Cincinnati Reds’ 2016 season in review – assessing where the wheels fell off

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cincinnati Reds’ record was so bad in 2016 that few people have bothered to breakdown the issues that plagued the team.

The number one issue that plagued the Cincinnati Reds in 2016 is their pitching staff.  That is not a secret.  What is a secret is how the staff really performed in 2016.

The bullpen had the worst save percentage in all of baseball by quite a bit.  The Reds only successfully converted 28 of 53 save attempts.  The other two teams that were anywhere close were the likewise hapless Minnesota Twins and the mercurial Colorado Rockies.

The starting rotation wasn’t much of a help either, even before the trade of Dan Straily.  They provided the fewest innings in MLB beating out the playoff bound Los Angeles Dodgers.  That combination of having a weak bullpen and a starting rotation that needed the help doomed the Reds.

The pitching staff didn’t receive much help from the defense either.  Using defensive runs saved instead of fielding percentage, the Reds had the worst defense in the National League.  They surrendered 29 runs more than they should have based on neutral defenders.

The biggest offender was the play in right field where Jay Bruce cost the Reds 11 runs before getting traded to the Mets and the other players besides Scott Schebler did the same.  Schebler actually saved three runs in his brief time in right.

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The other main perpetrator of bad defense was the battery combination.  The pitchers and catchers for the Reds cost the team a combined 25 runs.  The defense essentially cost the Reds 3 wins over the cost of 2016.

Beyond allowing too many runs, the Cincinnati Reds could not beat the best teams in the NL.

The best teams in a league get that way by winning.  The Reds, though, were not competitive in 2016 against the best teams.  They did compete against the average teams.

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The Reds actually went 11-8 against the Milwaukee Brewers.  Only the Saint Louis Cardinals had more wins against the Brewers.  That would have been 94 wins if the Reds played Brewers all season long, however unusual that sounds.

The Cincinnati Reds weren’t the only bad team to have tough splits.

Meanwhile, the Reds only went 4-15 against the Chicago Cubs.  The only other teams in the National League with that of a spread was the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves where the Nationals had 15 wins in 19 attempts, but the Braves have re-tooled for 2017.

There were three match-ups in the American League that results in a 15-4 spread, but the Minnesota Twins owned two of them.  The Minnesota Twins lost 15 games to two separate teams, a singular act in 2016, in order to be the worst team in baseball.  They went 4-15 against both the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals.  The Texas Rangers also won 15 times against the Houston Astros.

Next: Here comes the next wave of Reds' prospects

The Reds are not alone in losing double digit games to the best team in their division, but it is that large number of losses that will keep the Reds from competing in the NL Central.  In order to turn this around the Reds need better pitching and defense.  As the Reds get ready for the 2017 season, they finally need to focus on these issues to keep things going in the right direction.