The void of production at No. 2

The topic that I have found that frustrates Reds fans the most has been the No. 2 spot of Dusty Baker’s lineup. Going into the season, it was supposed to be a sure thing with Brandon Phillips.

“That plan didn’t make it one day,” Baker said on Monday.

We all know what happened. Ryan Ludwick got hurt for four months (torn labrum in right shoulder) and missed four months. Phillips slid successfully into the cleanup spot and remains there with Ludwick back in left field. Ludwick has been batting mostly in the sixth spot.

The No. 2 spot? It’s been a rough go to say the least. This season, Reds No. 2 hitters have batted a combined .226 with a .272 on-base percentage. Much of the time, that was Zack Cozart who struggled in that role. Todd Frazier started his 15th game in the No. 2 spot on Monday. In the previous 14 games, he was batting .179 with a .246 OBP, two homers and four RBIs.

**UPDATE — the Reds average from the No. 2 spot is 29th out of 30 MLB clubs. It is ahead of the Nationals, which bat .217 from the two-hole.

Why has that spot been so much trouble? I asked Baker.

“The rest of the guys aren’t really suited to be in that spot,” Baker said. “Either sometimes guys strike out or hit into double plays. They haven’t learned yet how to manipulate the ball the other way. That is probably the hardest, most unselfish spot there is in the batting order. I was telling Joe Morgan you would prefer that guy to be a left-handed batter to make use of that hole over there when the leadoff hitter gets on and a guy that takes pitches for your leadoff guy to steal.”

Baker wouldn’t divulge when asked if Ludwick might return to the fourth spot, which would put Phillips in the second spot. I would not bank on it. Phillips has done the job well and Ludwick, while getting better and more productive, is still catching up after being out so long. He’s not in mid-season form yet.

12 Comments

So where can we find a left handed hitter that doesn’t ground into double plays, takes pitches and doesn’t strike out that much… Hhhmmm.

Baker would never bat L-L-L (1-2-3), and unfortunately, we are not in the “mid-season”. What we are in is a pre-playoff period of the teams’ life for 2013. We need to remember this time of year…the last 5-10-15 even more years in the past. Ok, let’s just look at the last few…excuses come flowing from the media, as well as all of us outsiders. However the truth prevails; there is no changing it…we must win and win now. How do we do that? We must play the best 8 positional players possible, send out our best possible SP and bring in the best BP pitcher, depending on the current situation; depending on the situation. Does that happen regularly? Not really.
Seems simple, but we all seem to agree that it isn’t being done simply. Feelings, awards, friendships and memories cannot enter into a championship team directly, yet we seem to be playing along those lines daily. Hopefully, we can play the brand of baseball that the Reds played years ago; field the best players every day, play smart and play thoughtful baseball…game after game after game. I just don’t see us as that kind of a team.

Dusty is always tardy making obvious changes. Put BP in the 2-hole now and move Ludwick to Cleanup. You have a month to get it going.

When you lose your 2 hole hitter you improvise, Baker failed miserably to do that all year. Choo is second in the league in getting on. Whether it be Cozart or Frazier you advance the runner with a bunt which Baker failed to do all year. Hence no RBI’s for Votto. The other option was to move Votto to the 2 hole. He leads the league in OBP, walks, hits .300 to all fields and would have set Phillips and Bruce up very nicely. When you have a bad manager, bad things happen. This bum should have been replaced at the All Star break.Votto is a line drive hitterm not a home run hitter. He is a prototype two hole hitter. Even the visiting sportscasters notice Bakers mistakes. Why can’t Jockerty?

The first part of this argument is terrible. You don’t just give up an out every time the leadoff hitter gets on, how does that make sense? Also, if they did get the bunt over and take the out, then Votto would just get walked. Leaving Phillips there to hit into a double play.
Curt

Thank you for asking Dusty about this, Mark. I hope that you have a good remainder of the year.

Hey Dusty . Does the name JOEY VOTTO ring a bell . Phillips can bat third. Votto’s production this year certainly hasn’t been good in the three hole.

Dusty refuses to modernize, even as other managers are catching on that the #2 batting position is the spot you should put your best batter (or, failing that, at least use one of your top on-base guys). Dusty’s worried about contact and giving away outs from the 2-spot and that’s just fundamentally outdated thinking. Phillips isn’t even a very good #2 batter because he just goes up there hacking any more. Even with his productivity when there are RISP, this will end up being one of his worst offensive years as a Red.

exactly. I have tried to say that all year. The spot that Phillips is suited best for is clean up. He doesnt walk and has a terrible OBP. I would love to see Votto in that spot but it will never happen. Ok. So put Ludwick there. He has the experience. Baker just contradicts himself every day. You have to move the runner over, but never bunts because its a rally killer. All of this is annoying.

Phillips is the best #2 hitter we have on the Reds. His lifetime OBP is .320; thus far this season, .314. He has a career line of .277/.320/.424/.744 while batting #2 (754 AB) while only striking out 13% of the time (98), and grounding into DP only 19 times
(2 1/2%). There is no one on the team that can rival these numbers and Phillips is clearly a contact hitter that can easily perform the hit-and-run.

Last nights game certainly left a bad taste. The team is making a true, real effort, but we are not winning the games that matter the most. If we cannot beat the redbirds we are in trouble. So far this has been a good month, 14-9 .608 win-lost percentage, but the cards are 15-10, holding their ground and advancing. The Bucks are 11-12 .478, starting to fade out. But the Reds progress is slow moving, we need meaningful victories and we either stand our ground or fade away from the race.

Remember when Bob Boone wanted to bat Adam Dunn leadoff ?

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