Reds Ride Without Votto Comes Full Circle
Reds Near End of Amazing Run Without Votto
by Robb Hoff
August 26, 2012
Now that Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto is set for a two-game, minor league rehab stint before returning to the team this upcoming weekend, the amazing run the Reds had without Votto looks like it's coming full circle.
Votto last played right after the All-Star break when the Reds swept the St. Louis Cardinals in a three-game home series. The series after that one was against the Arizona Diamondbacks and that was the first series the Reds had to fend for themselves without the familiar and clutch-hitting Votto in the lineup.
Now, the Reds will face the Diamondbacks again and this time will hopefully mark the last series that the Reds will be without Votto.
In Votto's absence, the Reds have went on a tear that catapulted the team 25 games above the .500 mark and atop the N.L. Central Division with a six-game lead. But the run for the Reds without Votto didn't start easy.
The Reds faced losing that first series against the Diamondbacks three games to one after falling behind by a score of 6-0 in the series finale. Fortunately, the Reds mounted their comeback behind five RBI from All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips and a game-winning, two-out single from N.L. Rookie-of-the-Year frontrunner Todd Frazier.
The 7-6 comeback win marked the beginning of a 10-game win streak and set the stage for the 27-14 run without Votto.
As good as it's been for the Reds without their best hitter, they still face a September grind for the division title in a a race that is now made more interesting by a hard-hitting Cardinals team and possibly also a Pittsburgh Pirates team that is trying hard not to collapse and fade from contention.
Nothing would be better for the Reds or more fitting than to finish what they started without Votto by winning another series on the road and continue their march toward a season of destiny and the return of one of the best hitters in the game in Votto.
Hopefully, the time without Votto has made it a little clearer just exactly what the best lineup is for this team:
1. Brandon Phillips 2B
2. Zack Cozart SS
3. Joey Votto 1B
4. Ryan Ludwick LF
5. Jay Bruce RF
6. Todd Frazier/Scott Rolen 3B
7. Drew Stubbs CF
8. Ryan Hanigan/Devin Mesoraco C
Cozart is not an ideal option batting second but has shown he can do it with some success this year. He batted second for the first five games that the Reds were without Votto and batted .294 in 17 at-bats. Cozart also started the season as the team's number-two hitter and batted at a clip of .350 in 10 games with 40 at-bats.
The emergence of Ludwick has been as big a surprise as the emergence of rookie Frazier. Ludwick's 25 home run ranks him 6th in the N.L. and his RBI spree (71 in 103 games) makes him a more-than-worthy clean-up hitter and veritable Ludwick Von RBIthoven for the RBI spree he's sustained this year.
That lineup and the the health of the starting rotation and back-end of the bullpen should be more than enough to propel the Reds to their second division title in three years.
That is....provided Votto doesn't have another setback.