97-65, 1st in the NL Central, Division Champion
Lost in the NLDS to the Giants
It’s hard not to be happy with 97 wins. That’s a lot of wins. The Reds were a great team in 2012 and should be really happy about everything they did except for those last three playoff games where they let the Giants embarrass them.
Joey Votto played 70 percent of the year and posted a 5.9 WAR. His slash line (.337/474/.567) was something out of a video game. Brandon Phillips, Ryan Hanigan, Todd Frazier, Ryan Ludwick, Zack Cozart, and Jay Bruce all posted starter or better WARs while contributing to baseball’s 10th best cohort of position players.
It’s hard to argue with a top five pitching staff either. The original rotation, led by Johnny Cueto, made 161 starts, yielding only a single game to Todd Redmond at the very end of the season. Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake, and Homer Bailey joined Cueto in the original five to form one of the better rotations in the game.
But the bullpen was the story. They posted the second best K/9 rate and the third best FIP in 2012 on the back of fireballer Aroldis Chapman.
The Reds hit well, fielded well enough, and pitched great. That’s a really good formula if you’re trying to win baseball games.
The Reds were a complete team and commanded the soft NL Central for the entire season. They fought off challenges from the Pirates and Cardinals and coasted their way into the postseason. After a strong start on the road in San Francisco, the Reds lost all three home games and called it a season after Game 5 of the NLDS.
It’s hard not to favor the Reds again in 2013 as they return most of their key pieces and look to be moving Chapman to the rotation where he belongs. The Cardinals will have something to say about the Reds’ chance at a repeat division crown, but the Great American Ballpark faithful should clear their schedules for next fall.
2012 Grade: A
Early 2013 Projection: 94-68