Recap of the Disappointing 2015 Cincinnati Reds

The+Reds+celebrate+after+a+rare+bright+spot+in+their+2015+season%2C+a+Joey+Votto+walk-off+home+run.+

The Reds celebrate after a rare bright spot in their 2015 season, a Joey Votto walk-off home run.

Nathan Albrinck

By Max DelBello ’18, Contributor

The 2015 Cincinnati Reds season came to a quiet end last Sunday after a 4-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. With a 64-98 record, the Reds finished the season in last place in the NL Central, and 36 games behind the first place St. Louis Cardinals. Coming into this season, 121 out of the 122 major professional sports franchises (MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL) had finished in last place in their division since 1984. This year, the Reds became the 122nd franchise to do so.

After a sweep of the Pirates and a 4-0 start to the season, the 2015 season quickly took a turn for the worst. By the beginning of July, a 35-41 record put the Reds in a position to sell. On July 26, Johnny Cueto was traded to Kansas City for a trio of young left-handed pitchers: Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed. Both Lamb and Finnegan would later pitch with the Reds in the final months of the season. A few days later, the Reds acquired then minor-league prospects Adam Duvall and Keury Mella (Giants #1 prospect) in exchange for pitcher Mike Leake. Outfielder Marlon Byrd was also traded in August for another pitching prospect.

The Reds finished the year by starting a rookie pitcher in a record 64 straight games after Mike Leake’s last start on July 28. Even though the young pitchers struggled this year, giving up more than five runs per game, they will be important to the Reds’ success in the future. Starting pitchers Anthony DeSclafani (4.05 ERA) and Raisel Iglesias (4.15 ERA) should be important parts of the rotation next year after their promising 2015 seasons. Homer Bailey will likely join them in the 2016 rotation after recovering from season-ending Tommy John surgery this year. The other rookie pitchers will look to build upon the valuable experience they gained at the major-league level this year, while current minor-league prospects Robert Stephenson and Amir Garrett should be in Cincinnati by the end of 2016. The Reds bullpen also did not have a successful 2015 season. The bullpen, which finished with a 22nd ranked 3.96 ERA, will need to be improved if the last place Reds want to return to the postseason anytime soon.

There were a few bright spots in what was otherwise a disappointing 2015 season for the Reds. Todd Frazier, the starting third baseman for the National League in the All-Star Game, finished 4th in the National League with 35 home runs, even though he struggled towards the end of the season. Frazier also provided Cincinnati with its most memorable moment of the summer when he won the Home Run Derby in front of the hometown fans.

Joey Votto also had a great season at the plate for the Reds. Even though he plays for a team that finished 36 games out of first place, Votto should finish in the top five of MVP voting. Votto finished the season with a team record 143 walks, and reached base a major-league best 319 times. The first baseman also finished the season in the top three in advanced hitting stats including wRC+ (http://www.fangraphs.com/library/offense/wrc/) and wOBA (http://www.fangraphs.com/library/offense/woba/).

Manager Bryan Price, who will return in 2016, said, “We’ve established the talent that we need to be competitive and win the division and go out there and win divisions and get ourselves to places we haven’t been in a long time.” While the Reds will try to build on the young talent they have, they most likely will not be good enough to contend for a playoff spot next year. The Reds hitters should be the strength of the team, especially with Devin Mesoraco and Zack Cozart coming back from injuries. Possible off-season changes could include trading closer Aroldis Chapman. The 2016 Reds will probably look very similar to the 2015 team, just a year more experienced.


 

All stats from this article come from either Baseball Reference (http://www.baseball-reference.com/) or Fangraphs (http://www.fangraphs.com/).

Image Source: http://www.examiner.com/article/reds-snap-arenado-s-hit-streak-walk-off-win