They are certainly a contender in the "Redszone fantasy world", but not in the real world.
Clay Davenport, one of the original founders of Baseball Prospectus and smart dude, released his projections for the 2014 season. He projects individual seasons, mocks up the playing time as best he can, and gets his spreadsheet to spit out some projected records.The AL East is a tight race, but the Rays are the best team
The Tigers and Cardinals are clear favorites in the Central divisions
The Mariners are greatly improved, but still fourth-best in the West
The Nationals just a hair ahead of the Braves, and the Mets aren't that bad
There aren't too many inflammatory projections mixed in, either. You were expecting the A's to be good and the Astros to be bad, and everything else is just a matter of scale.
Except, hold on. There's a playoff team from last year that's projected for an under-.500 season if they don't make any improvements before the season starts.
That's at least moderately surprising, right? And in the interest of hard-hitting baseball research, here is the exhaustive list of every player that team has acquired this offseason:
It's not like the Reds have been completely inactive. They've just been completely uninteresting. And completely uninterested in making a stronger team, apparently. The Reds are likely to lose Bronson Arroyo, and they've already lost Shin-Soo Choo. I'll wager that those 14 free agents up there won't combine for as much WAR for the rest of their careers as Choo and Arroyo will in April.Individually, all of those players make some amount of sense. Collectively, they're the foundation of an underwhelming lineup. If they're average, that should be enough to help the Reds contend. Hope that they're average and hope the pitchers stay healthy. That's the plan, and it could happen. But it's an overly optimistic plan. It's like adding to your collection of VHS tapes because you're sure collectors will come around, just like they did with vinyl. Could happen! Maybe not the best idea to expect it, though.
And this isn't even getting into Joey Votto's selfish refusal to expand his strike zone and drive in runs**. Meanwhile the Cardinals are cutting limbs off their young hitters and pitchers so they can grow new ones in Petri dishes, and the Pirates have youth on their side. The Brewers aren't that bad, and they got stronger last week with Matt Garza. Several members of the Cubs seem very nice.http://www.baseballnation.com/2014/1...n-do-somethingThe Reds' window, considering their pitching and the age of their best hitters, is clearly now. There's no reason to make do now, and figure there's always time to fix the problems in future seasons. Votto and Phillips are aging. Bailey and Latos might leave over the next couple seasons. The minor leagues aren't expected to offer a lot of impact help after Hamilton.
But right now, the offseason is Skip Schumaker and a bunch of people you haven't heard of. There's still time to fix that. There are still deals and swaps and mystery teams. Until those deals go down, though, welcome to the most baffling offseason in the majors. The optimism is refreshing. Not sure if it's warranted, though.
http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-w...ntending-team/The first step is removing non-contenders. This is necessarily subjective, but the way I figure, if you project for a .500 record, the error bars are big enough that youíre able to be a dreamer. Replacement level is just under 48 wins, per team, so a .500 record would require just over 33 WAR. Setting a minimum threshold of 33.3 WAR eliminates the following teams, and all of their positions:
Maybe itís not fair to exclude the Reds, but here we are, and the Reds could use some help if they want to go to the playoffs. Some of these teams might aim to contend, but right now they donít look like contenders. And all of these teams obviously have needs, but theyíre less pressing than they are for teams with more ambitious missions. There are positional messes here, according to the projections, but how much does that matter, really, if the overall team doesnít?
Stop living in a fantasy world. We have to be objective in evaluating our team.