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Cincinnati Reds First Quarter Recap MLB


The Cincinnati Reds (20-27) are roughly a quarter of the way through the 2023 season. There have been highs and there have been lows. There have been walk-off wins and blown leads. Cornerstone players are emerging while others raise more questions and Joey Votto has yet to see a single pitch. A top prospect has made his debut and several others await on the doorstep.

With that being said, how have the Reds performed relative to preseason expectations?

Offense and standings

The Reds currently sit in last place in the NL Central. They are five games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers, who are tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, nobody expected the Reds to be contenders at any point this season, so it is hard to knock them too much for that. Yet in a surprisingly weak division, the Reds have had a chance to make some unexpected noise.

Nobody expected the Pirates to be a first-place team in late-May, yet here they are. So, what has gone wrong for the Reds?

At time of writing, the Reds rank 20th in the league in runs scored, 28th in home runs, 27th in slugging percentage and have been caught stealing third-most in the MLB.

Offensively, they struggle to hit for power and make too many outs on the bases. While they get on base at an average rate, ranking 15th in MLB in on-base percentage, they can not seem to get those runners home at an adequate level.


On the pitching side of things, the first quarter of the season has been a bit underwhelming.

As a pitching staff, the Reds have given up the second most hits, the seventh most walks and the eighth most home runs in baseball. Add it all up and you get a 5.09 team ERA (28th in MLB).

Nick Lodolo, Hunter Greene and Graham Ashcraft have all performed below expectations. What should be a three-headed monster has yet to show any real bite this season.

For Lodolo, Greene and Ashcraft, there is the caveat that they are still extremely young. However, with the narrow focus of their impact on this season, it has been disappointing. A below-average offense and a bottom-five pitching staff are not a winning formula.


At least they are a good defensive team, right?

The Reds have registered -18 defensive runs saved this season (24th in MLB), according to Fangraphs. So, no, they are not a good defensive team.

Fan-favorites Tyler Stephenson and Jonathan India have minus two and minus defensive runs saved, respectively. The infield defense has been especially awful. Jose Barrero and Kevin Newman, the two main shortstops for the Reds this season, have minus three and minus six defensive runs saved, respectively.

Looking forward

The hard facts say this is a C- first quarter of the season. But the underlying stories and in-game progress brings the grade up a bit.

Consider top prospect Matt McLain’s promotion to the Cincinnati Reds. McLain tore up AAA in Louisville to begin the season and flashed impressive power and speed tools in the process. While he has had his struggles since moving up to The Show, the flashes have been there and it is apparent that he might be a cornerstone for the next Cincinnati Reds contending team.

Also of note, Alexis Diaz continues to be one of the best relievers in baseball. Diaz has a 1.93 ERA and 35 strikeouts in nearly 19 innings pitched, going a perfect 10 for 10 in save situations. Alex Young, Ian Gibaut and Lucas Sims have all also proven themselves as above-average bullpen arms.

Jonathan India has reverted back to his 2021 Rookie of the Year form after a down year in 2022. He currently leads the team with a .380 on-base percentage and has grown into a serious leadership role.

With so many young, infield prospects moving through the Reds’ minor-league system, India’s leadership is an important development for the future of this team. Each of these positive developments bump the grade up to a solid C+ start to the season. Where the Reds go from here is what matters most.

Reinforcements could be on the way as top prospects Elly de la Cruz and Christian Encarnacion-Strand are approaching their time to get that special call as well. The Reds need power and those two have plenty of it.

Stay tuned for more breaking MLB content, including trade deadline information, power rankings and more news from every team.

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