The Reds are parting ways with a number of coaches on the heels of a disappointing season. The team announced Thursday that hitting coach Alan Zinter, bullpen coach Lee Tunnell, first base/infield coach Delino DeShields, advance scouting coach Cristian Pérez and assistant coach Rolando Valles have all been let go. Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that senior director of performance/health Geoff Head also will not be offered a new contract.
Manager David Bell will return in 2023, tweets Charlie Goldsmith of the Enquirer. It’ll be the fifth season at the helm for the 50-year-old, who signed an extension last September that runs through the end of next season.
Cincinnati’s coaching changes wrap up a frustrating year for the organization. The Reds lost 100 games in 2022, tying them with the Pirates for the third-worst record in the majors. They dropped 21 games in the standings relative to last year’s 83-79 mark. Cincinnati’s only postseason appearance since 2013 came as part of an expanded playoff field during the shortened 2020 season.
As one would imagine for a team that won just 62 games, the Reds underachieved in a number of areas. Both the starting rotation and bullpen finished 28th in ERA (4.97 and 4.75, respectively). Those dismal results weren’t unforeseeable. The Reds had one of the league’s worst relief units in 2021 and were without two of their better late-game arms — Tejay Antone and Lucas Sims — for most or all of this season.
Over the past calendar year, Cincinnati also parted with all four of its top starting pitchers. Wade Miley was waived to shed $10MM from the books last November, while Sonny Gray was traded to the Twins in Spring Training. Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle stuck on the roster until the summer but were flipped to the Mariners and Twins, respectively, before the deadline. Cincinnati wound up giving 62 combined starts to the rookie trio of Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft. While each of them showed promise, they all battled injuries and Greene and Ashcraft were up-and-down from a performance perspective.
The club’s issues weren’t limited to the pitching staff. Despite playing in one of the sport’s most hitter-friendly home environments, they finished the year ranked 23rd in runs scored. The Reds placed 21st in batting average (.235), 24th in on-base percentage (.304) and 26th in slugging (.372). By measure of wRC+, which accounts for the ballpark, Cincinnati’s lineup was 15 percentage points below league average. Only the Pirates, A’s and Tigers were less productive.
That’s certainly not all the fault of Zinter, who’d coached Reds hitters for the past three seasons. Cincinnati dealt Jesse Winker to the Mariners to get out from under the remainder of Eugenio Suárez’s contract this past offseason. (Somewhat ironically, Winker was just alright in Seattle while Suárez had his best season since his 49-homer campaign in 2019). Promising young catcher Tyler Stephenson suffered a trio of freak injuries that kept him to 50 games and derailed what looked like a breakout season.
Nevertheless, there were a number of disappointing performances throughout the lineup. Of the 14 Reds hitters to tally 200+ plate appearances, only three had a wRC+ above the 100 league average. Offseason minor league signee Brandon Drury was excellent and flipped to the Padres midseason. The only other above-average hitters on a rate basis were outfielders Jake Fraley and TJ Friedl, both of whom played just under half the team’s games. Reigning NL Rookie of the Year Jonathan India took a step back, hitting .249/.327/.378 through 431 plate appearances. Former top prospects Nick Senzel and José Barrero haven’t yet shown themselves capable of hitting big league pitching.
The Reds will go in a new direction on the staff in search of better offensive results going into 2023. Cincinnati is facing an uphill battle to compete next season, but they’ll hope a new voice can help unlock stronger play from a number of their young hitters.