Jun 30, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) adjusts during an at bat during the third inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
There is a lot of uncertainty around the 2015 Cincinnati Reds as Christmas approaches, and the chances for October baseball next year seem extremely slim at this point. Even amid a possible rebuild, though, the Reds still have plenty to offer next season, including the All-Star Game coming to Great American Ball Park in July. Beyond the glitz of the Midsummer Classic, Cincinnati may also be treated to some special moments, courtesy of these five players as they approach important milestones.
Joey Votto, 200 Career Home Runs
Joey Votto has been with the Reds forever, and he is their slugging first baseman, so he must have a few hundred homers by now, right? Well, not quite. Despite his overall excellent play, Votto has only had one BIG power season, back in his MVP year of 2010 when he hit 37 dingers. If he can somehow come back from injury and match that lofty total, Votto will end 2015 with an even 200 home runs for his career. More likely is that his quest for the double-century mark spills into 2016.
Chances of happening in 2015: 5%
Brandon Phillips, 200 Career Home Runs2014
Like Votto, Brandon Phillips was flattened by injury last season and will seek a return to near-peak production in 2015. He enters the new year with 174 career homers and a top one-season total of 30, so pushing past 200 is not out of the question. More likely, he’ll rebound to the 15-20 level and join Votto in the 200-homer club in 2016.
Chances of happening in 2015: 10%
Todd Frazier, 100 Career Home Runs
Now, Todd Frazier might make things a little more interesting than his returning fellow sluggers. Before last season, the Reds’ third baseman had never hit more than 19 home runs in a season, but 29 dingers in 2014 left him with 73 for his career. Standing 27 homers short of the century mark, Frazier should make a good run of it in 2015 if he stays healthy.
Chances of happening in 2015: 50%
Johnny Cueto, 100 Wins and 1000 Career Strikeouts
In terms of dramatic value, Johnny Cueto‘s quest for 1000 strikeouts is about as exciting as wondering when Bill Gates will make his next billion. Barring a trade or apocalypse, Cueto will pick up the 5 Ks he needs before Votto can even warm up his gimpy legs.
Reaching 100 wins will be more challenging, but that milestone is well within Cueto’s reach, too. He stands at 85 entering 2015 and has twice gone over the 15-win mark that he’ll need to achieve in order to bank 100, including 20 last season. Aside from the paltry run support he’s likely to receive from his teammates, Cueto’s biggest stumbling block may be his own health. After making only 11 starts in 2013, Cueto led the NL in starts, innings pitched and strikeouts in 2014, and he’s an unknown when it comes to recovering from such a heavy workload.
Chances of happening in 2015: 75%
Billy Hamilton, 100 Stolen Bases in a Season
It’s not really fair to say that Billy Hamilton disappointed on the base paths during his rookie season, as 56 stolen bases tied him for second most in all of MLB. He was nabbed 23 times, though, and that’s a pretty paltry success rate for a guy who set all kinds of landspeed records in the minors. Heck, word on the street was that Hamilton could square away to bunt and then steal second before the ball even got to the plate!
But, as rookies often do, Hamilton found that the Bigs were more challenging than the Smallers, and his baserunning needs a bit of work. He showed an ability and willingness to adjust at the plate during the season, though, so there’s really no reason to think he can’t do the same on the bases. And if he does, watch out!
Can he make enough of a jump to become the first speedster since Vince Coleman in 1987 to steal 100 bases in a season?
It’s hard to give a definitive “yes” because much of that is out of his control — how well are the Reds hitting, how much of a green light does Hamilton have, etc. — but he has the best chance of any player that has laced up the spikes since Coleman’s Runnin’ Redbirds became extinct in the 1990s.
In any case, expect Hamilton to be fun to watch in 2015.
Chances of happening in 2015: 25%
The Cincinnati Reds won’t be a great team in 2015, and they may even turn out to be a pretty bad team, but they’ll still be worth watching on several fronts. If milestones are your thing, these Reds should have you covered.