Reds: 5 players who exceeded expectations in 2021

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 04: Joey Votto #19 and Jonathan India #6 of the Cincinnati Reds walk off the field. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 04: Joey Votto #19 and Jonathan India #6 of the Cincinnati Reds walk off the field. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /
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Wade Miley #22 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts.
CINCINNATI, OHIO – JULY 20: Wade Miley #22 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

4. Wade Miley, Reds pitcher

Perhaps only the Wade Miley Fan Club expected the southpaw to perform as well as he did in 2021. Miley went 12-7 in 28 starts and posted a 3.37 ERA. This was a huge turnaround from Miley’s 2020 season that saw the left-hander start just four games and put up a 5.65 ERA over six appearances.

Miley put on a clinic this past season and his 6.0 WAR, according to Baseball Reference, led all Reds players and placed him fifth among all starting pitchers. Only Zack Wheeler, Walker Buehler, Robbie Ray, and Max Scherzer were ahead of Miley in that category. Strangely, those other four pitchers are prominent in the Cy Young discussion, yet Miley’s name isn’t even on the radar.

Though Miley landed on the injured list a couple of time during the 2021 season, staying healthy was likely a big factor in the 34-year-old’s ability to find success in 2021. Miley had thrown just 262.1 innings the previous three seasons combined. This past season, Miley completed 163 innings of work.

It’s a tossup as to whether Miley or Tyler Mahle had the better season among Reds’ starting pitchers, but it’s safe to say no one expected the Louisiana native to be in that mix before the 2021 season began. Mahle went 13-6 with a 3.75 ERA.

The Cincinnati Reds hold a $10M team-option for Wade Miley heading into next season, and it seems like a slam dunk that the front office will pick that up. Even if the intent is to trade the lefty prior to the 2022 season, the Reds would still do well to exercise what amounts to a bargain for a starting pitcher with Miley’s resumé.