2022 Season Review: Cincinnati Reds

Check out William Gregory’s 2022 Season Preview Article for the Reds here.

Image: Emilee Chinn / Getty Images

2022 Record: 62-100 (.383 win%, T-4th in Division)

2022 Payroll: $127,448,057 (22nd)

2022 Lineup:

1. 2B Jonathan India .249 AVG/.327 OBP/.378 SLG, -0.4 fWAR

2. 3B Brandon Drury .263 AVG/.320 OBP/.492 SLG, 2.6 fWAR

3. LF Tommy Pham .236 AVG/.312 OBP/.374 SLG, 0.4 fWAR

4. 1B Joey Votto .205 AVG/.319 OBP/.370 SLG, -0.3 fWAR

5. C Tyler Stephenson .319 AVG/.372 OBP/.482 SLG, 1.5 fWAR

6. RF Aristides Aquino .197 AVG/.246 OBP/.363 SLG, 1.4 fWAR

7. DH Mike Moustakas .214 AVG/.2955 OBP/.345 SLG, -1.0 fWAR

8. SS Kyle Farmer .255 AVG/.315 OBP/.386 SLG, 1.0 fWAR

9. CF Nick Senzel .231 AVG/.296 OBP/.306 SLG, -1.3 fWAR

2022 Rotation:

1. Hunter Greene, 125.2 IP/4.44 ERA/1.21 WHIP, 2.1 fWAR

2. Tyler Mahle, 120.2 IP/4.40 ERA/1.22 WHIP, 2.1 fWAR

3. Nick Lodolo, 103.1 IP/3.66 ERA/1.25 WHIP, 2.7 fWAR

4. Mike Minor, 98.0 IP/6.06 ERA/1.63 WHIP, -0.7 fWAR

5. Graham Ashcraft, 105.0 IP/4.89 ERA/1.42 WHIP, 1.0 fWAR

2022 Top 4 Relievers:

1. CL Hunter Strickland, 62.1 IP/4.91 ERA/1.51 WHIP, 0.1 fWAR

2. Alexis Diaz, 63.2 IP/1.84 ERA/0,96 WHIP, 3.1 fWAR

3. Joel Kuhnel, 58.0 IP/6.36 ERA/1.40 WHIP, -0.4 fWAR

4. Art Warren, 36.0 IP/6.50 ERA/1.64 WHIP, -0.8 fWAR

Regular Season Recap:

Since their appearance as the second Wild Card team in 2013, the only playoff appearance that Cincinnati Reds fans have been able to rejoice in was the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. While few expected Cincinnati to be remotely close to playoff contention, the drop to a 100 loss team is disappointing. 

The Reds opened up the 2022 season 3-22, at which point their inevitable destiny was clear: they were headed towards the newly established draft lottery. Their lack of success, however, didn’t correlate with a lack of stories to monitor. In late July, the team became newsworthy in its pursuits to trade ace pitcher Luis Castillo and third baseman/utility infielder Brandon Drury.

After recouping a package from Seattle headlined by Noelvi Marte in exchange for Luis Castillo and shipping Brandon Drury off to San Diego, the future looks bright(ish) for Cincinnati. With the arrival of Spencer Steer in the big leagues and the successful seasons of prospect Elly De La Cruz and the aforementioned Marte, the left-side of the infield could be set for years to come.

The Reds lineup, on the whole, was underwhelming. The lineup was constructed with many promising youngsters, namely Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson, and potential breakout candidates such as Nick Senzel and Aristides Aquino to pair with established veterans Joey Votto and Mike Moustakas. On paper, this lineup has good balance, however obviously, that is not how it turned out.

You could pretty definitively say that, when healthy, catcher Tyler Stephenson was the Reds’ best hitter, however, as he only appeared in 50 games, some of which at DH, most of the catching time was taken by Austin Romine and Aramis Garcia, who had an OPS+ of 17 and 38, respectively. It’s easy to see how runs were lost from that spot.

In the infield, the Reds franchise staple Joey Votto turned in a miserable campaign by his standards, Jonathan India disappointed, Kyle Farmer exceeded expectations, and third base was a rotating door after the departure of Drury. 

Votto, the aging first baseman, was over 200 OPS points below his career average, and on the defensive side, the former Gold-Glover posted a -9 DRS. India, after a 3.9 WAR debut season, posted a -.5 WAR in just over 100 games. 

Farmer, after being a replacement-level shortstop over the first four years of his career has accumulated 3.3fWAR over the past two seasons, growing to become a near-league-average bat, one of the better ones the Reds have.

In the outfield, there were some question marks. After losing Nick Castellanos after the 2021 season, the Reds found themselves in need of additional offensive production, so they turned to Aristides Aquino, who some may remember from his month-long tear when he first arrived in the big leagues. 

In 2022, however, Aquino also posted a similarly disappointing OPS+ of 63, though he was able to net a WAR of 1.4 in 2022. In center field, Nick Senzel was pitiful. The former first rounder has no redeemable qualities at the MLB level, and has been an utter disappointment in his career so far, and though it’s been injury-plagued, Senzel has received many opportunities to prove he belongs in the Major Leagues. 

By the end of the season, two bright spots in the outfield appeared in Stuart Fairchild and T.J. Friedl. The two formed a devastating platoon in the leadoff spot amid India’s struggles, and certainly were a boon to the lineup.

With a pitching staff lacking a single pitcher above 130 innings, and with one starter at an ERA below 4.00, the Reds pitching was a struggle. There was some stability in the back end with Graham Ashcraft. The “top” end was anchored down by the promising youngsters, Greene and Lodolo, with Mahle to help after the departure of Castillo. The staff was passable for a 100 loss team.

Overall, much of the team was below average, hence the 38 games below .500 record they posted.

M-SABR Predicted Record 74-88 vs. Actual 62-100:

The Reds disappointed even the least optimistic observers, much of which can be attributed to their stumbling out of the gates to begin the season. Take the 3-22 start out, and they went 59-78, which a much stronger and respectable clip, albeit still among the weakest in the league. The Reds had a clear objective this season, and while they didn’t win in the box scores, they picked up many wins on the field moving into the future, with the likes of Lodolo, Greene, and Jose Barrero filling big roles down the “stretch.”

Surprise of the Season:

Brandon Drury was the guy who lit up the stat sheets in the first half of the season for the Reds. Opening the year as a projected part time player, Drury posted an .855 OPS for Cincinnati before being shipped to San Diego. Drury’s presence in the lineup was welcome, as his 59 RBI as a Red this year would have been the second-highest figure on the team. 

In terms of players remaining on the team, T.J. Friedl and Stuart Fairchild are certainly a surprise. Neither of them had much MLB experience, if any at all, and were still able to form a formidable duo, posting over a .750 OPS each in a timeshare in the outfield and batting leadoff following the injury to Jonathan India. 

Players We Watched: 

Player to Watch #1: SP Luis Castillo

After leading MLB in losses last season, Luis Castillo was primed to be a comeback candidate this season, and he was. As a Red, Castillo posted a 2.86 ERA and struck out 90 batters in 85 innings. As expected, Castillo was moved at the deadline and continued his dominance for the Seattle Mariners.

Player to Watch #2: C Tyler Stephenson

The Cincinnati Reds have their catcher of the future. In Tyler Stephenson’s short career to date, he has an .823 OPS. Injuries, however, have derailed this potential future All-Star from showcasing his talents for a full season. If Stephenson can stay healthy, he could become a staple of this Reds’ rebuild.

Player to Watch #3: SS Jose Barrero

Jose Barrero was disappointing. Posting an OPS+ of 18 in his first 165 pro bats leaves the Reds with questions to answer regarding his future with the team. Unfortunately, there were no expected stat breaks either; Barrero had an xBA of .140 and xSLG of .211.  Chances are he opens next season at a minor league affiliate, where the team will test out his defensive abilities elsewhere, and try to get his bat back on track.

Offseason Outlook:

The Reds have very few free agents in the ‘22 class: Donovan Solano, Hunter Strickland, Chase Anderson, and Austin Romine. None of these names are ones to jump at, and if I were the Reds, I’d be content to let them all walk. 

The roster from this season seems to be a similar one to what next year’s might look like, as few pieces are leaving, and few external pieces are likely to come in. If the Reds are going to come close to the playoff bubble in 2023, most of the changes are going to come from within. 

Expect the Reds to be late players in free agency, looking to snatch up the leftover players on short term deals with the intent to flip them to contenders come the trade deadline. The bullpen and rotations could use some bolstering, but the lineup will enter 2023 with some questions as well. 

Unlike many of today’s bottom tier teams, the Reds won’t refuse to spend money, however they’d be smart to spend it wisely, and wait for their window of opportunity, which is still a ways away.

Something to Watch:

The development of minor league SS’s Elly De La Cruz and Noelvi Marte is crucial to the success of the Reds. Both have the potential to be franchise altering players in a couple of years. De La Cruz, namely, is a player to watch as he’s also playing (and killing the baseball) in the Dominican Winter League.

Categories: 2022 Season Review, Articles, Post-COVID


1 reply

  1. Overall, this is a pretty solid review. I probably would have mentioned Aquinos outfield dominance even if the bat was working. And I think not really saying anything about the noticeable progression of Greene and Lodolo is a small miss. But overall, it made me feel bad about the team, which is exactly how I should be feeling.

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