HomeMLBCincinnati Reds Season Preview 2024 Odds and Predictions

    Cincinnati Reds Season Preview 2024 Odds and Predictions

    Adam Burke's season preview for the Cincinnati Reds as part of the VSiN 2024 MLB Betting Guide.

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    Cincinnati Reds 2024 preview

    The future is very much now for the Cincinnati Reds. Even though their postseason drought in a full 162-game season continued, several players made their MLB debuts or learned important lessons during the 2023 campaign. The Reds ultimately finished two games behind the Diamondbacks, who proved that all you have to do is get into the playoffs to be dangerous, in the NL Wild Card hunt.

    But, last season was full of so many important benchmarks. The Reds improved by 20 games. Spencer Steer played 156 games. Elly De La Cruz played 98. Christian Encarnacion-Strand played 63. Matt McLain played 89 games. The team found out that TJ Freidl and Will Benson could be building blocks.

     

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    Baseball-Reference uses a playing time distribution to determine the average age for the batters and the pitchers. At 26.8 years of age, this was the youngest Reds position player group since 1971. I do think the Reds felt like they needed to add a little track record and leadership, as their newcomers include 30-year-old Jeimer Candelario, 31-year-old Frankie Montas, 33-year-old Nick Martinez, and a trio of 30+ relievers in Emilio Pagan, Brent Suter, and Justin Wilson.

    The injury bug has already swarmed the Reds, losing McLain and Friedl for a lengthy part of time, but this is a very talented team looking for enough consistency to emerge from a well-balanced, but underwhelming NL Central group.

    2024 Cincinnati Reds Odds

    (odds from DraftKings as of Mar. 23)

    World Series: +4500

    NL Pennant: +2200

    NL Central: +350

    Win Total: 81.5 (-115/-105)

    Make Playoffs: Yes +155 / No -185

    Cincinnati Reds Preview: Offense

    Market perception of the Reds is down relative to the Cubs and Cardinals. You can see why, as there are some major questions with the starting staff and I think there are people unconvinced that the offense will live up to some lofty expectations. 

    Even with a lot of excitement and some impressive individual performances, the Reds finished with a 98 wRC+, which ranked 17th. Their park factor at Great American Ball Park does lead to some grading on a curve and the Reds were certainly punished for playing in a hitter’s haven, especially in the summer months. But, this is also a team that was outscored by 38 runs last season and more like a 77-85 team by Pythagorean Win-Loss.

    I think that puts more pressure on the offense because the pitching staff has a litany of question marks. The reports and rumors on McLain as of the time of publish seem like he could be looking at a very extended absence with a shoulder injury. The trade for Santiago Espinal as infield depth was another bad sign. McLain actually led the team among regulars with a 128 wRC+. I don’t think his .385 BABIP was going to be repeatable. I could have seen a power bump with fewer strikeouts, but that may be all for naught now.

    Benson rode a .391 BABIP to a 128 wRC+ to tie McLain for the team lead. That’s another thing I don’t expect to continue. Benson’s contact authority does lend itself towards overachieving a bit in the BABIP department, but not to that degree, even if his speed is a weapon. The closest player in wRC+ to McLain and Benson was Noelvi Marte with a 120 wRC+ in 123 PA, but he’s out for half the season for a positive PED test.

    That means that the other guys need to make a leap. As excited as we all got about De La Cruz, he posted a .235/.300/.410 slash line with an 84 wRC+. He struck out nearly 34% of the time and, while he had 35 stolen bases, his high ground ball rate limited the impact of his 45.9% Hard Hit%. He was also just 21 years old last season, so there was a lot of learning going on and he could be a guy that does take a huge leap forward.

    Steer actually led the team with 23 homers and has the best chance of building upon his numbers from last season with a league average K%, a double-digit BB%, and no major statistical outliers in his profile. I would argue Friedl as another guy with repeatable numbers, but he fractured his wrist and is expected to be out until mid-to-late May.

    There are a ton of raw tools here. There is a lot of power potential. There are also a lot of strikeouts. The Reds had the third-highest Pull% last season, so they are actively trying to generate power and play to the strength of the ballpark. They also, interestingly enough, had the lowest Chase Rate in baseball last season. That actually shocked me given all the strikeouts.

    The risk in backing the Reds in futures or season-long props markets is that you’re asking a lot of hitters to avoid a sophomore slump, make some big strides, or for some of the other guys to step up in their absence. There are a lot of “ifs” with every MLB team coming into a season, but the Reds seem to have a higher rate of them than other teams.

    Cincinnati Reds Preview: Pitching

    And that seems like a very appropriate segue into talking about the pitching staff. As with the offense, there were a lot of good things. However, in the aggregate, this group wasn’t good enough. The Reds ranked 25th in ERA and 27th in FIP. They actually led the league in saves with 53, which illustrates how awesome Alexis Diaz was.

    It also illustrates all the close games that the Reds played. Cincinnati had the most wins in one-run games with 34. They also played 63 one-run games. The Guardians were second with 58. The Marlins had the second-most wins in one-run games and they went 33-14 in those contests.

    The Reds used 17 different starting pitchers and no starter made more than 26 starts. The one who made 26 is Graham Ashcraft, who had a 4.76 ERA with a 5.06 FIP. Brandon Williamson was next in line with 23 and he had a 4.46 ERA with a 4.63 FIP. Hunter Greene was third with a 4.82 ERA, but a 3.82 xERA and a 4.25 FIP. Luke Weaver and Andrew Abbott also made over 20 starts.

    Pitch optimization has to be at the forefront for the Reds. They’ve done an outstanding job in the minors of developing velocity and generating strikeouts. Ashcraft is the hardest one for me to wrap my head around. His contact management numbers look quite good. He keeps the ball on the ground at an excellent rate. He throws a 96 mph cutter. But, he just doesn’t get swings and misses and doesn’t get chases outside the zone. He deserved a better fate with lower xSLG compared to actual SLG on his cutter and slider, but still.

    Greene needs to stay healthy and develop a third pitch. Triple-digit velo is great, but hitters can cheat a bit when 95% of your pitches are either a fastball or slider. He gets a lot of swings and misses with the velo, but he’s also allowed 29 homers on the fastball over the last two seasons and a ton of hard contact. It’s just a tough way to make a living. He posted a 6.52 ERA with a .391 wOBA against in the second half last season, including 10 home runs in just 38.2 innings.

    Nick Lodolo is probably my favorite of the bunch, but he’s coming back from a leg fracture that wiped out 2023 after just seven starts. He’ll stay behind in Arizona as the season starts to get some more innings under his belt.

    Abbott had a solid rookie campaign with a 3.87 ERA and a 4.20 FIP. I think he’s a solid arm going forward, but his rotation spot seemed to be up for debate in camp, so that seems concerning if the talent evaluators and coaches weren’t quite sure. When you already have questions with the youngsters and even more questions with Frankie Montas and Nick Martinez, Abbott has to be good again.

    Montas made one appearance for the Yankees last season. He’s presumably healthy now, but he allowed nine runs on 15 hits in 11.2 Spring innings, including four homers up to the point when I wrote this. So, you have health and performance concerns here, exacerbated by the fact that Martinez has mostly thrived as a reliever the last two seasons and hasn’t made more than 10 starts in the U.S. since 2017.

    Diaz is an outstanding reliever and I like the additions that the Reds made to deepen their relief corps. As a bullpen, this was about a league average group last season by ERA and 23rd by FIP. I wouldn’t call anybody outside of Diaz a weapon, but the starting staff is a greater concern.

    Cincinnati Reds Player to Watch

    SP Andrew Abbott

    Abbott came on the scene and was outstanding for the Reds last season. He allowed a .192/.259/.351 slash with a .266 wOBA over 41.2 innings in the first half. As he tired, and as the league adjusted, Abbott posted a 4.79 ERA over 67.2 innings with a .275/.348/.469 slash and a .351 wOBA in the second half.

    He was brutal in August and September and ended the season allowing 13 runs over just 14.1 innings. It was a sour end to the year and the soon-to-be 25-year-old should be better prepared for the MLB grind this season. That said, he allowed a high rate of hard-hit contact and his Barrel% was above the league average. His walk rate was on the high side. The park factor is not kind to those types of metrics. Ironically, he was better at home than he was on the road, but that had a lot to do with luck and sequencing, as he allowed 11 homers in Cincy over 59 innings compared to five homers in 50.1 innings on the road.

    Cincinnati Reds Season Win Total Odds & Prediction

    When you think about this team, between the excitement and the prospect pedigree, it is easy to fantasize about the best-case scenario. Initially, that’s what I was doing and my early takes on the NL Central were that I felt like the Reds could really make significant strides on an individual and team level to get over the hump and take down a division that is there for the taking.

    After doing my deep dive, which really does help me organize my thoughts, I’m way less certain about that. A perfect storm situation is very much possible and it could be a really special year for the Reds. That takes a lot of moving parts moving in sync and I don’t know if that will be the case.

    I have deep-rooted concerns about the pitching staff and I’m also not entirely sure that this offense will be as good as expected, particularly without Friedl and McLain for extended periods. Those were two of the better bat-to-ball guys in this order and an added “feast or famine” element seems ill-advised with all of the other concerns.

    Strong Lean: Under 81.5

    Get all of our preseason coverage in the 2024 MLB Betting Guide.

    Adam Burke
    Adam Burke
    Adam Burke is the Managing Editor of VSiN.com and has spent well over a decade in the sports betting content creation space. He has been with VSiN since 2021 and covers a wide range of sports, along with hosting the VSiN Daily Baseball Bets podcast.

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