When I look back on the 2012 Reds regular season, the thoughts that come to mind are (in no particular order):
1.) The health of the starting rotation. Very few clubs have made it through a full season with five starters, but the Reds essentially achieved that feat.
2.) The way the rest of the offense stepped up when Votto was injured.
3.) Aroldis Chapman’s historic season. I’ll remember fondly the nightly routine from late June through August when he was striking out 2-3 batters per inning and shutting the door every night.
4.) How most games turned into six-inning affairs. . .
*Reds OPS in innings 7+: .755
*Reds opponents’ OPS in innings 7+: .631
5.) The consistency of the club. There were nights when the Reds fell apart; but those nights were rare, and the club always came out the next night ready to play.
6.) The strangeness of the offense (to me, at least): I’ll remember the HRs, doubles, and. . . just enough oomph to squeak out wins on a regular basis.
(Aside: most teams that hit a lot of HRs usually hit a lot of singles, take a lot of walks, and/or steal a lot of bases. This Reds offense is the rare club that hits HRs but doesn’t do these other things well. The offense appears to be solely based on extra base power [HR and 2b] and timely hitting, and I don’t remember any playoff offense quite like this one.)
When thinking of the overall architecture of this team, the 2005 White Sox and the 2004 Cardinals are two recent teams that come to mind. One was a World Series winner, the other a postseason disappointment. Both had offenses focused primarily on power (like the Reds); had good but not great rotations that were unusually healthy in those years (ditto); and won games with a mix of defense, pitching, and timely hitting (ditto). There are some obvious differences—the 2004 Cards offense was far better than this Reds edition, the back of the 2005 White Sox bullpen was not nearly as strong as this Reds club, etc.
I suspect a lot of the Reds postseason success will depend on (1) which Chapman shows up, and (2) whether they get enough offense to win.