Bryan Price’s lineup today (Mark Sheldon) features the starting eight players for the first time this spring. It contains a few big surprises [see update below]:

  1. Phillips 2B (.261/.306/.385)
  2. Frazier 3B
  3. Votto 1B
  4. Mesoraco C
  5. Byrd LF
  6. Bruce RF
  7. Hamilton CF (.253/.304/.356)
  8. Cozart SS
  9. DeSclafani P

There’s not as much difference in the 2015 projections (shown above) for Phillips and Hamilton as you might think. But Price has been watching Hamilton struggle this spring (.179/.233/.282) up close. The move down in the lineup is justified based on the numbers. Plus this lineup could take pressure off Hamilton at the start of the season. The numbers also say that base-running speed plays better in front of singles hitters than it does extra-base hitters.

If we’re loosening the assumption that Billy Hamilton has to bat first (hooray), I’d consider moving Brandon Phillips down to #6 and sliding up the rest of the lineup. Todd Frazier (.253/.320/.443) isn’t an ideal lead-off hitter, but promoting the #2-#6 hitters would increase plate appearances for the best hitters.

This lineup, while a step in the right direction, lays bare the weakness in the Reds offseason in not acquiring a LF or backup CF who could be a plausible candidate to lead off.

Update: Turns out Devin Mesoraco is sitting out today (hamstring little sore, John Fay). So new lineup. Brayan Peña takes over at catcher batting sixth, Jay Bruce slides up to fifth. The rest remains the same. Interesting glimpse into Price’s thinking (at least today).