar Blog' category, which is honestly a pretty perfect summation of what I go for. I thank whoever nominated me, and I thank all of you who've continued to read the blog over the years. May your Christmases be merry, bright, and warm. 

As usual, I'm leaving tomorrow blank for the holiday, but on Monday, a few extra players from the team I barely did any customs from this year. 

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