Cincinnati Reds‘ manager Bryan Price might as well have drawn the name of Jay Bruce out of a hat when it came to who he should hit second in the Reds’ feeble batting order.
With the slugging history of Bruce at a 162-game average of 31 homers, 93 RBIs and a .799 OPS, Bruce is hardly an ideal choice to hit second. But since the 2014 version of Bruce is nothing at all like the Bruce from 2008 to 2013, batting Bruce in the middle of the order makes little sense.
Bruce entered Saturday with a .216 batting average and just 10 homers and 42 RBIs in 359 plate appearances. Bruce may be better suited batting sixth or seventh even in a weak-hitting lineup, but given the lack of options for a two-hole hitter, batting Bruce second probably is no less desperate than batting any of the other poor-hitting available Reds in the spot.
Billy Hamilton is the Reds’ leadoff hitter, and Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco should be the everyday third and fourth hitters while Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto remain on the sidelines injured. Without a better option than Bruce hitting second, Price might as well bat him there so that he can see more fastballs when Hamilton is on base.
If it weren’t Bruce hitting second, Price would be back to a rotation of struggling hitters in the spot — Zack Cozart (.221), Skip Schumaker (.231), Ramon Santiago (.243), Chris Hesiey (.224) or a slow-footed Bryan Pena.
As none of them are currently offering any more than a stone cold Bruce, Price might as well bat Bruce second, especially because he can’t bat the whole lot of them eighth.