No. 1 Regressor: Cincinnati Reds
I like Jesse Winker, but is there a single person out there who believes he will continue his dominant 2021 through the second half? I don’t think so. Nicholas Castellanos is a fantastic ball player, but will he continue to hit over 30 points higher than his previous career-best batting average? Will he continue to maintain an OPS over 100 points higher than his previous best? I find that hard to believe.
I understand that it’s likely Eugenio Suarez has a better second half, and the return of Mike Moustakas could help the offense tremendously, but it’s highly unlikely that every player on the Reds currently exceeding expectations (there’s a lot of them) will continue to do so at this rate. Is Cincy’s offense still fantastic? Absolutely, but even a small overall regression at the plate, will drastically affect the team’s record. If the bats cool down, they’ll no longer be able to cover up the team’s poor pitching. As of right now, the Cincinnati Reds allow the second-most runs per game of any team over .500 — only the Halos allow more runs. There’s a reason nobody believes the Angels are going to make a run at the playoffs despite the return of Mike Trout…because they can’t keep runs off the board.
The Reds will likely suffer the same fate. When the division race heats up, the Reds will struggle to put up runs against the other strong teams in that division with arms like Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, Jack Flaherty (who should be returning from the IL mid-August), Kwang Hyun Kim, and John Gant down the stretch. If Cincy’s bats can stay hot, and knock opposing starters out early, the Reds would still have trouble against divisional bullpens as, aside from Cincinnati, every team in the NL Central has a top-10 National League bullpen.
The Reds are currently on pace to win 87 games. They’ll probably finish with anywhere between 80 and 83. If the team buys at the deadline and adds some pieces to their bullpen, maybe they could string together a strong enough second half to compete for the NL Central title, but until they make those moves, the Reds don’t have the depth on defense to compete.
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