Game Over: The 2016 Cincinnati Reds

Sorry,  Cincinnati Reds, your World Series trophy is in another castle. Probably one built out of all the home run balls your pitching staff gave up this season.

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise, right? The Reds made it clear they were in rebuilding mode last offseason, dealing away both Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman for future pieces. Jay Bruce was the next domino to fall, leaving Joey Votto and a host of youngsters to lift this franchise back up from the depths.

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Like we’ll do with every eliminated team in our Game Over series, we’re about to examine what went wrong for the Reds, what went right, what’s the best 2016 memory, what they need to fix and what the future might hold.

Old man Votto and the Cincinatti kids will try to lead the Reds back to glory.
Old man Votto and the Cincinatti kids will try to lead the Reds back to glory.

WHAT WENT WRONG
A number of things sunk the Reds season: They were bad on the road (26-48), they were really bad against the Cubs (3-13) and outside of Joey Votto, Adam Duvall and sometimes Eugenio Suarez, the offense wasn’t thrilling. But none of those things compare to what *really* made the Reds horrible — their pitching. Their team ERA (4.94) was worse than the Rockies, which is like the Mendoza Line of ERAs. The starters were bad, the bullpen was worse and this one stat really just sums it up: Reds pitchers gave up the most home runs in the history of baseball. You don’t win baseball games that way, folks. (Mike Oz)

WHAT WENT RIGHT
Through the first two months of the season, Votto belonged in the “what went wrong” section. He hit just .213/.330/.404 through the end of May, but that’s when all of his stats began to climb. Between June 1 and September 21, Votto’s hit .376/.483/.595, which is just insane. Brandon Phillips also had a great year, and Billy Hamilton managed to be a decent hitter while still stealing tons of bases (58 through September 4 when he was sidelined with an oblique injury). Over on the pitching side, Anthony DeSclafani anchored the Reds rotation despite not making his first start until June due to an oblique injury. With a 3.15 ERA over 18 starts, it’s the best year of his young career. (Liz Roscher)

TOP OF THE FLAGPOLE (aka THEIR BEST MOMENT)
When the Reds do win, it’s often because of Joey Votto. Their respectable second half coincides with his mind-boggling numbers. Seriously, they’re absurd. But Votto’s been powering Cincinnati to victory since before the All-Star break. When the Reds beat the Cardinals 7-6 on June 7, the walk-off home run was delivered by – who else? – Votto. At the plate with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Votto smashed a Kevin Siegrist pitch over the wall in left center field to seal the game for Cincinnati. (Israel Fehr)

CHANGES THEY NEED TO MAKE
The Reds are rebuilding, so we knew there would be some growing pains. That’s especially true with their pitching staff, which has run a franchise-record 32 different pitchers through the wringer this season. Nobody could have imagined it being this bad, though. Simply stated, Cincinnati needs to start hitting the mark with the pitchers it drafts, develops and even employs as stopgaps, because nothing is more demoralizing than knowing no lead is safe. (Mark Townsend)

Getting Robert Stephenson on track is a key for Cincinnati. (Getty Images/Andy Lyons)
Getting Robert Stephenson on track is a key for Cincinnati. (Getty Images/Andy Lyons)

WARP INTO THE FUTURE
Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed didn’t exactly wow major-league hitters during 2016, but both remains key building blocks for the Reds moving forward. Given the team’s current status, there’s no reason both players shouldn’t open next season in the starting rotation.

Outfielder Jesse Winker seems like a natural replacement for Jay Bruce, though the club elected to keep him in Triple-A after Bruce was shipped to New York. Winker should compete for a starting spot in spring training and could open the year with the 2017 Reds. Pitcher Amir Garrett may find himself in a similar spot.

Third baseman Nick Senzel was considered the best college hitter in the 2016 draft, so he remains an intriguing name to watch. Given that he was drafted a few months ago, he’s likely a few seasons away from contributing. But he could move fast if the bat is as good as advertised. (Chris Cwik)

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

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