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Chris Heisey is coming back. What now?

Chris Heisey has spent nearly two months on the shelf. What happens in LF now that he is ready to go?


If Ryan Ludwick were around, this wouldn't be an issue. The veracity of that statement startles me. I mean, I don't dislike Ducky or nothin', but coming into the season he was clearly the third-best outfielder on the roster. And the gulf between Choo/Bruce and Ludwick was not insignificant. Trouble is, the size of that gulf is roughly commensurate to the size of the gulf between Ludwick and Nos. 4-7 on the depth chart.

And so the Reds are stuck trying to staff LF with the skeleton crew. Chris Heisey came into the season as the clear No. 4 OF, and so he was given the largest share of ABs when Ludwick went down. Then, when Heisey got hurt, Xavier Paul, the No. 5 OF, got the bulk of the starts. No. 6 Derrick Robinson and No. 7 Donald Lutz pitched in at times, too.

It sucks when a team has to rely on their No. 5 and No. 6 OFs to hold down the fort. These guys are so low on the depth chart because they just aren't good -- Paul can't hit lefties and Robinson can't hit the ball passed the infield grass. But lo! They actually hit well when given the opportunity! In Heisey's absence, Paul has slashed .241/.344/.417 and Robinson has slashed .282/.370/.366. Those lines aren't otherworldly, but consider the league-average for LFs is .262/.328/.432. Paul and Robinson aren't providing much power, but they are avoiding outs at a well-above-average rate. In short, one cannot be anything but satisfied with the way this duo has performed the last two months.

So where does Heisey fit in? Well, as they say in the meat rendering facilities industry, "That's a sloppy wad of pig sinew." As you may recall, Heisey was dreadful -- dreadful like a wad of pig sinew -- as the starting LF in April. In 79 PAs, he slashed .173/.195/.293 with just five extra-base hits. Hell, he had just 13 total hits.

It makes me wonder why he was considered the No. 4 in the first place. He has been the No. 4 OF for the Reds since he came to the big leagues in 2010 and he has slashed .252/.306/.426 in almost 1000 career PAs. That's a large enough sample size to say with a goodly amount of confidence that this is exactly who he is. He's 28 now, and when he was given a full month to show what was what, he stunk. His career line says he's a perfectly cromulent No. 4 OF. But he's nothing more than that.

I'm going to guess though that he will be given most of the starts in LF for now, though. There's an old baseball adage about how players shouldn't lose starting jobs because of injury, so things will probably return to just as they were when he went down. This adage ignores the fact that Heisey hit like a pitcher, but there is really no getting around that. The adage is what it is. It's the June 24 entry on Dusty's "Baseball Adage of the Day" calendar. It's probably not the worst thing that could happen, but I think both Paul and Robinson have earned a bit more credit than that. That would probably mean some grotesque three-headed platoon which I cannot begin to attempt to decode. So I can't really fault Dusty for not wanting to try it.

So basically, there are no good answers to this question. That's what happens when you pay a guy $15 million and he gets hurt on Opening Day.