Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Should Joey Votto bat second in the lineup?

Should Dusty Baker be penciling Joey Votto into the two hole rather than the third spot in the batting order on a daily basis? It's an intriguing question and one that ESPN.com's Keith Law recently explored by arguing in favor of sticking Cincinnati's best hitter second in the lineup.

Here's a snippet of how Law justified his argument...
The Reds are the best example this year of a team that is giving away offense by putting their worst hitter, Zack Cozart, ahead of their best hitter, Joey Votto, an example of archaic thinking that still persists within the game because that's how we've always done it.... 
....Traditionally, the No. 2 hitter is supposed to be a table-setter who can put the ball in play, drop a bunt, hit behind a runner, and so on. This is all hogwash, of course: The No. 2 hitter has the same basic job as all of the other guys in the lineup -- to get his posterior to first base any way he can....
....If you can get one more win a year from optimizing your lineup this way, with no downside whatsoever, shouldn't you do it? And shouldn't any manager who hits a guy with a career .283 OBP second (Cozart), ahead of a guy (Votto) with a career .417 OBP (.445 this year, .474 last year), be held accountable for that decision? Put your best hitter second, your next-best hitter fourth, your high-OBP/low-power guy first, and you get, in effect, free runs, maybe just a handful over the course of a season, but maybe that one marginal at-bat in the ninth inning turns into a very real, tangible win, the kind that teams are supposed to be pursuing anyway.
Law's argument is certainly an interesting and unorthodox one. It has long been an unwritten rule of baseball that a team's best hitter occupy the third slot in the batting order. For the Reds, that hitter is undoubtedly Votto, but Law may be on to something here.

Now, I don't foresee Baker rethinking the way he fills out the lineup card because of this piece, but it's still a good topic for discussion for us baseball lovers to weigh in on.

You can read Law's full piece in its entirety (assuming you are an ESPN Insider of course) by clicking here.

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