Joey Votto will bat second for the Reds this afternoon

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Interesting lineup note for the Reds, as first baseman Joey Votto will bat second this afternoon against Alex Cobb and the Rays.

This will be the first time that Votto has batted second since August 8, 2008. For a team that used Zack Cozart out of the No. 2 spot for long stretches last year, it’s an experiment that is long overdue.

While conventional wisdom has said that your team’s best hitter should bat third, studies have shown that it’s actually more beneficial to have them bat second, as it assures them more plate appearances over the course of a season. Sounds pretty logical, right? It also increases the chance that your best hitter won’t be standing in the on-deck circle to end a ballgame.

Votto has led the National League in on-base percentage and walks for three straight years, so basically, the Reds should try to get him to the plate as often as possible. Moving up one spot in the order might not have a major impact, but the potential benefits are obvious enough to at least give it a try for a while. Kudos to Bryan Price for doing something that Dusty Baker wouldn’t.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.