COMMENTARY | As of May 9, the Cincinnati Reds are three games behind the division leading St. Louis Cardinals. For Reds fans, that's not the worst news considering the Reds haven't started hitting well (or at least consistently) yet this season. In fact, the Reds rank a paltry 20th in Major League Baseball in batting average (.245) and 22nd in slugging percentage (.384). However, for fantasy baseball fans, the Reds' poor team hitting might be cause for concern.
Now that one full month of the regular season is in the books, it is time to look at which Reds you should buy and which you should try to sell in fantasy baseball.
1. Shin-Soo Choo: Choo leads the Reds with .323 batting average and 7 home runs. He also has scored the most on the Reds (27 runs). While it is probably fair to expect Choo's average to drop a bit (he's a lifetime .291 hitter), it seems likely that Choo will continue to put up a .300 or better batting average and continue to score runs in bunches given that he has Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips hitting behind him.
2. Joey Votto: By fantasy standards, Votto has been a disappointment thus far in the 2013 MLB Season. He has hit only four home runs and only knocked in 13 runs. Even more surprising, Votto has 33 strikeouts already this year (he had only 85 all of last year, albeit in only 111 games). That said, Votto is beginning to show signs of turning the page as he has raised his average from .284 on April 28 to .315 a mere 10 games later. With an increase in his average, he should see an increase in both RBI totals and runs scored, not to mention a bit more power. Even so, Votto can't currently be considered in the same fantasy circles as Miguel Cabrera (even though both players were typically taken in the top 10 of most fantasy drafts). That said, you might be able to make an offer for Votto if his current owner is desperate enough for power in the near future.
3. Jay Bruce: Bruce has struggled for much of 2013, but he's been a notoriously streaky player his entire life. From a fantasy perspective, Bruce is a bit of a challenge. You want him in your lineup when he's hot, but when he's not he should be firmly entrenched on your bench. For now, Bruce owners have to assume a hot streak is coming (Bruce did hit a home run in his last game against the Atlanta Braves). However, fantasy owners are typically fickle players so you can probably get Bruce for a relative steal if you don't currently own the Reds outfielder.
Honorable Mention to Buy: Todd Frazier
1. Johnny Cueto: The Reds ace has been sidelined with an injury since April 15 but he is expected to rejoin the rotation shortly. That said, this is a great time to sell the Reds ace because Cueto is beginning to show signs that his funky Luis Tiant-like delivery makes him more susceptible to injury. Remember, Cueto had to leave the 2012 National League playoff series against the San Francisco Giants after just a few pitches because of injury. In reality, he's suffered two injuries (plus a re-tweaking of his original injury) over only a few weeks of playing professional baseball.
2. Mike Leake: Leake seems destined to lose his place in the Reds rotation when Cueto returns thanks to the emergence of rookie lefty Tony Cingrani at which point Leake will have zero value on the fantasy trade market (unless your league counts pitcher hitting statistics as it is likely Leake will remain on the roster as the "long man" out of the bullpen and, as such, he'll get the opportunity to hit sometimes (and Leake is a great hitting pitcher).
3. Reds catchers: Ryan Hanigan began a rehab assignment a couple of days ago. When he returns, the prevailing wisdom is that Hanigan will return to starting about 60% of the Reds games (which means Devin Mesoraco will lose at bats and Corky Miller will return to the minors for the umpteenth time). Hanigan is praised by Reds pitchers (rightly so it appears) for his ability to call a game from behind the plate but he won't provide much fantasy value when he's at the plate (case in point, he was hitting .079 before he went on the disabled list). The only Reds catcher that could be worth owning (Mesoraco) will be adversely affected by Hanigan's return (and because Reds manager Dusty Baker seems overly reluctant to use his backup catcher in a pinch hitting role - the previous Atlanta game notwithstanding).
Honorable Mention to Sell: Zack Cozart
For Reds fans, the future is bright because it looks like the Reds hitters still haven't quite hit their stride. Even better, the rest of the Reds' opponents this season have a collective .498 winning percentage (looking ahead to the rest of May, the Reds play series against the Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, and the Cleveland Indians). Out of that group, only the Indians have a winning record. For fantasy owners who own Reds players, the Reds' relatively easy May schedule should result in plenty of runs for the hitters and wins for the pitchers.
Chris Reed lives in Pennsylvania but has been a Reds follower for about thirty years. He has written extensively about the club for over a decade on various blogs and websites. He founded Nachos Grande, a blog that combines his love of the Reds and that of baseball cards.
- Sports & Recreation
- Cincinnati Reds
- Joey Votto