The 2019 Cincinnati Reds lineup was not just bad, it was awful. It finished 25th in the league in wRC+ and 22nd in wOBA. Cincinnati was a bottom-of-the-barrel offensive team with below-average hitting coming from five different positions. This lack of offensive prowess created a lineup that did not offer much top-tier fantasy offense. Eugenio Suarez was a star, and a half-season of Aristides Aquino offered solid power, but only in the deepest of deep leagues were the other Reds hitters useful. However, with the Reds looking to be competitive in 2020, the lineup has undergone some serious changes. Let’s take a look.
(Last Updated: 7/1/20)
60-Game Season Update
Nick Senzel has dealt with a number of injuries the past couple of years, putting a damper on how we view his potential. Given his power and speed, consistent at-bats while keeping himself healthy from the DH spot should allow the former top prospect to produce potential double-digit home runs and steals this season.
With Aristides Aquino kept off the training squad that will be in Cincinnati, it seems that Shogo Akiyama will get a full-time gig in the leadoff spot for the Reds. Akiyama should be a great source of runs scored in the revamped Cincinnati offense.
Between the Brewers, Cubs, Cardinals, and Pirates, there are only six projected left-handed starters. For his career, Jesse Winker has hit to the tune of a .907 OPS against right-handed pitching with a horrendous .543 OPS against southpaws – it’s the perfect environment for the Reds outfielder. With fairly consistent at-bats due to being on the strong side of the platoon, Winker could have a monster 2020 campaign.
Like we mentioned before, Aristides Aquino did not make the initial roster that will be training at the Reds’ home ballpark, which doesn’t spell good news for the right-handed slugger this season. Given the Reds have six outfielders on the 35 man roster to train at Great American Ballpark – including Rule 5 pick Mark Payton – it seems unlikely Aquino gets to play this season.
Original March Edition
- ADDITIONS: Nicholas Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, Shogo Akiyama, Travis Jankowski, Mark Payton
- SUBTRACTIONS: Jose Iglesias, Jose Peraza, Derek Dietrich
Tucker Barnhart (C| Batting 8th)
2019: 32 R, 11 HR, 40 RBI, 1 SB, .234/.331/.383 | C #30
2020 ADP: 544.0
Tucker Barnhart’s 2019 season was extremely boring. There was nothing valuable about his offense. He played in 114 games and primarily hit out of the bottom of the lineup, inhibiting how productive he could be. In a juiced-ball season, Barnhart had just 11 home runs and slugged just .383. His best month was August, in which he slugged .291/.391/.519 with 23 hits and 15 RBI. ESPN’s Player Rater ranked him as the league’s 30th-best catcher.
Barnhart does not have much of a ceiling. Although he is in a position that isn’t too offense friendly, there are far better options in most leagues than Barnhart. In 10- and 12- team leagues he isn’t worth looking at. Barnhart may not even have a starting job in 2020.
Weaknesses: AVG, HR, OBP, SLG, R…just about all of them
Barnhart takes the bulk of the starts for the 2020 Reds, hits between .270 and .290, and can slug 15 homers. If he gets lucky, he might reach 60 RBI for the first time in his career.
Barnhart is a backup catcher in 2020 and loses most of his playing time. He repeats what he did in 2019, hitting in the .230s with sub-.340 OBP.
2020 Projection: 41 R, 13 HR, 51 RBI, 1 SB, .247/.321/.394
Joey Votto (1B| Batting 2nd)
2019: 79 R, 15 HR, 47 RBI, 5 SB, .261/.357/.411 | 1B #16
2020 ADP: 156.7
Is Joey Votto no longer the hitter he used to be? Votto’s 2019 saw a huge drop-off in offensive production and was the second straight season he failed to hit more than 20 home runs. The biggest scare regarding his season is his five-point drop in walk rate, resulting in a career-low .357 OBP. If you discount 2015 (Bryce Harper’s absurd MVP year), 2019 was the first season since 2010 that Votto did not lead the NL in OBP. His hard-hit percentage sat in the 42nd percentile, while his exit velocity was in the 44th percentile. His batted-ball metrics were at an all-time low. On the bright side, Votto scattered glimpses of the hitter he used to be throughout the season, although he failed to put it all together.
Next season will be a huge test for Votto. He spent time throughout last year discussing the midseason mechanical changes he made to his swing to try to regain his power. Given an increase in Votto’s OBP and his consistent plate appearances in the two-hole, Votto has the chance to score a lot of runs. If he can find his power stroke in 2020, he can easily bounce back to being a valuable fantasy piece and staple in every 10- and 12-team roster. Be wary of drafting him early and especially at a lone first base position.
Strengths: OBP, R
Weaknesses: HR, SB
Votto has a huge bounce-back season. He slugs 25 homers, posts a .430 OBP, and scores 100+ runs.
Votto is well past the hitter he was years ago. He fails to hit 15+ homers, posts a sub-.360 OBP and only holds fantasy value in NL-only leagues.
2020 Projection: 92 R, 22 HR, 75 RBI, 3 SB, .299/.390/.469
Mike Moustakas (2B| Batting 4th)
2019: 80 R, 35 HR, 87 RBI, 3 SB, .254/.329/.516 | 2B #16
2020 ADP: 129.8
The Reds made another move in their commitment to winning when they signed free agent Mike Moustakas to a 4 year/$64M deal. Moustakas is coming off a 2.8 fWAR season where he hit 35 homers and delivered a 113 wRC+. He had an xwOBA of .349 and 40.7% Hard Hit rate. Both are solid, but not elite. Moustakas’ biggest culprit is an inability to walk. His 2019 displayed a career best Walk rate of 9.1%, but still led to an unimpressive .329 OBP. However, Moustakas is a solid power hitter and is a safe bet for another 30+ homers inside the small confinements of Great American Ballpark.
Moustakas’ production should be right in line with his last few seasons. The power is consistent enough to rely on, and the RBI opportunities should be plenty. He should have dual eligibility at second base and third base, which is great for all formats. He’ll be the everyday second basemen for the Reds and should be a staple in the middle of their lineup. Moustakas is instantly one of the better hitters in the Reds lineup and should be a great pick for 10- and 12-team leagues.
Strengths: HR, RBI,
Weaknesses: OBP, SB
Moustakas continues with the long ball and smacks 40+ homers. His RBI count surpasses 90.
Moustakas hits another 30+ homers, but doesn’t rack up as many runs or RBI that he would like. He settles in the 75 runs and 80 RBI range.
2020 Projection: 85 R, 35 HR, 95 RBI, 3 SB, .260/.325/.499
Freddy Galvis (SS| Batting 7th)
2019: 67 R, 23 HR, 70 RBI, 4 SB, .260/.296/.438 | SS #31
2020 ADP: 489.5
The Reds exercised Freddy Galvis‘ option for the 2020 season (boo!). In 2019, Galvis had a “career” year offensively, hitting 23 homers. However, even his career year still fell 11% below league average. He finished the season with a horrid .296 OBP and produced from just a 4.8% walk rate. Galvis showed limited contact ability, striking out 24.6% of the time, and failed to show valuable speed by stealing just four bases in 147 games. His most value came from his power, but he was still 10th in homers and 15th in slugging among qualified shortstops. Simply put, Galvis was not very good.
The amount of playing time Galvis receives will largely be based on the Reds’ offseason. It is likely he will be given a utility role in the infield and be a spot starter. Although this will benefit his position eligibility in fantasy leagues, his playing time will be scarce, and his ceiling is not very high. Galvis should not be a starter for the Reds and should certainly not be a starter on your fantasy team. He will have almost no value in 10- and 12-team leagues and little value in NL-only leagues (assuming he repeats a 20-homer season). Leave Galvis out of your draft and focus on the younger talent that the middle infield has to offer.
Strengths: HR (sorta)
Weaknesses: OBP, SB, AVG
Galvis remains a starter and repeats a 20-homer campaign.
He plays a utility role and shows barely any fantasy value.
2020 Projection: 49 R, 12 HR, 33 RBI, 2 SB, .241/.282/.391
Eugenio Suarez (3B| Batting 3rd)
2019: 87 R, 49 HR, 103 RBI, 3 SB, .271/.358/.572 | 3B #4
2020 ADP: 60.3
Suarez was easily the brightest spot of the Reds’ 2019 offense, as he had a season filled of milestones and records. He had personal bests in home runs, slugging percentage, and OPS, while tying his bests in runs and games played. Suarez also set the record for most home runs hit by a Venezuelan-born player and by a National League third baseman, while falling just four homers shy of setting the Reds’ single-season home run record. ESPN’s Player Rater ranked Suarez as the fourth-best third baseman in the league.
It should go without saying, but Suarez should be an impact bat who has a spot in every fantasy lineup. He is projected to fall between the fifth and seventh rounds of 12-team drafts but could go as early as the fourth if the hitters around him are improved. He will have consistent opportunities to drive in runs, score runs, hit homers for your team, and could put up better numbers than he did last year. He has a high ceiling without too low of a floor, making Suarez a safe pick for fantasy value. Look for another monster year from him in 2020.
Strengths: HR, RBI, OPS
Suarez produces another awesome fantasy year, scoring 100+ runs, 100+ RBI, and another 40+ homer season. He finishes the season as a Top Three fantasy third baseman.
Suarez takes a few steps back but still produces a solid season. He slugs over 30 homers but comes up just short of 100 RBI.
2020 Projection: 82 R, 40 HR, 110 RBI, 2 SB, .281/.368/.561
Nicholas Castellanos (OF| Batting 5th)
2019: 100 R, 27 HR, 73 RBI, 2 SB, .289/.337/.525| OF #28
2020 ADP: 118.7
Nicholas Castellanos signed a four-year deal with the Reds worth $64 million. He’s coming off his second straight season where he was an above average hitter. His 2019 season ended with a 121 wRC+ and he posted a 130 wRC+ in 2018.He’s had three straight seasons of hitting 20+ homers, where two of them came in the very pitcher friendly confinements of Comerica Park. Castellanos is more recently remembered for the absolute offensive tear he went on after being dealt to the Chicago Cubs at the end of the 2019 season. With the Cubs, Castellanos hit .321/.356/.646 with 16 home runs and 21 doubles across 225 plate appearances. This was good for an elite 154 wRC+. On a more pessimistic note, Castellanos ranked in just the 49th percentile in exit velocity and just the 65th percentile for hard hit rate. He doesn’t walk much either, but he still posted the 54th best barrels per plate appearance rate in 2019.
Although a defensive liability, Castellanos has a bat that improves almost any lineup. Joining a resurgence of offense in Cincinnati, Castellanos should bare no playing time concerns and should benefit in many fantasy categories. The small confinements of his new home ballpark should surely help him slug a notable amount of additional home runs, especially considering he hit 58 doubles last season. He should be slotted into the middle of the lineup with on base guys like Winker, Votto, or Shogo Akiyama ahead of him, making his run producing opportunities plentiful. It may not boost his stock draft much, but Castellanos looks to be a lock for another productive season.
Strengths: Runs, RBI, HR
Castellanos improves on last year’s solid season with the benefits of Great American Ballpark. He hits 30+ home runs, drives in 100 RBI, and scores 90 runs.
Castellanos produces similar to his projections, hitting 26 home runs, while driving in 87 runs and scoring 86.
Jesse Winker (OF| Batting 1st or 6th)
2019: 51 R, 16 HR, 38 RBI, 0 SB, .269/.357/.473| OF #28
2020 ADP: 255.7
In his third season and first in which he played in over 100 games, Jesse Winker was just about an above-league-average hitter. However, if you followed his season, you probably wouldn’t have thought so due to a pretty poor first three months where he hit .239/.313/.455 with 10 home runs. But things got a lot better for Winker in June, and from then on he hit .302/.402/.494. Winker still finished the season with an abysmal 38 RBI and 51 runs. Although this is largely due to the hitters who bat around him, the low counting stats limited his fantasy value. But, Winker’s advanced metrics are both interesting and exciting. Although he was only in the 51st percentile in exit velocity, Winker’s hard-hit rate, xwOBA, and xBA were in the 62nd, 75th, and 84th percentiles, respectively.
2020 Winker looks to be really positive and is set up to be a successful player for the Reds and fantasy teams. He has always been praised for his ability to make consistent contact, but he also has a career 11.9% walk rate. This has ranked 43rd in the league since his call-up, making him a great outfield candidate for OBP leagues. There’s a slight scare he could be a platoon player next season, and he might not hit more than 20 homers, but he’ll most likely be the leadoff hitter in a lineup that will greatly be improved. Expect him to have plenty of opportunities to score runs and have a spot as a fourth or fifth outfielder in 10- and 12-team leagues. With large bias, Winker is one of my favorite picks for a breakout season in 2020.
Strengths: Runs, OBP, AVG
Weaknesses: SB, HR, RBI
Winker has his best year and is able to avoid a strict platoon for playing time. He hits over .300, 20 home runs, and scores 90+ runs.
Winker only plays against righties, hits about .280, 15 homers, and scores around 70 runs. He still turns out a serviceable year, but nothing too exciting.
2020 Projection: 79 R, 19 HR, 61 RBI, 1 SB, .301/.391/.482
Nick Senzel (OF| Batting 6th)
2019: 55 R, 12 HR, 42 RBI, 14 SB, .256/.315/.427| OF #19
2020 ADP: 113.2
Nick Senzel played in 104 games in his first MLB season and performed nowhere near the level that the Reds believe he can. Nonetheless he still managed to finish as a Top 20 fantasy outfielder. Senzel showed decent contact ability and stole 14 bags but displayed limited power and hardly walked. Senzel spent most of the season in center field, a position that was still relatively new to him, but there is speculation that the Reds may be open to moving him back to his native position of second base for the 2020 season. The most exciting thing about him is that he ranks in the 96th percentile in sprint speed. His running ability gives his ceiling a massive boost, as it creates plenty of opportunities for improvement in 2020. Unfortunately, Senzel ended his 2019 season in September with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. His surgery was successful, and he should be on track for the start of the 2020 season.
He has a great case to provide above average-fantasy value in 2020. He is one of few outfielders with potential for a 20-20 season with consistent playing time and a high average. Senzel will probably bat in the middle of the Reds lineup but may see some time in the leadoff spot. His opportunity to score runs or drive in runs should be decent. Senzel’s floor is decently high, and his ceiling is high as well. Keep your eye on Senzel in all league formats, as his ability to make solid contact and run makes him a viable option for outfield/second base.
Strengths: SB, AVG
Weaknesses: RBI, SLG
Senzel tears up the bigs just like he did the minors. He produces a 20-20 season while scoring 80+ runs and driving in 80+ RBI.
Even Senzel’s worst case will be pretty decent. He’ll put up numbers similar to 2019, but with a few more steals.
2020 Projection: 75 R, 21 HR, 66 RBI, 16 SB, .260/.322/.443
Aristides Aquino (OF| Batting 7th)
2019: 31 R, 19 HR, 47 RBI, 7 SB, .259/.316/.576 | OF# 26
2020 ADP: 118.2
Aquino forced himself into headlines every night with homers. After being called up on August 1, he quickly went on to set the NL rookie record for homers in a month. His extremely open stance, muscle flexing, and nickname “The Punisher” made him a fan favorite. His home runs made him a fantasy asset. Although he slowed down in the last month, Aquino still finished with 19 homers in 56 games and was about 19% better than league average offensively.
Aquino’s 2020 outlook is a bit up in the air. He has already displayed big-time power and the ability to hit balls out to all fields. He would seem like a sure bet for power, but his xSLG in 2019 fell 0.75 points below his actual SLG and his Hard Hit % was an unimpressive 39%. Additionally, he walked just 7.1% of the time and swung at 41.2% of pitches out of the zone. Drafting Aquino early is a little like playing with fire. We simply just don’t know if he can repeat his power enough to be a valuable fantasy piece in 10- and 12- team leagues. He’s definitely a player who could provide a ton of value in the slugging department, but he could just as easily be a bust.
Strengths: HR, RBI, SLG
Weaknesses: BA, SB, OBP
Aquino shows consistent power throughout the season and hits 30+ homers. He is provided with many RBI opportunities and pushes 100 RBI.
Aquino struggles to consistently barrel up the baseball and only musters up enough power for 20 homers.
2020 Projection: 71 R, 33 HR, 91 RBI, 6 SB, .251/.311/.514
Shogo Akiyama (OF| Batting 1st or 7th)
2019 (JPPL): 112 R, 20 HR, 62 RBI, 12 SB, .303/.392/.471 | OF# N/A
2020 ADP: N/A
This offseason the Cincinnati Reds signed free agent outfielder Shogo Akiyama to 3-year deal worth $21 million. The 31-year-old Japanese center fielder spent nine seasons in the Japan Pacific League, where he held a career slash-line of .301/.376/.454. He also stole 112 bases throughout his career was highly praised for his stand-out glove, speed, and hit tool.
Akiyama’s value is a little bit harder to project since he doesn’t have any MLB experience. However a very similar comparison that can be looked at is former outfielder Nori Aoki. Aoki slashed .329/.405/.467 in his final five years in Japan, while Akiyama slashed .321/.399/.497. In Aoki’s first MLB season he hit .288/.355/.433 with a 113 wRC+ and was a league-average hitter his entire MLB career. For Akiyama, we are probably looking at something similar. A league-average hitter is his floor, but how well he adjusts to MLB pitching will dictate his true ceiling. He should see a lot of time in the lineup for the Reds, as he is able to play all three outfield positions. He has been rumored to be slotting in near the top of the lineup which will make for a lot of run scoring potential, but limiting his RBI opportunities. He may provide a small amount of power, but likely won’t hit more than 20. Although he stole quiet a bit in Japan, he was an extremely inefficient baserunner. He was caught stealing 36.7% of the time — yikes! If the Reds can make an improvement to his base stealing tactics, then he has a real possibility to steal 10+ bags. However, don’t be surprised if the Reds pull the reigns on him.
Strengths: AVG, OBP, Runs
Weaknesses: HR, RBI
Akiyama makes a seamless transition to the MLB and hits to the tune of a 120 wRC+. He hits 20 homers, steals 15 bags, and scores 100 runs.
Akiyama shows a slight regression in his first year. He is a league average hitter but still scores 70 runs and steals five bases.
2020 Projection: 79 R, 18 HR, 71 RBI, 10 SB, .273/.331/.433
Playing Time Battles
With the addition of Akiyama and Castellanos, the Reds’ outfield gets a little confusing. Currently, the Reds’ 26-man roster has an outfield that consists of Akiyama, Castellanos, Senzel, Winker, Aquino, Phillip Ervin, Travis Jankowski, Mark Payton (Rule-5 draftee), Scott Schebler, Josh VanMeter, and Jose Siri. That’s 11 outfielders for three spots. We can assume the last six outfielders likely won’t be seeing much time and the bulk of the time will be split between Akiyama, Castellanos, Senzel, Winker, and Aquino. Although the possibility of a few of these player’s being traded is very real, since the Reds do still need a more talented shortstop, we may also see an outfield rotation of sorts. If Senzel is still a Red and is healthy, you would have to imagine he is a starter. Castellanos is also a starter in a corner position, probably right field. This leaves left field open to Akiyama, Winker, and Aquino. It was duly noted after Akiyama’s signing that he would see a lot of playing time scattered among all three outfield spots, so it is likely that Winker and Aquino will see a hit to their playing time, especially the latter. Winker is a proven above-average hitter against right handers, so it’s likely that he is rotated with Akiyama and Senzel, while filling in for Castellanos when a day of rest is needed.
As for the infield, there are not any clear playing time conflicts. Galvis may be replaced if the Reds can target a shortstop through trade. Additionally, Votto may have some playing time concerns after the Castellanos signing. Whether it’s due to more rest days or continued decrease in production, there’s a possibility that Castellanos sees time at first base, resulting in less playing time for Votto. The playing time for Suarez and Moustakas is very safe.
The true projected lineup is a bit of a mystery after the Akiyama and Castellanos signings. Roster Resource’s projects a lineup that doesn’t even include Senzel, which isn’t a realistic option if he is healthy. Here’s what I think is the most realistic lineup.
|Projected Lineup vs RHP|
|Projected Lineup vs LHP|
The Reds have made a serious push to improve this offseason. They have a greatly improved and solid lineup. It no longer relies heavily on young hitters and a few bounce-back seasons, as it is now supported with MLB-proven talent and good depth. They may still be looking at an upgrade at shortstop, and if they can get a bat like Francisco Lindor or Corey Seager, then the Reds will have a great chance to contend. The improved lineup will also help pump out better fantasy value for core guys such as Votto and Suarez, while increasing the fantasy ceiling of younger guys like Senzel and Winker.
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)