The Cincinnati Reds offense has been nothing short of spectacular this season. But it could be even better with one simple tweak.
The line-up has been excellent—first in the N.L. with 602 runs to be exact. It’s been a major factor in the Reds’ ’10 success.
Joey Votto, Scott Rolen, and Brandon Phillips have been the chief contributors. Ramon Hernandez, Miguel Cairo, Jay Bruce, Chris Heisey and recently Paul Janish have been solid if not extremely steady. Drew Stubbs as been up and down but he does have more RBI (57) than Derek Jeter, Jason Heyward, Ryan Ludwick, Lance Berkman, Chipper Jones, Jason Bay, and Jose Reyes.
But there is one part of the line-up that hasn’t been producing for quite a while now. LF Jonny Gomes started the year in a platoon situation with Laynce Nix. As both players split time throughout the first two months.
Gomes blasted out of the gate as fast as a jackrabbit. He separated himself by hitting .364 with 22 RBI in the month of May. Manager Dusty Baker decided that was enough production to hand the reigns to Gomes for virtually every start since.
Since then Gomes has fallen off in a big way. He hit a mere .244 in June, followed by a .288 OBP and a .240 clip the next month—while starting all but three games in July.
In his last 54 games he’s hitting a miserable .222 with four home runs and 19 RBI. Since the All-Star break (31 games) he has hit .218 with two homers and six RBI. He is one for his last 19.
Do these numbers look like starter material? I haven’t even mentioned his dreadful defense that is amongst the worst for outfielders.
Yet it’s not as if Gomes isn’t valuable to the team. He is a great presence in the clubhouse and keeps the team’s energy at a high level. But let’s face it: Gomes is a career .245 hitter and the back of his baseball card is starting to show.
Enter Nix.
He had a tortoise-like slow start to the season, but has been great in limited action of late.
Pinch-hitting is as tough as it gets for baseball players. Sit for eight innings while trying to stay mentally ready, grab a bat—while having sat for three hours—face the other teams top relievers and deliver in the clutch.
Nix has made it look easy. He’s 18 for his last 37 with seven starts over that period of time. He has raised his average 60 points since mid-July to .291.
His defense isn’t gold glove caliber, but it’s much better than Gomes. Nix has a cannon for an arm and has made his fair share of run saving catches.
So the question remains…why does Dusty keep neglecting post-May Nix? He deserves to be playing more—especially with Gomes struggling so much.
The Reds need to give Nix a shot at playing everyday again and see what happens. Imagine how much better the Reds offense would be with a guy NOT hitting .218 since the break? Imagine a stronger left field defensively?
If Gomes is the hare than Nix is the tortoise. We all know who wins the race in the end.

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