In the midst of all the optimism for the 2013 Reds, even the club’s bi-monthly publication realizes the flaws in its lineup.
“Don’t get me wrong,” said Charles Henderson in the March 2013 issue of Reds Report. “I am not without a few concerns regarding this Reds team.”
Henderson’s concerns mainly echo those already offered in the baseball preview publications. Obviously there is the question of Aroldis Chapman as a starting pitcher, and the unlikelihood of keeping all of their starters healthy enough to make every appearance as they did in 2012.
Another concern, according to Henderson, regards Todd Frazier’s performance defensively at third base. Not only is he following Gold Glover Scott Rolen, but his fielding percentage and range factor are average at best.
“Here’s hoping that skilled shortstop Zack Cozart doesn’t need to cover up for Frazier’s shortcomings on the left side of the infield,” Henderson said. “Over 162 games, fielding deficiencies will cost a team.”
There also figures to be a defensive downgrade in center field, where Shin-Soo Choo takes over for sure-handed Drew Stubbs. Choo has been primarily a right fielder throughout his career.
Some cautious fans have pointed out concerns in the everyday lineup, a group that had trouble scoring runs last season. In fact, the Reds have just two players who rate best at their position among the clubs in the National League Central, namely first baseman Joey Votto and second baseman Brandon Phillips.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, have four such players. Yadier Molina is the best catcher in the division, and David Freese is the best third baseman. St. Louis also boasts the best corner outfielders, Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran. The latter’s numbers (.262 batting average, 32 home runs, and 99 runs batted in) top even those of Cincinnati’s second best slugger, Jay Bruce.
The lack of superstars should not depress Reds fans, however. The club has what it takes to win a World Championship, a rotation of excellent pitchers.
All fans need to do is look back just a few months ago at the team who eliminated the Reds from the playoffs, the San Francisco Giants. They, too, had just one bona fide superstar, catcher Buster Posey, who became N.L. MVP just as Votto had done a few years earlier.
Posey anchored a lineup of basically unknown hitters, who became World Series Champions because they did not need to hit much. They had an excellent starting rotation, one that should be inferior to that of Cincinnati in 2013.
Doug Poe once delivered newspapers to Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez, three customers who have made him a lifelong fan of the Reds.
Reds Report, March 2013