Something magical just happened. Joey Votto just came back into our lives. Everything changes now.
This isn’t a column about where Joey Votto should hit or about whether his power is or isn’t there. In fact, I’m not going to mention batting order at all because I don’t really care about batting order. For now, I want you to look at a list of numbers:
Pay attention to those two bolded numbers and look at the list with me again:
163 Devin Mesoraco
143 Joey Votto
136 Todd Frazier
113 Jay Bruce (career)
96 Ryan Ludwick
93 Brandon Phillips
81 Brayan Pena
70 Billy Hamilton
51 Zack Cozart
This is a column about offense. So, in this column, I am not really concerned about the overall value a player provides, only his offense. For the last few weeks, the best the Reds were getting from Votto’s spot was the 81 wRC+ that Pena provides. That is fine for a backup catcher, but well below average.
Mesoraco has been over his head. Jay Bruce will be better. Let’s say they’re equivalent hitters right now. It doesn’t really matter. The point is, the Reds can now field a daily lineup that consists of 4 hitters who are well above average (Votto and maybe Frazier make average look a lot like Zack Cozart), two hitters who are right around average (though I’m still scared of both Phillips and Ludwick) and two guys who aren’t such good hitters.
And that’s fine. It’s fine because the Reds have just made an offensive upgrade akin to, well, trading Brayan Pena for Joey Votto. Three quarters of the lineup has to be taken seriously, and you can maybe add Hamilton to that because he’s so scary once he gets on.
The bench is still a mess and will continue to be a mess. This is not a great offensive team, but the addition of Joey Votto makes it a good one. We have known all along that this was a team that could not play well with lots of injuries. The worst has happened and they haven’t played well. But now they have all everyone who matters and we maybe have a chance to see what they can do.