The 2016 season wasn't ever going to amount to much in the standings for the Cincinnati Reds. That much we were sure of before the 2015 season was even finished, as the smoke from the All Star Game slowly wafted away and rookie pitcher after rookie pitcher took lumps on the Great American Ball Park mound.
There are worse teams in baseball at this very moment, but part of the reason we knew 2016 was going to be rough for the Reds was due to the preponderance of ubersquads present in the National League Central, with the Chicago Cubs a budding juggernaut and both the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates sporting formidable lineups. And it's largely that fact that has the Reds, as of today, officially eliminated from any chance of winning their division.
The #Reds are the 1st team officially eliminated, and the #Cubs can do the same with #Brewers with a win today. Magic number to clinch is 15— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) September 2, 2016
Chicago is well on its way to winning 100 games this regular season in their quest to not win a World Series for the 108th consecutive year, and their runaway in the division has the Reds already on the outside looking in, as the McPaper's Bob Nightengale noted. It's fitting in a way that an off-day was ultimately what banged the death knell, and that the page-turn lands the Reds back in GABP with the filthy Cardinals in town ripe for spoiling with the eyes of both Red Reporter and Redleg Nation upon them.
The 2016 season was never about wins, it was always about discovering which of the current crop of Reds looked most equipped to help the team win down the road. And, in that regard, 2016 has been somewhat of a success. We've seen Billy Hamilton flash more of the brilliant talent we've seen glimpses of before, watched Adam Duvall blast dingers at a cromulent pace, watched the gradual evolution of Eugenio Suarez as he's grown into a role wholly foreign to him prior to the year, and that starting pitching that was full of inexperience and gall last year has shown marked improvement across the board.
There are still holes in this roster, ones that don't appear to have answers already in the system, but that was part of the discovery phase we knew we'd see. They'll now aim to fix those problems, with an off-season of vital importance now the next big X on the calendar.
King Red MMXVI is dead. Long live King Red MMXVII.