Projecting the Cincinnati Reds’ Opening Day Lineup


While we might get an idea of what the Opening Day lineup will look like once the Cincinnati Reds start playing in spring training games, manager Bryan Price was unwilling to reveal to reporters what the lineup would look like for his team in the upcoming season (but he did have some really great comments about everybody needing to buy in regardless of their spot in the batting order).

No one knows for sure what they lineup will look like, but here’s a potential lineup that Price could roll out on April 6:

1. Billy Hamilton

There’s little doubt that Hamilton will again lead off for the Reds in 2015. When Hamilton can get on base, he can really make things happen for the Reds offense. He’ll need to improve his on-base percentage — .292 is not an ideal number for a leadoff hitter — but if he can do that, he will become one of the most dangerous players in baseball and the top of the Reds lineup could become a force to be reckoned with.

2. Joey Votto

Where to bat Votto has been a much-debated topic among Reds fans for awhile. Many think he should bat third, where a team’s best hitter traditionally bats, while others think he should bat second. As you can see, I’m in the latter group. A few years ago, I would’ve said he’s a three-hole hitter, but since then Votto has suffered several injuries and doesn’t hit for as much power as he used to. Votto’s biggest strength has always been his ability to get on base (his .417 career on-base percentage is 21st all-time and first among active players). Batting him second puts him in a position where he can score a lot of runs with big RBI hitters behind him and potentially drive in Hamilton, who can steal bases and get into scoring position.

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3. Todd Frazier

Frazier was one of the two best offensive players for the Reds last season and spent most of his time batting from this spot in the lineup. Frazier has the ability to drive in runs as well as get on base at a good rate, making him the ideal candidate to bat third, where he could get a lot of run-producing opportunities behind Votto and set up the hitters behind him to drive him in as well. If he can steal around 20 bases again, it would be huge with the big hitters he’d have behind him from the three spot.

4. Devin Mesoraco

Mesoraco could really bat in several different positions, as I could see him easily being swapped with either Frazier or Bruce. If he stays healthy and puts up numbers numbers similar to last season (he had a slugging percentage of .554 and his isolated power was an absurd .260), he could have another big season in store with Hamilton, Votto, and Frazier hitting in front of him.

5. Jay Bruce

The Reds will obviously need their right fielder to have a bounce-back season, and there’s really no reason to think he won’t. It’s been documented that Bruce wasn’t healthy all season and was rushed back from his knee injury. If he returns to his previous form, in which he hit 30 home runs in three consecutive seasons before last year, Bruce could “platoon” with Mesoraco in the fourth spot depending on whether the opposing pitcher is right-handed or left-handed.

6. Marlon Byrd

Depending on how he produces, I could also see Byrd batting higher than I have him. Byrd’s age is an obvious concern — as decline and injury are certainly possible, if not probable, at age 37 — but if he continues to mash the ball as he has the past two seasons where he hit 49 home runs combined, he could find himself hitting fourth or fifth, if needed.

7. Brandon Phillips

It’s time to face the fact that Phillips is no longer a top-of-the-lineup hitter. The seventh spot is the best fit for Phillips at this point in his career. His offensive numbers have been on a steady decline for the last several years, with last season being his worst with the Reds. That being said, Phillips can still hit a little bit and would probably be one of the better seven-hole hitters in baseball.

8. Zack Cozart

No real analysis needed here; Cozart is the easy choice for the eighth spot in the lineup. He’s the weakest hitter of the starting eight for the Reds and is in the lineup for his defense more than his offense. If Cozart can get closer toward his career averages (.243/.281/.365), however, that would help the bottom of the lineup from being a complete black hole like it was in 2014.