Cincinnati Reds: 3 breakout hitters who will emerge in 2021

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 18: A detail of the Franklin batting gloves worn by Yasiel Puig #66 of the Cincinnati Reds. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 18: A detail of the Franklin batting gloves worn by Yasiel Puig #66 of the Cincinnati Reds. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /
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Shogo Akiyama #4 of the Cincinnati Reds bats.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – SEPTEMBER 26: Shogo Akiyama #4 of the Cincinnati Reds bats. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Which three Reds hitters are most likely to breakout in 2021?

The Cincinnati Reds hitting was, in a word, dreadful last season. The front office invested nearly $150M in the offense last winter, and Cincinnati’s bats never produced. Is there anyone on the roster who’s likely to breakout in big way during the 2021 season?

Last season, the Reds ranked 19th in OPS, 23rd in on-base percentage, 27th in runs scored, 29th in doubles, and 30th in hits, singles, and batting average. The fact that Cincinnati won enough games to make it into the expanded postseason last season is a testament to how good the team’s pitching was.

In order for the Cincinnati Reds to compete in the National League this season, some of the potential needs to be unlocked. We know what we can expect from a healthy Eugenio Suárez. While newcomers Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos struggled last season, it’s a fair assumption to think those two will return to form.

But which players, that have failed to make an impact in their major league careers, will make their presence felt during the 2021 season? While Reds Country is eager to see the front office add a shortstop that give the Redlegs a consistent bat in the middle of the lineup, perhaps some of that pop is already on the team.

Shogo Akiyama, Reds outfielder

To grade Shogo Akiyama‘s first year in the majors as anything other than incomplete would be woefully unfair. The spring shutdown due to coronavirus pandemic may have negatively impacted Akiyama more than any other player on the Reds roster, and it showed.

Akiyama’s 2020 season was a tale of two halves, with the first being and utter disaster and the second being a pleasant surprise. Akiyama saw action in 54 games. Over his first 27 games, the left-handed hitting outfielder posted a slash line of .183/.264/.232 with just three extra-base hits and five runs scored.

Akiyama, however, really got things going in the right direction during the second half of his rookie season. Over the final 27 games of 2020, Shogo Akiyama hit .315/.451/.370 with four doubles and 11 runs scored. That second number of Akiyama’s slash line is the important. If the Japanese outfielder can reach base at a 40% clip, then the Reds will be much improved in 2021.