Publish date:

5 REDS

Author:

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP CINCINNATI

There aren't a lot of middle-class teams in baseball, but they're one. They're young and they're talented, but there are a lot of ifs.... Billy Hamilton is such a good defensive player; he's got such a great arm. But defenses that shift on him take so many hits away because he doesn't have the ability to drive the ball. He has to bring the defense in by showing he can bunt.... Adam Duvall was much better versus lefthanded pitching last year. He's got a pretty aggressive approach and a good feel for the barrel, and he can keep progressing.... When I saw Devin Mesoraco in 2014, he was a monster, a middle-of-the-order bat at a premium position. He just can't stay healthy. Ideally for him, he goes to the AL because he can't catch every day. He could go to first base—just not in Cincinnati, because they have a pretty good one.... Luis Castillo has a tough fastball to square up, plus the changeup and a power sinker. The one thing that's gonna take him to the next level is command.... Raisel Iglesias has a huge fastball, 97 to 99, and he's cheap, so come second half when teams are looking for power arms, he's an interesting piece. He's also a guy you want to hold on to.... I could see them surprising people in the first half, but they're gonna have to monitor innings with their young pitchers, and I think they'll fall off.

THE PAYOFF PITCH

If it's possible to be both two-thirds of the way to the Hall of Fame, and mostly anonymous outside of your city, Joey Votto pulls it off. Votto, 34, is just outside the all-time top 10 in on-base percentage, his .428 mark almost 20 points higher than that of any other active player. He played in all 162 games last year, leading the NL in OBP, walks and OPS, hitting 36 homers while striking out just 83 times. After just missing a second NL MVP award in 2017, Votto now has six top 10 finishes, including three top fives. He's even become a good percentage base stealer, swiping 24 bags in 29 tries over the last three years. That kind of continued development is a reason to pay close attention: What will Votto add to his game this year?

OVER / UNDER

73.5

Between Joey Votto and the young arms, there's enough talent to end their three-year run of last-place finishes, but they're still a few years from contending.

THE LINEUP

1. CENTERFIELD

Billy Hamilton

.300 OBP/6 HR/46 SB

2. THIRD BASE

Eugenio Suárez

.442 SLG/23 HR/7 SB

3. FIRST BASE

Joey Votto

.432 OBP/.521 SLG/28 HR

4. SECOND BASE

Scooter Gennett

.262 BA/17 HR/4 SB

5. LEFTFIELD

Adam Duvall

.454 SLG/25 HR/5 SB

6. RIGHTFIELD

Scott Schebler

.462 SLG/22 HR/7 SB

7. SHORTSTOP

José Peraza

.280 BA/7 HR/22 SB

8. CATCHER

Tucker Barnhart

.258 BA/7 HR/3 SB

THE STAFF

FANTASY BREAKOUT

1. RH STARTER

Luis Castillo

9 W/3.88 ERA/9.0 K9

With three plus pitches, the ace-in-the-making flashed a top ground ball rate and an elite repertoire in '17.

RH STARTER

Anthony DeSclafani

8 W/4.52 ERA/1.31 WHP

LH STARTER

Brandon Finnegan

6 W/4.67 ERA/1.46 WHP

RH STARTER

Homer Bailey

7 W/4.83 ERA/1.43 WHP

CLOSER

Raisel Iglesias

32 SV/3.46 ERA/10.8 K9

THE SKIPPER

Bryan Price