The Reds finished the 2012 regular season with the second-best record in baseball. That is pretty good in and of itself. Some would even argue that they have upgraded their roster since then through various free agent signings and a 3-team trade. Naturally, industry experts have taken notice and are placing the reigning National League Central champs in high regard for 2013 -- namely, ESPN writer David Schoenfield who has tabbed Dusty Baker's bunch as the second-best team at this point in the offseason.
Here is an excerpt from his post in which he ranks the top 10:
2. Cincinnati Reds (97-65, plus-81)
The Reds solved their big hole in the leadoff position by acquiring Shin-Soo Choo, and Jack Hannahan and Jason Donald will improve a bench that carried Miguel Cairo and Wilson Valdez in 2012. The biggest move, however, will be the transition of Aroldis Chapman to the rotation, with Jonathan Broxton taking over as closer. The Reds' rotation was outstanding in 2012, but also went through the season without the five starters missing a single start. But the Reds do have depth here in case Chapman falters or Bronson Arroyo regresses from a strong 2012.
Strengths: Joey Votto; rotation depth; bullpen depth.
Weaknesses: outfield defense with Choo in center; some players -- Ryan Ludwick, Todd Frazier, Johnny Cueto -- will have to repeat their big seasons.
Interestingly enough, Schoenfield's list did not include Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and the Los Angeles Angels.