Final Record: 67-95
RS/G: 4.30 (18th)
RA/G: 5.06 (25th)
SB: 77 (15th)
ERA: 4.65 (24th)
Saves: 38 (21st)
Strikeouts: 1258 (24th)
(RS/G - Runs Scored Per Game, RA/G - Runs Allowed Per Game)
The Cincinnati Reds are the next team in our 2019 Team Preview Series. Since winning 97 & 90 games respectively in 2012 & 2013, it has been nothing but hard times for the Reds. The team has not surpassed the 70 win threshold for four straight seasons and current projections do not believe 2019 is the year that streak ends. That said, the team has been making noise about spending some money this winter, especially on the pitching side, which as the above 2018 statistics show, would go a long way towards improving the overall team performance. The Reds have some talent on the offensive side of their roster, which is where we’ll focus our fantasy baseball attention.
The Superstar(s): Joey Votto & Eugenio Suarez
We’re back with two Superstars for the Reds. The funny part is Votto could have ended up as a Guy to Avoid also. Draft day price will ultimately dictate which camp Votto falls into. At the moment, Votto’s current NFBC ADP is 80th overall. A Top 100 pick for a player on the bubble of Superstar and Guy to Avoid might seem like a stretch, but the context at the first base position must also be factored in. Votto is being selected between Jesus Aguilar and Jose Abreu. The names at first base being selected after Abreu include: Max Muncy, Joey Gallo, Matt Olson and Jurickson Profar. The position is not as deep as it once was, meaning betting on a bounce back season from Votto becomes even more appealing if you find yourself needing a first baseman after the first handful of rounds. In terms of skills, Votto’s ISO fell through the roof last season, however, his hard hit rate remained strong (41.0%). Votto’s strong batting eye also remained with a BB/K of 1.07 and a swinging strike rate of 6.0%. Steamer currently projects Votto’s age 35 season as: 651 PA | 89 R | 22 HR | 81 RBI | 3 SB | .278/.409/.463 triple slash. If you find yourself with Votto as your starting first baseman, make sure to add additional power throughout your roster, just in case.
Eugenio Suarez had a breakout season in 2018 hitting 34 home runs with a .283/.366/.526 triple slash. That said, many astute fantasy baseball owners were already on Suarez following his 2017 season (mini breakout) wherein he hit 26 home runs with a .260/.367/.461 triple slash. Suarez will play the 2019 season at age 27 and has solidified his skills to the point that a projection between his 2017 & 2018 season can be reasonably expected. Suarez has a current NFBC ADP of 51st overall.
The Sleeper: Anthony DeSclafani
While the name has been around fantasy baseball circles for quite a while now, DeSclafani has struggled to stay healthy over the years. Dating back to 2016, DeSclafani has spent over 300 days on the disabled list with various injuries (oblique twice & UCL in right elbow). Last season, DeSclafani was able to throw 115 innings for the Reds and displayed some intriguing skills. The 4.93 ERA will scare some away, however, a 3.86 xFIP and a 3.60 K/BB supported by a 63.4% first pitch strike rate have my attention. At this early point in draft season, DeSclafani is essentially free, being selected on average at pick 373rd overall in NFBC drafts. For owners in 15-team mixed leagues, this would be your first reserve/bench pick (Round 24), which is the perfect time to take a flyer on a pitcher with an intriguing skill or two, but who has been unable to take the mound consistently.
The Guy to Avoid: Phillip Ervin
As a former first round selection (27th overall in 2013) the temptation to take a chance on someone like Phillip Ervin will remain strong for at least another season or two. In 2018 Ervin received 247 Major League plate appearances and displayed a slight power/speed skill set with seven home runs and six stolen bases. A look under the hood discloses that the speed component is the more likely of the two skills to remain going forward. Ervin’s power metrics and overall approach at the plate point to an inconsistent player in my opinion. At the moment Ervin is also penciled in as a fourth outfielder for the Reds meaning any slump or under-performance could lead to even less playing time or a trip back to Triple-A.
The Prospect to Watch: Nick Senzel
Senzel was selected second overall in the 2016 draft and many expected to see him in the big leagues last season. Unfortunately, Senzel battled a variety of injuries (vertigo and a finger tendon) which limited him to 193 plate appearances, all at Triple-A. Senzel has a skill set that should provide both power and speed once he settles in at the big league level. Furthermore, Senzel’s hit tool should also help support a batting average that will at least be neutral for our fantasy game in 2019. Future grades on his hit tool point to near elite as well. Senzel is currently being selected at pick 226 in NFBC drafts, making him a strong speculative add in most fantasy baseball formats.