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Baker Must Follow LaRussa's Lead when Votto Returns: A Fan Perspective

Yahoo Contributor Network

In spite of the return of Joey Votto from the disabled list, the Reds must have Todd Frazier in the lineup to win the World Series. He is to Cincinnati what Allen Craig was to St. Louis last season.

The comparisons are unmistakable, starting with the fact that each has had a sensational rookie season. Craig, at 27, was relatively old for a rookie in 2011, and Frazier is a 26 year old rookie now.

Craig filled in offensively for Albert Pujols when the Most Valuable Player went down with an injury, just the way Frazier has filled in for Votto. Both were productive enough during those absences to keep their teams in contention.

St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa, even after Pujols returned, still found a way to get Craig into the lineup. He ended up playing six different positions, while hitting five homers with a .327 batting average in September.

Reds manager Dusty Baker must do the same for Frazier, who has already played five positions this season. He is batting .295 with 18 home runs. His bat will be the key for Cincinnati's advancement in the post-season, just as Craig's was for the 2011 Cardinals.

After all, St. Louis' big sluggers, Pujols and Mat Holliday, had below average production in the World Series. Texas pitching held Pujols to a .240 batting average, and stifled Holliday at a miserable .158 clip.

Craig carried the offensive load for the Cardinals, hitting over .400 in the championship round and then three home runs in the World Series. Without his production, the Cardinals would not have overcome the Rangers.

Frazier is the best candidate to propel the Reds in the post-season. Votto is unlikely to get many pitches to hit, and veteran Scott Rolen has just a career .216 batting average in the post-season. In his most recent playoff experience in 2010, Rolen had just one hit in 11 at bats and struck out eight times against the Phillies.

As much as Dusty Baker likes playing his veterans, he must make sure that rookie Todd Frazier plays regularly in September to keep him sharp for October. The Reds are going to need a post-season hero, one who could help them achieve what the Cardinals did last year with Allen Craig.

Doug Poe once delivered newspapers to Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez, three customers who have made him a lifelong fan of the Reds.


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