Saturday, January 5, 2013

Olney doesn't believe Reds bullpen will be as strong in 2013

ESPN's Buster Olney wrapped up his offseason rankings series by unveiling the top 10 bullpens on Saturday. The Reds made an appearance, just as they did in the the other five lists, but they didn't rank as highly as one may have thought.

Cincinnati settled for the No. 8 spot despite leading the majors in bullpen ERA last season. Here is how Olney justified his pick:

8. Cincinnati Reds

The Reds will give Aroldis Chapman a chance to be a part of their rotation in spring training, and if he transitions into a starting pitcher, Cincinnati will still have a very good bullpen, with Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall, Jose Arredondo, Logan Ondrusek and Sam LeCure. But taking Chapman out of the Reds' bullpen would be like removing Miguel Cabrera from the Detroit lineup: Chapman was a relief monster last season, whiffing 122 batters and allowing just 35 hits in 71 2/3 innings. Cincinnati was No. 1 in bullpen ERA last season, at 2.65, and Chapman was the biggest reason for that.

Even without Chapman at the backend, I still believe Cincy's bullpen is better than 8th-best. They return nearly everyone from last year's dominant relief core, and that alone should be good enough to garner them a top three position. If the San Francisco Giants can receive the benefit of the doubt in these rankings because of their status as World Series champions, why don't the Reds get some respect from their performance in 2012, as well?

Nonetheless, here is a quick recap of how the Reds stacked up in each of Olney's rankings:

Bullpen: 8th
Infield: 3rd
Rotation: 5th
Outfield: 6th
Lineups: 9th
Overall: 4th

As staff writer Jon Davis pointed out, the Reds were the only team to rank in the top six in best rotation, infield, and outfield categories.

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