2021 Reds: The postmortem and what to take away from the season
How to describe and remember the 2021 Reds?
Well, I'd refer you to the 2009 romantic/comedy with Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep: It's Complicated.
On one hand it was a winning season (83-79). Yea.
That's back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2012-2013 and just the third time since 1995. Yikes.
On the other hand the Reds finished in 3rd place, a dozen games out in a division that was there for the taking.
Heck, they finished seven games out of the second Wild Card spot.
The path navigated by this team was certainly an adventure.
On May 29th the Reds were six games under .500 at 22-28 and things looked pretty bleak.
On August 22nd the Reds were 12 games over .500, two games up for the 2nd Wild Card.
That's an 18 games swing from six under to 12 up. I wonder how many Reds seasons have seen an inseason swing of that magnitude?
With 30+ games left some were debating which Reds pitcher should start the Wild Card matchup.
The remaining schedule at that point was the easiest in MLB. But nobody told the Cubs, Pirates and Nationals.
There was a consistent theme to the season: This team was fun to watch, frustrating to watch and it was a very resilient group.
After reaching the high water mark of the season the Reds proceeded to drop 18 of 27, including nine straight series.
It was aggravating. It was depressing.
Make no mistake, fans did embrace this team. They loved this team. The 'rootability' factor was high on this team.
But it was obvious to all that this team needed help.... last offseason, in spring training, in the first 100 games and in September.
The NL Central was up for grabs from the start. The Brewers pounced with deals for the likes of Wily Adames and Rowdy Tellez. Those deals
helped Milwaukee win the Central. The Cardinals struck with Jon Lester and JA Happ. Those deals helped St. Louis claim the 2nd Wild Card.
The Reds added arms that upgraded the bullpen. It wasn't nearly enough.
As a result, I believe this season, more than any in my lifetime, I saw a clear separation and disconnect between the fan base and ownership/front office.
Faith was lost. It will be fascinating to see what attempts, if any, ownership/front office makes to try and restore some faith.
David Bell spent most of the season in the crosshairs of many fans. What I never understood is for all the angst about ownership/front office and the roster
they built, Bell squeezed 83 wins out of it. He squeezed every last drop to get 12 games OVER .500. 12 OVER.
What else did critics want Bell to do? Early on he was handed the likes of Scott Heineman, Mike Freeman, Edgar Garcia, Josh Osich, Cionel Perez.
Injuries took away the likes of Joey Votto, Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker, Sonny Gray and others.
Later, Bell was handed Asdrubal Cabrera and left with the likes of Aristides Aquino.
In the end, my ultimate takeaway from the season:
A missed opportunity.
Resurgent seasons for Votto and Wade Miley, breakout rookie seasons for Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson and All-Star seasons from
Winker and Nick Castellanos were ultimately wasted.
That's a damn shame.
That's not complicated.