ESPN Power Rankings offer promising results for the Reds based on last year's model

Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jake Fraley
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jake Fraley / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds rank dead last in Major Laegue Baseball according to ESPN's latest Power Rankings (subscription required).

That comes as a surprise to virtually no one. Sure, the Reds just inked a pair of players (Wil Myers and Curt Casali) to one-year contracts last week, but after very few additions following a 100-loss season, you're not going to find too many so-called experts who foresee Cincinnati as a contender in 2023.

But, it just so happens that ESPN had an equally unfavorable view of another rebuilding club prior to last season and that team went on to win 83 games in the very competitive American League East Division.

Could the 2023 Reds replicate the Orioles' 2022 performance?

ESPN's preseason Power Rankings predicted the Baltimore Orioles would win 58 games in 2022. The O's used that as motivation and blew past those predictions by winning an additional 25 games and were even in the playoff hunt heading into the final month of the season. Might the Cincinnati Reds find themselves in a similar spot next season?

There's certainly a chance. The O's used a terrific rookie campaign from Adley Rutschman and the veteran presence of Cedric Mullins to help climb out of the AL East cellar in 2022. The Baltimore bullpen shined as well and the Orioles saw the debut of much-ballyhooed prospect Gunnar Henderson.

Perhaps the Cincinnati Reds could lean on the returns of Tejay Antone, Tony Santillan, and Lucas Sims to bolster the beleaguered bullpen. After injuries robbed players like Joey Votto, Jonathan India, and Tyler Stephenson of significant time in 2022, perhaps the Reds core bats return to next season.

There's also the much-anticipated debuts of players like Matt McLain, Elly De La Cruz, Brandon Williamson, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand. If any of those young prospects make it to The Show next season, Cincinnati could be home to the 2023 NL Rookie of the Year.

Power ranking, win projections, and award predictions are a fun way to engage the fanbase, but in the end, it's up to the players on the field to produce the results. It's doubtful that before last season Brandon Drury was expected to win a Silver Slugger Award. Not too many pundits picked the Cleveland Guardians to win the AL Central. That's why they play the games.

Next. 3 backend starters the Reds could target in free agency. dark