Forecast: National League preview

3. Cincinnati Reds

Christina Kahrl: Are they still contenders? The offense is a problem: How much better will everybody have to be to pick up the slack with Shin-Soo Choo gone? Last year, Reds right-handed hitters produced a collective .617 OPS against right-handed pitchers, accounting for 37 percent of all their at-bats. That's a recipe for offensive failure, so big bounce-back seasons from Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier are absolute musts. Billy Hamilton's basepath razzle-dazzle dominated early spring headlines, but, if he's more Brian Hunter than Vince Coleman and never on base, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce might struggle to create runs beyond plating themselves. It's more likely that the Reds' path to contention now rests more on their deep, talented rotation and whether all five starters bust out for big years for pitching coach-turned-manager Bryan Price. However, losing closer Aroldis Chapman for an uncertain amount of time after he got hit in the face by a line drive creates late-game danger that J.J. Hoover, Jonathan Broxton and Sean Marshall might struggle to patch.

Jim Caple @jimcaple: Can Bryan Price follow John Farrell and Bud Black to become the third active and successful pitching coach-turned-manager? Yes. He knows his stuff and has enough talent on the field that Pete Rose might be betting on the Reds to win again.

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