2017 Fantasy Baseball, Cincinnati Reds Preview
The Reds continue to try and eek out a rebuild without moving any of their more significant pieces. Dan Straily (SP) was traded to the Marlins for prospects Luis Castillo (SP), Austin Brice (SP) and Isaiah White (OF).
Drew Storen (RP) was signed to a one year deal as a possible trade chip in the hope he can rediscover some pre ’16 form.
All signs point to a struggling year in possibly the most competitive division in baseball.
2B Phillips / Peraza
SS Cozart / Peraza
Top Draft Picks (Studs)
Look no further than Joey Votto (1B). Regularly considered as one of the “next tier” of first basemen once the top guys have gone, he continues to put up big numbers heading into his mid-thirties.
Not regarded as a top first baseman other than in OBP leagues, he compares well against the first baseman going before him in drafts. Look at last year’s numbers;
R HR RBI SB AVG
Goldschmidt 106 24 95 32 .297
Rizzo 94 32 109 3 .292
Cabrera 92 38 108 0 .316
Freeman 102 34 91 6 .302
Votto 101 29 97 8 .313
I’m sure you’ll agree he’s pretty comparable. The question mark raised about Votto in recent times (somewhat fairly) is the poor lineup around him. But he still managed 101 runs and 97 RBIs
Now two years removed from his injury troubled 2014 season, there is nothing to suggest less of the same from Votto. Yes, there’s the chance Votto will be pitched around more than anyone else, but that just adds to his value in leagues counting OBP.
If you don’t take one of the other first baseman and Votto falls to you in the third round, snap him up before some other clever so-and-so does.
High Upside (Sleepers)
Jose Peraza (SS) will be a trendy sleeper in the coming weeks. But question marks about his past temperament, his lucky elevated average in 2016 and the fact he still needs to earn his spot leaves me struggling to jump in on Peraza right now (even with that speed).
So I’m going with Scott Schebler (OF). The 26 year old made strides in 2016 with his first shot with the Reds, hitting 9 homers at a .265 average in 257 at-bats. Not bad going.
He’s a career .276 hitter in the minor leagues (with a .342 OBP), with 100 homers in 668 games. That equates to 22 homers over 150 games.
So there’s nothing special there but given his ability to get on base, if he can find himself hitting higher up the order, maybe in the 2 spot, his value could grow even more. I don’t expect a sudden breakout of 30+ homers and a .290 average. He is what he is.
But that could be plenty valuable as a last pick flyer. Whilst other guys are taking the Maybin’s and Choo’s of the world, raise a few eyebrows with Schebler. Then, laud yourself over your league mate’s as you reap the rewards.
High Downside (Busts)
It’s a difficult one considering where you’ll be drafting anyone from Cincinnati, but I’m throwing caution out there to those of you drafting Adam Duvall (OF).
His power came to light in 2015 when he hit 30 homers in Triple-A (as a Giant and a Red) and then a 5 for the Reds in 27 games. The Reds’ everyday left fielder in 2016, Duvall then hit 33 homers in 150 games and came into fantasy prominence.
But those 33 homers came at a cost, with just a .241 batting average. And as a minor league .262 hitter that shouldn’t come as any surprise. If he gets off to a slow start, he might not get the chance to turn things around.
Then comes the likelihood that Duvall gets traded to make room for a prospect we’ll touch upon later. Who knows where he ends up?
So whilst the power is no fluke, you’ll need to allow for the batting average drain and for someone going as on OF3 in drafts right now, that could be a tall order.
Right now, I don’t think Bryan Price knows this one. Raisel Iglesias (RP) intrigues me most but the Reds could try him as a starter again. Then there’s Tony Cingrani (RP) who has a 4.14 ERA as a reliever. Or Drew Storen (RP) who signed a one year deal this winter. Storen has that coveted closer experience, but 2016 struggles hardly scream confidence in him.
One to watch this Spring. But even then, how many save opportunities are there going to be?
Impact Minor Leaguers
I teased him earlier and Jesse Winker (OF) is my choice as impact minor leaguer. At 22, he’s yet to reach the Majors, but if the Reds do move Duvall, Winker is primed to make the step up.
A career .296 hitter in the minors, Winker boasts a .400 OBP. Vottoesque you could argue.
He’s still developing his power so don’t expect a 20 home run season just yet. But his bat and eye at the plate will give him plenty of opportunities to earn his keep as a big leaguer and value as a fantasy asset.
The Reds won’t be contending so may not rush Winker, but if they show enough confidence in him, it’s not difficult to envisage Winker hitting in the top half of the order too.
The 258 home runs given up by the Reds in 2016 is the highest single season total in the history of baseball.
Article written by Jaime Steed for TheFantasyFix.com.