Author: Andrew Swanson
The 2010 season was full of numerous surprises, one of which was the breakout season of the Cincinnati Reds. As a team comprised of budding stars and a young pitching staff, few writers and media pendants believed the team had enough pitching to beat the Cardinals for the NL Central crown.
Prior to last season’s playoff push, the Reds were thought of as a pitcher’s wasteland; a place where promising young arms are pummeled to submission by a hitter’s ballpark that at times resembles a little league diamond.
Now the Reds appear to have one of the best young staffs in the National League with talented young starters Edison Volquez, Mike Leake, Travis Wood, Homer Bailey, and Johnny Cueto, all of whom have the ability to blossom into a 20 game winner.
In addition to collection of young arms, the Reds are positioned well for the future with a group of bookend young offensive studs like Joey Votto, Drew Stubbs, and Jay Bruce. The team may be a year or two from winning it all; however they certainly are on the right track to building a winning club.
Who to Target
First baseman Joey Votto had a breakout season in 2010, setting career marks for homeruns, runs scored, batting average and RBI’s on his way to earning the NL MVP award. Votto’s meteoric rise has landed him in the first round of most drafts as the third 1B taken behind Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrerra.
In addition to Votto, the Reds are packed with fantasy talent in both the infield and outfield. Brandon Phillips is ranked in the top 5 of second baseman, while Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce are two young outfielders that are poised for breakout campaigns in 2011.
Lastly, as I mentioned above, the Reds have 5 young arms that are viable fantasy starters in 2011. At this point none of them should be viewed as a number one fantasy starter, however all of them are worthy of spot starts in mixed leagues.
Drew Stubbs is our sleeper/breakout candidate for the 2011 Reds. As the team’s everyday center fielder last season, Stubbs hit 22 home runs and stole 30 bases on his way to becoming fantasy relevant in 2010.
Unfortunately for fantasy owners, his .255 batting average and 168 strike outs negated some of the value he delivered on the base paths. In 2011, I predict Stubbs will fair better at the plate and will deliver a more respectable .280 average, while approaching 30 homeruns and 30 steals.