Joey Votto is not doing Joey Votto things. The former MVP, who had a renaissance season in 2021, has gotten off to a horrendous start in 2022 and it's time for Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell to shake things up.
Votto is hitting .133/.288/.150. The Cincinnati first baseman is far from the only player on the team who's struggling at the plate. Collectively, the Reds are 13th in home runs, 14th in batting average, and dead-last in RBIs, runs scored, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS.
One would think that Bell would be looking for anything to spark his team, and the answer might be an odd one. Strange as it may sound, Bell should move Votto up to No. 2 in the batting order behind leadoff hitter Jonathan India.
Joey Votto should be moved up in the Reds batting order.
I know, it sounds a little silly, but hear me out. The cleanup spot that Joey Votto is currently occupying is usually reserved for the big boppers in the lineup, right? Well that's certainly not Votto, not right now anyway. After remaking his swing and rediscovering his power in 2021, Votto has been anything but a power-hitter in 2022.
One look at Votto's stats over at Baseball Savant will show you that the 38-year-old is way down in almost every meaningful category. Votto is in the bottom 15% of the league in barrel-rate, the bottom 9% of in hard-hit percentage, and the bottom 3% in XSLG. In short, Votto is struggling.
Votto has just one extra base hit on the season; a double against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the Reds West Coast road trip. Everything else has been a single. Votto also has a 31.5% strikeout-rate, which is nearly eight points higher than his career-worst (23.8% K-rate) that he set last season.
Joey Votto is still good at drawing a walk.
However, despite all the struggles that Joey Votto is having at the plate, there's one thing he's doing well; taking a free pass. Walks and on-base percentage have defined Votto's career, and he's among the top 17% in the league in walk-rate (13.7%).
David Bell needs to take advantage of what Votto's doing well and move him up in the batting order. Jonathan India is another player who usually thrives at getting on base, and having that duo atop the Cincinnati lineup could help the Reds score more runs.
Rather than Votto in the hitting in the No. 4 hole, David Bell could insert Kyle Farmer or Tyler Naquin, both of whom have an OPS over .720. Heck, even Brandon Drury would be better served hitting lower in the batting order based on his power numbers (.513 slugging percentage).
The Cincinnati Reds are missing some key pieces to their lineup. Mike Moustakas, Jose Barrero, Donovan Solano, and Tyler Stephenson are all on the Injured List at the moment. Inserting a new bat into the lineup isn't the answer, but perhaps shuffling the batting order is.