Hi kids, and welcome to Opening Day. I know, I know, a lot of people—okay, all the people—are down on the Reds this year. But this is a day when I like to be optimistic. And so, I want to remind you of some things.
The saying is that every team wins 50 and loses 50. So there’s a starting point. But the Reds have Joey Votto and he’s good for at least five more wins. Let’s say the floor is 55.
I realize I’m not thrilling you yet.
But what if Devin Mesoraco is healthy all year, and keeps hitting like he did in spring training? (Add four more wins). And what if Zack Cozart is fine and Brandon Phillips holds off Father Time and Eugenio Suarez does what he looks like he can do? (Add another six or seven wins.)
And what if Jay Bruce—finally—bounces back, and Billy Hamilton gets on base at least 30 percent of the time? (Add another six wins.) And what if Jesse Winker is so good he forces the Reds to call him up to the big leagues? (Add another three wins.)
And what if the rotation realizes its potential? Even FanGraphs says that if things come together, the Reds could have a top-10 rotation.
So what does all of that add up to? It adds up to 85-90 wins. Will that get the Reds into the playoffs? Eh, I don’t know. Probably not, unfortunately. But given that everyone is expecting this team to struggle to reach 70 wins, well, it’s nice to think about a positive scenario (or at least one that won’t have you tuning out by mid-June).
And here’s the fun thing about baseball: None of the things I talk about above are especially outlandish. In isolation, if Jay Bruce bounced back or Billy Hamilton was passable with the bat or Mesoraco mashed again, you wouldn’t necessarily bat an eye other than to say, “Hey, look at that. At least there’s one good thing about this season.”
Now, of course, all of these things happening together does start to seem…unlikely. (It’s not like this team is the freaking Cardinals, amiright?) It requires hoping for something close to the best-case scenario across the board, which doesn’t often work out. (see: 2014) But it is, at least, possible. Which is as good a thought as any for Opening Day.
Jason Linden is a contributor to Nuxhall Way, Redleg Nation, and The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @JasonLinden.