CINCINNATI (AP) — In the midst of another heavy rebuilding process, the Cincinnati Reds were almost historically bad in 2022.
The 15-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs in Wednesday's finale was Cincinnati's 100th, making it the worst season for the Reds since they lost 101 in 1982.
"Yeah, the 100-loss season is tough to swallow — 62-100 isn't what you want, starting in spring training, and knowing the pitching staff we have," shortstop/third baseman Kyle Farmer said. "But it's over now. We're going home and reflect on some things and get better."
The Cincinnati ownership group started cutting salary before the season — which started late because of the labor dispute and strike — and continued the sell-off at the trade deadline. The results were predictable.
The Reds were able to get some top prospects into their farm system as they unloaded major-league players, but that didn't bring much hope to fans of a team that's seemingly being torn down and rebuilt every few years. The average home attendance of 17,447 was the lowest in the 20 seasons at Great American Ball Park and the worst in 38 years.
Compounding the problem on the field was the number of players — up to 18 on two different occasions — on the injury list. First baseman Joey Votto, DH Mike Moustakas, centerfielder Nick Senzel, catcher Tyler Stephenson and at least 10 pitchers were sidelined at various times.
"In some ways this was the most challenging year, but that is what you sign up for," fourth-year manager David Bell said. "You want that. You want it to be difficult. That makes the successes that much sweeter."
Farmer hit .255 and led the team with 14 homers and 78 RBIs. Other than Farmer, only Senzel (110) and second baseman Jonathan India (103) played more than 100 games.
Farmer was moved from shortstop to third base in August so Jose Barrero could play shortstop and get more at-bats. Bell said Farmer's move could stick, but Barrero — brought along as the team's shortstop of the future — struggled at the plate, hitting .152 with 76 strikeouts in 165 at-bats.
Concussion-prone catcher Tyler Stephenson was limited to 50 games but hit .319 and was fourth on the team in RBIs.
The bullpen was decent in the second half of the season. Rookie Alexis Díaz was the best reliever all year, notching a 1.84 ERA with 83 strikeouts in 59 games. He pulled off the rare feat of leading the team in both wins (7) and saves (10).
Diaz is a candidate to be the closer next season, and a raft of relievers returning from injuries could stabilize the bullpen. A team-record 38 pitchers were used this season.
Rookie starters Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft had their ups and downs, but all certainly flashed the potential to be the foundation of a future pitching staff.
All three logged over 100 innings in their first year in the majors.
"There is a lot to be said for finishing a major league season, knowing that you can do that," Bell said. "Pitching all the way to the end and pitching well. Each experience, every time they've gone out, they have gotten better, one way or another."
VOTTO'S LAST STAND?
Votto, a likely Hall of Famer, will be in the last year of his long-term deal in 2023. He'll make $25 million with a $20 million option for 2024 that the Reds — given their recent frugality — are unlikely to exercise.
He'll be 39 at the beginning of next season. After one of the best seasons of his career in 2021 — 36 homers and 99 RBIs — Votto was limited to 91 games this season because injuries. He struggled to hit .200, had just 11 home runs with 41 RBIs while striking out 97 times.
The six-time All Star had season ending-surgery in August to repair a torn rotator cuff.