COMMENTARY | The Cincinnati Reds ended the 2013 regular season with a whimper, losing five straight games and choking at crunch time when it came to earning either the top wild-card spot in the National League or winning the NL Central.
Despite the collapse during the last week of the season, 2013 was a resounding success for the Reds' organization and Reds Country as a whole.
Claiming the second wild-card spot by default was not how the Reds or their fans wanted the 2013 regular season to end, but the postseason berth is the Reds' third trip to the playoffs in the past four seasons. The Reds' ineptitude at the plate (eight total runs scored) during the last week of the season and some inopportune meltdowns by the starting rotation forced the Reds into a potential one-and-done on the road for the wild card. That one game represents the postseason, and the Reds can look at what their division rival St. Louis Cardinals did with the opportunity last year for motivation -- a path to the NLCS.
Great American Ball Park Attendance Record
The Reds fell just shy of drawing 2.5 million in home attendance in 2013, but that paid-gate total was the highest ever for Great American Ball Park and the fifth-highest in Reds history. The Reds' 49-31 home record at GABP paid dividends for Reds fans for the most part despite the debacle of losing their last five games in a row at home at the most inopportune time. The big gate is an even bigger boost for the Reds as a small-market team because the increase in revenues helps the team cover its increasing payroll.
First baseman Joey Votto set a franchise record for most times on base in a single season with 316, breaking the mark set by baseball's all-time hits leader Pete Rose in 1969 (311). Votto also registered the third-highest on-base percentage (.435) among hitters with at least 502 plate appearances behind only Joe Morgan, who reached base at a clip of .466 in 1975 and .444 in 1976.
Center fielder Shin-Soo Choo was also an on-base machine for the Reds, posting the eighth-highest OBP (.423) in Reds' history among players with at least 502 PAs. Choo also finished second in the NL in runs scored with 107. Votto scored 101 runs (fifth in the NL).
Runners don't score if hitters don't knock them in, and for the first time since 1977 (George Foster and Johnny Bench), the Reds had two hitters who drove in more than 100 runs in the same season. Right fielder Jay Bruce finished with 109 RBIs, tied for 15th-most in franchise history and tied for second in the NL.
Second baseman Brandon Phillips filled in admirably well in the cleanup spot for the Reds, knocking in a career-best 103 runs -- fourth-most in the NL. His RBI total marks only the second time a Reds second baseman drove in more than 100 runs (Joe Morgan with 111 in 1976).
The Cincinnati Reds' starting rotation managed to finish with the most innings pitched in the NL and finished third in the league in starters' earned run average with a 3.43 ERA. Among starters, Bronson Arroyo finished with the highest ERA at 3.79. For the first time since 1904, the rotation featured six starters who posted an ERA of 3.79 or less with at least 10 starts and started at least 75 percent of the games they pitched during the season.
The 2013 rotation also introduced Tony Cingrani to Reds Country as an incumbent starter for the 2014 rotation, replacing the veteran Arroyo, who is likely to leave the team via free agency. With the success of the 2013 rotation and the promise of both an emerging Cingrani and a healthy ace in Johnny Cueto, 2014 looks even more promising despite the end of the 2013 regular and the playoff pickle the Reds found themselves in.
Robb Hoff has worked as a freelance researcher for ESPN's production and news departments for the past five years. You can read his articles about the 2012 Reds' season here.
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