2024 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers & Busts: Cincinnati Reds

The Cincinnati Reds players you should and shouldn't draft in 2024.

Aided in part by their decidedly hitter-friendly home ballpark, the Cincinnati Reds often feature fantasy-relevant seasons from a number of hitters, regardless of how competitive the team is.

Per Statcast, only two stadiums have a higher overall park factor than Great American Ballpark over the last three years. No ballpark has a higher park factor where home runs are concerned.

But this year’s iteration, or the 2023 version, of the Reds was different, at least from a fantasy standpoint.

Regardless of the fact that the club had its second-best season since 2013 with an 82-80 record, there was plenty of fantasy value to be found up and down the roster, what with breakout seasons from pitchers Andrew Abbott and Hunter Greene, as well as another strong campaign from Alexis Díaz.

Cincinnati’s lineup featured its usual complement of productive hitters. Six different Reds hitters (minimum 200 plate appearances) finished with a wRC+ of 107 or higher.

Whether influenced by the specific players in the lineup, new rules that saw an increase in stolen base totals league-wide, or both, the Reds stole bases more often than any other team in the sport in 2023, with a 190 total far outpacing the next closest team, Arizona at 166.

Led by Elly De La Cruz with 35 and TJ Friedl with 27, eight different Reds players stole at least 10 bases, with three (De La Cruz, Friedl, and Jake Fraley) topping the 20 mark. The influx of stolen bases certainly didn’t hurt from a fantasy standpoint





Andrew Abbott

2023 Stats (109.1 IP): 3.87 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 120 K, 8 W


Abbott enjoyed a solid debut season for the Reds, especially painted in the light of the team’s struggle to find consistency in the rotation.

The rookie pitched to a 3.87 ERA and a 4.20 FIP in 109.1 innings of work, striking out 120 batters while surrendering 44 walks and 16 home runs.

First and foremost, and perhaps most troubling, is the fact that Abbott was decidedly more effective at home than on the road. Generally, for starters who log half their starts in a launchpad of a stadium, it’s the other way around. It wasn’t just the surface-level metrics either, it trickled down to quality of contact as well despite near-identical strikeout and walk metrics as well.

Andrew Abbott 2023 Splits

And while Abbott’s BABIP was probably a smidgen, ok more like very unlikely on the road, it went in the exact opposite direction where his home stats were concerned.

It remains to be seen just how Abbott’s splits play out in future seasons, but it’s probably unreasonable to expect the trends (at least where notable home success is concerned) to continue, what with the hurler’s propensity for giving up barrels. The rookie allowed a 9.2% barrel rate, good for placing in the 27th percentile league-wide.

That Abbott was productive enough last season (his 26.1% strikeout rate finished in the 72nd percentile and certainly helped) means we’re probably having a different conversation if he pitched for a different team, but his 2023 metrics just aren’t conducive to pitching at Great American Ballpark on a regular basis. Like at all.

Put him in a pitcher-friendly park in Detroit, San Francisco, San Diego, or Seattle and his fantasy forecast and upside both look much different, but in Cincinnati, he’s more of a streaming option or a late-round flier in drafts given the potential for opposing teams to rack up barrels and walks on a regular basis.

And that’s all without mentioning the fact that the 24-year-old saw his numbers dip in the second half. Whether that was due to the rest of the league adjusting to the hurler, BABIP regression, or not unheard-of struggles for a rookie, or a combination of all three, remains to be seen. But the moral of the story here is that fantasy managers should probably look elsewhere for rotation options.


TJ Friedl

2023 Stats: (556 PA): .279 AVG, 73 runs scored, 18 HR, 66 RBI, 27 SB


Friedl was arguably the Reds’ best player last season, both from a real-life baseball standpoint (with a 4.4 fWAR) and from a fantasy standpoint as he was one of just 17 batters to log at least 25 stolen bases and 15 home runs.

All in all, the outfielder hit .279 with a .352 on-base percentage, 18 home runs, and 27 stolen bases in 556 plate appearances, adding 18 home runs and 27 stolen bases, often serving as a catalyst near the top of the Reds’ lineup.

TJ Friedl 2023 Lineup Splits

Like his teammate Abbott, Friedl was much more productive at home, batting .291 with a .389 wOBA, a 136 wRC+, and 13 of his home runs in Cincinnati compared to a .267 average, a .320 wOBA, a 99 wRC+, and just five home runs on the road.

Great American Ballpark clearly helped Friedl, as his expected home run tally for the entire season topped 13 in just three stadiums, one of which was (unsurprisingly) the Reds’ home ballpark.

However, also like Abbott, it’s fair to wonder if Friedl’s overall production (specifically at the plate) can continue. Similarly, we’re probably having a much different conversation in terms of his fantasy upside if he isn’t playing with the Reds in Cincinnati.

The stolen bases may continue, but it’s hard to see Friedl’s plate production staying consistent with decidedly below-average quality of contact metrics.

Friedl has made a ton of contact and isn’t swinging and missing all that much, but high contact rates can only lead to so much production without solid (or better) quality of contact numbers, and Friedl’s 2023 production may have been a best-case scenario in that regard.

TJ Friedl’s 2023 Percentile Rankings




Noelvi Marte

2023 Stats: (123 PA): .316 AVG, 15 runs scored, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 6 SB


Marte may not have drawn the headlines that fellow Cincinnati rookie infielders Elly De La Cruz and Matt McLain did, but his 2023 production was notable all the same.

Of course, we’re dealing with a much smaller sample than De La Cruz and McClain, both of whom eclipsed 400 plate appearances last season.

Still, there was plenty to be encouraged by where Marte’s production was concerned.

Long a promising hitting prospect—FanGraphs’ future grades for hit and game power were 50 each for the infielder—Marte logged a .340 xwOBA and a 46.1% hard-hit rate in his first taste of the Majors with a reasonably solid barrel rate (7.9%) and a strong xBA (.295).

In total, Marte hit .316 with a .366 on-base percentage, three home runs, six stolen bases, and a 120 wRC+ in 123 plate appearances. He also, to put it plainly, crushed right-handed pitching, logging a .876 OPS, a 132 wRC+, a .317 average, and a .364 on-base percentage in 88 plate appearances against righties.

The only real question here is playing time.

The Reds infield is nothing if not crowded, even with Joey Votto currently a free agent. What with De La Cruz and McClain on hand, not to mention Jonathan India, Spencer Steer, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, as well as the newly signed Jeimer Candelario.

It’s an embarrassment of riches, and usually this crowded of a group of infielders or outfielders would be a potential negative for a player’s fantasy value. But given Marte’s early-career production and upside, he’s more than worth a look here for fantasy managers. Or rather, the upside is too great to turn down, especially if the Reds trade from their infield surplus to address needs elsewhere on their roster. Of course, that’s all entirely speculative, but with Marte having considerable experience at both third base and shortstop, his potential plate appearances total would only benefit from a trade.


Nick Lodolo

2023 Stats (34.1 IP): 6.29 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 47 K, 2 W


Sticking with former top prospects, Lodolo was limited to 34.1 innings in 2023 due to injury and sported a stat line to suggest he struggled mightily at times, what with a 6.29 ERA, a 5.79 FIP, and 2.62 home runs surrendered per nine innings.

And to an extent, the struggles were true.

However, due to the smaller sample size, things were more down to a pair of poor starts taking a toll on his season-long numbers than anything else. On April 18 at home against the Tampa Bay Rays, Lodolo was tagged for 12 hits, eight earned runs, three home runs, and a walk in 4.2 innings of work. He surrendered nine hits, six earned runs, two more home runs, and a pair of walks in four innings against the Texas Rangers just six days later, also at home.

Two bad starts in a hitter-friendly park against the league’s third and fourth-highest-scoring teams shouldn’t be a significant cause for pessimism for Lodolo heading into 2024, yet it might be. His current ADP, per NFBC, is 243.88.

Of course, some of that, speculatively speaking, might be due to the fact that Lodolo is coming off an injury-shortened season in which he missed significant time due to a stress reaction in his left tibia. That’s again all entirely speculative as to why Lodolo isn’t being drafted higher. However, if the former first-round pick is healthy next season, he could be a steal later in drafts.

Because for as much as the two poor starts marred Lodolo overall metrics—the 25-year-old owned a 2.12 ERA and a 1.90 FIP in his first three starts, spanning 17 innings—he showed considerable promise in terms of missing bats and limiting walks.

Thanks in part to some excellent showings from his curveball, which sported a 35.8% usage rate and a 45% whiff rate, the left-hander turned in a 30.4% whiff rate on the season to go along with a 28.3% strikeout rate.

That he notched a 6.0% walk speaks well to his ability to find success. And while all of these metrics came in a smaller, seven-start sample size, they’re right in line with his 2022 metrics, which came over the course of 19 starts and 103.1 innings. In some cases, 2023 represented something of a step forward based on those metrics, despite a bloated and slightly misleading ERA and an injury-shortened campaign.

Nick Lodolo In 2022 & 2023

Per a tweet from The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Charlie Goldsmith on December 1, relaying some notes from Reds’ president of baseball operations Nick Krall, Lodolo is reportedly “fully on track for spring training.”

If the left-hander can log anywhere close to a full season’s worth of innings with similar bat-missing (and walk-limiting) metrics in 2024, he’ll easily be a top-25 fantasy starter with the upside for more, even with an unideal home ballpark.



Ben Rosener

Ben Rosener is baseball and fantasy baseball writer whose work has previously appeared on the digital pages of Motor City Bengals, Bleacher Report, USA Today, FanSided.com and World Soccer Talk among others. He also writes about fantasy baseball for RotoBaller and the Detroit Tigers for his own Patreon page, Getting You Through the Tigers Rebuild (@Tigers_Rebuild on Twitter). He only refers to himself in the third person for bios.

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