Baker sees Stubbs' potential as leading man

Baker sees Stubbs' potential as leading man

HOUSTON -- Despite Drew Stubbs' struggles at the plate in 2012, Reds manager Dusty Baker still considers the center fielder a potential leadoff man if he can cut down on his strikeouts and continue to hit balls hard.

"He's still learning, more than anything, about how to be consistent," Baker said of Stubbs, who hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the ninth inning of Tuesday night's 4-2 win over the Astros. "His upside is still great."

Stubbs has batted first 14 times and batted second 52 times this season. In the leadoff spot, Stubbs is batting .158/.226/.175 in 57 at-bats. In the two-hole, Stubbs is batting .250/.322/.447 in 208 at-bats.

During this series against the Astros, Baker decided to bat Stubbs second in the order behind shortstop Zack Cozart in all three games. Baker said that combination isn't the optimal order, but with Joey Votto out of the lineup, Stubbs' running ability can be an asset in the two-spot.

Baker worries that sending Stubbs from first base with Votto at the plate will allow pitchers to pitch around the first baseman. The manager considers Stubbs, who had 19 stolen bases heading into Wednesday, a top-five baserunner in the league.

"That's why it'd be better if Stubby could bat leadoff," Baker said.

The Reds have been more aggressive on the basepaths since Votto left the lineup. In 88 games with Votto, the Reds stole 43 bases and were caught stealing 14 times. In nine games without him, they've stolen nine bases and been caught stealing three times.

Entering Wednesday, the Reds had stolen at least one base in four consecutive games, accumulating seven steals over that stretch. Until Tuesday, the Reds hadn't stolen at least one base in four consecutive games this season.