Ever since I can remember, I have been a die hard Cincinnati Reds supporter. It is all part of being born in Cincinnati.
Right now, the Reds batting order is something like Cozart/Stubbs/Votto/Phillips/Bruce/Rolen/Ludwick/Catcher/Pitcher. That is a large part of why this current 2012 team frustrates the hell out of me. It should
be so much better than it is, and it is only a few tweaks away from being vastly improved, in my humble opinion.
Joey Votto is one of the best hitters in baseball. He is always dangerous when at the plate, and can hit for average, extra bases, and for power. Jay Bruce is a similar hitter, but has more consistent power, and doesn't quite hit as well for average. Dusty Baker just will not put them next to each other in the lineup because they are both lefties, and he doesn't want a manager to be able to bring in a lefty specialist late in games to pitch to both Votto & Bruce. Fair enough, but the Reds problem right now isn't Votto & Bruce getting gunned down late in games by a lefty reliever. The Reds problem is putting runs on the board.
While Brandon Phillips isn't a guy that will complain, he is not a prototypical clean-up batter. He struggles when in the four-spot because he puts to much effort into blasting the ball, which is not his forte. Phillips is a guy that makes good contact and gets on base - which is what you want from a leadoff hitter. The Reds seem married to the idea of the speed of Stubbs and Cozart at the top. Stubbs is continuously proving to not be a consistent hitter, but the next coming of Adam Dunn when it comes to strikeouts.
My suggestion is putting Phillips back in leadoff, and letting him get on base. He is not a speed demon on the base path, but it isn't like he is slow... or that the Reds are very aggressive runners. I have no issues with batting Cozart second, as he is showing himself to be a solid contact hitter, and he has good speed too. Phillips-Cozart is a difficult double play for a defense.
If Votto is going the be hitting third, then Bruce has to follow him. Votto isn't in the "Barry Bonds Zone" of being an automatic walk, but almost every situation where he comes to the plate he isn't getting anything good to hit because they would much rather take their chance on the cleanup hitter. Bruce solves that problem, because he forces the pitcher to deal with Votto.
At that point, you could think about Stubbs hitting fifth, and then following him with Rolen and Ludwick. Dusty seems married to the idea of the catcher batting eighth, but I would seriously think about moving either Hannigan or Mesoroco to the sixth spot. Over the last couple years you could argue that Hannigan/Hernandez could have hit fourth in the lineup if you insist on having a righty between Votto and Bruce. Mesoroco is faster and more spry than Hernandez, and looks like he is only going to get better at the plate. Why not move them to the sixth spot to add some protection behind Stubbs? Then put in Ludwick and Rolen, two crafty veterans, at the end of the order to make it two really hard outs before the pitcher.
I should probably go look up some stats to back up this argument...
And it isn't like things might not improve overall just by doing simple things like not swinging at the first pitch every time, but that is a different column.