Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
There’s hardly any doubt about the 2013 Cincinnati Reds' Opening Day lineup:
1. Shin-Soo Choo CF
2. Brandon Phillips 2B
3. Joey Votto 1B
4. Ryan Ludwick LF
5. Jay Bruce RF
6. Todd Frazier 3B
7. Zack Cozart SS
8. Ryan Hanigan C
9. Johnny Cueto SP
This is the first year Dusty Baker can relax a bit more on daily lineup questions. Last year, it was a battle between Phillips, Cozart, and Drew Stubbs for leadoff.
In the first half of the season, Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey were switching between the fourth and sixth spots depending on who started. There was no solidity.
Ludwick started 44 games batting fourth in the lineup, 37 batting sixth and 15 batting seventh. His best stat line obviously occurred when he batted fourth (.288/.384/.491). Keeping Ludwick in the fourth hole should only improve and sustain his stats.
The Reds ranked 17th in the majors with a .251 collective batting average. Placing Cozart in the seventh spot will relieve the pressure from leadoff and his power numbers should increase.
Votto had an abysmal number of opportunities to knock in runs in the first inning. With Choo and Phillips playing nearly every day, it will only bolster Votto’s RBI numbers. He’ll likely top 100 RBI like he did in 2010-2011.
Even though the Reds won 97 games, they still had significant problems.
The 2012 Reds scored 226 runs in innings four-six, 222 in innings seven-nine and only 211 in innings one-three. The club had yearlong trouble starting games off on the right foot.
The new additions and solidified lineup should prove to be one of the best in the NL. With continuous healthy pitching and a young squad, the Cincinnati Reds shouldn't be overlooked as serious World Series contenders.