Thursday, February 6, 2014

Schoenfield ranks the Reds as the ninth-best team in baseball

David Schoenfield over at ESPN has been working on team rankings going into the 2014 season and today he ranked teams 12-7. Right smack in the middle of those rankings came our beloved Cincinnati Reds at ninth.

In Schoenfield's own words, "We're now in the territory of teams I'm projecting to make the playoffs (well, when you get to No. 10)," so you have to like that, right?

Schoenfield begins by looking at the roster and examining "big offseason moves," and then continues by determining the team's "most intriguing player," "due for a better season," and "due for a worse season." As you might guess, the "big offseason moves" section is quite brief indeed.

You might also have guessed that Schoenfield lists Billy Hamilton as the Reds "most intriguing player" and it's hard to argue with that. His full season debut is perhaps one of the most anticipated in Cincinnati in a while, and there is a huge question as to how effective he can be. Included in the list is the Sportsnation poll above, of which I took a snapshot at the time I was viewing the article. For the record, I voted in the 50-74 range. Here's a little taste of what Shoenfield had to say about Hamilton:

"Speedster Billy Hamilton has been handed the center-field job with the departure of Choo and there's little doubt he'll be one of the most exciting players in the sport. But how valuable will he be?"

The player who he thinks will have a better season is none other than Devin Mesoraco, who has been handed the reigns to the full-time catcher job with the trade of Ryan Hanigan.

"Catcher Devin Mesoraco showed the ability to hit in the minors so look for better numbers than the .238/.287/.362 he flashed in 2013."

I have to agree with this choice. Mesoraco has not quite lived up to expectations yet, but has shown in short spurts that with the more playing time he gets, the better he seems to perform. Once again expectations will be high, and I do expect him to fully embrace his new full-time gig and post a successful season in 2014.

Mike Leake received the damning label of "due for a worse season" and I don't know how to argue with it. It doesn't seem like anyone else is primed to end up having a worse season than Leake. Not many other Reds performed well enough in 2013 (aside from those we expected) to have a worse season in 2014. If they do, then it's not going to be pretty. Hopefully Leake doesn't revert to his 2012 form when he posted a 4.58 ERA.

"He had a 3.37 ERA, but his peripherals suggest a pitcher with a 4.00 ERA."

Schoenfield's main concern for the Reds is their offense, and rightfully so. He wonders who will provide offense after Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, questioning if someone like Ryan Ludwick or Todd Frazier can come up with a big season. He does like the Reds to make the playoffs due to their "stellar rotation" and "deep bullpen" which gives them a chance to allow the fewest runs in the league.

What record does Schoenfield think the Reds will finish with in 2014? 87-75.

Thoughts? Concerns? Arguments?





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