Should Votto bat second?

My esteemed colleague, MLB.com columnist Anthony Castrovince, wrote a piece that highlighted the various merits of moving Reds first baseman Joey Votto from third to second in the lineup. (Click here to read it)

This is not a new debate and it was one that waged, especially on social media, all of last season. Anthony had some very good reasons to back up his assertion — namely that instead of forcing Votto to change his approach, embrace his patient and disciplined way. Moving him up to get more plate appearances over the course of a season for the team’s best hitter.

In the abstract, I think it makes sense. On this particular Reds club at this particular time, I’m not so sure it works — yet. Whoever hits behind Votto in the three-hole would need to be someone not prone to prolonged slumps, that doesn’t strike out a ton, who can hit for power, while also avoiding hitting into double plays. I also think that while Votto hit for less power last season than a No. 3 hitter might normally have, that his power hasn’t left him for good. He is still very capable of driving the ball and as more time has passed from his 2012 knee surgeries, he should even more confidence in his legs to drive the ball. Also, wouldn’t Votto be walked more batting second if Billy Hamilton is leading off and constantly stealing second base ahead of him?

My thinking on this “issue” keeps evolving in different directions. Depending on the scenarios and opponent, experimenting with the lineup and putting Votto second with Brandon Phillips third and Jay Bruce or Ryan Ludwick fourth wouldn’t be the end of the world. If Votto continues to bat third, it also wouldn’t be horrible and certainly not worth anyone’s wrath on Twitter.

Ultimately, the decision will come down to where Votto is most comfortable hitting, what works best for him to be the most successful.

9 Comments

I think Votto’s approach at the plate is definitely that of a 2 hitter, but I like your argument that he will just be walked more if Hamilton gets on and steals. I would like to see Votto stay 3rd and hopefully get back the plate presence he had 2 years ago when he didn’t seem so frustrated up there. Ultimately it’s not really going to make a difference where he bats if the other players don’t start producing.

The biggest problem with Votto batting in the 2 hole is that he will be pitched around! But it’s worth trying and if it doesn’t work out, they can try someone else! The lineup need to be flexible after all! GO REDS!!!!

I wouldn’t be afraid to put Votto in the leadoff spot. In my opinion he’s a a Pete Rose type hitter with more athleticism , a little more speed and power. Who better to put there until Hamilton is ready. I aso think Phillips best spot would be 3rd. The two spot would be a question mark but there is always going to one spot that is unless they sign another hitter. The reds and markets like them have to think outside the box and be creative.

Ok. Not that I dont hate the idea of Votto walking all the time, but wouldnt Votto himself say that if they want to walk me every at bat that he would take it. So if you are saying that everytime Billy gets on base that they will walk Votto. I will take that right now. Ofcourse I am assuming that Billy steals second or third everytime. Which he better be attempting every single time. Why not use the weapon every time. Heck will pitchers pitch to Votto if Billy is sitting on third and a full count. We know pitchers are too competitive to walk Votto every time and they will at least throw something for a strike. I say do it and put the pressure on the pitcher. You a guy that will run all day then the most patient hitter in baseball that will make you pay if you pitch to him. I like it the more I think of it…

Yeah, put the pressure on. Don’t let them off the hook and if they get on it’ll give those behind them better pitches to hit. Does anyone want to face Bruce with 2 on and nobody out? What’re you going to do pitch around him?

Its all about pressure and you can’t have hole in the lineup that are islands of respite for a pitcher. If he knows they’re there he knows that he’s never really in trouble.

The problem for the Reds is not whether to move Votto to the 2 hole; he and Choo were #1 and #2 in OBP…it was the hitter behind both of them. Trying to move around the lineup will not cure that problem. The Reds need to find someone behind Votto that can plate the runs; plain and simple. The 4th, 5th and 6th hitters for the Reds have been either erratic or poor at knocking in the runners on base on a consistent basis. They need an RBI machine to compliment their OBP players at the top; moving Votto from 3rd to 2nd is like moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic.

I agree Neb but it’s highly unlikely that ideal 4,5 and 6 hitter will be found. The best we can hope for is that what they have can produce. Maybe they will. The Reds just don’t appear to have the money to get that hitter.

True. But there is always hope to trade a major contract in order to obtain another major contract. In this instance, the math works. Good pitching or not, we aren’t going to reach the ‘promised land’ with the bats we have, imo; not as good as last season I am afraid with the loss of Choo (OBP and power). Hamilton is a work in process and will not replace Choo at the plate. What I read is that we are hoping, yes, literally hoping that some of the current players shed their hitting of 2013, turn around and lead us into 2014, all the while by increasing their individual statistics multi-fold. In my mind, we now will have fewer OBP in the 1-3 spot of the lineup and given that, I just can’t envision a 120-130 RBI guy anywhere in the lineup. More importantly, we best catch fire this season as the wick is burning quickly and we are about to lose a number of terrific players to FA or increased salary. Assembling a competent and contentious team is quick a trick for a mid-range money team; holding that same team together for 3-4-5 years is impossible, given the way baseball is structured.
There is little question in my mind that we can contend with the likes of the Dodgers, Cards and Nationals this season; I won’t even get into the AL.

sorry…make that last sentence:
“There is little question in my mind that we CANNOT contend….”

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