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:

163
143
136
113
96
93
81
70
51

Pay attention to those two bolded numbers and look at the list with me again:

wRC+
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.

14 Responses

  1. John

    This team just looks dead. Say what you will about the numbers, but there’s absolutely no apparent leadership on the roster or staff. I know we’re still in June, but last fan sitting in the rain with his scorecard, glove , and Joey Votto jersey…please turn out the lights when you’ve finally had enough.

  2. doctor

    Jason, the problem though Votto has been around for 40 games, so its not like he has been out all year in your “trade” up from Pena to Votto. To me its about the “veteran” hitters start hitting like back of thier baseball cards say they should. The young guys, Devin, Todd, to a lesser degree Billy when batting LH at least, have been hitting and seems like are carrying the team.

    So until Votto, Bruce, Phillips, Ludwick start to hit, this team is going to struggle, which goes back to your point that everyone is now supposedly healthy, and lets see if they can turn it around on offense. Phillips has been much better in May, so thats one guy maybe on the upswing.

    • Greg Dafler

      Last night was only the 30th game that Votto and Bruce have started together this season.

      • Vicferrari

        Have they not split those, they are only a little bit better than awful with the full team, Now I would think Votto and Bruce will be much better, but the suprises have started to even out, Mes hopefully will be in the .800 OPS range by season’s end but I would not be suprised to dip more to his career numbers, the starting pitching is getting worse, maybe Latos helps out, but how long can Simon sustain things. The bullpen is improving, but how long can we expect Lecure and Broxton to never blow leads- Chapman will be good for about 4 to 6 more before year’s end.
        I see this team as being mediocre at best and Price should get manager of the year if they somehow get the WC

  3. Michael J Hampton

    Great minds think alike. I was thinking the same thing this morning, with a healthy Joey, the new and improved Frazier, a healthy (although streaky Bruce), same old Phillips, an emerging Mesoroco, and a hopefully growing and improving Hamilton this team should be nowhere near as offensively challenged as it has proven to be the first 63 games. SS is still a black hole, but I think this team can live with one black hole, but it would really be nice to get some production out of LF. Maybe Ludwick has a little bit left in the tank.

    With the pitching this team has, the offense, that they can put on the field now, should be able to score enough runs to win some ball games. The question is, with 99 games left, can they win enough to secure a playoff berth? We will just have to see. I am an optimist (for now), and if Votto is truly healthy and the rest can stay healthy and the pitching holds up, I could see them winding up with 84-88 wins (55/44 – 59/40). The upper end of that record might get them a wild card spot. They would have to play close to .600 ball the rest of the way, but with 97 wins 3(?) years ago, they played right at .600 ball for a full season.

  4. doublenohitter

    Here’s the thing. The Reds are 4 under .500 WITH Votto. They were 1 under without him. I don’t think Votto is going to make that much of a difference as long as the rest of the team isn’t hitting.

    • charlottencredsfan

      Depends on what Votto you are talking about. The Votto with a .480 to .500 Slugging Percentage helps a great deal. The Votto that offers mainly singles and a respectable OBP, not so much.

      • lost11found

        The $64,000 dollar question is which one is he going forward. I love the fact he is a cerebral hitter, but I hope he doesn’t talk himself out of swinging for power.

      • pinson343

        Votto’s .491 Slugging Pct. last year was a career low, the first time under .500. How the expectations have diminished.

  5. WVRedlegs

    Breaking news! This just in.
    The Reds offense still sucks, even with Joey Votto in it.

    Will somebody nudge Walt Jocketty, just to see if he is still alive. Forget about him being asleep, does he even have a pulse??

  6. Grand Salami

    Those numbers indicate that the lineup needs shift up with BHam bumped down to 9th.

    Frazier
    Votto
    Mes
    Bruce
    Phillips
    LF
    Coz
    P
    Billy

    s’il vous plait

    • Vicferrari

      They need another lead-off hitter totally, but agree if Hamilton does not bat lead-off he needs to be 9th. I think it is a mistake to think Mes batting .500 in his first month of games to see him as a #3 hitter- seems to hit better lower in the line-up- but I just think every one on this team is a 6 hitter so I try not to get too caught up in placement. Considering Votto’s ability to get on base and Frazier potential for run production- it would make more sense to me if they were flipped

  7. pinson343

    I’m hopeful too but the black holes at LF and SS are hard to overcome. And BPDP should not be hitting in the middle of the team’s 4 best hitters. His GIDP last night spoiled a possible major rally.

  8. Steve Schoenbaechler

    First, we have lost 14 one-run games this season. If we just get half those back, we are one game behind the Brewers, and a lot of people are talking differently.

    Second, especially with how many injuries we’ve had since the beginning of the season, one of the league leaders with missed games because of players on DL, especially with us barely getting into the playoffs last season and then missing the offensive force of Choo, who was really thinking this was going to be a playoff team in the first place. Oh, I could have seen them winning the Central and still can, though very unlikely now. But, with the Cards as strong as ever, with how the Brewers have developed, and the Pirates handing it to us last season, I would have then and now put my money on one of those teams.

    The weaknesses of this team are obvious. We are ranked first in defense in the NL, in fielding percentage at least. Starting pitching has been a strength if anything, 6th in the NL in ERA anyhow. But, the pen has been another story, 13th in the NL. But, one has to consider that our 3 top relievers have spent most of this season, if not most of last season for 2 of them, on the DL. I still don’t think this will be the best pen in the league. But, having the top 3 relievers out sure didn’t help things.

    But, the offense, I’m not really surprised. 14th in the NL in runs. Just not much there. Let’s go through the positions.

    Obviously, Votto hasn’t lived up to even last season’s numbers, whether you liked last seasons numbers or not.

    Actually, many of BP’s numbers are up to last season’s numbers.

    Cozart’s numbers are down, but they weren’t even that high to begin with.

    Frazier is having a pretty decent year if you ask me.

    So, for the infield, we have 2 down, 1 up, 1 even.

    For the outfield, Ludwick’s numbers aren’t too far off his norm. Not that his norm is good to begin with; he’s doing what he pretty much does.

    Even though I like Hamilton, when comparing to Choo, a tremendous loss in offense. I don’t blame the FO for this, though. They tried to get some in; no one came. If not Hamilton, then who? No one else was better than Hamilton. So, why not get his playing time up here instead of at AAA?

    Bruce’s numbers, way down. But, he does seem to be K’ing about 13% less, considering PA/K.

    So, with the OF, we have 1 even, 2 down.

    At C, the offensive production is definitely up.

    In summary, 3 of the main offensive weapons we had last season just aren’t there: Bruce, Votto, and Choo/Hamilton. They are what’s been hurting this team. And, has the offensive production from the two improved bats this season, Frazier and Catcher, been enough to cover for these losses? Apparently not. And, again, we aren’t getting anything from our bench, again.

    The thing is, at least from what I was initially expecting from this team, with or without the injuries, based on results from last year and losing a key offensive weapon, I wasn’t expecting that much, anyhow, this season. I really wouldn’t have minded it, anyhow, provided the FO put more efforts into developing the minor league system, increasing the instruction and training, developing the players that are down there.

    From what I have seen on the field, since I wasn’t expecting much, I have actually been happy. I don’t think Price has been a problem, either. The players are much more aggressive on the basepaths; they just need to get on the basepaths. The manager will actually get off his duff and “discuss” things with the umps. I see some more emotion if not fire in this team. We aren’t hearing the proverbial “It’ll come, It’ll come” then never come. We aren’t hearing “We need to get him going” for some, for example, 3rd base journeyman who’s going to have nothing to do with this team after the season anyhow while there is a young stud on the bench who is suppose to be part of the future of this team and could really use the playing time to get use to the game at this level.

    In short, the pen and offense from CF/RF/1st base haven’t been performing well or “as expected” this season, even if our 3rd base/C have been performing better than expected. The thing is, I don’t expect much more from CF. But, I do expect more from RF and 1st base. If at least one of them don’t pick it up, what we have seen is how good this team is going to be.

    If anyone cares to consider, for this team right now, I still see this team one hitter from having any sort of halfway decent shot at making the playoffs. Bruce and Votto could still be one of them. But, if not, if we don’t get another hitter, this is how good this team is going to be.