The Differences Between The 2022 Cleveland Guardians & Cincinnati Reds

The Differences Between The 2022 Cleveland Guardians & Cincinnati Reds

Drew Thirion
2 years ago
6 min read
Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez chases Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson

Separated by just under 250 miles, the Cleveland Guardians and Cincinnati Reds are two historic teams in major league baseball but currently sit in completely different situations. Both teams' most recent playoff appearance occurred in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, and both organizations finished around .500 last season.

Getting close to the midway point of 2022, the scripts are completely different for both of these ballclubs. Despite splitting the four games these squads have played this year, it feels as if both teams are in completely different directions. 

The Guardians are seven games over .500 and only one game back of the AL Central while the Reds are twenty-three games under .500 and are the second-worst team in baseball. Not only that but according to Bleacher Report, the Reds have a bottom six farm system in baseball, while the Guardians have a top 3 system, boasting six top 100 prospects.

I’m writing this piece with betJACK writer Micah Greenhill to get to the bottom of the difference between these two teams located within the same state. 

What moves have Cincy's ownership done to put this team right back into the throes of a rebuild?

It’s interesting, because according to ownership and the front office, they are not in a rebuild just yet. However, this entire process started after the 2020 season. After a truly brutal rebuild, we finally made it to the (expanded) playoffs, only to get swept by the Braves without scoring a run. 

Most fans hoped that 2021 would see an improved roster on the field and that we’d run away with the division. Instead, we saw the resignation of Dick Williams, our President of Baseball Operations. His replacement, Nick Krall, then essentially traded away star relievers, Raisel Iglesias and Archie Bradley, for free. The loss of these two effective relievers was underscored by the complete ineptitude of the 2021 Reds bullpen. 

The following offseason saw even more high-profile departures, such as Wade Miley, Tucker Barnhart, Eugenio Suarez, Jesse Winker, and Sonny Gray. All-Star Nick Castellanos also opted out of his contract and elected free agency. Regardless of your thoughts on these moves, fans were fed up, resulting in the #SellTheTeamBob movement to take over Cincinnati.

Cleveland's Front Office Stability


You talked about a change in your front office hurting your team, and I think the steadiness in the Cleveland front office is what has made this team so consistent. Chris Antonetti, President of Baseball Operations for the Guardians makes most of his hirings within, and really seems to keep a hands-off approach with this organization. 

He has a long leash with players and coaches, and while I disagree with some decisions, I think Antonetti makes the right moves more times than not.

Micah, you also wrote about trading away star players for nothing, and that’s been the exact opposite here in Cleveland. Mike Clevinger and Corey Kluber hardly pitched for the teams they were traded to, and what we’ve received back in those deals is half of our roster here today. Antonetti’s most impressive deal today was convincing the Blue Jays that Bradley Zimmer is a major league outfielder and was even able to get Anthony Castro out of that trade.

What are some bright spots from these trades, and is there any sort of light at the end of the tunnel for the Reds?

Unfortunately, our trades seem to be more salary dumps, not netting us any strong prospect pieces. Chase Petty has strong potential, although he seems to be a bit more of a lottery ticket than anything else. 

The bright spots are the young core on the lineup today: Jonathan India, Tyler Stephenson, Hunter Greene, and Nick Lodolo. While all of these guys have shown inconsistency that you’d expect from younger players, they’ve also shown flashes of talent that suggest their potential on the next great Reds team. 

The Reds as a whole seem to have improved on the player development front as well. Just look at our first-round draft picks and how their MLB success rate has changed over time. Robert Stephenson, Nick Travieso, Jeff Gelalich, Phillip Ervin, Nick Howard. Most of these guys never made it, and the two that did (Stephenson and Ervin) never contributed in a significant way. Fast forward to more recent draft picks. Tyler Stephenson, Nick Senzel, Hunter Greene, Jonathan India, Nick Lodolo. All of these guys have not only made the club, but they have also demonstrated success on the field, except for Senzel who has struggled to stay healthy. 

If Reds fans were going to look for a bright spot, that’s where I would look. 

As a Reds fan, it always seems that Cleveland is able to stay fairly competitive year in and year out regardless of their payroll. What do you think the big difference between our clubs has been?

The Difference Between the Guardians and Reds

My answer has no real stats behind it, but this team's success has to stem from Terry Francona. I’ve written a few things this season about some problems I’ve had with Tito, but overall there isn’t a better manager in baseball. It doesn’t matter how pathetic of a lineup he’s given, the man just finds a way to put a winner out there. Tito’s third in wins for active managers and has a great shot at getting inside the top 10 by the time he’s done coaching. 

The man just breeds winners, plain and simple, this year’s no different. A perfect example of this is the revival of Enyel De Los Santos’ career. He’s a player with a career 5.29 ERA and has figured out a way to have a more consistent pitch mix, and has cut his ERA by over half, all the way down to 2.75.

Another reason this Guardians team has excelled this year is the offense shows up every single night. Over their last 22 games, they’re scoring just under 5 runs an outing. The best part? It’s been more then just Jose Ramirez. Every night one of the young guys comes through with a big hit driving this team forward. 

What’s the timeline for this current Reds roster? When do you see this team competing for a shot at the playoffs again?

It’s closer than a lot of fans think. 

Honestly, if the Reds went and spent big during the offseason, there’s a chance we could be back in the playoffs next year. It doesn’t look like free agency is the strategy, though, so they’ll have to build a team around the core of Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Tyler Stephenson and Jonathan India (and possibly prospect Jose Barrerro). 

The speed at which this team is built will depend entirely on how they handle things at the trade deadline and their continued success in player development. It’s also worth noting that we’ve got some large contracts coming off the books soon (Joey Votto and Mike Moustakas). 

If I were the GM of the Reds, my plan would be to flood the player development pipeline with solid prospects that can support the current young core of the team, and fill in the gaps through free agency once these financial constraints are freed up. If the front office does this correctly, we should see the Reds in the playoffs 2-3 years from now. But like I said. That’s assuming everything is done correctly.

It’s worth noting how much of a disservice it is to Votto. He’s been a franchise icon and there is a legitimate argument that he’s the greatest hitter to ever play for the Reds. It’s a shame that he likely won’t ever be in the postseason again, at least not as a Red. 

Do you see the Jose Ramirez led Guardians making the playoffs anytime soon?

Before the season, I thought that Guardians would finish 80-82. There’s a ton of baseball to be played this season, but I’m starting to look wrong about my prediction.

The future is now in Cleveland, I genuinely believe they can make the playoffs this season. Baseball Reference has the Guardians as the favorite in the AL Central, and I’m starting to believe that may be true. 

Can the Guardians win the pennant?

Not really, but that’s the great thing about baseball, if you make it to the playoffs, you can win it all. Antonetti has built a team that should be competitive for the rest of Ramirez’s contract. Each year this team makes the playoffs, they’re going to have a shot, and you have to love that as a fan.

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