By In Baseball

Cincy’s Splendid Splinter


Joey Votto always hits when I’m in the ballpark. I know that’s a little bit silly in that Joey Votto hits an awful lot when I’m not in the ballpark. But it seems that if I’m there for whatever reason, he crushes the ball. There have been people like this. Jim Thome always hit when I was in the ballpark. I don’t think I ever saw Kevin McHale miss a free throw. Etc.

Anyway … a couple of months ago, I was in Washington to do something, and the Nationals were playing the Reds. I casually looked and saw that Votto was having a bland year. He was hitting .276, he wasn’t hitting with too much power, he was walking some.

“Man,” I thought, “is Joey Votto beginning to decline?”

Watched him that night. He went three-for-five with a double and a homer. And I thought, “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

Well, he hasn’t stopped hitting since then. He has an absurd .577 on-base percentage since the All-Star Break. Crazy stuff.

I wrote a little bit about it here on SportsWorld.

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18 Responses to Cincy’s Splendid Splinter

  1. Trent Phloog says:

    Okay, typo alert: Votto’s OBP is actually “only” .456. Did you mean since a certain date or something? I knew I would have heard about it if he was flirting with .600… Still, I had no idea how good of a season he’s been having.

  2. bob magee says:

    Not sure why scoring runs – Votto amongst league leaders – is so devalued. Plus he generally hits 3rd, so he becomes somebody else’s RBI opportunity. It takes a team effort to win.

    • Doug says:

      Scoring runs is devalued because it is (comparatively) not a very good measurement of a player’s performance. It takes a team effort to win, but what we’re trying to do is understand what each player contributed to that effort. And runs scored is just not as effective at capturing that as other stats are, because the task of scoring runs is something that is accomplished by the team and not the player.

  3. Dark Side of the Mood says:

    Obviously you didn’t see him play last year, when he was my first pick in my first fantasy draft ever. He finished the season as something like the 901st rated player in MLB. Coulda used a couple of trips to Ohio out of you then, Joe.

    • Bpdelia says:

      He only played 62 games because of injury. Every single full season of his career Votto has been somewhere between merely great and absurdly awesome. Any writer questioning Vottos offensive value quote clearly does not understand the game of baseball period end of sentence.

      • Dark Side of the Mood says:

        Really? My comment dealt w/last year specifically, when he was terrible. What’s a player’s greatest ability? His availability, and last year Votto was unavailable. So his production sucked. Next time I’ll use smaller words so you won’t misunderstand.

  4. Billy White says:

    Joe, great article on Votto. I’m the hitting coach who made the “Ted Williams is dead” comments in 2003. Needless to say I was wrong. However, I always loved Joey Votto and still do. I may be the only guy in America that knows what it was like to be Mozart’s first piano teacher! I was with Joey for the better part of three years and realize now I learned more about hitting from him than he ever learned from me. If you are a fan of Joey Votto you are pulling for the right guy. He had his own ideas about hitting and never strayed from his vision. In my 17-years in the minor leagues he was one of the only hitters who had the courage to risk failure in games in order to work on something he was attempting to master. Hitters like him appear very rarely. I know that now and enjoy watching him hit his way towards Cooperstown!

  5. stmiller02 says:

    I love my Reds, having grown up in Hamilton, OH, but I would love to see Votto play where he would could see him showcased more and where a full team around him was strong enough to maximize the potential he offers. As someone said above it takes a team effort to really see the potential he brings to a lineup.

    Also, I would love to see a round table discussion or read a dual interview with Votto and Ichiro together fielding (pun!) questions about their approach to hitting.

    • I’ll never understand why Marty Brennaman has such a hard-on for Votto. It’s rare for a play by play guy to be critical of a player, much less the team’s franchise player. And for what? He Walks too much? Marty Brennaman is either just a crusty old get off my lawn guy, or he’s a complete idiot. I can’t decide which.

  6. Regis says:

    The only joy I’ve had this summer with the Reds is checking the box each night to see how Votto has continued his incredible run. Marty hasn’t been hard on him either. There’s too much bad stuff going on elsewhere.

  7. Sid Mickle says:

    HI Joe, Great writing as usual in this article on Votto. However, as I read it I just was left with the fact that it is for nothing, no pressure, not high drama, no payout! His stats are as dead as another Red’s season. I am a huge fan but I do not mind calling my favorite team, players and all involved out at all. The Red’s manager, GM, scouts and ownership are just awful! I am sick of the never ending “fire sales” in order to rebuild!

    I know this not Votto’s fault and I do think his run is fantastic. However, it is meaningless to the club and the fan’s. If he was driving this team to the playoffs, I would champion his feat as “incredible”! Under these circumstances, seems like no pressure, nothing at stake really loosens him up!!

    • If you think Votto’s run is “fantastic” (and you should, because it is), then it’s obviously not meaningless to the fans. Winning games and championships is wonderful, but watching someone truly great do something so well, there’s value in that, too, and it shouldn’t be discounted.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      I disagree. There is more than just winning championships. Fans pay money to see the games even if the team is not going to be in the playoffs. They (or at least this is the case with me) want to see the team win as many games as possible even if it doesn’t result in a championship. To my mind, if a player’s performance means a team wins 85 games rather than 75, that’s significant. Yes, he might be “looser” in that there is less pressure, but I cannot agree that his performance (or anyone’s in a similar situation) is “meaningless.” By that standard, lots of great feats in baseball were meaningless: Ted Williams’ .406; McGuire’s 70 home runs (putting aside the steroid issue for the moment); Lou Gehrig’s triple crown in 1934, etc.

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