For the Cincinnati Reds organization and their fans, the 2016 season was a third straight losing campaign of frustration.
The Reds were a playoff club in three of the four years between 2010 and 2013.
The team twice won the NL Central crown, in both 2010 and 2012. They were never able to advance past the NLDS, however.
Their best showing came in 2012, when the Reds held a 2-0 lead in games on the San Francisco Giants, only to drop Game Three by a 2-1 score in 10 innings. The Giants then swept the next two as well en route to their second World Series title in three years.
A second straight last place finish now has the Reds general manager and SVP Dick Williams, the grandson and nephew of previous owners of the team, looking for the right mix to get the club back to contending status.
“The first half of this year when we were really at our most thin in terms of depth. I’d like to think we’re on the upswing and it certainly felt like it in the second half. I hope that we’ll continue that momentum in the beginning of next year.”
The Reds have a middle-of-the-road farm system. But a handful of prospects at the top could get to Cincy soon and make an impact.
2016 OFFENSIVE STATS LEADERS
27-year old Adam Duvall was a major power source, banging 33 homers while knocking in 103 runs and scoring 85 times. Electrifying 25-year old center fielder Billy Hamilton stole 58 bases in 119 games.
Jay Bruce blasted 25 homers with 22 doubles, 80 RBI, and 60 runs scored before being dealt to the New York Mets at the trade deadline. Third baseman Eugenio Suarez produced 21 homers, 70 RBI, 67 runs scored, and 11 steals.
Veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips was second on the club with his .291 average, and tied for the team lead with 34 doubles. He also stole 14 bases while scoring 74 runs.
22-year old shortstop Jose Perazaentered the lineup for good after the MLB All-Star break. He hit .324 with 21 steals in just 256 plate appearances. 25-year old Scott Schebler had nine homers and 40 RBI in just 282 plate appearances.
REDS 2016 PITCHING LEADERS
On the mound, Dan Straily, scooped up off waivers from the San Diego Padres on April Fool’s Day, fooled everyone by leading the staff with 14 victories. He allowed just 154 hits in 191.1 innings over 34 games, 31 of those starts. He also struck out 162 batters and registered a 3.76 ERA and 1.186 WHIP.
A strained oblique kept Anthony DeSclafani out until June. But from that point on, he had a fine season. DeSclafani went 9-5 with a 3.28 ERA, allowing 120 hits in 123.1 innings with a 105/30 K:BB ratio over 20 starts.
26-year old reliever Raisel Iglesias had a 2.53 ERA, and allowed just 63 hits over 78.1 innings with an 83/26 K:BB ratio. 24-year old Michael Lorenzen was moved to the bullpen and allowed just 41 hits over 50 innings with a 48/13 K:BB ratio.
VOTTO AGAIN THE TOP CINCY PLAYER
For the seventh time in his eight full MLB seasons, first baseman Joey Votto led the Reds in WAR. The 32-year old produced a .326/.434/.550 slash line with 29 home runs, 34 doubles, 97 RBI, and 101 runs scored.
The 2010 NL Most Valuable Player finished 7th in the NL MVP voting this season, leading the league in both on-base percentage and with his 160 OPS+ mark.
Votto has a full no-trade clause in his contract, which owes him approximately $180 million over the next 7-8 seasons. As I called for in the piece highlighted just before this paragraph, the Reds would be well-served to try to move him for a nice package while he still has strong value.
A native of Toronto, there have been hot rumors over the last few seasons that he might like to go home to a contender. But it was reported that Votto has told the team that he will not waive the no-trade at this time.
It will be interesting to see if that same position holds at the 2017 trade deadline. If the Reds are again floundering towards the bottom of the standings, and especially if the Blue Jays are again a contender, look for Williams to approach his star once again on a possible move.
Whatever might happen in that 2017 campaign, in the 2016 season the Cincinnati Reds Player of the Year honors once again go to Joey Votto.