2013 Reds / Dusty's Lineup Shenanigans

Frazier batting second?

Our topic du jour has reached the front page at FanGraphs. Read Dave Cameron’s hot-off-the-press analysis on the idea of the Reds batting Todd Frazier second instead of Zack Cozart. Frazier would represent a substantial upgrade over Cozart in terms of OBP and presents a RH hitter to bat between Choo and Votto.

Relative to the rest of his teammates, Frazier kind of is a high OBP guy. He’s also right-handed, and has enough power to make lefty specialists pay if they come in to face Choo and try to stick around long enough to face Votto.

Cameron pretty thoroughly discusses all the arguments for and against Cozart batting second, with plenty of numbers to back up his claims. I was surprised to learn that Cozart actually has one more extra-base hit than Frazier this year, so the rationale that Frazier’s power dictates batting lower in the order is faulty.

Cozart actually has 27 extra base hits to Frazier’s 26, so you can’t really argue that Frazier’s power would be wasted in the #2 spot while hitting Cozart there. In actuality, Frazier’s power might be getting wasted in the #6 spot, where he’s most often hit this year.

Even though line-up construction doesn’t have a huge impact on runs scored, it can matter at the margin. Do the Reds really have runs to spare at this point?

In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t the end of the world. Batting order doesn’t make that big of a difference. The Reds can make the playoffs with Zack Cozart hitting second. But, really, for a team in the playoff race, they should be taking advantage of every opportunity they can find to improve their chances of winning, however small those improvements might be.

I’d also like to see what Frazier could do with more fastballs. Presumably batting in the #2 spot would help him see more strikes and more straight pitches.

Head over to FanGraphs and read Cameron’s entire post (then come back here and discuss it in the comments section).

37 thoughts on “Frazier batting second?

  1. You seem to forget that Dusty bats useless middle infielders 2nd because he perceives them to be good bunters. That’s a big part of it. He’s not gonna put a clumsy non-bunting hitter there.

  2. I had the same thought as you regarding fastballs. But sadly, regardless of all other stats, the fact that Frazier isn’t a middle infielder is the biggest reason he will never bat 2nd for Dusty.

  3. I’d be happy with Frazier, Phillips, Paul, or preferably Votto in the 2 hole. The current lineup has a paltry run expectancy of 4.055, while just dropping Cozart to 8th and keeping everyone else the same would result in 4.313, the difference of 42 runs over a season. A huge difference of 4 more wins and 4 less losses over the course of a season.

    • @justafish2002: Wish I could save this. The difference might appear minor but any marginal improvment when competing with playoff caliber teams can prove to a significant advantage.

    • @justafish2002: Votto in the 2 hole makes the most sense. The traditional “roles” played by the different spots in the lineup are mostly nonsense. You want the best 4 hitters up first, the best 5 bitters as 1-5, etc.

  4. You could tell Dusty 2+2=4 and he’d scoff at you. I’ve never understood why it matters having Votto next to another lefty. Aside from Phillips, Votto has the highest OPS of any hitter on the team against lefties.

    An extension to that is Bruce has the third highest OPS against lefties and if I’m not mistaken the best slugging, so Dusty’s whole L,R,L,R strategy is completely unfounded. Frazier to the second spot would certainly be better, BP to 2 and Bruce to 4 would be nice as well, Votto to 2 would be the best.

  5. Frazier would ONLY be moved to the 2 hole over Dusty’s dead body or firing, whichever came first.

  6. Only if Frazier plays SS would he bat 2nd. Dusty-ism! However, have you seen Frazier swing a bat lately? He needs a 9-iron since he’s swinging at pitches in the dirt.

  7. It is pretty sad that this is now a national story. Our manager is so illogical that it’s national sports news. It would be so awesome to have a rational manager. It would really make watching the Reds so much more fun.

    I feel for Cozart at this point. His manager has made him the focal point of the struggling offense, when guys like Phillips and Frazier are both having down years as well, not to mention the catchers. If Dusty took some pressure off of him and batted him 8th, no one would be paying attention to Cozart. At least not any more than all the rest of the RH hitters that aren’t doing much.

    • @al: This is a good point. What is all this attention going to do to Cozart’s psyche? Maybe, in time, he could develop into an average or slightly above average hitter. I get the feeling we’ll probably never see that because he’ll be too worried about trying to please the masses since he’s in an important spot in the lineup.

    • It is pretty sad that this is now a national story. Our manager is so illogical that it’s national sports news. It would be so awesome to have a rational manager. It would really make watching the Reds so much more fun.

      I feel for Cozart at this point. His manager has made him the focal point of the struggling offense, when guys like Phillips and Frazier are both having down years as well, not to mention the catchers. If Dusty took some pressure off of him and batted him 8th, no one would be paying attention to Cozart. At least not any more than all the rest of the RH hitters that aren’t doing much.

      This. I love Zack Cozart and I think he’s an excellent SS, but Dusty’s idiocy has almost made me dislike Cozart and it’s not his fault!!

    • If Dusty took some pressure off of him and batted him 8th, no one would be paying attention to Cozart. At least not any more than all the rest of the RH hitters that aren’t doing much.

      In fact, Cozart’s career stats make it clear that he can’t handle high pressure situations. His average with RISP is .178 and with RISP/2 outs it’s .160. And although I don’t have the stats to prove it, I’m willing to bet a significant fraction of those “high pressure” hits were in low-pressure situations (lopsided scores, meaningless games, etc.) How often have we seen a highlight of Cozart getting a key hit? Or a game winner? He absolutely wilts under pressure, so I’m sure all this attention isn’t helping matters at all.

    • @al: I agree with Dusty messing with Cozart batting him where he shouldn’t. He did a very similar thing with Stubbs too. He is trying to mold them into what he thinks they should be (slap hitting top of the order guys) instead of playing to their strengths and putting them in the best situation to succeed. As far as Cozart’s clutch stats, his high leverage career OPS is .578 for his career. But then again his career OPS is only .667. Cozart is a great defensive SS and it’s not fair to him to expect him to be something offensively that he’s not.

      • @Eric the Red: If high leverage OPS is .578 and career OPS is .667, then low-leverage career OPS is significantly higher than .667. Which makes my point: he’s a far worse hitter under pressure, so all this scrutiny certainly isn’t going to help matters.

        • @Baseclogger: It’s .699 in low leverage situations. My point was just that it’s not like he goes from Votto with no pressure to Taveras in tight situations

        • @Eric the Red: I understand he’s not a great hitter in any situation, but his batting average is about 100 points higher with nobody on base than with runners in scoring position. Do we really need more information than that? What would be a better indication of a guy unable to handle pressure? (Incidentally, if your figures are correct, it would mean a large majority of his ABs are “high leverage,” which, to me, makes the statistic almost meaningless.)

    • @al: Everyone seems to talk like Dusty hasn’t messed with other player’s career:

      Exhibit A: Mark Price
      Exhibit B: Kerry Wood

      Exhibit C(?)Johnny Cueto
      Exhibit D(?)Zach Cozart

      All these fans can’t be wrong – and why in the world does Dusty not even trying to protect his team or players (2 horrible calls going against the Reds the past few days (Robinson’s inside the park HR and the ‘ghost’ force out at 2nd tonite) and – NUTHIN’ from Dusty!).

      He has GOT TO GO!

  8. A young Pete Rose would also make an excellent #2 hitter, and he’s just about as likely to hit there.

  9. I don’t mind Bruce hitting 5th, because I believe there is some value in not exposing two lefties to a tough LH reliever in a crucial spot.

    I’d rather go with Phillips 2nd, and Heisey 4th. Heisey did have 18 homers 2 years ago in half about 270 ABs.

    • @Big Ed: Isn’t SLG what you want out of the 4th spot in the order?

      SLG vs. LH pitching

      Bruce: .521
      Phillips: .485
      Votto: .475
      Frazier: .467
      Heisey: .462

      If you are concerned about LH relievers coming in to face the heart of the order, Votto and Bruce are both very good. Phillips is the best RH hitter, with Frazier behind him.

  10. So, Frazier cannot hit a curveball. Is Frazier another Pedro Cirano?? Cirano finally figured it out after he took Corbin Bernsen’s golf club covers.
    Quick, somebody take some golf clubhead covers to Frazier and tell him, “Here, hats for your bats. Keep bats warm. Jaboo will like.”

  11. I’ve got it!!!

    #1 Not Cozart
    #2 Not Cozart
    #3 Not Cozart
    #4 Not Cozart
    #5 Not Cozart
    #6 Not Cozart
    #7 Not Cozart
    #8 Cozart (Except when Leake pitches)
    #9 Cozart (When Leake pitches)

  12. Anyone else but Cozart. God, I love the guy. And, when he first came up here, I could see him in the 4 hole he was hitting so well. But, then, after his injury, he came back “to his baseball card” which was “Paul Janish with a bit more power and speed”. And, the speed is useless in Bakerman’s world. As with Stubbs, Cozart shouldn’t see the light of day above the 7 hole right now.

    Anyone else but Cozart.

  13. “Batting order doesn’t make that big of a difference.”

    I would have to disagree with this. Most notably for us, we’ve seen what can happen to Arroyo when stacked against a lot of left handers. If batting order didn’t matter, then we could just have put Tavaras or Patterson in the cleanup hole and Votto 9th behind the pitcher 8th.

    Not to mention, as a couple have noted, a change in the batting order looks like it could be a difference of 4 more wins, and some pennant races are won just by a game or two, it seems like that small difference was an important difference.

    It might be more correct to say “preciseness” in placing each exact player in “thee” exact spot in the batting order doesn’t make that much of a difference. Like, does it really make a difference if Heisey or Frazier bats 6th or 7th? Or, if Cozart or Heisey bats 2nd or 7th? Probably not. But, would it make a difference if we bat the pitcher leadoff? Sure.

  14. Per the Reds FB page, tonight’s lineup: Choo 8, Robinson 7, Votto 3, Phillips 4, Bruce 9, Frazier 5, Cozart 6, Mesoraco 2, Arroyo RHP

    Are we being punk’d? Did the site get hacked?

    • @DatDudeMP: Nope, that’s the batting order:

      1. Shin-Soo Choo (L) CF
      2. Derrick Robinson (S) LF
      3. Joey Votto (L) 1B
      4. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
      5. Jay Bruce (L) RF
      6. Todd Frazier (R) 3B
      7. Zack Cozart (R) SS
      8. Devin Mesoraco (R) C
      9. Bronson Arroyo (R) P

      • @Steve Mancuso: Ignoring the battery didn’t we see this lineup a ways back.. I’m thinking in/around that Cards series that was on national TV. It was like that for one series, everyone was doing their best to finally give Baker some credit.. then relapse.

    • @DatDudeMP: RHP going for the Braves and Robinson is a switch hitter. Dusty is on record that Robinson plays LF when Arroyo pitches. Apparently Dusty not only believes in disgnated catchers for pitchers, but he also believes in designated LF for pitchers. Since Robinson is ultra fast, it’s OK for him to hit in the top of the order even though he doesn’t play SS. Never mind that Robinson’s split hitting LH against RHP (.217/.288/.283) simply sucks. Oh, he can bunt so that makes up for everything else.

      • @Shchi Cossack: Wow, Dusty is being exposed now more than ever. Is he becoming even more of a caricature of himself?

        Designated OF, Designated C, never batting L/L consecutively in the order, CF and SS batting at the top of the order, etc. These are all helpful indicators of typical baseball but making them hard and fast rules seems obviously harmful – doesn’t it?

    • Per the Reds FB page, tonight’s lineup: Choo 8, Robinson 7, Votto 3, Phillips 4, Bruce 9, Frazier 5, Cozart 6, Mesoraco 2, Arroyo RHP

      Are we being punk’d?Did the site get hacked?

      But…but…how will Cozart “learn to hit” if he’s not batting 2nd?

      And how will Chrissie Carpenter explain this to his son?

  15. I think the (current) LF’s should bat 2nd. (Especially Heisey – speed to avoid DP/hits fastballs.) Cozart should bat 7th when Hanigan catches, 8th when Mez catches. My .02

  16. One noted caveat was Cozart’s better numbers in the second spot as compared to his other appearances in the batting order.

    Rather than making that a check in Cozart’s column, I must ask – what is the improvement for the other hitters in the second spot (IE in front of Votto)? If there is a discernible ‘Votto bump’ then the issue is no longer insuring that Cozart bats second because he does better there – everyone does better there!

    If everyone is getting the ‘Votto bump’ benefit then imagine Todd Frazier’s impact if placed in front of Votto!

    • @rightsaidred: There might be some merit to the “Votto bump,” but more likely it is just the fact that Cozart hasn’t had a lot of at-bats anywhere else. He’ll be a .230 to .250 hitter his whole career regardless of where he hits, in my opinion.

  17. From poster “Ian R.” at FanGraphs on the comments section of the article listed by the OP. Dusty’s 1/2/8 hitters over the years.

    1993 Giants
    Leadoff: Darren Lewis (CF)
    Second: Robby Thompson (2B)
    Eighth: Kirt Manwaring (C)

    1994 Giants
    Leadoff: Lewis
    Second: John Patterson (2B), Thompson
    Eighth: Manwaring

    1995 Giants
    Leadoff: Lewis and Deion Sanders (CF)
    Second: Thompson and Patterson
    Eighth: Manwaring

    1996 Giants
    Leadoff: Marvin Benard and Stan Javier (CF)
    Second: Thompson and Bill Mueller (3B)
    Eighth: Manwaring and Rich Aurilia (SS)

    1997 Giants
    Leadoff: Darryl Hamilton (CF)
    Second: Jose Vizcaino (SS)
    Eighth: Brian Johnson, Damon Berryhil and Rick Wilkins (C)

    1998 Giants
    Leadoff: Hamilton (CF) and Marvin Benard (RF)
    Second: Mueller
    Eighth: Johnson, Rey Sanchez (SS) and Brent Mayne (C)

    1999 Giants
    Leadoff: Benard
    Second: Mueller
    Eighth: Mayne, Scott Servais (C) and Aurilia

    2000 Giants
    Leadoff: Benard and Calvin Murray (CF)
    Second: Mueller
    Eighth: Bobby Estalella and Doug Mirabelli (C)

    2001 Giants
    Leadoff: Benard and Calvin Murray (CF)
    Second: Aurilia
    Eighth: Ramon Martinez and Pedro Feliz (3B)

    2002 Giants
    Leadoff: David Bell (3B) and Kenny Lofton (CF)
    Second: Aurilia
    Eighth: Yorvit Torrealba (C), Tsuyoshi Shinjo (CF), Bell, Santiago and Feliz

    2003 Cubs
    Leadoff: Mark Grudzielanek (2B) and Lofton
    Second: Alex Gonzalez (SS) and Grudzielanek
    Eighth: Damian Miller and Paul Bako (C)

    2004 Cubs
    Leadoff: Todd Walker (2B) and Corey Patterson (CF)
    Second: Patterson and Derrek Lee (1B)
    Eighth: Michael Barrett (C), Martinez and Bako

    2005 Cubs
    Leadoff: Jerry Hairston (CF), Patterson and Neifi Perez (SS)
    Second: Perez
    Eigth: Barrett and Henry Blanco (C)

    2006 Cubs
    Leadoff: Juan Pierre
    Second: Walker, Ryan Theriot (2B), Ronny Cedeno (SS) and Perez
    Eighth: Cedeno and Blanco

    2008 Reds
    Leadoff: Hairston, Patterson, Chris Dickerson (CF), Jay Bruce (RF) and Ryan Freel (CF)
    Second: Jeff Keppinger (SS)
    Catcher: Bako, David Ross and Ryan Hanigan (C)

    2009 Reds
    Leadoff: Willy Taveras (CF), Drew Stubbs (CF) and Dickerson
    Second: Hairston and Paul Janish (SS)
    Eighth: Hanigan, Gonzalez, Janish, Craig Tatum (C) and Corky Miller (C)

    2010 Reds
    Leadoff: Brandon Philips (2B!), Orlando Cabrera (SS) and Stubbs
    Second: Cabrera and Phillips
    Eighth: Ramon Hernandez (C), Hanigan and Janish

    2011 Reds
    Leadoff: Stubbs and Phillips
    Second: Phillips and Edgar Renteria (SS)
    Eighth: Janish, Hanigan and Hernandez

    2012 Reds
    Leadoff: Zack Cozart (SS) and Phillips
    Second: Stubbs and Cozart
    Eighth: Hanigan and Devin Mesoraco (C)

    2013 Reds
    Leadoff: Shin-Soo Choo (CF)
    Second: Cozart (SS)
    Eighth: Hanigan and Mesoraco

    Baker really has been consistent about having his center fielder bat leadoff, albeit less so in the last couple years. He started the 2002, 2003 and 2004 seasons with a non-CF leading off, but in each year he had a center fielder in the spot by season’s end (Kenny Lofton in ’02 and ’03, Corey Patterson in ’04). 2012 was the first season in which he’s gone pretty much the whole year without using a center fielder as his leadoff hitter, and even then he snuck Drew Stubbs in there 17 times.

    He’s actually been a little more flexible in the #2 spot, although that’s chiefly because of the presence of Bill Mueller, an old-school two-hole hitter if there ever was one, on so many of his Giants teams. Since 2001 he’s been very consistent about putting a middle infielder in that spot.

    The 2001 Giants were the only Baker-managed team where the catcher, an aging Benito Santiago, didn’t bat eighth. Santiago was the worst-hitting everyday player on that team.

    Ramon Hernandez batted in the 8-hole for the 2010 Reds despite being one of the team’s best offensive players. His .364 OBP was second only to Votto (albeit in only 94 games).

  18. Actually, it’s not an aberration that Cozaert has more XBHs than Frazier, a high pct. of his hits have been doubles thru his brief major league career. Frazier of course hits more HRs.

    I’m on the fence about whether Cozart bats 7th or 8th. It doesn’t matter much. Batting 8th, he’ll see a lot of pitches out of the strike zone, and he would have to focus on not chasing those pitches. On the other hand, he might be told: “With the pitcher on deck, you’ll need to be more aggressive than ever.”

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