Yesterday we dreamed sweet dreams, today we confront our nightmares. The majority of the 2014 Reds' offensive production will most likely come from 3 players: Jay Bruce, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. These three represent the only "proven" MLB hitters guaranteed to see every-day starts. Votto is going to Votto and Bruce will carry the offense for weeks at a time. As for Phillips, the Reds can only hope he magically returns to 2011 form.
At every other spot in the lineup there are questions. Will Billy hit enough to remain a starter? Which Todd Frazier will we get? Will Devin Mesoraco reward the organization for their faith in him?
Which leaves us with left-field and short-stop...
Ryan Ludwick is going to be the starting left-fielder for the Reds, at least to start the season. Outside of a few good weeks in 2012, he hasn't been a good hitter since 2010. Here's the 10th percentile projection, or worst case scenario for Ludwick from Baseball Prospectus.
The possibility, if not probability, of Ryan Ludwick being terrible this year exists. If he struggles early, will we see more of Chris Heisey?
As terrible as those numbers are, I think you could still live with this from your SS. Don't get me wrong, an OPS under .600 is gross (Mike Leake has a career OPS of .604). Still, it's not too far off the 50th percentile (most likely scenario) projection:
Basically, a "nightmare" season from Cozart isn't much worse than what we should expect from him in a normal season. He's a short-stop who doesn't draw walks or hit for average but provides an occasional homer.
The Reds can survive a Cozart nightmare, but if Ludwick demonstrates the inability to produce in left-field, he better not get the 410 PA's they're projecting.
A no-hit, sub-par defensive left-fielder with over 400 plate appearances? That could be a nightmare from which we never awake...