Wednesday, October 02, 2013

A Look Back on the Reds 2013 Season

These are some off-the-cuff thoughts I had about the Cincinnati Reds' 2013 season. They came after the Reds lost the one game Wild Card play-in last night to the Pittsburgh Pirates. I posted them on a Facebook site I've enjoyed during the latter part of this season, Reds Nation #4192. Tell me what you think.

Some members of the site thought that Reds manager Dusty Baker should be fired. A few thought that the Reds players weren't really trying last night. That's why the post starts as it does.
Any team can lose a single game. So, while I'm definitely disappointed that the Reds' season came to an end tonight, I have no particular qualms with how any player played or how Dusty Baker managed in this particular game. I'm not knowledgeable enough to have an opinion about the management of the game. And I certainly can't psychoanalyze players' motives or desire to win.
But, as an armchair fan, it seems to me that the Reds not winning the NL Central Division came down to a few factors, besides the obvious ones that both the Cardinals and Pirates played better than the Reds this season.

1. Run support was lacking. Once again this season, I could say what would have been unimaginable over most of the past twenty seasons or so: The Reds' pitching staff was very good. But offensive production, usually a trademark of Reds teams, wasn't that good. Parts of the lineup seemed at times to have gone AWOL at the plate.

2. The injuries of Cueto hurt the Reds a lot. Losing your ace for a good chunk of the season not only hurts in the games he ordinarily would start, it messes with the bullpen and the rhythm of thinks in the rotation.

Other than that, there were no obvious flaws, from where I sit, and lots of pluses.

For all the complaints about Joey Votto, he had a great year and a high average in important game situations, in addition to his high on-base numbers and batting average.

Brandon Phillips was wonderful: sparkling on defense, commendable at the plate.

Frazier and Cozart were both terrific on defense. Cozart improved at the plate in the latter half of the season. Frazier, I thought, beat the sophomore jinx.

Choo was tremendous in the lead-off spot. Like Votto, he is a tremendously disciplined and productive hitter. He did well in center field, though it's not where he's most comfortable.

Jay Bruce has emerged as a consistent power hitter, underrated or overlooked in the media. I believe that 2013 shows that he is only going to get better.

Homer Bailey, Mat Latos, Sam LeCure, and Aroldis Chapman, in addition to Cueto, were joys to watch on the mound. Even Bronson Arroyo, a true professional, shone brightly in most of his starts in what will probably be his last season as a Red.

It will be interesting to see what moves the Reds make in the off-season. Obviously, the front office will want to find a spot in the lineup for Billy Hamilton. But above all, I look for them to shore up the offense. Agree? Where would they do that?

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