Cincinnati Reds’ 2016 second half turns into fool’s gold as team believes in the outcome

Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Cincinnati Reds did some nice things in the second half of 2016, but they shouldn’t think they can do it for both halves of 2017.

The Cincinnati Reds went 68-94 in 2016.  If you believe in the rebuild, 75-87 would be a great step forward.  Teams don’t often improve by leaps and bounds and there is little reason to expect this team to.

The biggest difference between the two halves of the season was the pitching.  During the first half, the Reds had the worst bullpen in MLB.  Thanks to the return of Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias from injuries, the bullpen looked better in the second half.

The other part of the pitching equation was the starting pitching.  Anthony DeSclafani came back from an injury to contribute, while Tim Adleman came out of nowhere to contribute quality innings.  If the Reds can find on more reliable starter, things may look up.

The other end of the pitching, though, is what they have changed going into 2017.  They replaced flexible pitcher Ross Ohlendorf with former closer Drew Storen.  The fans may not have liked Ohlendorf, but losing him to Japan costs the staff more flexibility than the team is acknowledging.  Storen, meanwhile, was atrocious for the Washington Nationals in 2016.

How the Cincinnati Reds do in 2017 will depend upon more than just the pitching staff.

While the pitching got better in the second half of the season, most of hitting took a step back.  All-Star Adam Duvall and third baseman Eugenio Suarez were particularly slow in the second half.  They each had their own issues, which may have been fatigue induced on both accounts.  Both had the power numbers drop off significantly.

Suarez saw his batting average go up in the second half, as his home run power went down.  He only hit six home runs post All-Star Game after hitting 15 prior to the break.  He also added 15 points to his batting average in the second half.

For his part Adam Duvall saw his OBP rise in the second half.  It was a pedestrian .288 in the first half, but a passable .306 after the break.  If he can maintain that ,306 OBP all season long while hitting 30+ home runs he could be a key component at the heart of the line-up.

Next: Cincinnati Reds say sayonara to Ross Ohlendorf

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The other situation is the health of the catchers.  Devin Mesoraco has effectively missed two seasons.  Tucker Barnhart has filled in, but has worn down in the second half both times.  In order for the Reds to have a complete season instead of one half, all of the players must be their best selves.