.438: Joey Votto's wOBA in 2012. There was no more potent offensive threat in baseball last season than a healthy Joey Votto. Before missing 49 games with a torn meniscus in his left knee, Votto abused opposing pitchers while amassing a .453 wOBA in the season's first half.
44.2%: Aroldis Chapman's K% in 2012. Chapman piled up 122 K in 71⅔ IP, leading all relievers in his first campaign as the Reds closer. The Cincinnati front office had plans to convert him into a starter this season but ultimately decided Chapman can help them most by returning to the bullpen. The Reds were 60-8 in games Aroldis Chapman pitched last season.
2012 Season in Review
On the back of a talented pitching staff anchored by ace Johnny Cueto, the Reds compiled a 97-65 record, the second best in baseball. Cincinnati's season ended with a heartbreaking loss to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants in Game 5 of the NL Division Series.
Key Offseason Moves
Acquired OF Shin-Soo Choo in a three team, nine player trade with the Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks. The Reds sent OF Drew Stubbs to Cleveland and SS prospect Didi Gregorious to Arizona to complete the deal. Choo, 30, hit .283/.373/.441 with 16 HR in 686 PA for the Indians in 2012, ranking among the top forty qualified hitters in BB% (10.6%), OBP (.373), wOBA (.359), and wRC+ (131). The Reds signed Choo to a one-year deal worth about $7.4M to avoid salary arbitration. Cincinnati also received IF Jason Donald (.257/.309/.362 in 603 career PA) and $3.5M in cash from Cleveland as part of the deal.
Re-signed RP Jonathon Broxton to a three-year $21M contract: Originally acquired in a trade deadline deal with the Royals in exchange for minor league pitchers JC Salbaran and Donnie Joseph, Broxton posted a 2.82 ERA with a minuscule 3.4 BB% in 25 appearances after joining the Reds. For the season, Broxton ranked among the top thirty-five qualified relievers in both ERA (2.48) and FIP (3.03). With incumbent closer Aroldis Chapman expected to leave the bullpen to join the starting rotation, Broxton was projected to be tapped to fill the Reds' closer role. However, due to Chapman's return to the bullpen, Broxton will be the setup man in the lights out back end of the Reds' bullpen.
Re-signed OF Ryan Ludwick to a two-year/$15M contract: Ludwick, 34, experienced a career revival in 2012, thanks in large part to hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park. In 247 home PA, Ludwick hit .268/.341/.555 with 18 HR in 2012, benefiting from a career high home HR/FB rate of 22.9%.
Consistency is the key word to use when talking about the 2013 Cincinnati Reds. Fronted by staff ace Johnny Cueto, the Reds' projected 2013 starting rotation made all but 1 of Cincinnati's 162 starts in 2012 and logged the fifth best staff ERA (3.64) in baseball.
Manny Parra is the lone addition to a Cincinnati bullpen that ranked third in FIP (3.26) and first in both ERA (2.65) and K% (26.2%).
On offense, off-season acquisition Shin-Soo Choo is projected to be the everyday center fielder. The Cincinnati front office will be hoping he handles the bat well enough to negate his sub-par defense (-16.1 UZR/150 for Cleveland in 2012). Todd Frazier is expected to take over the everyday role at 3B. Frazier played 73 games at 3B as a backup for Scott Rolen last season.
The NL Central looks to be competitive this season, but Cincinnati is by far the favorite to win the division. Baseball Prospectus' Playoff Odds calculate the odds of winning the NL Central at 63.7%. The Reds have all the right pieces in place to make a serious challenge for their first World Series title since 1990.
A healthy Joey Votto will build off his transcendent performance in the first half of the 2012 season before being derailed by a knee injury. Votto's line in 2013 will be somewhere in the neighborhood of .345/.460/.610 with 38 HR on his way to the NL MVP award and a World Series title.
All stats courtesy of our friends at FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.