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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Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates a walk off home run with the rest of the team.
CINCINNATI, OH – SEPTEMBER 14: Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates a walk off home run with the rest of the team. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

5. Reds take home the division crown for the first time since 2012.

There is no clear-cut favorite in the National League Central Division. As far as I’m concerned, any one of four teams can win the division title. The only team who’s out of contention is the Pittsburgh Pirates, who may finish with 100-plus losses on the season. The Cincinnati Reds may not be the favorites, but timely hitting and the best rotation in the division will be enough to take the division with 89 wins.

Don’t look for any one team to dominate the NL Central. No club made a slew of moves that elevates them above the rest in the division. The Cardinals added Nolan Arenado, but I don’t know that it makes St. Louis the odds-on favorites. Milwaukee made some sneaky-good additions, but the Brewers starting rotation is a question mark.

The Cubs did little more than the Reds this offseason, and Chicago may look to unload former MVP Kris Bryant at some point before the trade deadline. While Cincinnati failed to find a shortstop this winter, last season’s additions may be enough to put the Reds over the top if those four free agent signees from a year ago play up to their potential.

The Reds, despite losing Trevor Bauer, still have the best starting rotation in the National League Central. Outside of the San Diego Padres, New York Mets, and Los Angeles Dodgers, it can be argued that Cincinnati’s rotation is among the best in the league.

The Reds will sink or swim based on how the team’s offense produces this season. No real additions were made to address a league-worst .212 batting average. But one has to assume that Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos, and Eugenio Suárez will hover around the Mendoza line during the 2021 season.

A healthy Nick Senzel would greatly improve Cincinnati’s hitting this season, and Shogo Akiyama will be counted upon even more having been state-side for over a year now. If Joey Votto can get on base and give the team slightly above-average production, the rest of the team should be able to pick up the pieces.

The biggest difference maker this season will be Jesse Winker. I believe this will be Winker’s coming out party, and the left-handed slugger will lead the Cincinnati Reds in on-base percentage and RBIs. If Winker can stay healthy and play adequate defense in left field, he’ll be a fixture in the lineup night-in and night-out.

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The strength of this year’s Reds team is the starting pitching. The bullpen will have more than enough arms to keep the team in games, and a backend of Amir Garrett, Lucas Sims, and Sean Doolittle should be enough to lockdown ball games late. Can the offense rally from last year’s terrible performance? If the answer is yes, this team will win the NL Central.