Our weeks have seven days; rainbows seven colors. Seven continents and the Seven Seas span our planet. Ancient elders identified seven wonders of the world and seven liberal arts. Rome is known as the City of Seven Hills, as is Cincinnati.
Snow White had seven dwarfs. You can watch the Seven Samurai or the Magnificent Seven. Shakespeare wrote of the seven ages of man. There were seven books in the Harry Potter series. And, of course, Ian Fleming’s secret agent had code number 007.
According to Genesis, God rested on the seventh day. Christian tradition lists seven deadly sins. The Menorah has seven candles. There are seven levels of heaven in Islam. And Buddha walked seven steps at birth.
You can buy 7-UP while listening to Seven Nation Army at the 7-11 next to 7 Flags. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a seven-year itch and seven minutes in heaven. Before HBO, there were seven words you could never say on television. There are seven distinct notes on the musical scale. Seven isÃ‚Â neutral on theÃ‚Â pH scale, neither acidic or alkaline. Breaking a mirror is said to bring seven years of bad luck.
John Elway, Pete Maravich and Phil Espisito wore #7. Geoff Bodine won four times driving #7.
BaseballÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most famous #7 is Mickey Mantle. Ask George Costanza.
The World Series is decided on the best of seven. We stand up to stretch in the seventh inning. MLB plays seven months of games that count, if you include the postseason. Ernie Lombardi and Paul Janish wore #7. Walt Jocketty has been the Reds GM for seven years. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been seven seasons since Brandon Phillips went 30/30 (in 2007).
And the seventh spot in Bryan PriceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s batting order could prove to be interesting.
[This is when the selective lineup scolds say the lineup doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t matter much. That may be the case, but wouldn’t it be nice if the Reds squeezed out every last inch of competitiveness they can. The difference between batting second and seventh is about 90 plate appearances over the course of a season. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d prefer 90 good ones to 90 bad ones. I say selective because you can usually catch the scolds making points about the lineup at other times. It’s too hard to resist.]
Back to finding that inch or two.
Three spots in the batting order are pretty well set. It goes without saying that Billy Hamilton bats first. After all, he creates havoc. And because of the lackluster offseason, the club doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really have a credible alternative except, of course, the perfect one in Joey Votto. But this post — and who bats seventh for the Reds — is about Bryan Price.
Hamilton will lead off. Zack Cozart will bat eighth and the pitcher ninth.
If everyone stays healthy, that leaves six candidates to bat seventh: Jay Bruce, Marlon Byrd, Todd Frazier, Devin Mesoraco, Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto. This table shows three projections (Steamer, ZiPS, Baseball Headquarters) of the OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) for each of those players and the average. Billy Hamilton is included, too.
Yes, that’s just one stat. You wouldn’t make a decision based on it alone. Although as individual metrics go, OPS is decent, combining batting average, walks and power. The Reds have their own metrics and projections for their players. But it seems pretty clear that, according to people in the business of crunching the numbers, of the six nominees, Brandon Phillips is the weakest hitter of that bunch (aside from Hamilton, the guy who will lead off).
If Hamilton leads off, Phillips should bat seventh. Case closed.
Bryan Price was asked about the batting order yesterday, particularly who would bat seventh (John Fay). Price began to lay the groundwork for his impending decision:
“We should have a dynamic offensive player hitting seventh,” Price said. “At this point in time if we have concerns over who’s hitting seventh or if they’re going to be having some hurt feelings, then we really don’t have the pieces here that we want. We need guys to accept their roles and buy into it to give us the best chance to win.”
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s right about that.
“Great teams are able to create runs in that bottom third of the order. We can’t have throwaway innings because we’re sitting seven, eight, nine.Ã¢â‚¬Â
More solid ground.
Then Price started down the rabbit hole, drawing awkward attention to his decision. He said he has an idea what he wants to do with the #7 spot already. But then cautioned that spring training lineups can be quirky for various reasons. On and on about how spring training lineups are made. Splitting up the players for home and road games. Price said fans will see guys hitting in different spots in the order, especially early. He’s waiting to make sure the team is healthy before he talks about the regular season lineup (translation: maybe I wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to make this decision).
While there’s no reason for Price to make out his Opening Day lineup card today, the longer he avoids this particular conflict and puts off making his decision known, the more he treats the issue like a hot potato, the more controversy heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll draw to it. And bring greater attention to the player who ultimately receives the demotion.
Bryan Price should quit prevaricating and get out in front of the issue. Otherwise, it becomes non-stop Topic A.