Why Aristides Aquino will be in the Reds Opening Day lineup vs. the Braves

Cincinnati Reds outfielder Aristides Aquino (44) gestures as he rounds the bases after hitting a home run.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Aristides Aquino (44) gestures as he rounds the bases after hitting a home run. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

There are bound to be a section of the Cincinnati Reds fanbase that detest the idea, but I can almost guarantee you that Aristides Aquino will be in the starting lineup tonight versus the Atlanta Braves. Yes, I'm well aware of Aquino's shortcomings, but The Punisher is David Bell's best option to play right field on Opening Day.

To the astonishment of many, Aquino made the Reds Opening Day roster. I have to admit, I was a little surprised, but not too much. Aquino offers something you can't teach; raw power. With the losses of Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker, and Eugenio Suárez, the Redlegs do not have the same type of power in the lineup that they did a year ago.

Now, I don't expect Aquino to be slotted in the middle of the Cincinnati lineup and wouldn't be shocked to see the 27-year-old hitting eighth or even ninth in the batting order. But nonetheless, Aquino should be in the starting lineup and playing right field.

Aristides Aquino will be in the Reds Opening Day lineup.

Max Fried is on the hill for the World Champion Atlanta Braves tonight at Truist Park. The left-hander is one of the more talented pitchers on Brian Snitker's staff and David Bell is sure to counter with a right-handed heavy lineup.

Of course regulars like Jonathan India, Tyler Stephenson, and Nick Senzel will be in the starting lineup, as will Kyle Farmer and newcomer Tommy Pham. But Bell will have to incorporate some left-handed bats into the lineup as well.

Joey Votto is a given, as is Mike Moustakas. Honestly, I wouldn't be shocked to see Bell ride the hot bat of Ararmís García who is fresh off a five homer run performance in the Cactus League. That does, however, put both catchers into the starting lineup.

When it comes to Aristides Aquino, his production against left-handed pitchers over his career doesn't offer a drastic difference when compared to how The Punisher fares against right-handers. Aquino has a career-OPS of .790 versus southpaws and an OPS of .780 versus right-handed pitchers. Last season, the splits were a bit more skewed, as there was nearly 100 points difference.

But the biggest reason we're likely to see Aristides Aquino in the starting lineup is due to the lack of production that both Tyler Naquin and Jake Fraley have put up in the past versus left-handers. For his career, Naquin has an OPS of .633 against lefties and last season with OPS was just .562 when facing a left-handed pitcher.

Jake Fraley, who absolutely crushes right-handers, struggles mightily against left-handed pitchers. Last season, Fraley hit .231/.374/.441 off right-handed pitchers, but only .169/.306/.225 versus left-handers.

Aristides Aquino actually put up good numbers this spring. In 13 games, Aquino slashed .250/.382/.607 with four of his seven hits going for extra bases, including three home runs. Aquino also recorded 10 RBIs in Cactus League play.

dark. Next. 9 bold predictions for the Reds 2022 season

The Punisher is not an everyday player, at least not right now. He'll have to prove himself this season. But with Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker playing elsewhere in 2022, Aquino's role will be more defined this season. Here's hoping Aquino can get back to punishing baseballs.