ZiPS 2021 Projections: Cincinnati Reds

After having typically appeared in the hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have now been released at FanGraphs for nine years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Cincinnati Reds.

Batters

Season Two of Operation: Win Now almost ended like the first one did — outside the playoffs looking in — until the Reds snuck into the postseason by winning 11 of their last 15 games, with all but a Pirates series coming against playoff teams. Cincinnati’s quick playoff exit served to highlight one of the fundamental reasons the team’s reach the last two years has exceeded its grasp. No, the offense isn’t going to be shut out for 22 consecutive innings all that often, as the Braves did in the teams’ Wild Card Series, but the lineup is actively hindering the team. This recent development is the opposite of the traditional 21st century Reds dilemma, but it’s a real issue; Cincinnati has finished 13th and 12th in the NL in runs the last two seasons while playing in a moderate hitters’ park.

In a lot of ways, Cincinnati’s problem is the mirror image of Colorado’s most pressing issue. The Rockies have two MVP candidates at the top of the lineup, but an appalling lack of depth. The Reds, on the other hand, have very few true holes and admirable depth all over the diamond, but a real lack of superstar upside. And without a lot of positions open for the taking without the team being extremely aggressive and giving up on decent players with guaranteed deals, it’s hard to see the Reds flipping that script.

The one exception here is the shortstop position, where Jose Garcia would likely be the starter if the season began today, but likely won’t be when the 2021 season actually gets under way. There’s an unusual amount of shortstop talent out there for the taking — Marcus Semien, Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius, and Ha-seong Kim — that could drastically improve a position that doesn’t have an apparent long-term solution otherwise. In an offseason where other NL competitors like the Cubs and Phillies crying poor, this is a golden opportunity for the team to swim against the current and take a real financial risk to get into the second tier of NL contenders.

If the Reds cheap out at short, the improvement opportunities are limited. The team has shown little interest in revisiting Nick Senzel as a shortstop option and Jesse Winker, despite being a beast in 2020, hasn’t established that level of performance as his baseline and is not a good defensive player. Nick Castellanos‘ fielding has improved, but his reputation offensively outstrips his actual contributions. Joey Votto’s comeback year was the second-worst of his career and he’ll turn 38 before next year’s playoffs. Mike Moustakas is Mike Moustakas: an average-plus player overall but on the wrong side of 30 and unlikely to have another gear.

The closest guy to being a star is Eugenio Suárez, but even though his 2020 struggles are unlikely to repeat in 2021, his plate discipline has trended in the wrong direction and his defense at the hot corner isn’t really a plus. Suárez is a terrific middle-of-the-order bat, but Cincinnati needs too much offensive help for a return to his four-win plateau to single-handedly fix things.

Pitchers

It still seems kind of odd from the franchise that until recently had a impressive knack for bringing in veteran pitchers just in time for their breakdown seasons, but the rotation was a team strength and why the Reds made the playoffs in 2020. The problem is, of course, that the team’s Cy Young award winner, Trevor Bauer, is a free agent. Cincy’s first Cy has reconsidered his previous stance that he would only sign one-year contracts, but if the Reds choose not to compete with the rest of league for his long-term services, I hope that at the very least, they test his resolve when it comes to the length of his deal. They could offer him one-year and $40 million, giving him a chance to re-enter the market next offseason without a qualifying offer and, hopefully, a league-wide financial outlook less clouded by COVID-19 and its related economic problems.

Now, the cupboard isn’t bare without Bauer. Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo are ace-quality pitchers themselves, so even a Bauer-less rotation will remain a team strength. But it’s just not quite as strong or as deep without Bauer — Anthony DeSclafani is also a free agent — and the team is vulnerable to an injury or two based on the present roster. I do expect that the Reds will do something here, signing a veteran and maybe offering a rehab deal to someone. After all, what’s the fun of having such highly respected pitching coaches without giving them some challenges?

The bullpen was decidedly “meh” in 2020 and though ZiPS isn’t expecting anyone to truly dominate, the projections do suggest a bit better performance across the board in 2021. ZiPS likes Archie Bradley a lot and thinks his drop-off in strikeouts wasn’t really reflected in the advanced stats. ZiPS has always been suspicious of the departed Robert Stephenson and is a bigger believer in Tejay Antone than I expected.

Ballpark graphic courtesy Eephus League. Depth charts constructed by way of those listed here

Batters – Standard
Player B Age PO PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS
Eugenio Suárez R 29 3B 606 523 76 129 23 2 34 107 70 165 4 2
Mike Moustakas L 32 2B 529 475 60 122 26 0 28 91 44 100 3 0
Tucker Barnhart L 30 C 403 355 33 84 16 1 11 44 42 88 1 1
Jesse Winker L 27 LF 437 371 55 99 19 0 16 51 56 88 2 2
Nicholas Castellanos R 29 RF 651 595 86 157 43 5 27 89 47 162 2 3
Shogo Akiyama L 33 CF 577 522 65 137 25 4 13 52 49 100 11 7
Nick Senzel R 26 CF 425 387 52 97 24 3 12 47 34 107 12 5
Freddy Galvis B 31 SS 555 510 59 125 25 3 13 61 36 120 5 3
Tyler Stephenson R 24 C 390 345 45 79 14 1 10 45 33 104 0 0
Francisco Pena R 31 C 291 275 30 68 15 0 9 35 13 57 1 0
Jonathan India R 24 3B 500 437 53 98 15 4 13 41 46 144 8 5
Joey Votto L 37 1B 511 437 62 105 21 0 14 45 70 103 2 0
Aristides Aquino R 27 RF 460 419 56 94 16 3 25 77 33 145 7 3
Curt Casali R 32 C 278 243 27 56 9 0 9 30 29 73 2 0
Mark Payton L 29 LF 363 328 41 81 17 3 12 39 30 80 5 4
Christian Colón R 32 3B 426 379 43 91 19 1 5 34 33 57 13 7
Matt Davidson R 30 1B 432 391 47 89 19 0 24 78 32 134 1 0
Kyle Farmer R 30 C 310 287 28 70 15 1 6 30 18 65 3 1
Boog Powell L 28 CF 389 339 48 81 16 1 6 28 44 101 11 4
Nick Williams L 27 LF 475 438 59 108 20 4 21 66 26 153 3 2
Brian Goodwin L 30 RF 402 360 49 82 21 2 16 48 35 128 8 2
Alex Blandino R 28 2B 371 313 40 64 15 1 7 29 44 112 3 4
Travis Jankowski L 30 CF 307 274 35 61 8 1 2 13 30 73 18 8
Michael De Leon B 24 SS 560 529 50 126 21 0 5 33 22 84 2 3
Mark Kolozsvary R 25 C 267 237 23 39 9 1 4 17 21 98 1 2
Narciso Crook R 25 LF 386 355 36 73 15 6 9 38 25 131 8 4
Michael Siani L 21 CF 541 490 53 95 9 5 8 33 37 160 31 16
Jose Garcia R 23 SS 459 431 42 95 19 2 6 35 16 118 11 5
TJ Friedl L 25 RF 493 437 52 96 17 6 7 37 41 123 17 8
Alfredo Rodriguez R 27 SS 504 475 44 108 16 2 2 26 22 100 10 6
Brian Rey R 23 LF 322 298 32 68 15 0 7 30 12 52 3 0
Brandon Barnes R 35 LF 475 438 47 93 20 1 12 46 27 149 9 3
Chris Okey R 26 C 322 295 28 52 9 1 9 30 22 122 1 0
Alberti Chavez R 25 SS 174 159 13 28 3 1 1 8 10 57 0 2
Michael Beltre L 25 RF 433 384 42 81 11 5 5 29 43 124 8 7
Andy Sugilio L 24 RF 442 420 38 98 10 4 3 28 18 101 13 9

Batters – Advanced
Player BA OBP SLG OPS+ ISO BABIP RC/27 Def WAR No. 1 Comp
Eugenio Suárez .247 .342 .493 115 .247 .293 6.0 0 3.2 Ken McMullen
Mike Moustakas .257 .325 .488 109 .232 .271 5.8 -6 1.9 Graig Nettles
Tucker Barnhart .237 .319 .380 83 .144 .285 4.3 8 1.7 Brian Schneider
Jesse Winker .267 .373 .447 114 .181 .311 6.1 -4 1.5 Jeremy Giambi
Nicholas Castellanos .264 .323 .489 109 .225 .320 5.7 -8 1.3 Dan Ford
Shogo Akiyama .262 .329 .400 90 .138 .303 4.8 -2 1.2 Darryl Hamilton
Nick Senzel .251 .313 .421 90 .171 .317 4.8 0 1.0 Troy O’Leary 오리어리
Freddy Galvis .245 .300 .382 77 .137 .297 4.1 1 0.9 Don Sparks
Tyler Stephenson .229 .308 .362 75 .133 .299 3.9 2 0.9 Mike Fitzgerald
Francisco Pena .247 .282 .400 76 .153 .282 4.1 3 0.7 Dax Norris
Jonathan India .224 .314 .366 78 .142 .304 4.0 2 0.6 Chuck Jackson
Joey Votto .240 .346 .384 92 .144 .284 4.8 -1 0.6 Chris Chambliss
Aristides Aquino .224 .289 .456 91 .232 .277 4.6 1 0.6 Ray Sadler
Curt Casali .230 .320 .379 83 .148 .292 4.3 -3 0.5 Tom Wilson
Mark Payton .247 .309 .427 91 .180 .292 4.6 1 0.4 Stu Pederson
Christian Colón .240 .306 .335 69 .095 .271 3.6 5 0.4 Todd Haney
Matt Davidson .228 .294 .460 94 .233 .279 4.8 -1 0.3 Jeff Kipila
Kyle Farmer .244 .297 .366 73 .122 .296 3.9 0 0.3 Yorvit Torrealba
Boog Powell .239 .326 .345 77 .106 .323 4.1 -2 0.3 Dave Brundage
Nick Williams .247 .301 .454 94 .208 .330 4.9 -5 0.3 LaVel Freeman
Brian Goodwin .228 .299 .431 88 .203 .306 4.6 -2 0.2 Doug Deeds
Alex Blandino .204 .322 .326 71 .121 .294 3.4 -1 0.1 Mark Naehring
Travis Jankowski .223 .304 .281 56 .058 .296 3.0 0 -0.4 Mark Gilbert
Michael De Leon .238 .272 .306 52 .068 .275 2.9 7 -0.5 David Milstien
Mark Kolozsvary .165 .255 .262 36 .097 .259 2.0 3 -0.6 Jose Molina
Narciso Crook .206 .264 .358 61 .152 .298 3.2 5 -0.6 Luis Saturria
Michael Siani .194 .260 .282 42 .088 .270 2.4 13 -0.7 James Rapoport
Jose Garcia .220 .264 .316 51 .095 .290 2.9 1 -0.7 Juan Villanueva
TJ Friedl .220 .301 .334 67 .114 .290 3.5 -1 -0.9 Ben Copeland
Alfredo Rodriguez .227 .266 .282 45 .055 .284 2.6 6 -0.9 Jim Scranton
Brian Rey .228 .271 .349 61 .121 .255 3.4 -1 -0.9 Miguel Suriel
Brandon Barnes .212 .266 .345 59 .132 .292 3.2 4 -1.0 Pedro Swann
Chris Okey .176 .240 .305 42 .129 .262 2.4 -2 -1.0 Andres Pagan
Alberti Chavez .176 .231 .226 21 .050 .267 1.5 0 -1.1 Arturo Mcdowell
Michael Beltre .211 .293 .305 58 .094 .298 2.9 0 -1.3 Kevin Koslofski
Andy Sugilio .233 .265 .298 48 .064 .301 2.7 3 -1.8 Jay Davis 데이비스

Pitchers – Standard
Player T Age W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO FIP
Trevor Bauer R 30 13 9 3.60 30 30 182.3 156 73 23 63 219 3.64
Luis Castillo R 28 13 9 3.63 30 30 173.7 147 70 21 62 197 3.66
Sonny Gray R 31 12 8 3.72 28 28 152.3 126 63 19 60 170 3.83
Tyler Mahle R 26 9 8 4.43 28 27 138.0 134 68 22 48 146 4.33
Tejay Antone R 27 8 8 4.72 27 21 120.0 118 63 18 51 113 4.70
Raisel Iglesias R 31 8 5 3.45 61 0 62.7 51 24 9 21 82 3.53
Lucas Sims R 27 4 4 4.73 39 16 104.7 91 55 21 51 140 4.75
Wade Miley L 34 7 7 4.80 23 22 105.0 108 56 16 45 89 4.87
Anthony DeSclafani R 31 6 7 5.03 24 22 118.0 122 66 25 38 114 5.07
Archie Bradley R 28 5 3 3.71 63 0 68.0 59 28 10 25 83 3.89
Jeff Hoffman R 28 7 8 5.07 31 21 120.7 119 68 21 55 127 4.85
Sal Romano R 27 7 7 4.82 34 13 93.3 95 50 15 37 88 4.70
Michael Lorenzen R 29 4 3 4.22 59 2 79.0 72 37 11 33 81 4.31
Riley O’Brien R 26 6 7 5.18 23 18 97.3 98 56 15 56 91 5.22
Amir Garrett L 29 3 2 4.02 65 0 56.0 45 25 9 29 77 4.23
Ryan Lillie R 25 6 8 5.49 24 23 116.3 129 71 21 49 87 5.48
Matt Bowman R 30 3 3 4.32 54 0 58.3 55 28 7 27 58 4.29
Jay Jackson R 33 3 3 4.34 55 0 58.0 50 28 10 24 74 4.27
Chris Volstad 볼스테드 R 34 3 4 5.20 17 7 53.7 63 31 9 14 30 5.19
Nate Jones R 35 2 2 4.11 34 0 30.7 28 14 4 14 34 4.32
Vladimir Gutierrez R 25 8 11 5.73 26 26 130.3 143 83 30 47 116 5.64
Tony Santillan R 24 5 7 5.70 22 22 107.3 115 68 20 60 90 5.77
Felix Jorge R 27 3 4 5.64 13 13 68.7 82 43 14 22 42 5.74
Ryan Hendrix R 26 4 3 4.53 39 0 43.7 37 22 6 29 56 4.60
R.J. Alaniz R 30 3 3 4.76 43 1 56.7 54 30 9 28 61 4.73
Jose De Leon R 28 2 2 5.44 18 10 46.3 44 28 9 30 55 5.47
Brandon Bailey R 26 3 4 5.62 22 14 80.0 83 50 16 45 76 5.76
Rob Wooten R 35 2 2 5.60 8 6 27.3 31 17 6 6 21 5.27
Jesse Biddle L 29 2 2 4.76 36 0 39.7 38 21 6 23 43 4.94
Jared Solomon R 24 4 7 5.85 22 21 87.7 92 57 13 66 72 5.93
Justin Miller R 34 3 3 4.87 39 0 40.7 40 22 10 11 45 5.12
David Carpenter R 35 0 0 4.85 33 0 29.7 29 16 4 15 28 4.76
Ryan Nutof R 25 3 4 5.19 46 0 59.0 58 34 10 33 58 5.25
Wyatt Strahan R 28 4 6 6.12 27 11 78.0 92 53 14 40 50 5.96
Tyler Thornburg R 32 1 1 6.23 34 1 34.7 36 24 8 22 39 6.01
Junichi Tazawa R 35 2 3 6.11 37 0 35.3 39 24 9 16 32 6.12
Andrew Moore R 27 5 8 6.57 25 21 112.3 141 82 33 36 77 6.72

Pitchers – Advanced
Player K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BB% K% BABIP ERA+ ERA- WAR No. 1 Comp
Trevor Bauer 10.8 3.1 1.1 8.2% 28.6% .296 128 78 4.2 Brad Penny
Luis Castillo 10.2 3.2 1.1 8.6% 27.2% .287 128 78 3.9 Freddy Garcia
Sonny Gray 10.0 3.5 1.1 9.4% 26.7% .279 124 80 3.3 Dave Stieb
Tyler Mahle 9.5 3.1 1.4 8.1% 24.6% .302 104 96 2.0 Danny Cox
Tejay Antone 8.5 3.8 1.4 9.7% 21.4% .295 98 102 1.3 Steve Arlin
Raisel Iglesias 11.8 3.0 1.3 8.1% 31.8% .292 134 74 1.2 Mike Maddux
Lucas Sims 12.0 4.4 1.8 11.2% 30.7% .294 98 102 1.1 Kevin Barry
Wade Miley 7.6 3.9 1.4 9.7% 19.2% .297 96 104 1.1 Dutch Ruether
Anthony DeSclafani 8.7 2.9 1.9 7.5% 22.4% .295 92 109 1.0 Russ Meyer
Archie Bradley 11.0 3.3 1.3 8.7% 28.9% .295 125 80 1.0 Mike Henneman
Jeff Hoffman 9.5 4.1 1.6 10.3% 23.8% .302 91 110 1.0 Bill Swift
Sal Romano 8.5 3.6 1.4 9.0% 21.5% .302 96 104 0.9 Jim McDonald
Michael Lorenzen 9.2 3.8 1.3 9.7% 23.8% .288 110 91 0.8 Dick Hyde
Riley O’Brien 8.4 5.2 1.4 12.6% 20.4% .300 89 112 0.7 Mike Torrez
Amir Garrett 12.4 4.7 1.4 12.0% 31.8% .290 115 87 0.6 Doug Capilla
Ryan Lillie 6.7 3.8 1.6 9.3% 16.6% .299 84 119 0.5 Jake Joseph
Matthew Bowman 8.9 4.2 1.1 10.5% 22.7% .298 107 93 0.4 Ed Farmer
Jay Jackson 11.5 3.7 1.6 9.7% 29.8% .292 107 94 0.3 Gregg Olson
Chris Volstad 5.0 2.3 1.5 5.9% 12.7% .298 89 112 0.3 Bob Klinger
Nate Jones 10.0 4.1 1.2 10.4% 25.2% .300 113 89 0.3 Roger McDowell
Vladimir Gutierrez 8.0 3.2 2.1 8.1% 20.0% .298 81 124 0.2 Michael Macdonald
Tony Santillan 7.5 5.0 1.7 12.1% 18.2% .298 81 123 0.2 Rich Berg
Felix Jorge 5.5 2.9 1.8 7.1% 13.6% .301 82 122 0.2 A.J. Sager
Ryan Hendrix 11.5 6.0 1.2 14.7% 28.4% .301 102 98 0.2 Clay Bryant
R.J. Alaniz 9.7 4.4 1.4 11.2% 24.3% .300 97 103 0.2 Michael Bumstead
Jose De Leon 10.7 5.8 1.7 14.1% 25.8% .302 85 117 0.1 Lou Kretlow
Brandon Bailey 8.6 5.1 1.8 12.3% 20.7% .298 82 122 0.1 Tim Byron
Rob Wooten 6.9 2.0 2.0 5.1% 17.8% .298 83 121 0.1 Brian Moehler
Jesse Biddle 9.8 5.2 1.4 12.8% 23.9% .305 97 103 0.1 Tippy Martinez
Jared Solomon 7.4 6.8 1.3 15.7% 17.1% .299 79 126 0.0 Preston Hanna
Justin Miller 10.0 2.4 2.2 6.4% 26.2% .288 95 105 0.0 Rich Monteleone
David D. Carpenter 8.5 4.6 1.2 11.3% 21.1% .298 95 105 0.0 Rube Ehrhardt
Ryan Nutof 8.8 5.0 1.5 12.4% 21.7% .294 89 112 -0.2 Sam Nahem
Wyatt Strahan 5.8 4.6 1.6 11.0% 13.7% .305 76 132 -0.3 Jesse Jefferson
Tyler Thornburg 10.1 5.7 2.1 13.6% 24.1% .308 74 135 -0.4 Moe Burtschy
Junichi Tazawa 8.2 4.1 2.3 10.1% 20.1% .297 76 132 -0.4 Bob Miller
Andrew Moore 6.2 2.9 2.6 7.1% 15.1% .301 70 142 -0.8 Bill King

Players are listed with their most recent teams wherever possible. This includes players who are unsigned, players who will miss 2021 due to injury, and players who were released in 2020. So yes, if you see Joe Schmoe, who quit baseball back in August to form a Finnish industrial death metal fourth-wave ska J-pop band, he’s still listed here intentionally.

Both hitters and pitchers are ranked by projected zWAR, which is to say, WAR values as calculated by me, Dan Szymborski, whose surname is spelled with a z. WAR values might differ slightly from those which appear in the full release of ZiPS. Finally, I will advise anyone against — and might karate chop anyone guilty of — merely adding up WAR totals on a depth chart to produce projected team WAR. ZiPS is assuming that the designated hitter will continue in force in 2021; if it does not, there will be widespread minor adjustments across the board come April.

ZiPS is agnostic about future playing time by design. For more information about ZiPS, please refer to this article, or get angry at Dan on Twitter or something.





Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

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Brian Reinhart
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Am I to conclude that the Rockies’ LF situation is worse than the Reds’ SS situation here, since it’s not censored?