The 2022 Cincinnati Reds gave fans little hope for a successful season heading into 2023. Tied for the third-worst record in baseball at 62-100, Cincinnati finished the year with their first 100-loss season since 1982, which was the only other time in franchise history to accomplish that feat.
Heading into 2023, a 100-loss season may not be in store, but not many people are expecting a playoff run either. So what do fans of a rebuilding team look forward to with the upcoming season? Cincinnati fans should be used to it by now. With only five playoff appearances since their last World Series title in 1990, Cincinnati has been longing for a team they can look forward to each off-season. Let’s take a look at three reasons to watch the Reds in 2023.
Why You Should Watch the Cincinnati Reds in 2023
1. New Faces
Make no mistake about it, Cincinnati didn’t make any splashes this offseason with new players coming in. They did, however, make a few roster filing moves that filled some very open gaps on the team. Here are a few notable roster moves:
On November 10th, the Reds sent cash considerations to the Texas Rangers in return for Solak. Solak comes off an up-and-down year in 2022. Only playing in 35 games with the big league club, he will be returning from a season-ending broken right foot suffered back in September. Solak hit well in AAA Round Rock, where he spent most of the 2022 season. He slashed .278/.371/.489 with 10 home runs and a 114 OPS+ in 57 games.
Solak adds depth to a very young outfield. With the departures of Tommy Pham, Tyler Naquin, and Aristides Aquino from the 2022 season, there are plenty of at-bats up for grabs. I would look to see Solak as a platoon player in left field with Jake Fraley.
A former American League Rookie of the Year, Myers brings 10 years of big league experience to his new team. Spending the last eight years with San Diego, Myers has played mostly in Right Field, with occasional appearances at 1st Base. Myers signed a one-year, 7.5 million dollar deal for 2023, with a mutual option for 2024.
A few years ago, this signing may have held more value than it does now. Myers is not the same player he was prior to joining San Diego in 2015. There could, however, still be something left in the tank. With a career OPS of .800 inside Great American Ballpark, Myers could be the perfect candidate to have a 2022 Brandon Drury–type season with the Reds. I would expect Myers to be the primary option in Right Field, with the possibility of some playing time at first base to give Joey Votto some time off.
Other Key Additions
2. Young Rising Star Pitchers
One of the brighter spots of 2022, was being able to watch the emergence of the future pitching staff for Cincinnati. Two of the top throwers in the Cincinnati system made their debuts last season, and each one of them shined in their own way. With both of them healthy heading into Spring Training, this is another reason to watch the Reds in 2023.
Beginning the season as Cincinnati’s second-best prospect per Baseball America, Greene was able to make the opening day roster out of camp in 2022. Greene had a tale of two seasons last year. After a decent first half of the year, Greene was placed on the IL with a right shoulder strain in August. Missing the entire month and coming back in September, Greene cranked it up another level.
Per FanGraphs, here is a visual of Greene’s first-half/second-half advanced splits just to see how dominant he was.
— Tony Travisano (@TonyTravisano13) January 1, 2023
To go even further than the above image shows, Greene posted a 0.78 ERA with 37 strikeouts to only seven walks over his final four starts coming off the injured list. During those four starts, he limited the opponents to a .150 Batting Average and a very impressive .457 OPS. If Greene is able to build off the end of his rookie campaign, he has the ability to turn into one of the most dominant pitchers in the entire league.
Much like Greene, Lodolo spent a good amount of time on the injured list during his rookie year. Missing all of May and June, Lodolo was still able to make 19 starts during the 2022 season and looked good in the majority of them. In those starts, Lodolo posted a 3.66 ERA with a 3.49 xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching). He also had a 29.7 strikeout % and an 8.8 walk %, which was almost identical to Greene’s (30.9/9.0%).
Nick Lodolo is the first Red and fourth LHP in MLB since 1901 with 11+ strikeouts and 0 walks in consecutive starts.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 14, 2022
Lodolo has a very impressive curveball/slider pitch he seemed to use as a put-away pitch. On the pitch, he had a 46.0% Whiff rate on the year. Going into the season, it was believed Lodolo could be the most MLB-ready pitcher in the farm system due to his college experience. Lodolo was able to show he can compete and get big-league outs on a consistent level. I am very excited to see Lodolo take his game to the next level in 2023, more than likely as Cincinnati’s #2 arm in the rotation.
3. We Want Elly!!!
Elly De La Cruz might be the biggest prospect name in Cincinnati’s organization, but he might also be the biggest prospect name in all of baseball. A 16-year-old signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, Cruz was labeled as just a regular prospect. It wasn’t until 2021 that Cruz started to make some noise around the baseball world. Between Rookie Ball and Low A Daytona, Cruz had a slash line of .269/.336/.539. Although he hadn’t grown into his power yet, he was showing signs of having big-league tools.
In 2022, Cruz gave the Cincinnati front office no other choice but to start moving him up the ranks faster and faster. Starting the year in High A Dayton and finishing in AA Chattanooga, Cruz hit .296/.336/.539 with 28 home runs. Cruz also flashed his above-average speed on the base paths, stealing 47 bags. If there was one part of Cruz’s game to keep an eye on, it would be his strikeout rate. Last year he had a 30% strikeout rate between the two minor league levels.
Elly De La Cruz, a switch-hitting shortstop, is batting .312/.363/.650 (1.013 OPS) in his last 65 games with 21 HR, 14 doubles, six triples and 26 stolen bases.
Promoted on July 22, he’s fourth-youngest position player in Double-A, per Baseball America. pic.twitter.com/sc5hCJ2NHT
— Bobby Nightengale (@nightengalejr) August 7, 2022
There hasn’t been this much hype around a Cincinnati prospect since Jay Bruce. Even Greene didn’t have this much buzz around him. The unfortunate part, I wouldn’t expect Cruz to be on the major league roster coming out of Spring Training. It would be much more reasonable to think Cruz starts out the year in AA Chattanooga for more than likely the first month of the year. However, if he keeps putting up numbers as he did in 2022, the Cincinnati front office will have no choice but to bring the superstar in the making up to the Queen City.
The Cincinnati Reds might not be all that good in 2023, but in reality, when have they been? As a die-hard fan myself, I can only hope for a championship team in the near future. What I will say, is the organization’s farm system has never been as deep as it is currently. Failed rebuilds in the past have haunted fans. Understandably so, it has given them next to no real belief that this team can get to where we want them to be. But when you look under the surface, you can really see what this front office is trying to build.