Few teams were busier this offseason than the Cincinnati Reds, who made several big moves to bolster their 75-win 2019 squad. The Reds, not known for handing out big deals, signed Mike Moustakas, Nicholas Castellanos, and Shogo Akiyama so they could compete in 2020.
At FanDuel Sportsbook, the Reds have the third-best odds to win the NL Central at +270, but they are just behind the St. Louis Cardinals at +220 and Chicago Cubs at +260. Here are three stats that prove their newfound optimism is entirely warranted.
1. The Reds' Rotation is Stronger Than Ever
Times are changing for the Reds, who now boast one of the best young starting rotations in baseball. The Reds have struggled in recent years to develop pitching in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark. That completely flipped in 2019 as the Reds posted the fourth-best xFIP in the majors at 4.10, far better than any of their NL Central rivals. With Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray posting excellent numbers, the front of the rotation has a bright future. The Reds also traded for Trevor Bauer at the deadline, who could be one of the best pitchers in baseball if he channels his potential. They also signed Wade Miley to be their fourth starter, providing even more flexibility. Overall, the Reds have more than enough talent in the rotation to challenge the Cubs and the Cardinals.
2. Castellanos and Moustakas Should Provide Lineup Stability
The Reds needed to upgrade their offense over the offseason, and they did so by signing Nicholas Castellanos and Mike Moustakas to long-term deals. Last year, Moustakas defied expectations with the Brewers, posting a career-high .845 OPS with 35 homers. Coming off a 1.4% increase in walk rate and sustained power numbers, Moustakas should be a valuable contributor. Castellanos, who is just 27, has even more upside. No one can blame him from merely going through the motions in Detroit before he got traded to the Cubs. As soon as he arrived in Chicago, he started hitting. Over those 51 games, he hit .321/.356/.646 and had a 154 wRC+. If Castellanos has 80% of those numbers, the Reds will have a very good lineup to deploy in 2020.
3. Shogo Akiyama Projects to be a Great Leadoff Hitter
The Reds clearly believe in Shogo Akiyama, the NPB star who is finally making a move to MLB after dominating in Japan. Akiyama played in every game for the Seibu Lions since 2015, and he never posted an OBP below .385. Akiyama is a brilliant contact hitter with a great batting eye. He also brings solid outfield defense and some pop to the lineup, which the Reds desperately need. As a team, the Reds ranked 22nd in OBP and 24th in batting average last season. Although players like Eugenio Suarez and Aristides Aquino buoyed their home run totals, they often didn't have enough players on base to make it count. The addition of Akiyama, who is set to be Cincinnati's first-ever Japanese player, should alleviate this problem.
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Tristan Jung is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Tristan Jung also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username tristan1117. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.