Cincinnati Reds still don’t understand how to use Joey Votto appropriately

Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Cincinnati Reds still think of Joey Votto as an on base machine instead of realizing he is the best offensive player in the National League.

When you hear things coming out of the Cincinnati Reds’ camp like they considered batting Joey Votto lead-off last year, it makes you wonder what is going through management’s mind.  The idea of batting one of the elite on base machines of all-time lead-off isn’t what is wrong with that idea.  What is wrong is that most of the season the Reds had another plus OBP batter available to bat lead-off, whether it was Tucker Barnart, Jose Peraza or Steve Selsky.

On top of the idea of having other OBP batters available, there are two main trains of thought regarding batting sequence at the MLB level beyond the simple sluggers bat in the middle of the order.  The one that is all the rage right now is having the best overall batter bat second in the line-up.  That way you get enough extra plate appearances for the elite batter in order to add a win or two.

The Reds attempted that in the first half of last year with Votto and it didn’t work out.  The other idea that is more popular among sabermetricians focuses putting pressure on the opposing pitching staff.  The idea is to have the most versatile batter bat in the five spot.

It forces the opposing pitcher to face that batter in both RBI and OBP leveraged situations.  This is why the World Series Champions, Chicago Cubs, so often batted Ben Zobrist there.  Then Addison Russell heated up at the end of the season.

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The Cincinnati Reds have the best offensive player in the National League and are treating him more like Matt Carpenter than Anthony Rizzo.

The Reds shouldn’t be worried about moving him around.  He is Joey Votto.  He needs to bat where he can carry the team.  He was in the running for NL MVP on a bad team last year.  He also is the leader of the team.

More importantly, the Reds need to stop putting low OBP people around him.

The reason batting Votto second didn’t work last year is because Billy Hamilton was batting in front of him.  If Hamilton didn’t get on base teams could pitcher around Votto.

Starting Votto in the third or the fourth spot in the line-up makes a world of sense.  It maximizes the chances of having someone on base in front of him.  It also allows Votto a chance to see what the pitcher’s approach is on a given night.

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That means, however, having someone who can get on base batting in front of Votto.  Peraza and Eugenio Suarez are the two batters that need to surround Votto in the line-up.  That’s how the Reds can show us that they understand the gem that they have in Votto.