As the Cincinnati Reds prepare for their Playoff Series against the Atlanta Braves, it is a good time to look back at what worked during the regular season. For the Reds, they had many ups and downs during the regular season but many of their highs were noteworthy and will be celebrated here. Oh and remember, #GoodVibesOnly.
MVP- Trevor Bauer
For starters, #BauerForCy2020. With that out of the way, this man put the team on his back not only with his performances on the field but off the field. Right before the winning streak, Joey Votto looked out of it. He had made two errors in one of Bauer’s starts and, rightfully so, Bauer went off on him and the team. It was a moment that possibly defined the entire season to help get the Reds focused. This man is a competitor and he lifts up those around him. With his 1.73 ERA (First in NL), .080 WHIP (First in NL) and 100 Strikeouts (Second in NL), Bauer did it all this season. Don’t forget the fact that he pitched on three days rest in the most important game of the season. Bauer was the Reds MVP and no one can argue differently.
Best Pitcher- Trevor Bauer
This one is pretty obvious. But if one is not convinced, just look above.
Best Hitter- Jesse Winker
In the “3 Bold Predictions for the Reds 2020 Season“, it was stated that Jesse Winker would finish the season with a .300/.400/.500 line. Well, he finished this season with a .255/.388/.544 line and showed that this kid has a top of the line bat not just for contact but power as well. While he did sacrifice contact for more power, it feels like he is one more step away from being one of the better hitters in baseball. Jesse Winker absolutely carried this team for quite a while even though he definitely had some slumps that affected his overall season. Luckily for the Reds, he has been really quiet for the last 15 games which could mean that he comes out this latest slump just in time for the playoffs.
Best Fielder- Tucker Barnhart
Most of the Reds defense was well below average this year. There were only a few players that even deserved to be in consideration for this. They were Tucker, Curt Casali, Kyle Farmer, Nick Senzel, Shogo Akiyama, Jose Garcia and surprisingly Luis Castillo. Had Farmer, Senzel and Garcia actually played more games they would have been more seriously considered here.
That said, Tucker Barnhart might be up for another Gold Glove this year with how well he played. He threw out eight runners which is second in the NL only behind Willson Contreras and Jacob Stallings. Luckily for Barnhart, he played in a similar amount of games as Contreras and did not commit an error whereas the Cubs catcher had two. Whether he wins his second Gold Glove or not doesn’t matter to this conversation. He was the Reds best defender and thus should be rightly awarded for such.
Best Bullpen Pitcher- Raisel Iglesias
This decision is going to make so many people angry, but Iggy might have had his best year to date. This would be especially true had the team actually played its full 162 game season. He only had three bad appearances all year and gave up his only homerun of the year in the first game. Other than that he was lights-out every time. Take a look at his amazing 2020 statistics and if they do not convince fans then those fans are just Iggy haters and can be shunned.
Of the 22 games he pitched in, he only gave up runs in three of them. That lead to a 2.74 ERA with eight saves, only five walks and 31 strikeouts. In case anyone was wondering, and they should be, that is an astonishing 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings. To go along with the one homerun hit, he only allowed three doubles and two were in the second game of the year. That means in his last 20 games he gave up only a single extra-base hit. Continuing on this man had a 79% ground ball rate when people were actually able to put the ball in play. Lastly, he gave up one stolen base, which was also in the second game of the year.
To say that he has been outstanding outside of basically the first two games of the year would be an understatement. Give credit where credit is due. Raisel Iglesias is elite.
Rookie of the Year- Tejay Antone
Is gushing over a kid no one had heard of and one that was only in the Reds top 30 prospects, according to MLB.com, once acceptable? If not then that is fine because who cares what others think? Anyways, Tejay Antone was absolutely outstanding. Whatever Bauer and Derek Johnson did to help this kid with was like giving him magic water. Antone struckout 11.5 batters per nine innings and 45 overall compared to 16 walks. This lead him to a 2.80 ERA as he was someone this team could rely on.
Especially during the beginning of the season, the Reds rarely had anyone outside of their top starting pitchers that they could trust in any situation. He started the turnaround and stabilized a bullpen that needed it in the worst sort of way. Antone has certainly earned his place on the Reds for years to come and whether he stays in the bullpen or becomes a starter next year, he is truly a true diamond in the rough story.
Biggest Play of the Year- Trevor Bauer’s 6th Against the Brewers, 9/23/2020
There were plenty of moments in consideration for this spot. Big walk-off hits like Votto’s against the Cards, Brian Goodwin stealing away a homerun during the Pirates series and Tyler Stephenson’s walk-off. While those were important, none were as major as Trevor Bauer’s sixth inning against the Brewers.
As a reminder, this was the most important game of the Reds season. They needed this win for the tiebreaker against the Brewers and also to get over the hump of .500 that had been plaguing them all season. After the Reds got out to a 6-1 lead, the Brewers got Jacob Nottingham on with a two base error and then Avisail Garcia singled with no one out and the middle of the lineup coming to bat. In this moment, the Reds lead could have easily been cut down. Instead, Bauer buckled down and struck out Christian Yelich, Jedd Gyorko and Daniel Vogelbach all while doing a warrior scream after each one with the last one being legendary.
This inning probably won him the Cy Young and is one that will go down in Reds history.
- Shogo Akiyama– For becoming the player the Reds have been needing at the top of their lineup for years.
- Nicholas Castellanos– For being a bulldog and carrying this team offensively for basically the first half of the season.
- Joey Votto– For remembering just how great of a player he can be and coming in the clutch so many times.
- Eugenio Suarez– For sticking out the worst slump of his career and still leading the Reds in homers and RBI.
- Mike Moustakas– For being Moose and figuring it all out exactly when the Reds needed it most.
- Lucas Sims– For being the most consistent person in a bullpen that needed it badly all season.
- Curt Casali– For being reliable in every facet of the game.
- Amir Garrett and Michael Lorenzen– For becoming the incredible duo everyone knew they could be.
- Tyler Mahle– For quietly being another constant that this team needed when no one expected it from him. Welcome to the 2021 rotation kid.
- Sonny Gray– For being the leader this team has needed and keeping up the fire when many others had given up.
With that all in mind, it is time for Reds playoff baseball for the first time in seven, very long years. Go Reds!
“From Our Haus to Yours”