The Cincinnati Reds are chilling at 6-7, good enough only for fifth place in a surprisingly competitive National League Central. (Did you know the six NL Central division teams are 23-16 against the other two NL divisions? No?) After a somewhat hot start in the first ten games, the Reds are coming off a road sweep in Pittsburgh. The Pirates had two lefty pitchers start in the series, Paul Maholm on Friday and Tom Gorzelanny on Sunday, so our lefty-hitting friend Corey Patterson only made pinch hit appearances in those games. How'd he do the rest of the week?
Game 8: Led off, 2-for-5 with a HR, 2 RBI and 1 run.
Game 9: Led off, 3-for-5 with a HR, 2 doubles, 2 RBI, 2 runs and a walk.
Game 10: Led off, 0-for-5.
Game 11: Didn't start versus lefty Paul Maholm, flied out in the ninth, 0-for-1.
Game 12: Led off, 1-for-4 with a double, walk, RBI, run, and a stolen base.
Game 13: Didn't start versus lefty Tom Gorzelanny, grounded out in the seventh, 0-for-1.
That's a pretty good week! Looks like our friend Dusty Baker is determined to platoon Corey Patterson and play him exclusively against right-handed pitchers. That part of the strategy is working; Patterson is slugging .667 on the season with four home runs and five doubles.
The part of the strategy that is not working is that Baker is penciling Patterson into the lead-off spot in every game he starts. Corey's on-base percentage is a mere .304, easily the worst on his team among qualified batters. Sure, he's hitting a ton of taters but there are seven guys on the Reds with more walks than Patterson.
Maybe Dusty isn't maximizing those home runs anyway; all but one of those ding-dongs have been solo jobs. Perhaps if some of the good OBP guys were ahead of Patterson in the lineup, he'd have more a chance to drive in some RBIs. Yes, he wouldn't have as many stolen base opportunities with Ken Griffey and Adam Dunn "clogging the bases", but he already doesn't have many stolen base attempts anyway: Corey has but two singles and three walks on the season.
I've definitely turned a corner on Corey Patterson. I'm rooting for him to be successful now, but I'm mostly interested in seeing Baker move him down the lineup, hopefully to the five hole.