The success of the Reds’ season rests on the shoulders of first baseman Joey Votto. Last season, he appeared in just 62 games for Cincinnati – his lowest total since his rookie campaign in 2007. At just 31 years old and with nearly a decade left on his massive deal, it’s not just this season – but the next era of Reds baseball – that depends on Votto’s health.
Despite missing time, he still put up a respectable .255/.390/.409 line for Cincinnati – a far cry from what he’s used to (he’s a career .310/.417/.533 hitter) – hitting just half a dozen homers in 220 at-bats. If he can make his usual 600 to 700 plate appearances, he’s an on-base machine; if he’s not, the offense takes on a very different look.
This team has all the makings of an offensive powerhouse – if healthy.
His counterpart on the right side of the infield, Brandon Phillips, also missed time last year – appearing in just over 120 games. It’ll be up to these two to bring the team back to life in 2015 – and if the second baseman can revert back to his 103-RBI self of 2013, things could turn around on a dime.
Apart from the dynamic duo, several intriguing options scatter the lineup card for manager Bryan Price – center fielder Billy Hamilton – arguably the fastest player in the game today – and third baseman Todd Frazier, who was inked to a new contract this offseason. Last year, Frazier hit a career-high 29 home runs for Cincinnati – and coupled with Devin Mesoraco – the breakout catcher – this team has all the makings of an offensive machine.