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.