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.