Thank heavens for Nick Punto.
Back in the go-go season that was 2009, when the Cincinnati Reds were on the cusp of flirting with the idea of becoming relevant again, it was Nick Punto who played spoiler atop the leaderboard for one member of that Reds squad.
Punto, then with the Minnesota Twins, led all of baseball (min. 400 PA) with a .284 slugging percentage. Rather, he led the backside of that leaderboard, winning the coveted title of most punchless big-leaguer on the planet for that year. In the process, he kept one Willy Taveras - who slugged a mighty .285 in comparison - from taking home that crown.
There’s a special place in Red Reporter history for the Taveras Era in Cincinnati, as his two-year tenure of doing absolutely nothing atop the order became the first evidence that Joey Votto was going to have a career of hitting with almost nobody on-base in front of him. His .285 OBP in that 2009 season, though, provided exactly 437 PA of ineptitude at the plate that stuck particularly in my craw, however.
It became relevant again this morning when Codify sent out this particular tweet about the relative ineptitude of the entirety of the Cincinnati lineup so far in 2022:
The Reds with 591 plate appearances are slugging .285.— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) April 27, 2022
No individual player with 500+ plate appearances in any of the last 11 seasons has had a slugging percentage that low.
The entire Reds team is swinging a Willy Taveras bat this year.
The Reds are Willy Taveras.
For the record, Shogo Akiyama slugged .274 in his Cincinnati career before being released. If Mackenzie Gore and the Padres shut down the Reds tonight, well, there’s a chance they could slide into Shogo-wide territory.
Where ya gonna go?