There are plenty of culprits for the pathetic performance of the Reds offense thus far in 2008, no question about it. There can be no doubt, however, that Corey Patterson is one of the biggest problems (if not the biggest).

Ladies and Gentlemen, take a look at your everyday leadoff hitter: a .205 batting average and a .268 on-base percentage. .268!!!

That’s right, Dusty Baker’s buddy Corey Patterson is absolutely killing the Reds because Dusty insists on letting him lead off. A .268 on-base percentage is not just unacceptable out of a leadoff hitter, it’s indefensible. There can be absolutely no justification for hitting him first in the lineup.

Because he can’t get on base, he’s rarely on base for the Reds best hitters to drive in. As I said, there are plenty of reasons for the team’s poor hitting (it’s not all Patterson’s fault), but it’s hard for the best hitters to drive in runs when a certified out machine is “hitting” in the leadoff spot.

Dusty, if you have to play him, bat Patterson 8th where he can do less damage. He’s been generally okay on defense (other than last night’s Little League-esque dropped fly ball), and he has hit with a little pop when he actually hits the ball…but Patterson has no business leading off.

Here at Redleg Nation, we have tried to have an open mind about Dusty, and we’ve defended him on several occasions. He’s done a better job than his critics would have imagined, in several areas. Baker appears to be a good/excellent motivator of his troops, for example. But this absurd Patterson situation is one area where he is completely wrong, and he needs to reverse course immediately. (If anyone can defend Dusty on this one point, I’d like to hear it.)

Then again, at least Patterson isn’t clogging up the bases.