Cincinnati Reds - PlayerWatch
3B Todd Frazier's numbers speak for themselves, but it's his impact in the dugout and clubhouse that helped keep the club from fracturing during even the toughest of times. Frazier hit 29 homers, had 80 RBIs, and switched to a first baseman's glove to help fill a void while Joey Votto was injured.
LHP Aroldis Chapman didn't know if he'd ever pitch again after being struck in the forehead by a line drive in spring training. Following reconstructive surgery, Chapman endured extensive rehab before returning to the Reds on May 10. He saved 36 games, including 12 of Johnny Cueto's 20 wins. Chapman reached 100 mph in 53 of 54 appearances, including a 104.53-mph pitch to Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt on July 28.
Brandon Phillips suffered a thumb injury. Since then, Negron made 36 starts, including 13 at second base and 22 at third base. The 28-year old Negron isn't a typical "prospect" with 943 minor league games. After nearly making the Opening Day roster last spring, Negron is expected to get a closer look next year with the Reds needing to shore up their bench.
CF Billy Hamilton missed the last four games of the season after suffering a concussion while robbing the Brewers' Ryan Braun of a home run on Sept. 24. After arriving in the major leagues late in the 2013 season, Hamilton had the reputation of being a slap hitter and speedy base-stealer. But he quickly evolved into an adept center fielder and more complete offensive player, leading all National League rookies in several offensive categories, including steals (56).
1B Joey Votto was prevented from returning to MVP form this season due to injuries. Votto batted a pedestrian .255 in 62 games with six homers and 23 RBIs. The recurring quad injury was no fault of Votto's, but his absence from the field and clubhouse for the better part of this season had a far-reaching impact.
C Brayan Pena was the Reds' best offseason addition. He was a key cog in Johnny Cueto's pursuit of 20 wins. Pena also filled in admirably at first base for injured Joey Votto. Pena was a breath of fresh air in the clubhouse, a positive force for his teammates and the media. He also helped accelerate the development of Devin Mesoraco into one of the NL's top backstops.
RHP Homer Bailey (right elbow surgery in September 2014) could miss one or two starts at the start of the 2015 season. He will begin throwing in late December.
C Devin Mesoraco was given full-time catching duties after the Reds traded Ryan Hanigan in the offseason. Mesoraco didn't disappoint. He was named to the National League All-Star team and finished with 25 homers and 80 RBIs. He and Hall of Famer Johnny Bench are the only Reds catchers to produce those totals. The 26-year-old Mesoraco gives the Reds a power-hitting presence behind the plate who's made great strides on the defensive end.
RHP Johnny Cueto became the first Reds pitcher to win 20 games since Danny Jackson won 23 in 1988, and the first Reds right-hander to reach the 20-win plateau since Sammy Ellis and Jim Maloney each did it in 1965. Cueto's 242 strikeouts and 243 2/3 innings led the National League. A healthy Cueto should anchor Cincinnati's rotation for years to come.