Cincinnati Reds: Donald Lutz and the Left Field Revolving Door

Illya HarrellAnalyst IIMay 13, 2013

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 12: Donald Lutz #23 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a three-run homer in the second inning against the Milwaukee Brewers during the game at Great American Ball Park on May 12, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Dusty Baker, through no fault of his own, has penciled his lineup with 27 different left fielders in his five-plus years as Cincinnati Reds skipper.

The past scorecards were mostly filled with duds, ranging from Wladimir Balentien to Jolbert Cabrera.

Others who littered left include a couple of overpaid American Leaguers who spend games on the bench waiting to stroll to the dish as designated hitters—Adam Dunn and Jonny Gomes—both of whom are batting below .200 this season.

The only non-disable-listed guys worth more than a Buffalo nickel are still on the team—everyday right fielder Jay Bruce and current third baseman Todd Frazier.

Cincinnati seemed to have finally found a solution to its left field woes last season in free-agent basher Ryan Ludwick, who hit .275, smacked 26 homers, and drove in 80 all in 422 at-bats. Unfortunately his shoulder was wrecked in the first game this season. Ludwick is likely out until late summer.

Reds fans remained encouraged. Ludwick's injury meant they would finally get a chance to see Chris Heisey on an everyday basis. He is now on the DL.

Heisey played 23 games before straining a hammy. A slash line of .173/.195/.293 left fans clamoring for the days of Balentien and Cabrera. Combined with his 2012 lack of production, the left field situation is plainly up for grabs again.

Enter: Donald Lutz, the newest flavor of the week. The guy has an interesting story.

According to's Jon Paul Morosi:

Lutz was born in Watertown, N.Y., to an African-American father and German mother. His parents met in Germany, where his father, Donald Lutz II, served in the U.S. Army. They divorced when Donald was eight months old, at which point his mother, Marlen, moved back to Germany with her three children.

"From then on, I lived like a regular German," says Lutz, who has dual citizenship. "We didn’t speak any English at home. I was just a regular German with an American passport."

Lutz had a wicked spring training (.277/.327/.532) and finished second only to Joey Votto with 12 RBI.

He has hit safely in his last six games—only two of which he started. Take away an 0-for-6 start, and he's 6-for-13 with five RBI including a missile Mother's Day home run high off the right field foul pole.

The Reds' other left field options, switch-hitting Derrick Robinson and lefty Xavier Paul have been adequate replacements. However, Paul is the team's best pinch hitter.

It makes a good bit of sense to play Lutz against righties and Robinson versus lefties, with Paul on the bench as a late-inning replacement.

At the least, ride Lutz as long as he's on fire. When Heisey heals, if the big German is still producing, platoon them in left.

Who knows, maybe 27 is a lucky number in Germany.