Is This the Cincinnati Reds 2013 Lineup?


Call me crazy, but I think we all know who will be the starting eight for the 2013 Cincinnati Reds. And I think the majority of us can agree on what the lineup will be. I’ve read a few articles and tweets that do offer one slight deviation from the lineup card I can foresee.

Shin-Soo Choo, CF
Brandon Phillips, 2B
Joey Votto, 1B
Ryan Ludwick, LF
Jay Bruce, RF
Todd Frazier, 3B
Zack Cozart, SS
Ryan Hanigan, C

The deviation occurs with the placement of Cozart and Hanigan or Mesoraco. I’ve seen Cozart and whoever is playing catcher on any specific day have their spots flipped, but I am hard pressed to see Hanigan batting anything but 8th. Not a slight on him either. This falls under the category of, well, you know, Dusty’s lineup. Plus, Hanigan has adapted rather well to the role.

I think that flip is more likely to occur if Mes can get his bat going.  Having him 8th last season may have stunted his batting prowess.  Don’t think we’ll ever know if that was the case unless he says so either.

So, for your viewing pleasure, here’s a look at how each player has fared while in that certain lineup spot for both his career and in 2012.

Before we go on here, I want to make a couple of points aside from the the Cozart/cathcer one. I have Chris Heisey listed here for two reasons, one of which you will see a little down the road, but the first reason is that Heisey should see decent playing time against his season due to being a defensive substitution for Choo. There is another (as I said), but I’ll save that for later.

The other point is in regards the status of Devin Mesoraco. There are varying projections as to how much he will play in 2013. (You can read up on that a little more here.) With Hanigan staking a huge claim to the position last season (he did play in a career high 112 games in 2012), you have to wonder if Mes will be played at only the same rate as last season. I do believe Mes will see a more playing time in 2013 due, in part, to the departure of Dioner Navarro.

And remember, these stats in the table above correspond to that certain spot in the batting order for which we think a player will bat.

So, just by looking at this one table, what jumps out at you? Anything?

August 5, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Choo reacts to a two run walk off home run during the tenth inning at Comerica Park. Detroit won 10-8 in ten innings. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

The numbers Choo produced are nice, sure, but does it bother anyone that 2012 was the first season in which Choo was utilized extensively as a leadoff guy? Add that he wasn’t in that spot for the entire season either (453 of 686 PAs). No real comparison of 2012 to any other season, is there? Maybe I should ask this: Are we wrong to expect similar production from a guy that has hit leadoff for only three-quarters of a season?

Also worth noting…

The offense as a whole got off to a sluggish start last season.  (Maybe not so much for Bruce.)  You could make an argument that it never actually got on track except for the ten-game winning streak.  In looking at the 2012 numbers above (and these are for the projected lineup spot, not the entire season), you could still have the slightest of uneasy feelings.  Only two guys with a career batting average over .300 for the “spot”?

Well, to ease your mind, let’s start here.

My second point in reference to Heisey. It’s not just a defensive thing for the Reds, but it’s also a “lefty thing”. What we will look at here are only Choo’s and Heisey’s numbers…and that could lead to even further tell as to why Heisey is a such valuable member of this roster.

Here’s a couple of small tables for comparison. We will look at Choo’s and Heisey’s numbers against righty pitchers and lefty pitchers. And we will also look at how both have fared for their careers and in 2012 against each.

So you look at these numbers and you say the following…

1. Choo isn’t as bad as I feared in facing lefties. Well, aside from his lack of slugging.
2. Heisey kinda sucks against them.

Well, for their respective careers, those statement could be deemed as true…until you see the numbers from 2012.

Aug. 29, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Heisey celebrates with teammates after hitting a two run home run in the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

While Choo seemingly regressed against lefties, Heisey started to hit them more. Remember prior to the 2012 season and everyone (well, not everyone) was wondering how a left field platoon between Heisey and Ludwick would work since neither was particularly adept at hitting lefties? (FWIW, Ludwick v. LHP in his career: .240/.322/.452.) Remember those questions? Well, Heisey made us forget most of that chatter.

I have read in a couple of different places, do not be surprised if Heisey starts against lefties due to how Choo struggled against them last year.

Well, just by looking at these numbers, I would. But in 2011, Choo was actually more successful v. LHP (.269/.336/.352) than RHP (.254/.347/.410). Choo may get a little latitude here, but, again, don’t start tripping if Heisey gets a start or two against those lefty arms.

And am I wrong for putting Heisey in the top spot here?  That’s what I’m doing.  I honestly can’t see any other option aside from putting BP back there and have Heisey bat on down in the order, most likely 2nd.  I know Heisey has had issues with whiffs (career SO% 23.8%), but he did improve on that last season (21.6%).

Just to pass along some more numbers here, in 2012, Reds batters posted a triple slash of .246/.311/.399 against RHP and .266/.327/.443 against LHP.

And having BP at #2 (which is arguably his second most productive spot in the order) is solid.  Cleanup would be his career best slot, and unless Ludwick funks himself out of that slot, #2 is where BP will “reside” for 2013. The question for BP in 2013 would be one that creeps in on any player that has been around for as many years as BP (2013 will be his 12th): bat speed. He will likely see more fastballs at #2 seeing as Choo and Votto surround him.

No one would or should take issue with how this all lays out for Baker. And look what Dusty has within the first six spots: lefty (Choo), righty (BP), lefty (Votto), righty (Ludwick), lefty (Bruce), righty (Frazier).  I bet he is still doing cartwheels over this.

One “fear” that some Reds fans have is there will be a regression for Ludwick. Every projection I have viewed shows that he will. Same might be said for Frazier as well. He’s gone through a season (and a little more), so he can be more easily scouted that for 2012.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t throw in that Bruce did contact Dusty after the Choo acquisition. According to John Fay, Bruce offered to move to center field.

"“Jay asked if I wanted him to come in lighter in case Choo is better a right fielder than center fielder,” Baker said.“That’s the main thing about this team: We have guys of character who are open-minded to doing what it takes to help the team win.”"

That’s something few would ever question about Bruce is his character.

Didn’t Dusty’s son tell him when the trade was “public” that Twitter was all ablaze about this very subject? No? Guess not. And on Bruce…

Jun 5, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Bruce prepares to bat during the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park. (Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports)

Will we see more of 2011 and 2012 as far as his batting average and on-base percentage or is there s chance those will see a bump? Most 2013 projections I have seen (as I pointed out one such projection here) for the Beaumont Bomber are more in line with those years (and career numbers) than his 2010 season when he produced a triple slash of .281/.353/.493.

It is honestly hard to imagine this lineup not being more productive in scoring runs in 2013.

There is one thing I did save for the last. Joey Votto should be 100% (or close to it) when the season starts. If he is able to drive the ball as well as the pre-torn meniscus Joey, this lineup is pretty darn scary.

The bigger issue might be with the team’s defense.