Cincinnati Reds: Ranking the rookie performances of the 2020 season

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 27: Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 27: Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Shogo Akiyama #4 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts to striking out.
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – SEPTEMBER 27: Shogo Akiyama #4 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts to striking out. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

3. Shogo Akiyama, Reds outfielder

It’s quite disappointing to see Shogo Akiyama ranked third among Reds rookies, as much was expected from the Japanese outfielder in 2020. Akiyama was expected to set the table for Cincinnati’s big boppers this past season, but that didn’t happen. Akiyama struggled out of the gate and perhaps no one was effected more by the sudden halt of spring training than Shogo.

It’s a bit odd talking about a 32-year-old rookie, but Akiyama had spent his previous time playing baseball overseas in Japan. As a member of the Seibu Lions, Akiyama’s bat shined with an on-base percentage over .385 for the past five seasons and three consecutive seasons of 20-plus home runs. However, those numbers didn’t translate to his year in the bigs.

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Shogo Akiyama slashed .245/.357/.297, but to begin the 2020 season, he hit just .196/.282/.250. But, once the calendar flipper to September, the player that we’d all hoped to see emerged, as Akiyama hit .317/.456/.365 and was inserted as the Cincinnati Reds leadoff hitter over the final stretch of the season.

David Bell’s consistent tinkering with Cincinnati’s lineup could have been part of Akiyama’s downfall. Bell showed a lot of hesitation putting Akiyama in the lineup against left-handed pitchers. Hopefully, with his rookie season behind him, Akiyama will get more consistent opportunities against both left and right-handed pitchers.