The transactions undertaken by the Reds this winter have garnered increased respect throughout the world of baseball. In fact, an ESPN baseball analyst has Cincinnati about as close to the top of the power rankings as you can get.
The club won 97 games last year, winning the National league central by nine games, so a solid ranking would have been deserved without any additions to the lineup. However, they re-signed
cleanup hitter Ryan Ludwick and closer Jonathan Broxton to contract extensions.
Instead of just maintaining the status quo, the Reds then addressed its biggest need. GM Walt Jocketty traded Drew Stubbs to Cleveland in exchange for Shin-Soo Choo, who will be a huge upgrade for the team that had the lowest batting average from its leadoff hitters.
Those deals have prompted ESPN.com to project the Reds as number two on the power rankings going into the 2013 season.
“The superb rotation could be better if the Aroldis Chapman transition works, and the bullpen is deep enough to absorb his loss,” stated David Schoenfield of ESPN.com . “And Shin-Soo Choo provides a needed leadoff hitter.”
The only team ranked higher than the Reds were the Washington Nationals, who added leadoff hitter Denard Span to an offense that already has Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper and All-Star Ryan Zimmerman. Plus, they have an impressive pitching staff.
“The Nationals have the most talented rotation in the majors,” Schoenfield stated. “
That point is arguable, especially since the Reds had a better team E.R.A. than the Nationals last year. Cincinnati’s rotation also proved to be stronger than Washington’s, being that not one of the Reds’ rotation had to miss even a single start during the regular season.
The Reds also appear to have a better lineup than the Nats. Choo, who like Span hit .283, had a .373 on base percentage over Span’s .342.
In addition to a better leadoff hitter, the Reds have a superior lineup. They did something the Nats have as yet been unable to do: re-sign their biggest power threat. Adam LaRoche, who led the Nats in home runs and runs batted in last season, remains on the free agent market. His absence in the lineup leaves Washington with a big hole in the middle of the order.
ESPN.com could justifiably have placed the Reds ahead of the Nationals on the power rankings, but being placed at the second spot should draw no complaints from Cincinnati fans. It is a good sign that their club is finally starting to get respect from the national media.
Doug Poe once delivered newspapers to Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and Joe Morgan, three customers who have made him a lifelong fan of the Reds.