Or, “The Search For Frazier’s Playing Time”
Today marked the first day of Joey Votto’s return to the Reds lineup. It was like Christmas, Chanukkah, Festivus, and Ramadan all rolled into one. As expected, he was fantastic, though the outcome of the game was not so great. A lot of angst has been put into the the fate of Todd Frazier, with good reason. Since Votto’s injury, Frazier has slotted in most often at first base, while Rolen has gone back to manning third almost full time.
Both before and after the injury, Frazier has been excellent, which has been highlighted by the fact that his playing time nearly doubled after the Votto Injury Watershed. Here’s a look at the offense, before and after 7/15, which was the last game (before today) that Joey Votto appeared in.
|With Votto||4/5-7/15||Without Votto||7/16-9/4|
|% of team PA||OPS||% of team PA||OPS|
That really highlights how important Todd Frazier become to the Reds, as the player with the most plate appearances, after Joey went on the DL. Unfortunately, the numbers demonstrate how difficult it’s going to be to get Frazier on the lineup as much he deserves in the next month. Thought Frazier started in the Reds system as a shortstop, right now, it looks like he can essentially be trusted to play first, third, and maybe a little left field. However, we’ve got Mr. MVP back at first base now, and both Rolen(.894) and Ludwick (1.051) have hit very well with Joey out.
Obviously, I think that Frazier should take on more of the starts at third base. We won’t get much improvement over the last 30 games from that, as Rolen has hit so well in Joey’s absence – but it will probably be beneficial going forward, as Rolen may be wearing down at the end of the season. (Though I’m pretty confident that Dusty won’t sit Rolen as often as I would. Meh, c’est la vie.) Slotting Frazier in at first is probably also a good idea, as Joey certainly doesn’t need to be playing seven games a week, straight from coming off injury. It’s tempting to throw Frazier into left – but 1) Ludwick is hitting well, and 2) considering defense, Heisey is probably the better sub.
It’s frustrating that we can’t shift Frazier to take on some of the weaker spots in the lineup, but unless he’s learned to catch, or play center field, our options may be limited. It’s also a shame to think that the return of Votto is only going to provide marginal improvement to our offense. I mean, Joey is the god-king-emperor of all creation and all, but his return would be more dramatic if Votto was going to essentially replace 5 Miguel Cairo plate appearances every game.