Changing of the Guard? Time for Scott Rolen to Pass Torch

By Tyler Grote

The Reds are still in search for their first post-season berth in over a decade if not for the incredible 2010 campaign that Scott Rolen gave this city. Not enough can be said about Rolen and his presence in the clubhouse. A field lieutenant. Dusty’s drill sergeant for a young team that needs veteran leadership. He’s given this sport 17 years of world class baseball.

Now, his at-bats are more painful than they are inspiring. The frustration is mounting. The infield flies are amassing. In 2010, Rolen’s presence accounted for about 3.5 extra wins. Last year? .6.

Right now, he’s batting .176. He has an OBP of .241. Five walks.

Joey Votto has 21.  In fact, Rolen sees, on average, about 3.49 pitches per at-bat. Joey Votto sees 4.37.  Unfair to compare to 2010 MVP?  OK.  Adam Dunn sees 4.73.

In order to even begin the discussion of replacing Rolen, there first has to be a suitor. An heir to the Iron Throne. And that’s what 3B is – arguably the hardest position in the infield to play. That’s a large reason why Scott is still so valuable – he makes incredibly difficult plays seem routine. Between he and two other IF Gold Glovers, we’re pretty spoiled.

But batting in areas 4-6 demands that you swing a hot stick, mainly to get all those guys in front of you on base home. It’s not happening anymore.

Enter Todd Frazier.

In 16 plate appearances, he’s batting .385, which is cool if you’re in the business of deciding who is good and who isn’t based on maybe less than 1% of any regular starter’s total ABs for the year. But he’s making the most of what he’s been given.

Last year, he got 112 ABs, hit .230, but gave the Reds six home runs. That’s just one short of what Scott Rolen has since the beginning of 2011.

Frazier put in nearly six seasons as a minor leaguer. In that span, he amassed a .280 average and a .353 OBP. Now, he’s making the most of the limited time he gets on the big stage.

It’s time to consider a switch. Instead of Frazier taking Rolen’s off days, maybe Scott Rolen takes Todd Frazier’s. Scott is still incredibly valuable to this team. He can still run into a fast ball, he can still flash golden glove caliber leather. But in a offense plagued with Ks and people who struggle with RISP, you have to consider Frazier as an option.

It probably won’t happen any time soon. It should.