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2020 MLB Team Preview: Cincinnati Reds

Steve Buchanan provides his thoughts on what the 60-game MLB season could look like for the Reds.

July Update: The Reds continue to be the team to watch in the National League and my pick to steamroll through the 60-game season. They’ve been able to avoid any major news as the team gets prepped for the restart. Derek Dietrich tested positive for COVID-19 but his role has diminished since last season after the signing of Mike Moustakas. Nick Castellanos has also said he wants to play the outfield and not just DH, which could lead the Reds to put Jesse Winker in the DH spot. With an impressive rotation and very powerful lineup, I’m surprised the Reds continue to be listed as a playoff contender and not a division winner. This team has a cakewalk of a schedule to start and that should give them the early advantage in the standings. Don’t sleep on this team as they’re deep in the rotation, bench and bullpen.

If you could choose only one team in the National League to be excited about, the Reds should be that team. In an offseason that was loaded with big moves and trade, the Reds quietly made some solid moves to improve their roster from top to bottom. Suddenly, when the standings start to come to fruition, the Reds could be near the top of the National League Central.

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DraftKings Sportsbook odds

— Division Winner: +275

— League Winner: +1800

— World Series: +2800

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Key Departures:

Alex Wood, SP; Joe Iglesias, SS; Jose Peraza, 2B

Key Acquisitions:

Nick Castellanos, OF; Mike Moustakas, 3B; Wade Miley, SP

2020 Fantasy MVP

Mike Moustakas, 3B

If you’re not excited for the prospect of Moustakas playing half of his games at Great American Ball Park, you’re just not invested enough as of yet. Don’t worry, I’m here to reel you in. Playing in the hitter-friendly Miller park for half his games last season, Moose ended up slashing .254/.329/.516 with 35 home runs and 87 RBI through 143 games in 2018. Now, he’ll have the luxury of hitting at Great American Ball Park, which has favorable hitting stats for all categories across the board, according to recent Park Factors. Not to mention, he’ll be surrounded in a lineup with big-time power hitters, including newly acquired Nick Castellanos and Reds veteran Eugenio Suarez. These three hitters combined for 111 home runs on their respective teams last season. The thought of these players hitting back-to-back-to-back is a scary proposition for opposing pitchers.

As for Moustakas on his own, he continues to improve on stats you want to see. His FB% has consistently been in the mid-40s over the past three seasons and 2019 saw his HR/FB ratio jump from 12.8% in 2018 to 18.2% in 2019. Moose has also posted a hit-hard% over 40% in the last two seasons. The amount of power he should with this team should really be a feat to see and he’ll be the anchor in this very powerful and underrated lineup.

2020 Fantasy LVP

Joey Votto, 1B

The decline of Votto has been coming over the past few seasons but this really could be the bottom. One alarming trend that has been happening is the drop in walks and the quick rise in his strikeouts. Since 2017, Votto’s BB% went from 19%, to 17.3% and 12.5% in 2019. As for the strikeouts, they were at just 11.7% in 2017, then 16.2% and topping out at a career-high 20.2% last season. Then, of course, his extreme drop in power. Votto went from hitting 36 home runs in 2017 to a combined 27 over the past two seasons, which spans 287 games. The rest of the Reds’ lineup could carry the lack of production from Votto but at some point, which very well could come soon, the Reds may have to start looking elsewhere. Even if keeping Votto in the lineup is the answer, he’s likely not hitting anywhere in a spot where he can have the opportunity to bounce back.

2020 Breakout Player

Jesse Winker, OF

To be fair, it’s hard to find a breakout candidate for the Reds in 2020. The majority of their lineup is solidified players that have already made their mark in the majors. Winker is one of the few that have yet to flourish and he could struggle to receive consistent at-bats in a crowded Reds outfield. With that said, he posted some impressive numbers through 113 games, slashing .269/.357/.473 with 16 home runs 38 RBI and 51 runs scored.

While Winker doesn’t have the speed in his arsenal, how power has flashed at different levels in the minors. He hit 16 home runs in Single-A and 13 in Double-A. Through three years in the majors, spanning 249 games, he’s hit a total of 30. The problem has been getting him consistent at-bats, which could be an issue once again this season. Nonetheless, of the few players that could land in this category, Winker, who is a very patient hitter, could be one to surprise in 2020. His BB% has been at least 10% in all three years he’s been in the majors while his K% hasn’t surpassed 17.5%.

Final Thoughts:

The NL Central is going to be for the taking. No team really sets themselves apart from the rest of the division, with the exception of the Reds. They have a solid rotation, which features Trevor Bauer, which at the time felt like a head-scratching move ahead of the trade deadline in 2019. With Luis Castilo and Sonny Gray to go with Bauer and Miley, they have a very strong 1-4 rotation. The offense, which we’ve talked about, is going to be very strong as well. I absolutely love taking the Reds futures bets, especially in the division where you can get them at a very strong +275. As the season progresses, many people will start to realize just how strong this team is but luckily for you, we can get ahead of the curve.

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