2014 Reds

Another new lineup

Brayan Peña moves up to hit second and Joey Votto moves down to fourth. You have to give Bryan Price credit for trying new things. I think it’s safe to say this isn’t a lineup that Dusty Baker would have ever tried. A catcher batting second?

Here’s the batting order for your Cincinnati Reds tonight.

1. Skip Schumaker (L) CF
2. Brayan Pena (S) C
3. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
4. Joey Votto (L) 1B
5. Todd Frazier (R) 3B
6. Ryan Ludwick (R) RF LF
7. Chris Heisey (R) LF RF
8. Zack Cozart (R) SS
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P

53 thoughts on “Another new lineup

  1. I’m actually a little shocked Frazier is staying down in the 5th spot, I thought he’d be a logical choice to move up considering his performance so far.

  2. I like it. Baker would have never tried anything like this. Votto is really slumping more than he ever has, probably the most since minor leagues.

    • I’m reasonably certain the typo occured at the printers since Steve doesn’t make mistakes…

      • Yeah, this was a copy-and-paste job from Baseball Press and they had it backwards. Official Reds source is Ludwick LF and Heisey RF. But Peña batting second was no mistake. :-)

  3. This lineup is why I’m still optimistic on Price. Sure, he’s made a few questionable calls so far (what manager hasn’t?) but I like the message it sends that he is keeping his mind open to trying new approaches.

  4. According to the rules, TECHNICALLY you can bat the catcher second, because he’s part of the “up the middle defense”. It’s similar to TECHNICALLY the pitcher can hit in DH rules, he just doesn’t.

    I have a super large man crush on Pena, and I am really, really hoping what we are seeing is more trend than mirage. If it is not, hitting him at the top of the lineup will be disasterous. It’s also not the fastest lineup I have ever seen. It may indeed be the absolute slowest. Better hit ‘em in the gaps, I don’t see too many infield singles early.

    • I love what Pena has done so far this season, but I can’t believe it’s going to last. 32 year old catchers don’t suddenly tack on 50 points of OPS+ just because they put on a new uniform. He’s going to come back to earth hard. Hopefully Mes is ready after this series.

  5. Oh, I do give Price mad props for trying this. Guaranteed you won’t see me throw any jabs about lineup construction tonight.

  6. And I’d like to add, that Votto should never bat second. Did you ever see the movie “Little Big League”? The kid is asked about a certain situation by one of the coaches, about what he would do. Ultimately, the coach is told by the kid about how “you have just taken the bat out of the hands of your best hitter”. If Votto bats behind Hamilton (when healthy) and Hamilton reaches base, you want him to steal second…correct? Now the other team will ALWAYS pitch to Votto delicately, an unintentional walk. Again, you have just taken the bat out of your best hitters hands.
    Even when it’s not Hamilton leading off, your best hitter should ALWAYS bat third.

    • Are you seriously citing Little Big League as the reason to ignore mountains of statistical evidence? Your best hitters should bat 2nd and 4th. We’ve already seen that when Hamilton gets on base ahead of Votto it only makes pitchers throw more fastballs. That is a GOOD thing.

      • You’re saying there are going to throw him strikes, when Hamilton is standing on second or third, after stealing….really.

        • Pitchers are going to throw Joey stuff off the plate whenever 1st base is open. That’s not breaking news. I don’t see what Hamilton has to do with that. He’ll be nothing but good for Joey’s OBP…Unless you’re one of those that seem to hate walks.

        • I would take a walk 100% of the time over the chance someone else might get on base 30% of the time.

  7. I saw it was mentioned in the Twitter feed but a really interesting read on Votto since this discussion has seeped into yet another thread:

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/with-runners-on-base-joey-votto-lets-too-many-good-chances-go-by/

    Basically, Votto has been plenty aggressive with RISP over his career, though not to the level of a guy like Cabrera who swings at EVERYTHING and is just so good that he makes it work. But for whatever reason so far this season (in a very very small sample size) he seems to have been dramatically more passive in those AB’s. That’s probably the #1 reason his numbers are down currently, and why the Bills from West Chester are so fired up on the radio. But batting 2nd, and especially behind the infinitely OBP-challenged Hamilton most of the time, he hasn’t had many chances with RISP so the sample size is really even smaller than you’d think it would be in mid May. So it’s really smart of Price to try something like this – putting him in an entirely new spot, one that really lends itself to aggressive hitting, with a couple of guys ahead of him in the order who can get on base. I don’t expect it to be a long term move, but it could be just the thing to get him out of his funk.

    • That data is interesting to see, but the headline vastly over claims what it shows. The fastball data shows that Votto swung at the same number of pitches in the strike zone with RISP in 2010, 2011 and 2013. If you throw out the injury year of 2012, that is a steady “aggressiveness” indication for JV. That same data also shows that Votto swings at a higher percentage of those pitches than league average. And of the five hitters Keri looked at (Cabrera, Trout, Braun, Batista and Votto), JV is right in the middle in terms of swing rates.

      Now, 2014 is a different thing. So far, Votto’s swing rate on those pitches is down considerably. But “considerably” in this case is swinging at 50% instead of 70%. But the sample size is 36 (!) pitches, which means at 70% swing rate, Votto would swing at 25 of them and at 50% he would swing at 18 of them. That’s a difference of seven pitches.

      Can’t believe 538 published an article like that with such a strong headline, but based on such pre-mature and trivial data.

      • Yeah it’s funny because the last paragraph of the article basically says “It’s not a big deal, he’ll be fine” and they acknowledge throughout that the sample size for 2014 is so small it doesn’t mean anything yet. But it’s the internet and headlines get clicks. I guess “A Thorough Statistical Analysis of Joey Votto’s Batting Approach with Runners in Scoring Position” would be a little dry.

        • I not only left a comment there, but also got into a twitter exchange with Jonah Keri (whose work I respect, generally). He basically agreed that the conclusion about Votto’s long-term decline in aggressiveness is only with respect to all pitches. For fastballs, which is a better indication of aggressiveness, there has been no change from 2010-12013.

          I guess that means that Votto has swung at fewer breaking balls/off-speed pitches in the strike zone, but still swings at fastballs. That seems like a positive development, not one to write a “Joey Votto is letting good pitches go by” article about. Keri couldn’t really defend the broader conclusion stated in his article

        • Well there’s a decent chance the headline was written by his editors. The article itself seems pretty balanced.

          It is interesting to note the difference between fastballs and breaking balls in the zone. Votto specifically said before the season started that one of his goals this year was to swing at fewer bad pitches in the zone and it looks like that’s happening. It’ll be interesting to see what that approach does to his numbers long term.

      • No kidding!

        Not that it was common, but maybe Pena’s stint at #2 won’t be common either.

        Either way, “never” and “head explode” seem like unnecessary hyperbole to me.

    • But is he ready, anybody got words of encouragement, maybe he can pitch the same days that Marshall does

  8. And Fay says Mesoraco probably comes of DL Sunday when he is eligible. The calvary is trickling in.

    • Mes is probably rushing back now that he is allowed to higher than 7th. Seriously, good news though!

      • Those are my thoughts. My guess is that Pena will still see the bulk of playing time while he’s on this hot streak and Mes will be pinch hitting and maybe late double switching. While I certainly miss Mes, it’s not like our catching position is in dire need of upgrading. I really don’t want them to rush Mes. We need him for the long haul. Big time.

  9. Will be in section 414 with my daughter for tonight’s titanic struggle. I hope the rain stays away and that we can cheer on a Reds win. I don’t say much about lineups in general but I like this one. Pretty clear that Hamilton is still hurting though.

  10. With how Pena is playing I would be extra cautious with Mes, when it comes to hamstrings, it is something that if not allowed to fully heal correctly can reoccur over and over again. I would hope it would mean Reds might give it another week to make sure. Plus I am a huge Tucker Fan…

    • There’s a chance it was never that serious to begin with and the 15 day DL was them being extra cautious.

  11. When you round thrid like he did and grab the back of your leg like he did and stumble home like he did and then the team DL’s you that night that tells me it was serious. If it was that “serious” they would have rested him a few days and then seen how it was, like they have done in the past with other Reds. I would play it extra safe and even maybe send him for a couple games of rehab in the minors as a PH to see how it is.

  12. Redsgoggles with the early post of the day: Pena batting 2nd must mean he’s playing SS. Good one!

    At least Price tries something different. Glaciers make faster moves than Dusty did.

  13. Tucker Barnhart needs to be here even after Mesoraco gets back. It would be great to have Schumacher and Pena available off the bench when Slidin’ Billy and Mes are back

    • If you’re really a Tucker Barnhart fan this is the LAST thing you want. You want him playing every day in Louisville. Right now he has a 27 OPS+ in big league ball. He’s not ready to be here. He’s good behind the plate, but he is still very much a developing prospect. Being the third catcher on the big league bench where he might get 2 or 3 PH shots a week (that he would undoubtedly be overmatched in) would be terrible for him.

      • Agreed, but at least a few weeks more until Mesoraco is truly healthy to catch 3 of 4 days

      • Yeah, I love Tucker Barnhart. I mean I’m a BIG fan. He needs to be in L’ville playing every day though.

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