Cincinnati Reds: 5 bold predictions for the 2021 season

ST LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds is congratulated by Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds after hitting a two-run home run. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds is congratulated by Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds after hitting a two-run home run. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Reds right fielder Nick Castellanos (2) get set in the batter's box during live batting practice.
Cincinnati Reds right fielder Nick Castellanos (2) get set in the batter’s box during live batting practice. Cincinnati Reds Spring Training 2 21 2020 /

4. Reds outfielder Nick Castellanos finishes third in the NL MVP race.

Nick Castellanos was brought to Cincinnati last winter on what many fans thought would amount to a one-year deal. As it turns out, a pandemic-shortened season and poor performance led to Castellanos re-upping with the Reds for second season and declining to opt out of his four-year contract.

Castellanos will have another opportunity to do so following the 2021 season, but his production will have to match what we saw from the slugger during the second half of his 2019 season with the Chicago Cubs. I fully expect Castellanos to return to form in 2021 and wreak havoc on opposing pitchers.

According to FanGraphs, Castellanos saw some of the best numbers of his career in 2020. His average exit velocity was 91.0-MPH and his barrel percentage was 16.0% while his hard-hit percentage was 46.0%. For reference, his exit velocity was better than Manny Machado (90.2), his barrel percentage was higher than Mike Trout’s (15.0%), and his hard-hit percentage bested Mookie Betts (43.4%).

Castellanos’ lack of production boiled down to bad luck. Castellanos hit .225 with a BABIP of .257. I look for the 2021 season to be more in-line with what Castellanos produced from 2016-2019 when the slugger hit .286/.336/.504 with 165 doubles, 94 home runs, and 321 RBIs.

Given that Great American Ball Park is much more hitter-friendly than Comerica Park, expect a lot of those doubles to turn into home runs. I could easily envision Nick Castellanos smacking 40-plus home runs and racking up over 100 RBIs. If Castellanos plays up to his potential, he may fall just behind Mookie Betts and Fernando Tatis Jr. in the chase for the NL MVP.