Cincinnati Reds battle for lead-off spot in line-up in 2018

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

With a line-up built around Joey Votto batting third the rest of the Cincinnati Reds are battling to bat in front of him.

Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price has made no secret of the fact that he likes National League MVP runner-up Joey Votto batting third.  The Reds tried batting him second, but that left the middle of the line-up open to streaky hitting.  Votto is locked into the third spot.

The only other player that is essentially set in the line-up is third baseman Eugenio Suarez.  With Zack Cozart leaving for the Los Angeles Angels Suarez will slide into the two hole.  That will be his spot, unless there is a roster move or Suarez completely falls apart in spring training.

The status of center fielder Billy Hamilton is centerpiece to this discussion.  The Reds and the San Francisco Giants appear ever so close to complete a trade involving the speedster.  Even if Hamilton stays with the Reds, there appears to be a solid chance that he will bat in the lower half of the order.

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The other elite baserunner in the everyday line-up is shortstop Jose Peraza.  He has the speed and little power.  However, his 2017 OBP of .297 is in stark contrast to the .352 OBP he delivered in 2016.

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 The other four regulars of the Cincinnati Reds each have a stake on the top spot in the line-up.

No batter has a better case to bat lead-off than left fielder Adam Duvall.  He is a plus runner and defender, creating at least 75 runs each of the past two seasons.  His OBP is a little low, just above .300, but he has earned this shot with experience and consistency.

Scooter Gennett is the other interesting option.  He establishes the left-right-left-right alternation and has a history of an OBP over .300.  

He walks a touch less than Duvall, but is a markedly inferior runner to Duvall.

Tucker Barnhart’s best factor is the same as his worst, he is a good offensive catcher.  Barnhart gets on base at a good clip, but runs at a slow one.  John Jaso used to bat lead-off of the Oakland Athletics, but the wear and tear usually make the idea prohibitive long-term.

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Scott Schebler is just too streaky to bat lead-off and he isn’t a strong enough runner.  That bounces the option back to Gennett and Duvall.  Duvall makes the most sense right now, but the rest of the batters will make their case in spring training.