Reddick got what he asked for to bat third, but will it continue for the Astros?
It’s not often that a player has an influence on a batting order in the major leagues. The batting order is typically set by the manager and/or the general manager. In today’s analytical world, lineups are set by the best matchups versus the opposing pitcher. When you have the record like the Astros, typically the lineup is pretty unison.
That’s not how manager A.J. Hinch rolls. In 2015, there was a running joke about how many different lineups can one team have in a season. The Astros made it to the playoffs with players shifting up and down the lineup with 151 different lineups. One thing stayed constant that season, Jose Altuve or George Springer led off most of the season.
The king of mixing things up.
This year, Hinch has calmed down a little with different lineups. In 89 games, Hinch has used 75 different lineups. Springer has led off 82 times with Josh Reddick doing it the other seven times. Altuve has not led off all year until the All-Star game. The Astros players were hitless. It was more of the pitching they were facing in the All-Star game.
Reddick has hit everywhere except fourth and fifth in the lineup. He hadn’t hit third either this season until game 84 versus the Braves. That was July 4th, and Reddick was batting third versus a left-handed pitcher. What was Hinch doing? This was apparently after Reddick has been giving Hinch the hints to bat him third. Hinch finally caved in and given what Reddick wanted.
Small sample size.
In the next six games leading up to the All-Star break, Reddick batted third half of the time. The Astros lost two of those games, both of them with Reddick not hitting third. A new trend developed with that move, hitting Springer and Altuve first and second. This led to some runs scoring with back to back hits on a regular basis. Altuve hit second anyway when Reddick would sit versus a lefty.
The Astros were 3-0 when Reddick hit third, scoring an average of about 12.6 runs per game. Yes, that is a small sample size. Magic happens when Altuve follows Springer. Reddick has been a third hitter for most of his career. In those 14 at-bats hitting third, Reddick has a slash line of .429/ .500/ .786/ 1.286 with a homer and eight RBI.
Top target this offseason.
Reddick is showing why Jeff Luhnow and company made him a top target this offseason. He struggled when he was with the Dodgers, but Luhnow saw enough in him to offer him a five-year deal. While the slugging percentage is down versus left-handed pitching, the batting average and on-base percentage are back up.
Maybe Luhnow didn’t even think that Reddick would have a slash line of .313/ .365/ .515/ .880 with nine homers and 41 RBI. Not that Colby Rasmus and Reddick are similar, but it seems like Reddick has taken on that role. He is a country guy who likes to have fun. Reddick gives his all while playing baseball. He has also changed Houston into ‘Wooston’ with his passion for wrestling. Don’t forget the Stros wrestling belt he created for the player of the game.
Will the Astros always score ten-plus runs when Reddick bats third? Probably not, but having a left-handed hitter hitting third may not be bad breaking up the righties. Just like Springer many not seem like the best leadoff hitter, Reddick could surprise as well hitting third. Keep wooing Astros fans.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***