Predicting where Joey Votto will be slotted in the Reds batting order upon his return

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto / Kirk Irwin/GettyImages

It would appear as though Joey Votto is slated to return to the Cincinnati Reds this week - perhaps as soon as today.

Votto has been on a rehab assignment with the Louisville Bats for the past couple weeks as he continues to work his way back from shoulder and biceps surgery that he underwent last August.

But, when Votto returns, his usual spot in the batting order may no longer be available. For years Votto has hit third in the batting order, but it seems that David Bell is quite comfortable with Jonathan India hitting in that spot. So where does that leave Votto?

Predicting where Joey Votto will be slotted in the Reds batting order upon his return.

On Sunday, David Bell ran out a lineup of TJ Friedl, Matt McLain, Jonathan India, Elly De La Cruz, Jake Fraley, Spencer Steer, Tyler Stephenson, Will Benson, and Kevin Newman. Wow! That's the best the Cincinnati Reds lineup has looked in quite some time.

Looking at Sunday's lineup, it's hard to see Joey Votto cracking the top four hitters in the Reds batting. It feels safe to say that the quartet of Friedl, McLain, India, and De La Cruz (against right-handed pitching) is all but solidified.

Could Votto hit as high as No. 5 in the Reds batting order? Votto has appeared in the No. 5 hole in 34 games over his career, with his last start there coming in 2021. Votto hasn't started a game hitting sixth since 2008, and though he started 50-plus games in 2008 while batting seventh, the last time Votto was in the No. 7 hole was in 2016 as a pinch hitter.

Somewhere in that No. 5 to No. 7 range feels about right for Votto. It would allow Bell to pencil Votto into a rather permanent position on the lineup with players like Nick Senzel, Kevin Newman, Will Benson, and the catching duo of Curt Casali and Luke Maile batting in the final two spots of the order.

Provided Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell doesn't do some foolish, and out of loyalty, hand Joey Votto the reins to the cleanup spot, most fans won't bat an eye. Votto's coming back and he's going to play first base, but where will be hit in the Reds batting order? We'll find out soon enough.

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