COMMENTARY | One of the biggest questions in Reds Country right now surrounds Johnny Cueto's return from the disabled list. While Tony Cingrani has arguably earned a spot over Mike Leake, he's younger and could use some more time in the minors.
A less-discussed topic is what will happen when Chris Heisey returns from the DL. I like Heisey, but he's had his shot. He had his shot against Ryan Ludwick last season and he had his shot to prove himself as an adequate replacement this year. When Heisey returns, he should not be the everyday left fielder.
In 23 games before getting injured, Heisey hit .173/.195/.293. Derrick Robinson and Donald Lutz, two rookies, have been better. Xavier Paul, who's been around the league since 2009, has been better.
Robinson, a small, speedy switch hitter, came up when Ludwick went on the DL and is hitting .304/.448/.304. In his four games (of 21 total) as a starter, Robinson is hitting .400/.538/.400.
Lutz, MLBs first German-developed player, is much bigger than Robinson and had a good spring training. In his appearances since being called up, Lutz is hitting .316/.316/.474. As a pinch hitter, Lutz is hitting .400.
Paul has been with the club all season and is hitting .276/.391/.431. Though his numbers are slightly higher as a substitute, Paul has shown that he can hit as a starter too. Notably, Paul has appeared in four games (two starts) hitting second in the lineup with a ridiculous .545/.545/.909 slash line.
Obviously, statistics from 38 games is a small sample size. I won't make the claim that Heisey's MLB career should end, nor that Robinson is the next big thing, Lutz can only pinch hit, or Paul is the answer for the two-spot.
I think a Paul-Robinson platoon is the best option. Paul has hit right handed pitching fairly well over his career (.274/.329/.392) and Robinson is an x-factor. I'm not taking anything away from Lutz, I think he's a good hitter, but I'd rather have a guy with speed like Robinson. Frankly, Heisey is pretty average: He can't hit all that well, he's not lightning-fast, and he's not a black hole on defense.
The interesting part about Dusty Baker's Robinson-Lutz decision is that he can't pick a veteran, as he's known to do. What Baker can do is play his veteran (Heisey) as much as he wants. Dusty should play Paul and Robinson. Or play Lutz and Heisey. Or Paul, Robinson, and Heisey.
Heisey has had his shot; it's time for the new guys to get theirs.
Andrew J. Roth studied journalism at Lehigh University and received his Master's from the University of Illinois. He has been following the Reds and Major League Baseball since he met Barry Larkin in 1993. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewJohnRoth.