With the addition of Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, plus the return of Jesse Winker, the Cincinnati Reds should have the best offense in the National League in 2019.
The Cincinnati Reds have been promising to upgrade the pitching throughout the offseason. Dick Williams and company did that and then some of Friday afternoon when they made a blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. While Alex Wood will be a nice addition to the pitching staff, the Reds offense now has the potential to be the best in the National League.
The Reds rid themselves of Homer Bailey and brought Wood, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Kyle Farmer to Cincinnati. Those are some big-time bats folks, and with so much emphasis on the long ball in today’s game this Reds lineup has the potential to be special.
Puig is probably the biggest name coming to the Queen City. Last season, Puig slashed .267/.327/.494 with 21 home runs and 63 RBIs in 125 games played. Kemp, who some may see as the lesser of the two sluggers, actually put up better numbers than Puig last season.
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The 33-year-old Kemp had an All-Star season in 2018. He slashed .290/.338/.481 with 21 homers and 85 RBIs. Last season was a bit of a renaissance for Kemp, who’s best years appeared to be at least four years ago. If he can harness that same type of performance next season, he could be a vital fourth outfielder for the Reds and provide some pop off the bench.
Last year the Dodgers led the National League with 235 home runs last year. The Reds now have 42 of those homers in their clubhouse and shipped out Homer Bailey’s 6.09 ERA in the process. If the Reds had Puig’s and Kemp’s home run totals added to their 172 from last season, they’d be sitting just 4 off the Milwaukee Brewers for last year’s NL lead.
Did I forget to mention that the Reds play half their games at Great American Ball Park, where a routine fly ball in July becomes a roundtripper. Can you imagine how inflated Puig’s home run numbers will be playing his home games next season at GABP?
Oh yeah, and the hitting coach for last year’s best offensive team in the National League is now in the Cincinnati Reds dugout. Turner Ward, who’s said to have a great relationship with Yasiel Puig, was hired as the Reds’ new hitting coach earlier in the offseason.
While we’re focusing on the Reds’ new acquisitions, there’s a bevy of offensive talent on the Cincinnati roster already. Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suárez were All-Stars last season and put up huge offensive stats. Geno led the Reds with 34 homers, while Scooter was in a chase for the NL batting title until the final week of the season.
Injuries slowed Scott Schebler‘s 2018 season, but when the lefty was batting lead-off, his numbers were very good. José Peraza had an offensive outburst last season and could have a breakout performance at the plate in 2019.
The Reds non-tendered Billy Hamilton; a move that could hurt the Reds defensively, but no matter who’s manning center field, they’ll likely put up better offensive statistics. Speaking of outfielders, don’t forget that Jesse Winker will be returning to the Reds lineup in 2019. Winker had an on-base percentage above .400 before he went on the DL.
Tucker Barnhart may be the Reds least effective offensive player, but the Cincinnati catcher still had an on-base percentage of .328 in a down year and recorded 21 doubles. Curt Casali, Barnhart’s backup, proved he as more than capable of handling the bat, as he hit .293 in his first season with the club.
And of course you can’t forget Michael Lorenzen. Lorenzen, a right-handed reliever most of the season for the Cincinnati Reds, slashed .290/.333/.710 with 4 home runs and 10 RBIs. Four of those RBIs came with one swing of the bat when Lorenzen smacked a pinch-hit grand slam against the Milwaukee Brewers last summer.
Hmm, I feel like I’m forgetting someone…oh yeah, Joey Freakin-Votto! Joey Votto had perhaps the worst year of his career in 2018, and he still led the league in on-base percentage. His power numbers were down, but I don’t expect that to be the case again in 2019.
The addition of Turner Ward, while still keeping Freddie Benavides on the coaching staff will be a big plus for Votto. Everyone in Reds Country knows how important Votto is to the success of the team, and he never recovered from that knee injury he suffered late in the season.
Typically Joey starts the season slowly, but picks up as the calendar turns to July. I don’t expect to see that in 2019. With the poor showing (by his standards) that he put up last season, you better believe that Votto will be out to prove his doubters wrong next season.
This Cincinnati Reds offense is loaded with talent, and we didn’t even touch on the idea of Nick Senzel in a super-utility role next season. With the Reds starting lineup in 2019, plus bench players like Senzel, Kemp, Casali, and Phillip Ervin, this offense will be the most potent in the National League. That is, until the Dodgers sign Bryce Harper. Stay tuned.