Reds fall short of playoffs but build optimism for future

Twenty-win improvement is best for the franchise in more than 60 years

The 2023 season began and ended with a whimper for the Cincinnati Reds. They lost 5-4 to the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 1 and 4-3 to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game No. 162.

In between, the Reds provided more bangs than whimpers as they made a push for the playoffs and provided hope for a brighter future.

“In one respect, it’s sad that our season is over,” manager David Bell told reporters in St. Louis on Sunday, “because you’re together every single day for countless hours and then it’s over. But we’re very much hopeful we’ll all be back together again a few months from now. What’s been created is really an experience. It stays with you. It makes you a better person. It makes you a better player. It makes you a better teammate. Our players contributed so much to making a great team and a great team environment.”

The Reds, who finished two games out in the race for the third wild card, posted a record of 82-80 one season after going 62-100. Only the Texas Rangers (90-72), who won 22 more games than they did in 2022, showed a bigger improvement. This was the biggest one-season jump in victories for the Reds since they won 93 games in 1961 one year after winning 67.

The news wasn’t all positive. The Reds failed to reach the playoffs for the ninth straight full season. Their only playoff appearance in the last decade came in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

The Reds have failed to win the World Series or National League championship in 33 straight seasons. They have not won a playoff series in 28 straight seasons. They have not won a playoff game in 11 straight seasons.

The baseball season moves on without the Reds this week with the wild card round starting Tuesday. Before Reds fans turn their attention to the 2024 season, here’s a breakdown of the team’s performance in 2023:

MVP: In his first full season in the big leagues, Spencer Steer led the Reds in most offensive categories: games played (156); home runs (23); doubles (37); and RBIs (86), to name a few.

Best pitcher: Another rookie, Andrew Abbott, finished 8-6 with a 3.87 ERA in 21 starts and carried the rotation for most of the season. He also avoided any stint on the injured list unlike Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft, the three pitchers expected to lead the rotation this season.

Best reliever: Alexis Diaz, the team’s only All-Star, was 9-6 with a 3.07 ERA in 71 appearances. He faded late, however, and had a 8.31 ERA in his last 10 appearances.

Most improved player: TJ Friedl hit .240 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 72 games in his first season with the Reds and .279 with 18 home runs and 66 RBIs in 138 games this season.

Most disappointing performance: Tyler Stephenson saw his average drop from .319 in 2022 to .243 in 2023.

Best stat: The Reds led Major League Baseball with 190 stolen bases, their highest total since 1997 when they stole the same number of bases.

Worst stat: Reds starters ranked 28th out of 30 teams in ERA (5.28). They also ranked 28th in 2022 with a 4.97 ERA. The last time they had a worst ERA was 2017 (5.55), when they ranked 29th.

Attendance improvement: The Reds ranked 18th in attendance (25,164) one year after ranking 24th (17,447).

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