February 3, 2014
Fantasy Team Preview
The 2013 season ended in brutal fashion for the Reds, as they lost the National League Wild Card Game to a division rival. The offseason wasn’t much better, as they saw one of their best hitters and most consistent pitchers (even if he is flatly average) leave town. They were replaced by internal options who have good upside, but have yet to prove themselves over the course of a full season. They’ll need to hit the ground running, as anything short of a return to the playoffs will be a disappointment in the Queen City.
The Reds head into 2014 with only two of their three high-end left-handed bats from last season, with Shin-Soo Choo having moved on to Texas. The lineup overall looks squarely average with the potential for slightly more if the right-handed hitters that augment Votto and Bruce can step up their games. Billy Hamilton could potentially win a category for you, or he could end up back in Triple-A before Memorial Day. Brandon Phillips will try to avoid Father Time from hitting the accelerator once again, but second basemen don’t often age gracefully. Todd Frazier could be his 2012 self again, Devin Mesoraco could live up to his prospect hype and Zack Cozart could… well, maybe he can hit some dingers without killing you in a deeper league. It’s not exactly awe-inspiring.
If Heisey doesn’t win the left field job, which appears unlikely at this point, he becomes the most interesting fantasy option off the bench. He has power than can overcome his batting average issues. The other name to remember of Brayan Pena—Mesoraco is no lock to keep the starting job that his prospect status has given him. If Pena were to wriggle the playing time away from him, he could be this year’s Dioner Navarro. Everyone else can be pretty safely ignored.
Still one of the strongest rotations in the National League, the Reds are led by a three-headed monster of Latos, Bailey, and Cueto. Latos has continued to show that he was no Petco Park creation in his San Diego days, and he’s averaged 210 innings over the past two seasons. Bailey is better than you think, but more about that later on. Cueto has continued to be very good when healthy, but missed a lot of time in 2013 and his durability is in question. Cingrani is worse than you think, but (again) more about that later. Leake is a solid deep-league option, but is unlikely to strike out enough batters to be more than a streaming option in shallow formats.
The bullpen really isn’t of much interest here, at least as far as curiosity goes. Chapman is the guy and he’s fantastic. Hoover and Marshall probably could do the job in their absence (and Hoover would likely get the first shot), but neither is worth speculating on at this point.
Center Field: Billy Hamilton vs. His own limitations in the harsh face of stardom
Left Field: Ryan Ludwick vs. Chris Heisey
Player to Target: Homer Bailey
Player to Avoid: Tony Cingrani