Over the next few weeks as we lead up to the regular season we’ll be bringing you a team by team preview of the NL Central. We start our tour of the Central with the defending division champion Cincinnati Reds. First we’ll take a look back at 2010. What were the Reds strengths last season? Let’s turn to their WAR breakdown chart (all WAR data from http://www.baseball-reference.com/)
As I mentioned in our roundtable about the NL Central I am most impressed with the Reds balance. The above chart seems to echo that sentiment as they have solid contributions from all facets of the game. So how likely are they to perform on a similar level next year?
We’ll get to the best way to answer that question, using projections, in a little while. Before that though, I wanted to look at a major factor in predicting next year’s numbers given last year’s numbers, age. The following charts shows the Reds 2010 WAR by the age of the player that earned it.
As a Cards fan this chart is a little unsettling. That’s quite a bit of WAR either in or before the prime years, and it only includes a partial season of relieving from Aroldis Chapman. With that in mind, lets turn to the projections (in this case ZIPS) to see how they shake out…
The horizontal red line is approximately league average. Personally I’m a little more of a believer in Jay Bruce than this projection; however, last year was his first high wOBA year. Other than Bruce and Votto it looks like a lot of league average offense across the board. Now for defense using my defensive projections (look under data tab above for all projections)
That’s a solid defensive team. Not much more needs to be said. Finally on to the pitchers
Again, a solid staff. I find the Chapman projection interesting (he’s projected as a reliever). I think he will outperform that projection quite easily.
All in all I still think the Reds are probably the slight favorite in the division because of their ability to catch the ball. Can the Cardinals overtake them? Sure. How likely is it? For that answer you’ll have to wait until we preview the Central as a whole…