2017 Fantasy Recap: The Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds have lost at least 90 games in three consecutive seasons for the first time since doing so in five straight years from 1930-1934. They continue to be in something of a perpetual rebuilding cycle, yet they ironically have to make several high-priced decisions in the offseason that looms ahead.
Among those decisions are what the team does with shortstop Zack Cozart. The 32-year-old Cozart had a career year for the Reds, recording a .297/.385/.548 slash line with 24 homers and earning his first All-Star berth. It remains unclear if the Reds are willing to make a qualifying offer, which will be worth $18.2 million.
When Scooter Gennett was claimed off waivers by Cincinnati on March 28, it’s safe to say neither the Milwaukee Brewers (his old team) nor the Reds (his present team … for now) expected him to perform as one of the best offensive second basemen in the major leagues. The 27-year-old finished the season against his former team at Miller Park hitting .297 with 27 home runs and 95 runs batted in for the rebuilding Reds, numbers that rank him alongside the likes of American League MVP candidate Jose Altuve, Brian Dozier, Jonathan Schoop, Robinson Cano and Daniel Murphy. At 27 years old, Gennett could parlay that production into a lucrative contract with another team, so the Reds have to figure out what they want to do with him as his arbitration looms.
There are similar questions for center fielder Billy Hamilton. The Reds know that Hamilton is the fastest player in MLB. He is among an elite few in running the basepaths. Hamilton’s OBP is .299 for his career and this season. That number is barely good enough for a starting player. His speed has kept him atop the line-up. The Reds are loaded with outfielders in their minor league system, but none of the options they have are as strong as Hamilton defensively.
The Reds have no such questions when it comes to first baseman Joey Votto, the centerpiece of this franchise.
Votto just completed his eleventh MLB season. In those eleven seasons Votto has led the majors in walks three times and the National League only an additional twice. He has also played 150 games or more seven times, playing all 162 twice. In those eleven seasons Votto has led the NL in OBP six times, including three times that he has led all of MLB. The surprise is that it doesn’t perfectly match when he leads the league in walks. Votto gets on base via both hits and walks.
He has also twice led the NL in OPS and once in slugging. Votto is more than a one-dimensional offensive player. Three times he had such a dominant year that he has led the NL in intentional walks, including leading all of MLB twice.
Votto didn’t do quite enough to win the MVP this season. Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies had a better all-around season and Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins had a better year for a slugger, but that doesn’t diminish that Votto easily had one of the top three offensive seasons in 2017.