3 Cincinnati Reds who are poised to overachieve in 2022

Cincinnati Reds left fielder TJ Friedl (29) hits a base hit in the eighth inning.
Cincinnati Reds left fielder TJ Friedl (29) hits a base hit in the eighth inning. / Albert Cesare / The Enquirer via Imagn
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Everybody likes an underdog story. A late-round draft pick overcomes the long, arduous trek through the minor leagues and finally realizes his major league dreams. An injury-riddled player overcomes the adversity of multiple "lost" seasons in order to finally realize his potential. You know what I'm talking about; the classic overachiever.

Last season, it's hard to overlook what Kyle Farmer did on the field. The last remaining piece from the trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 2019 season, Farmer took over as the Cincinnati Reds starting shortstop during the middle of the 2021 season and proved to many fans and pundits that he can be an everyday starter at the highest level.

Farmer will locked in a battle with the up-and-coming Jose Barrero this spring once the MLBPA and the owners come to an agreement on a new CBA. With Farmer's 2021 performance as a measuring stick, who are three Reds players poised to overachieve during the 2022 season?

1. TJ Friedl, Cincinnati Reds outfielder

There is a lot to like about TJ Friedl. Signed to contract after going undrafted in 2016, Friedl ascended through the minor leagues at a relatively steady pace. Friedl has posted a wRC+ above 100 every year in the minors, and in limited time in the majors last season, the 26-year-old posted a wRC+ of 106.

Friedl may be given a lot more playing time than many fans may think. There is no clear-cut favorite to land the starting job in center field, though you'd have to give the nod to former first-round pick Nick Senzel. Unfortunately, Senzel has never proven that he can stay healthy

Shogo Akiyama is sure to be in the mix for time in the outfield as well, but the Japanese outfielder has shown no pop during his first two years states-side. Friedl and Akiyama are both left-handed batters and have similar profiles defensively. I tend to think when push comes to shove, Reds manager David Bell will lean toward playing Friedl over Akiyama.

This could all be for naught if the Cincinnati Reds add another outfielder once the lockout if lifted. The front office, however, has shown no inclination to add to the roster outside of some minor league contracts this offseason. If Jesse Winker and Tyler Naquin are the Reds corner outfielders on Opening Day, TJ Friedl could be a big part of the center field equation this season.

Cincinnati Reds left fielder Max Schrock (32) at bat.
Cincinnati Reds left fielder Max Schrock (32) at bat. / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

2. Max Schrock, Cincinnati Reds infielder

I like to think of Max Schrock as the left-handed hitting version of Kyle Farmer. The 27-year-old finally broke through last season and found pockets of playing time, even garnering a few starts in left field down the stretch. Schrock is not flashy, but he's a steady presence in the Cincinnati Reds lineup and could find multiple opportunities to shine in 2022.

Schrock is a utility player, and shouldn't be counted on as a full-time starter at any position on the field. But the same could have been said about Farmer heading into the 2021 season. The former backstop turned shortstop put up career marks in home runs, RBIs, and OPS last season.

I think we could see similar results from Schrock in 2022. He'll be viewed as a left-handed bench bat once spring training begins, and the former 13th-round pick may find his way into the starting lineup on occasion; filling in for Eugenio Suárez at third base or giving Joey Votto a day off at first base.

Max Schrock played in just 11 games for the St. Louis Cardinals during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but made 53 appearances for the Cincinnati Reds last season while posting a wRC+ of 100 and a .776 OPS. Those numbers are actually better than we saw from Farmer in 2021.

If his role is expanded, I believe we'll see Schrock step up to challenge. Schrock saw time at both corner outfield and corner infield spots last season and logged 47 innings at second base as well. His defensive versatility will give Schrock opportunities to succeed, but it's up to him to make the most of them.

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Art Warren (77) follows through on a pitch.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Art Warren (77) follows through on a pitch. / Sam Greene via Imagn Content Services,

3. Art Warren, Cincinnati Reds pitcher

I expect Art Warren to be the Cincinnati Reds best reliever in 2022. With Tejay Antone out for the season following Tommy John surgery, David Bell is in needs a bullpen ace, and I believe that player is already on the roster. Warren was absolutely dominant when he returned from an oblique injury last season.

Warren made 18 appearances prior the injury, throwing 14.1 innings and recording 21 punch outs while posting a 1.88 ERA. Upon his return in mid-September, Warren was even better. He didn't allow a single earned run to cross the plate and posted a 0.17 FIP while striking out 13 batters over 6.2 innings of work.

Warren owned an obscene 14.57 K/9. While fans would love to see that 9.8% walk-rate go down a smidge, because of that ridiculous 41.5% strikeout-rate, Warren still had a 31.7% K-BB. Warren maintains a fastball in the mid-90s, and has a hard break to his slider that most batters can seem to find.

Warren only pitched in 21 innings last season, so the question may be whether an increased work load will yield the same results. But so long as Warren and maintain that calm demeanor on the bump and consistently deliver that devastating slider, you may be looking at the Reds closer in 2022.

Next. Reds OF prospect robbed of spot on 1st-team All-Defense. dark

There are others on the Cincinnati Reds roster who may overachieve in 2022, but the trio of TJ Friedl, Max Schrock, and Art Warren rank near the top of my list. Considering the cost-cutting we've seen from the Reds front office so far, Cincinnati may need more than three overachievers during the upcoming season.