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2015 Cincinnati Reds Team Preview: Fantasy 30 for 30

While the Cincinnati Reds had little success as a team last year, a number of notable fantasy developments took place. Todd Frazier was one of the best Draft Day steals coming one homer short of a 30/20 season, while Devin Mesoraco also had a breakout season, leading all catchers with 25 home runs.

On the flip side, Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, and Brandon Phillips struggled with injuries en route to career-worst years while Homer Bailey was a huge disappointment as well. Rookie Billy Hamilton showed off his electrifying speed with 56 steals, although, he was caught a league-leading 23 times, illustrating what was an up-and-down campaign.

Johnny Cueto managed to stay healthy and put forth a career-best season where his 2.25 ERA ranked as fourth-best in MLB. Aroldis Champan missed over a month after being drilled in the face by a line drive but he came back and dominated like usual. In the offseason, the Reds jettisoned notable fantasy performers Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon, while they traded for Marlon Byrd to bolster the lineup.

Projected lineup, rotation and bullpen comes from

Projected 2015 Cincinnati Reds “Go-To” Lineup:

  1. CF Billy Hamilton
  2. 3B Todd Frazier
  3. 1B Joey Votto
  4. C Devin Mesoraco
  5. RF Jay Bruce
  6. 2B Brandon Phillips
  7. LF Marlon Byrd
  8. SS Zack Cozart

2015 Cincinnati Reds Pitchers

Projected Starting Rotation:
  1. RHP Johnny Cueto
  2. RHP Homer Bailey
  3. RHP Mike Leake
  4. LHP Tony Cingrani
  5. RHP Anthony DeSclafani
Projected Bullpen:
  • RHP Aroldis Chapman (closer)
  • RHP Sam LeCure (setup)
  • LHP Manny Parra (setup)

2015 Cincinnati Reds Fantasy Studs

[Tweet “Reds C Devin Mesoraco led all catchers in homers and he did it in only 114 games.”] When you add in the fact Reds manager Bryan Price said on Wednesday he wants Mesoraco to catch 145 games this year, fantasy owners are frothing at the mouth envisioning more power since he’ll be playing half his games in the bandbox that is the Great American Ball Park. He just signed a four-year, $28 million extension and he’s a surefire top-three option at catcher this year. I’d much rather have Meso at his current 79 ADP compared to Buster Posey at 23.3.

Mesoraco’s 2014 stats: .273-25 HR-80 RBI-54 R-1 SB

Frazier set career-highs across the board last season and his newfound speed was a huge reason why. He may not swipe 20 bags again, but he’s a shoe-in for double-digit steals. It’s safe to say Frazier certainly enjoys the confines of the GABP as 20 of his 29 bombs came at home last year and his average was 22 points higher compared to the road as well.  Keep that in mind when drafting “Flava Fraz,” a top-5 option at third base.

Frazier’s 2014 stats: .273-29 HR-80 RBI-88 R-20 SB

In most years, Cueto would have been a no-doubter for the Cy Young, but he had to settle for second thanks to the existence of Clayton Kershaw. Alas, it was the finest season yet for the 28-year-old and his ability to stay healthy all year was especially encouraging considering his past health woes. Pitching at home wasn’t a problem either, as he delivered a magnificent 1.71 ERA at GABP. He’s a bona fide ace and should be selected in fantasy drafts as such.

Cueto’s 2014 stats: 20 W-2.25 ERA-0.96 WHIP-242 K

The 26-year-old flamethrower enters the 2015 season as one of the most feared closers in baseball. Through his first five seasons, Chapman owns a sensational 2.32 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 430 strikeouts in his first 252 2/3 innings. Chapman currently has a 48.7 ADP and will be one of the first closers off the board.

Chapman’s 2014 stats: 2.00 ERA-0.83 WHIP-106 K-36 Saves

Breakout Candidates: Billy Hamilton

With a year of seasoning in the bigs under his belt, Hamilton is poised to take a step forward at the plate this year. Cutting down on his 117 strikeouts will be the biggest hurdle to getting on base more and if he can increase his OBP to the .320-.330 range instead of .292, it will do wonders for his counting stats. With once-in-a-generation type speed, B-Ham should swipe 60-80 bags.

Hamilton’s 2014 stats: .250-6 HR-48 RBI-72 R-56 SB

Sleeper Candidates: Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Marlon Byrd, Homer Bailey

The 31-year-old suffered through a miserable season as a quad strain caused him to miss 100 games. He hit a career-worst .255 last year, but Votto owns a career .310 average and is a great bet to improve in that category and in general. Votto certainly carries some injury risk as his quad has been an issue in the past as well, but he’s a bargain at his current 75 ADP.

Votto’s 2014 stats: .255-6 HR-23 RBI-32 R-1 SB

Bruce underwent surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee last season and he never really settled in as his .217 average and 18 homers were career-lows. He recently said his knee feels good and he’s an excellent bounceback candidate. Expect Bruce to get back to hitting 30-plus homers with a .250-.260 average to boot. Great value for owners seeking power at his current ADP (106).

Bruce’s 2014 stats: .217-18 HR-66 RBI-71 R-12 SB

Byrd hit a career-high 25 homers with the Phillies last year and finished as a top-40 OF as the 37-year-old journeyman continues his resurgence. He’s averaged 24.5 homers and 86.5 RBI the last two years and it’s mind boggling his ADP is at 236.7 now considering his recent production and the fact he’s playing in a hitter-friendly ballpark. Just remember, the Byrd is the word.

Byrd’s 2014 stats: .264-25 HR-85 RBI-71 R-3 SB

While Bailey was a letdown in the first year of his six-year, $105 million contract as he struggled with ineffectiveness and eventually had to have surgery on his elbow, the 28-year-old should bounce back, health permitting. He posted a 1.26 ERA his last seven starts and is expected to be ready for spring training. He’s a steal with a 200 ADP.

Bailey’s 2014 stats: 9 W-3.71 ERA-1.23 WHIP-124 K

Bust Candidates: Brandon Phillips

While he’s still one of the best fielders in MLB, Phillips is regressing at the plate. The 33-year-old is past his prime and saw his four-year streak of hitting exactly 18 homers come to an end in 2014. With little speed and a mediocre average, he’s a two-cat producer at best and is no longer a top-15 option at second base.

Phillips’ 2014 stats: .266-8 HR-51 RBI-44 R-2 SB

Top Rookie: Robert Stephenson

Stephenson could be a late-season call-up, as he’ll likely begin the year at Double-A Pensacola or Triple-A Louisville. He possesses a high-90s fastball, that can touch 100 MPH, to go along with a decent curveball. Keep an eye out on his development.

What Should We Know About the 2015 Cincinnati Reds?

2015 Team Previews: NL Central
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The Reds possess a talented lineup capable of supplying an abundance of power in the hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park. According to ESPN’s MLB Park Factors, 2001 and 2004 are the only two years the GABP hasn’t rated as a top-eight venue for home runs and it’s never rated lower than fourth since 2011. Get your popcorn ready, it’s going to be another year of home run bonanzas in Cincy.

Check out all of our “Fantasy 30 For 30 Team Previews,” as we post a new one every day.

Joey Votto Photo Credit: Keith Allison

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