Hal McCoy: Reds should play Winker every day, kill four-man outfield rotation

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. Tap into that knowledge by sending an email to halmccoy1@hotmail.com.

Q: With so many teams already eliminated from the playoffs, can you recall MLB ever lacking parity the way it does today? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: No team is as yet mathematically eliminated, although the Reds are close. Everybody is still in the hunt. However, if Vegas would permit it, I’d bet two bundles that Cincinnati, Kansas City, Baltimore, the Chicago White Sox and San Diego will have a lot of free time the day the regular season ends. There will never be true parity in baseball until a salary cap is implemented and the uber-strong Baseball Players Association, a union stronger than the Teamsters ever was, won’t let that happen.

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Q: Will the Reds start playing Jesse Winker every day and if they do which outfielder will be on the outside looking in?

A: Jesse Winker should be playing every day. Period. Paragraph. End of story. He is the best hitter on the team right now and owns the best on-base percentage. There are two candidates to take seats in the dugout. Adam Duvall and Billy Hamilton are both below the Mendoza Line (under .200) and both are strikeouts waiting to happen when they walk to the plate. Unfortunately, the front office wants the four-man rotation of Winker, Hamilton, Duvall and Schebler. Makes no sense. You play the best and bench the rest.

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Q: Doesn’t attributing a home run to a pitcher’s mistake rob credit from good hitters? — JEFF, Springboro.

A: I’ve heard it both ways. I’ve heard pitchers say the batter hit a mistake and I’ve heard the same pitcher say another batter hit a good pitch. And I’ve heard hitters say they hit a mistake pitch and I’ve heard them say they hit a good pitch. Of course, some mistake pitches are not hit for home runs. And a lot of great pitches are not hit for home runs. For the most part, ballplayers give credit where credit is due, depending upon the situation. Good pitch, bad pitch. What does it matter? A home run is a home run is a home run.

Q: Will Scooter Gennett be the odd man out when Nick Senzel gets called up from the minors? — TOM, Miamisburg.

A: I don’t think Scooter considers himself odd, although some of his teammates might disagree. And we’re rushing ourselves when talking about Senzel’s promotion. Let’s not have a five-man infield rotation like the four-man outfield rotation. When/if Senzel comes up, he needs to play every day. That’s probably why he is still in Louisville. Eugenio Suarez, Jose Peraza and Scooter Gennett are all hitting. Yes, Gennett is the logical candidate to lose his job, but I don’t think the Reds are ready to do that. Yet.

Q: Does it shock you that nearly 23 percent of all major league plate appearances in April resulted in a strikeout? — JOHN, Dayton.

A: Not at all. In fact, for the first time in major league history, there were more strikeouts than hits in April. More strikeouts than hits in any month had never happened. Hitters swing from the heels, even with two strikes. One home run in a game is worth four strikeouts the rest of the game. Every pitcher seems to throw 95 and then late in the game teams bring in relief pitchers throwing 98 to 100. Do the hitters choke up on the bat and make contact? No. Except for Joey Votto, who always chokes up, batters still grasp the bat on the knob with two strikes and go down flailing. There is no stigma or embarrassment to striking out 200 times a year.

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Q: Maybe the Reds can trade Billy Hamilton to Tampa Bay for Kevin Kiermaier, a two-time Gold Glove winner who has offensive statistics equally as awful at Hamilton’s — KEITH, Brookville.

A: As much as you want to see Hamilton exported and deported, why would the Reds trade him for a guy with worse statistics than the miserable ones next to Hamilton’s name. Kiermaier is hitting .163 with a .250 on-base average to Hamilton’s .187 and .288. In addition, Kiermaier has played only 12 games due to hamstring issues. Yeah, I know. The Reds have made worse trades.

Q: Why don’t the Reds use Billy Hamilton as a bunter so he can get on base and steal bases so he can be a game-changer and jump start the offense? — JAY, Cincinnati.

A: Have you seen him try to bunt? It’s like your Uncle Phil trying to stab peas with a fork. He squares to bunt all the time, but usually pulls back his bat and takes the pitch. Making it more difficult is that the third baseman usually plays in so close that he can shake hands with Hamilton. The Reds would love to use Billy The Bunter, but there is no Billy The Bunter. He is Billy The Hunter, always hunting ways to get on base. And usually he is unsuccessful.

Q: It seems to me that most people who complain about the length of games aren’t really baseball fans and if they really want to shorten games why not cut back to seven innings instead of silly rules changes? — PAT, Middletown.

A: Agree and disagree. If you love baseball why does it matter how long a game lasts unless you have a free dinner waiting at Ruth’s Chris steakhouse down the street from Great American Ball Park. As for seven inning games — no, no, no. This isn’t softball. Seven innings would change the game entirely, especially bullpens. Of course, you might actually get a few complete games pitched over seven innings.The game was designed for nine innings and cutting off two innings would be the most dastardly and disturbing change of rules ever.


Q: Does it seem to you that the Reds are not playing with enthusiasm after only 30 games into the season? — TIM, Xenia.

A: Actually, since Jim Riggleman took over they are showing more aggressiveness, more hustle and a fight-to-the-last-out mentality. When you lose 23 of your first 30 games it is difficult exude enthusiasm. Yes, there is head-hanging and clubhouse silence after losses, but that happens when first place teams lose. They just don’t do it as often.

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