Saturday, November 23, 2013

2013 Team Awards: Cincinnati Reds

In order to review the 2013 season, the crackpot staff of Off Base is handing out awards to each Major League team. Please send us $19.95 for the shipping and handling of your team's Hello Kitty stickers awards. Here are the Most Valuable Player, Least Valuable Player, Cy Young, Cy Yuck, Rookie of the Year and Reliever of the Year for the Cincinnati Reds. 

*Guidelines, prices and participation may vary by author*

MVP: Joey Votto

This wasn't an easy one. From someone who watched 95% of the team's games (only missing because I work during the week and couldn't skip out of work early for every mid-week businessman's special game), I think one of the damning qualities of the 2013 Reds may have been the lack of a true MVP. The numbers are there to please the sabermetrics crowd for Joey Votto (.305/.435/.491), but he honestly wasn't anything terrific in 2013. Let me rephrase; he wasn't 2010 Joey Votto, because that guy was an absolute menace for opposing pitching staffs. 

Votto had the nice 6.2 fWAR, but something seemed off. If I had to guess, he's still not completely back from knee surgery after the 2012 season. His lower half seemed to fail him - compare his ISO from the 2010 miraculous season (.276) and in 2013 (.186) and you see that it's a guy whose dip in power could completely be coming from a lack of torque in the lower half. Votto is still an amazing hitter without being at full strength; but for the Reds to take the next step and actually win a playoff series he's going to have to be more than just real good. That could happen, or the Reds could have someone else step up and carry the team, allowing Joey Votto to just be real good. As it stands the Reds have a bunch of 'pretty good' players but no one who was actually ELITE-ELITE. It felt that living and dying with them each night last summer. 

When the lights went out on their season, I drank a bottle of Sailor Jerry rum as I watched the outs melt away like sands through an hourglass. I didn't go into work the next day. I turned off my phone and didn't return text messages or calls. I needed that time for me. It was as if someone died and I needed the mourning period after the funeral. I am beginning to realize my allegiance to this franchise might not be a healthy habit in my life. To be a Reds fan with this current core, my one piece of advice would be to have a physical performed by your doctor to make sure you have a healthy functioning liver and kidneys. If he gets back to you with good news it's safe to proceed. 

LVP: Brandon Phillips 

I've always been a big Brandon Phillips supporter. I like the guy. He drove in a career-high 103 runs this past season. He made some jaw-dropping plays in the field. He played in 151 games. These are all things I appreciate as a fan. But we also saw the bad side of Phillips - like bitching about Joey Votto's contract in July. Or cussing out Reds beat writer C. Trent Rosecrans (and calling him the Pillsbury Doughboy). 

These things left a rotten taste in my mouth. When Phillips was complaining about his contract in comparison to Votto's, my question is why is this player doing this in such an important season? Why would someone who supposedly bleeds his team's colors in his veins creating a remarkable distraction in a season that the Reds needed to go deep in the postseason? The window is getting ready to close, and this guy is being a prick over money. I can live with a lot of things - but I'm starting to consider the notion of living without Brandon Phillips being a part of my favorite sports franchise. Let him go be a diva in a big market town. Let him go tell Mike Lupica to eat a bag of dicks out in New York. 

The Brandon Phillips who used to be a power/speed threat is no more. He stole five bases last season. He's slowly contributing to the Reds becoming a station-to-station National League club who sits around and waits for the three-run homer. Dusty Baker gets some blame in all of this, but in a division with the Cardinals and upstart Pirates, being a team in that mold is a huge problem. I think the Reds front office shares this same feeling with me, which is why you'll hear whispers of Phillips getting dealt in the off-season. Best guess is that Phillips talks his way into another chance with the Reds and they don't find the right price from a taker, but DatDude better change dem ways.

Cy Young: Aroldis Chapman 

I really can't overstate what it's like to have a lead and to send Aroldis Chapman into a game in the ninth inning. It's not that he converts every lead into a win - he's blown five saves in each of the last two seasons and when he's going to blow one you know it almost from his warm-up tosses. When bad Aroldis shows up, you're fucked. And it's painfully obvious. But I'm not sure I've ever seen a more dominating arm in my lifetime. I feel like getting to watch him his 105 MPH when I'm live at the stadium must have been what it was like to watch Michael Jordan in the old Slam Dunk contests. It's something you'll never see again no matter how long you live. 

Chapman posted a career high 15.83 K/9 in 2013. He was only worth 1.6 fWAR, but it's not his fault that his idiot manager petitioned the organization in Spring Training to leave Aroldis as a reliever. Even pitching coach Bryan Price (now Reds manager) was ready to make Chapman a starter where he could truly be a Cy Young candidate. But nooooooooo..... Dusty Baker and his status quo act had to step in and shit in everyone's birthday cake. 

I could have given this award to Mat Latos. But that just felt 'blah' to me. Aroldis Chapman is the best pitcher on the Reds roster. He has two 80-grade pitches. He just needs to be in the right role, and I think you'll see Aroldis as a starter in 2014.

Cy Yuck: Johnny Cueto

Now this will raise some eyebrows, but hear me out. Johnny Cueto was really good when he was part of the Reds rotation in 2013 (5-2, 2.82 ERA, 51 K, 18 BB) but the guy only appeared in 11 games. The injury bug that bit him in the 2012 playoffs continued to bite in 2013, leaving the Reds rotation in a constant state of flux due to the fact their 'ace' was rehabbing through the entire season. 

And then in true Dusty fashion, they throw Cueto out there for the one-game Wildcard Playoff in Pittsburgh because he looked good in a couple tune-up starts against a teams who were ready to start their golf game (the Astros). 

Cueto's wind-up might be causing the durability issues. And he looked completely rattled in Pittsburgh in one of the biggest games in modern franchise history. Everyone has an off night where their stuff just isn't there, but it was obvious from the opening moments of that game that Cueto's focus was off and the ferocious Pittsburgh crowd ruined him. I don't want that from my ace. And the Reds continue the trend of starting the wrong guy in the postseason (remember when they led with Edison Volquez)? What the hell are they trying to do to me. If you're keeping score at home, Cueto was worth a sparkling 0.6 fWAR in 2013. It's amazing that the Reds were able to win as many games as they did getting this minimal amount of output out of their number one (thank you Tony Cingrani).

Reliever of the Year: Aroldis Chapman

(Imagine Bart Simpson writing this on the chalkboard at the beginning of a Simpsons episode):
Screw you Dusty Baker.
Screw you Dusty Baker. 
Screw you Dusty Baker. 
Screw you Dusty Baker. 
Screw you Dusty Baker. 

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