The projected batting lineup of the 2012 Reds, according to rotochamp.com, shows several holes. It does, however, compare favorably with that of the Reds' biggest rivals in the NL Central.
Brandon Phillips is the likely leadoff man for Cincinnati, providing speed and above average pop from the first hole. The biggest drawback for Phillips as a leadoff hitter is his projected .337 OBP, though it is on par with St. Louis leadoff man Rafael Furcal. Milwaukee's Nyger Morgan has the highest projected OBP, .348, but he lacks the power of the other two.
Shortstop Zach Cozart, who is projected to hit .283 with 11 homers, appears to be inferior to the other number two hitters. St. Louis' Carlos Beltran is projected at 19 home runs and a .286 BA, while Brewer Corey Hart's numbers are 26 homers and a .274 BA.
Joey Votto is the best hitter among the three teams (projected at 30 HR, 110 RBI,.313 BA), so he provides the Reds a definite advantage. Matt Holliday's numbers are respectable (23 HR,88 RBI,.296 BA), but Rickie Weeks' projected numbers are just 23 HR, 83 RBI, and .261 BA.
Cleanup hitter Jay Bruce's power should make up for his lagging batting average, making him the solid choice for the NL Central's best four-hole hitter. The Cardinals' Lance Berkman's numbers are nearly equal with those of new Brewer Aramis Ramirez, who is projected for 23 HR, 89 RBI, and a .289 BA.
The fifth spot is a question mark for Cincinnati, which is hoping for a healthy Scott Rolen (projected for 11 HR, 61 RBI, .250 BA). David Freese's power numbers are not much better, but his projected BA is nearly 40 points higher than Rolen's. Milwaukee's Matt Gamel promises a little more power than the other two, but his projected BA is just .244.
New Reds outfielder Ryan Ludwick is projected to be the weakest of the number six hitters, as his 12 HR, 50 RBI, and .243 BA would indicate. John Jay, who is also a candidate to lead off for St. Louis, projects for 11 HR, 71 RBI, and a .296 BA. Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy figures for 11 HRs, 52 RBI, and a .272 BA.
Drew Stubbs must improve upon his numbers from 2011 in order for the Reds to consider the seventh spot an advantage. His projected 18 HR, 73 RBI, and .247 BA are inferior to the consistency of Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. Stubbs does, however, have a slight edge over Brewer shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who projects for 15 HR, 64 RBI, and a .243 BA.
Ryan Hanigan should be the best eight hole hitter among the three teams. Hanigan is projected for just six homers, but an impressive .293 BA. St. Louis second baseman Daniel Descalso will provide no power but a .280 BA. Carlos Gomez, who will fill in until MVP Ryan Braun returns in May, projects at just seven homers and a poor .236 BA.
Based on the projected numbers, Cincinnati once again figures to have the best power numbers in the NL Central, especially with the departures of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. The only concern in the Reds lineup might be the batting averages, which rank among the lowest at many of the spots in the batting order.
Doug Poe once delivered newspapers to Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and Joe Morgan, three customers who have made him a lifelong Reds fan.