2016 Cincinnati Reds Season Recap
The 68-94 Cincinnati Reds of 2016 finished tied for last place in the National League and 35.5 games behind the World Champion Chicago Cubs in the NL Central standings. While it was far from a storybook season for the Reds, it was however a textbook season in terms of the ups and downs of trying to rebuild an organization entering the twilight period for the careers of several players that initially brought the team to prominence.
Let’s take a look back at some key points and notes from the Reds’ 2016 season and some key moves that may shape the way the team moves forward.
Joey Votto Still Dominant: After a slow start to the season, Votto posted an OPS above 1.000 for each of the last four months and combined for 20 HR, 7-7 stolen bases, and 49 XBH. The 33-year old Canada native finished 2016 with a .326/.434/.550 slash line and a team-high WAR of 4.0, which is an incredibly encouraging sign for the Cincinnati organization who has Votto signed on until 2023 on that super lucrative $225MM deal.
Young Arms and Mixed Signals: The Reds decided to say goodbye to 26-year old John Lamb this off season, sending him to Tampa Bay in exchange for cash, after Lamb had struggled with a 6.17 ERA and 1.60 WHIP in his 24 total starts in Cincinnati. Other struggling young starters included top-shelf prospects Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson; while Brandon Finnegan, Anthony DeSclafani, and surprisingly Dan Straily all had strong seasons and are 27 years old or younger.
In addition to the roller coaster ride the rotation went through, the bullpen went through even more turmoil. Even though it was possibly the worst bullpen in the history of the MLB, the young guns showed some signs of promise. Tony Cingrani was hot and cold with no indication of future consistent play, but Michael Lorenzen produced a 2.88 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 50 IP as the Reds setup man and Raisel Iglesias posted a 1.98 ERA and 0.96 WHIP since he transitioned to the bullpen.
Injury Woes: With core pieces of years past like Homer Bailey and Devin Mesoraco and sneaky acquisition from the Aroldis Chapman deal, Caleb Cotham, still sidelined by injury with no clear indication of where they could stand in the next few seasons, it still leaves the Reds with big question marks as to what they can count on and what they may need to replace.
Important Moves: In addition to the aforementioned Lamb deal that happened this off-season, the Reds also pulled off some key transactions. They traded Jay Bruce to the New York Mets for Max Wotell and Dilson Herrera, they signed Cuban pitching prospect Vladimir Gutierrez, and they also claimed the still young former prospect Arismendy Alcantara. One does still have to wonder if the Reds were too hesitant to pull the trigger on players like Zack Cozart and whether they missed out on cashing in on some peak returns.
The New Prospects
The Reds grabbed Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel with the second overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, and he didn’t take long to adjust to the pro game. In 251 PA for Single-A Dayton he produced a .982 OPS, 33 XBH, and 15 stolen bases.
Catching prospect Chris Okey of Clemson hit six HR and stole five bases for the Dayton Dragons. Undrafted free agent signee, T.J. Friedl, produced a .969 OPS with seven steals for the Billings Mustangs. And former high school football star from the state of Georgia, Taylor Trammell, was able to steal 24 bases in just 228 AB in Billings.
Perhaps most intriguing is the project reliever from Texas A&M, Ryan Hendrix. He has struggled with maintaining his fastball velocity, but once he moved to Dayton; he was able to hone in his talent and produce a 3.04 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, and 10.5 K/9.