Round one of the Reds Tournament of the 2000s is in the books. The field has been trimmed to eight teams, and we're just a few weeks from crowning the greatest Reds team of the 21st century. If you aren't familiar with the tournament's rules you can read the original post here.
As I present the match-ups for round two, I'm going to look at each team through the lens of my favorite individual performance. These are the performances that made me go hmmm. In fact, they might be the same things that make you go hmmm. You're still free to vote for a team for any and every reason. However, this breakdown will give us the opportunity to relive some unexpected and surprising performances (for better or worse).
With these introductory notes out of the way, let's take a look at the top half of our bracket from round two.
The 2012 Reds ran over the 2015 team in their opening round matchup. On the surface it's going to be tough for anyone to compete with 2012. They had 97 wins, won Cincinnati's only playoff games since 1990, and took the NL Central by nine games.
So which performance sticks out to me as I look over these numbers four years later? I'm drawn to a reliever who tallied a 202 ERA+ in 30.2 innings of work. This twenty-four-year-old (at the time) right hander had a 2.05 ERA and stuck out 9.1 hitters per nine. That's right, I'm talking about everyone's favorite reliever...J.J. "The People's Reliever" Hoover.
This was Hoover's first season in Cincinnati, and he would never reach the same level of success again. In the three seasons that followed he at least doubled the amount of innings he worked, and in two of those three years he was still above average (133 ERA+ in 2013 and 134 ERA+ in 2015). You're all well aware that the wheels fell off for Hoover in 2016, and he spent the bulk of his season in Louisville. But let us never forget that for thirty magical innings in 2012, he was the future.
The 2002 Reds comfortably disposed of the 2014 team in the 8/9 game. We'll stay with a pitcher for the 2002 profile, and look at what was a career season for Elmer Dessens. Dessens signed with the Reds as a free agent following the 1999 season. His started a combined 50 games in his first two seasons as a member of the Reds, and he hovered around league average production.
Something clicked for the then thirty-one-year-old in 2002. By the time the season came to a close he had made 30 starts and pitched 178 innings. He finished with a 3.03 ERA and 141 ERA+. For the sake of comparison, his second best season as a starter was 2000 (111 ERA+). It's pretty impressive that Dessens was able to be as effective as he was in 2002 with a 4.70 K/9 and 2.48 BB/9.
We're starting round 2 of the #Reds Tournament of the 2000s today. Who's advancing to the final four?— Eric Roseberry (@Ericdroseberry) September 15, 2016
The 2000 Reds won a closer than expected matchup against the 2007 squad (13 seed). So who do I want to talk about from this 2000 team that went 85-77? I guess...Chris Stynes. Yeah, Chris Stynes. Stynes appeared in 119 games for this team and had 420 plate appearances. He used that playing time as an opportunity to accumulate a 120 OPS+, and he hit .334/.386/.497 with 12 HR and 24 doubles. It was Stynes final season in Cincinnati, and the club sent him to Boston in the offseason for Michael Coleman and Donnie Sadler.
There weren't many remarkable seasons on the 2006 squad. So why don't we take a moment to appreciate Dewayne Wise's 6 OPS+ in 40 plate appearances. How do you have a season in which you are 94% worse than league average at the plate? You hit .184/.184/.237 with seven hits for the season. Wise never drew a walk, and only racked up two extra base hits. That's not to say he didn't contribute to the team's success. Don't forget about his two sacrifice hits on the season. In those instances you could say he had a pretty Wise approach at the plate.
Which #Reds team should advance?— Eric Roseberry (@Ericdroseberry) September 15, 2016
Alright, it's time to determine which of these teams will head to the final four. In the comments section let us know which performances stuck out to you from these teams.