Thursday, February 20, 2014

Reds tabbed 10th in MLB power rankings

Given everything we know about the Reds entering spring training, coupled with everything we know about the competition, where would you rank the Reds among all 30 MLB teams?

If you're anything like me, the prospect of actually compiling such an objective set of rankings seems daunting, so let's be glad Jonah Keri of did the grunt work for us. All that's left to do now is analyze where he put Cincinnati.

As fate would have it, Bryan Price's squad cracked the top 10.

10. Cincinnati Reds

I already hate this ranking. With Shin-Soo Choo gone, Cincinnati’s offense looks frighteningly thin after Votto and Bruce, with a lot of easy outs against right-handed pitching elsewhere in the lineup. The wild card is Billy Hamilton, a spectacularly tantalizing fantasy baseball commodity who could steal 100 bags by getting on base 50 times … except he might be so ill-equipped to hit major league pitching that getting on base those 50 times might be a stretch.

So really, it comes down to the Reds’ theoretically excellent, and deep, starting rotation. Bronson Arroyo’s gone, but young left-hander Tony Cingrani could be an immediate upgrade in his first full season in the bigs. Homer Bailey might soon have 100 million reasons to stay in Cincinnati, which is great news given his emergence as an elite pitcher. Mike Leake is never going to strike out many batters, but he also doesn’t walk many guys, and he’s shown he can be at least a league-average starter, which is valuable out of the no. 5 spot. Oddly, the two biggest question marks come from the staff’s presumed co-aces. Johnny Cueto is no sure thing after making just 11 starts last year because of back and oblique problems, while Mat Latos just had knee surgery; the procedure was supposedly minor, but we’ll see.

The Reds allowed the fourth-fewest runs in the NL last year, which got them to 90 wins and a wild-card berth. They might need to be even stingier this year to make the playoffs again.

Keri's assessment of the Reds is accurate and fair, I think. The offense does look suspect on paper without a bonafide right-handed slugger and an unproven rookie at leadoff. But the uncertainties that lie with the offense are negated a bit by the strength of the pitching staff.

Aside from the Dodgers, who seem primed to win 150 games if you listen to the media, every team in baseball has weaknesses. The Reds' just so happens to be the offense.

In case you are wondering, Keri doesn't think so highly of the Pirates, ranking them 17th. On the contrary, Keri loves the Cardinal, bestowing them the top overall spot in the power rankings.

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