Fantasy Baseball 2014 Team Previews: Cincinnati Reds

Joey Votto is a great player, but is he a great fantasy player?

Benny Sieu

The Reds didn’€™t make many moves this offseason, but return a core of solid fantasy performers. Most of their regulars and four of their starting pitchers are in play for mixed leagues, and their closer is still a stud.

Key additions: None

2016 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep

Key losses: Shin-Soo Choo, Ryan Hanigan

Projected Lineup

1. Billy Hamilton SS

2. Brandon Phillips 2B

3. Joey Votto 1B

4. Jay Bruce RF

5. Ryan Ludwick LF

6. Todd Frazier 3B

7. Devin Mesoraco C

8. Zack Cozart SS

Hamilton might steal 100 bases, but could he hit badly enough to lose his job? You’ll need to draft him by Round 6 or 7 if you want him, and that’s too early for my taste … Phillips had 103 RBI last season, but he’s trending downward. He stole just five bases, and posted a subpar .396 slugging percentage. Let someone else have him … Votto is still terrific and a second-round pick, but is a better real player than fantasy player. There are five first basemen (Cabrera, Goldschmidt, Encarnacion, Davis, Fielder) I’d rather own … Bruce has averaged 32 HR and 102 RBI over the last three seasons, and you should stop asking for a breakout. If this is what he is, we can live with it, right? … Ludwick might flip-flop with Bruce against lefties. His 2013 was ruined by a shoulder injury, but he should return to his boring, 20-25 homer self … Frazier’€™s BA should improve a bit, and he’s got 20-homer power. He’€™s worthy of mixed-league ownership … Mesoraco could hit 15 homers with a bad BA, which probably makes him a top-20 option at catcher … Remember when we thought Cozart might be able to hit? A .250 BA with 12-15 homers and no speed doesn’€™t crack the top 20 at SS.

Rotation

1. Johnny Cueto

2. Mat Latos

3. Homer Bailey

4. Mike Leake

5. Tony Cingrani

CL: Aroldis Chapman

MLB & Fantasy News and Notes

The home ballpark does the pitchers no favors here … Shoulder and lat issues limited Cueto to 11 starts last season. He’s pretty good, but doesn’t whiff enough batters to be a fantasy ace, and is a health risk. Mixed-league SP3 … Latos probably won’t be ready for Opening Day thanks to February knee surgery. He should be fine, so don’€™t ding his draft stock too much -€“ the injury actually might help you get him at a discounted draft position … Bailey became a borderline stud at age 27. Look for more of the same, and grab him with confidence as an SP2 … Leake’€™s 3.37 ERA was achieved with a healthy dose of smoke and mirrors, and while he’s not bad, he’€™s not worthy of mixed-league ownership. 122 Ks in 192 1/3 innings? Yuck … Cingrani’s potential strikeout totals make him very interesting, but his flyball ways are scary in Cincy, and he hasn’t pitched more than 146 innings as a pro. I have him in the SP4 range, and that’s lower than most.

Chapman’s increased walk rate in 2013 was mildly troublesome, but not enough to knock him out of the top three at RP. If Chapman gets hit by a bus or gets too bored with baseball, I’d rather own J.J. Hoover than Jonathan Broxton.

Sleeper: Ludwick. In deeper formats, he could reward you with 25 HRs, and nobody is talking about him.

Top prospects

Billy Hamilton, OF -€“ You’€™ve heard of him, right?

Robert Stephenson, SP – The 21-year-old Stephenson reached Double A last season, and is considered a potential ace. Grab him in dynasty formats, but don’€™t expect to see him this season.

Yorman Rodriguez, OF – Every assessment of the 21-year-old Rodriguez uses the word "tools,"€ but he hasn’t used them all that well so far. He could be worth a farm pick in NL-only leagues.

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