I’m writing to a bunch of Reds fans, so I’m confident I’ll receive little to none opposition when I say that Joey Votto is the best pure-hitter in baseball. That truth must be universal in order to digest the following material that you’ll probably disagree with. I liked having Ryan Ludwick around. I think any team in baseball would have taken his .275 batting average and 26 home runs. Great American Ball Park welcomes sluggers like Ludwick with open arms. If you can put the ball into play, you can jog all the bases at once. I won’t even begin to suggest this was a bad signing. But the fact remains: with the signing of Ludwick, the Reds have chosen to sustain and maintain while neglecting to gain.
I don’t care what you think of my unparalleled rhyme skillz, but I do care about the best hitter in baseball coming to the plate with runners on base. Do I need to reiterate the .208 BA/.254 OBP cumulative effort from the Reds lead-off man last year? What makes you think next year will be all that different? Is it DatDudeBP batting first that makes you feel better? Does his career .325 OBP leading off give you any assurance? Does it matter that it’s just .5 better than Drew Stubbs‘ career OBP leading off?
I said in my last offering that Brandon Phillips can hit four. Like it or not, he can. .282 career batting average and a career .331 OBP is good enough to protect Joey Votto. The problem is, Joey Votto has no one to protect.
The Reds can’t endure another season where Joey Votto sees under 100 RBIs. Granted his injury had more to do with that than anything else, but was he really getting that many ABs with runners on base before going down? This is the best hitter in baseball. With runners on in front of him, pitchers will be forced to pitch to him. That’s a win for the Reds, every time, regardless of the outcome, because there is no one else this team would rather have at the dish with a chance to score runs other than Votto.
Should the Reds surprise everyone for the second year in a row by making a crazy late acquisition that no one saw coming, this article will be as trivial as a Great American Ball Park mid-inning flex cam. But if they don’t, you can’t feel good about the lack of progression this off-season. The Reds haven’t played add-on, which was instrumental to last year’s success; rather, they’re rolling the dice on the 2012 Reds being good enough to win in 2013. Not a bad gamble, I just don’t think this team needed to. The casino is opening up soon anyways.