Don’t laugh but Reds scary at 300-1
February 28, 2018 10:39 AM
by Mark Mayer
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third of 30 at-bats for the upcoming 2018 major league baseball season. On deck Thursday, the LA Angels).
Cincinnati hasn’t won more than 68 games since 2014 and yet Vegas books have them improving to 74.5 this season. So at 300-1 odds to win the World Series, we say don’t laugh but the Reds are scary.
Believe it or not they have an offense that compares favorably to the Big Red Machine. Unfortunately, the pitching staff is more like the Mean Machine from The Longest Yard. No Aroldis Chapman coming out of the bullpen like he once did with that 102 mph gas. But hope is on the way with Hunter Greene, who throws just as hard but not yet part of the major league roster.
If Cincy is going to make some noise in the NL Central, the bats are going to make it happen. The heart and soul of this proud franchise is 1B Joey Votto, who at 34 is quietly piling up Hall of Fame numbers. Last season JV was pure varsity – 36 homers, 100 RBI, 320 BA, an amazing .454 on base percentage and 179 hits. The Canadian is a pure student of hitting with a work ethic that’s off the charts.
So if Votto is the heart and soul, 2B Scooter Gennett is the face. Scooter had a breakout 2017 with 27 homers including four in one game. And the lineup is full of power. 3B Eugenio Suarez hit 26 homers, while outfielders Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler had 31 and 30 respectively. SS Zack Cozart hit 24, but now he’s playing 3B for the LA Angels.
CF Billy Hamilton is greased lightning on the bases with 59 steals a year ago, but also had a brutal .298 OBP. His inability to get on base is a big reason the Reds are buried under .500 baseball these days. Cincy pitching was so bad last year that the top winner was Michael Lorenzen, who won 8. And that was out of the bullpen!
The Reds have their fingers crossed that Anthony DeSclafani comes back from an entire year off due to injury. The career stats are just 20-20 with a 3.99 ERA but DeSclafani has shown signs of No. 1 ace potential. The future though appears brighter with Greene and 3B Nick Senzel, rated the No. 7 top prospect by Baseball America. Sensel has been a consistent .300 hitter in the minors.
When we soon start our Dirty Dozen in baseball, the poster boy is C Devin Mesoraco. Back in 2014, Mesoraco was thought to be the next Johnny Bench. Today, he’s simply the Bench. He is his own M.A.S.H unit. In the last three years, Mesoraco has played in 95 games. Devin hails from Punxsutawney, PA and if he sees his shadow it means six more weeks on the DL.
And let’s dust off the good news/bad news description about the early schedule. The good news is the first two series are at home. The bad is it’s against Washington and the Chicago Cubs.
Encore: Bryan Price has been the Reds manager since 2014. If Cincy does not get off to a decent start, our money is on him being the first to get an early pink slip.
2017 record: 68-94
2016 record: 68-94
2015 record: 64-98
World Series win odds: 25-1
Odds to win AL Central: +600
2018 season win total: 74.5