The Cincinnati Reds 2023 season ended in disappointment after a surprising run toward the MLB Postseason came up just short.
But, at the end of it all, every team with the exception of the World Series Champion will head home with their head hung low. We saw this firsthand, as the NL Central champs, the Milwaukee Brewers, were knocked out in the Wild Card round by the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks.
With every NL Central now making their offseason plans, it seems like a good time to see where the five teams rank heading into the winter. How do the Reds rank compared to the rest of the division?
5. NL Central Power Rankings: Pittsburgh Pirates (76-86)
Sorry, Pirates fans. I know Pittsburgh finished ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central this season, but according to MLB.com, both teams had an expected win-loss record of 71-91. The tie goes to the organization that's proven year-over-year to be one of the best in baseball.
The Pittsburgh Pirates finished the 2023 season with a -98 run differential; only three teams in the National League were worse. Those three were the aforementioned Cardinals along with the hapless Colorado Rockies and Washington Nationals.
Pittsburgh has some talent on their roster. Bryan Reynolds, who signed a contract extension this past year, is an All-Star caliber outfielder. If healthy, Oneil Cruz has all the tools to become a bonafide superstar. And Ke'Bryan Hayes is arguably the best defensive third baseman in the National League.
It's the starting pitching where the Buccos fall short. Mitch Keller took a step back this season. The Pirates bullpen, however, was solid. David Bednar leads the way, but former Cincinnati Reds reliever Dauri Moreta had a fine season. The Pirates also have Carmen Mlodzinski and Ryan Borucki in the bullpen.
It seems doubtful that Pittsburgh makes many additions through free agency during the offseason, but don't be shocked if Paul Skenes, this year's No. 1 overall pick, finds his way onto the Pirates Opening Day roster in 2024.