The Month in Review (September): The Boys Are Leaving Town
Devin Mesoraco was nothing but an afterthought in September. After logging time behind the plate for most of the regular season, Mesoraco had only 3 at-bats in the final full month of the season. I guess that’s what happens when you hit .212 on the season and you have two fully capable replacements ahead of you in Ryan Hanigan and Dioner Navarro. If Mesoraco gets a single AB in the post-season, I’d be shocked.
Tired of watching Todd Frazier get all of the attention, Joey Votto decided to make his return in September. Two months off from baseball didn’t seem to affect Votto much because he hit .343 with 7 doubles and 25 (TWENTY-FIVE!) walks. Yes, the home run power isn’t there, but that’s to be expected after such a long layoff from hitting and having a knee that’s (probably) not 100%. I’m not concerned about this guy one bit.
Brandon Phillips followed up his .317 August by hitting a sickly .198 in September. He wasn’t the only Red that didn’t hit in September, but his offensive slump was certainly one of the biggest surprises. For a guy who loves the spotlight, let’s hope he shines in the playoffs. Especially if he’s going to be batting lead-off.
This is a weird one. With Votto back, Todd Frazier saw reduced playing time—splitting responsibilities with Miguel Cairo and Scott Rolen. Had I said that a month ago, people would’ve flipped out. “Why is Todd Frazier splitting time with anybody?!” I would’ve said the same thing.
Well, Frazier completely dropped off of the Rookie of the Year radar by hitting .181 in the final full month of the season. His power numbers were down (1 HR), his extra-base hits were down (3 2Bs) and he was striking out a lot (19 Ks). Frazier still had more total ABs at 3B than Cairo (18) and Rolen (44) combined, but I think that’s because nobody expected him to drop off as quickly as he did.
With Zach Cozart hurt, Wilson Valdez saw a decent amount of time at short. His .208 average didn’t exactly make us forget about Cozart, but we did get glimpse (albeit a brief one) of Didi Gregorious. As has been the case for most of the 2012 season, the shortstop position for the Reds is just kind of there—no drama, no huge issues—it’s just… there.
You want drama? Welcome to the Cincinnati Reds’ outfield. You have Drew Stubbs pretty much playing himself off this team with his 26Ks and .159 average in September. In fact, the Reds just announced that highly-touted prospect, Billy Hamilton will be moving to CF in the Arizona Fall League. It’s long been thought that Stubbs’ greatest weapon was his speed (it certainly hasn’t been his hitting). Well, I hear Hamilton is pretty fast, too.
Read into that move however you wish, but if my name was Drew Stubbs, I’d be very nervous, because there are plenty of fast, light-hitting outfielders out there just waiting to be called up.
Chris Heisey hasn’t been much better, but there isn’t nearly as much pressure on his shoulders because not many people view him as an everyday player. Jay Bruce had one of his typically maddening months where he hit .228, but also had 6 HRs (he has a career-high 34 HRs this year). Ryan Ludwick and Xavier Paul’s numbers were pretty solid in September, but Ludwick’s power numbers were down.
I’ve given the bench a hard time this season—and rightfully so—but the Reds managed to win 97 games in 2012, so how much of a problem can it really be?
The post-season is where a team’s bench can really be exposed (for good or bad), so we’re about to find out just how valuable and productive this bench can be.
Say what you will about the Reds’ offense in September (I’ll say that it wasn’t very good… to put it kindly), but the starting pitching has been nothing short of outstanding. In fact, it’s the main reason why I’m not ready to jump off a bridge before the playoffs begin.
The hitting—or lack thereof—is obviously a concern, and something that clearly needs to improve if this team wants to survive past the first round of the post-season. Meanwhile, the pitching has been pretty solid considering that the same group of five has pitched the entire season. Yes, Johnny Cueto struggled in September, but Mat Latos and Homer “No Hitter” Bailey shined.
Those three guys, along with Bronson Arroyo will make up the Reds rotation for the NLDS (Bailey would pitch Game 4). I have the utmost confidence in the rotation, but I’d feel even better if the offense would back the up with a few runs.
We’re about to find out just how good this bullpen is. They’ve successfully held down the fort most of the season, but I’ll admit that the thought of Sean Marshall and Logan Ondrusek on the big stage is a little worrying.
Aroldis Chapman started the month with a tired shoulder, then he rested the shoulder, and then he came back and he was same old Chapman in again. During his absence, Jonathan Broxton came in and saved 4 games of his own. The deal to get Broxton at the deadline seemed unnecessary, but I promise you that Reds fans will be thankful to have that support mechanism in place should Chapman falter.
September Record: 15-11
Final Regular Season Record: 97-65
Did the Reds play great baseball in September? No.
Did they play well enough to have the 2nd best record in baseball (1 game behind the best record)? Yes.
Have they done enough to make the season a complete success? Not yet.
BEAT THE GIANTS!