The Houston Astros introduced their newly signed outfielder, Josh Reddick, the other day. There is a perception in some corners of the industry that Reddick can be effective only as a platoon player. Because of all of the right-handed hitters in the lineup in front of Reddick, a left-handed hitter, his at-bats after the fourth inning will often result in a pitching change; opposing managers will summon a left-hander. Last year, Reddick had 104 plate appearances against lefties and had no extra-base hits, with a .155 average.
Reddick’s splits versus right-handed and left-handed pitchers over the past five years, in OPS:
Last year, the Astros settled on a top four in their lineup that stacked right-handed hitters: George Springer leading off, followed by Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. Because of Reddick’s splits, it might behoove Astros manager A.J. Hinch to tuck Reddick into the group of right-handed hitters, to at least force opposing managers to pay a right-handed price for calling on a lefty against Reddick. If Hinch bats Reddick fifth and catcher Brian McCann seventh, it would be a much easier call for managers to call on a lefty to face a string of hitters in the 5-6-7 holes.
Springer hammers lefties, posting a .385 OBP and a .560 slugging percentage last season, and it might make some sense to hit Reddick in the leadoff spot, with Springer behind him, to extract a toll on any lefty. But Springer was very comfortable in the No. 1 spot last year, and the Astros might want to leave him there.
Altuve, Correa and Bregman are right-handed hitters who each had better numbers against right-handed pitchers last season, which is not unusual for young players, who have grown up seeing mostly right-handed pitchers. Bregman shook off some early struggles after Hinch moved him into the No. 2 spot, between Springer and Altuve.
So what way should Hinch go? At the outset of the season, I’d lean toward hitting Reddick in the No. 2 spot, between Springer and Altuve, to create more distance between Reddick and McCann in the batting order. Correa and Bregman would hit fourth and fifth, followed by McCann.
Whatever way Hinch goes, he’s got great options.
The Dodgers are working under a mandate from Major League Baseball to cut their debt, writes Bill Shaikin.