2014 Reds

I’m Sorry, What?

Yesterday, as I was basking in the glow of a solid managerial hire, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when I saw this quote from Walt Jocketty:

He (Joey Votto) has to fit better into the role we see for him, or he might have to hit in a different spot in the order….. that’s something Bryan will certainly approach Joey with, and something we will discuss. There are certain things he has to do.

This is ridiculous. If you are sabermetrically-inclined, as I am, you realize the RBIs are highly overrated as an individual statistic and that Joey Votto had an excellent season (though perhaps not one that was up to his recent standard).

If you are old school, you should be able to realize that lots of other old school managers saw BP batting behind Votto and thought, yeah, let’s just not give him anything to hit. When he did get something to hit, he often responded by moving a runner into scoring position for Phillips to drive in with a base hit (or a sac fly or a groundout). If Bruce hits 4th and someone who can hit at all bats 2nd, JV is living in a different world.

If you’ve heard Votto talk about hitting, you know that he knows what he’s doing. If you’ve heard him talk about his injury, then you know his knee wasn’t right until very near the end of the season.

If you have any sense at all, you know that you don’t publicly call out your best player, the one you’re tied to for 10 more years, after he just had a very good season wherein he dealt with an injury.

I don’t get this at all. The only ironic thing about it is that if Votto does shift in the order, it would probably to be second, and there’s a very good sabermetric argument that this is where your best hitter should hit (there or 4th).

244 thoughts on “I’m Sorry, What?

  1. Hopefully Price has the wherewithal to ignore this nonesense from Jocketty.

    Although, taken the other way, as you suggest, if this gets Joey to hit 2nd I wouldn’t mind the “talk.”

  2. I think the “role” they see for him is much as I see: the traditional slugger who drives in runs.

    Votto bats 3rd. Your third hitter should be driving in runs. And don’t give me the tired excuse that the 2 hitter was a black hole, Votto was hitting behing SHIN SOO CHOO. He had plenty of chances to drive in runs, but instead he would regularly pass on borderline pitches and let the inferior hitters behind him shoulder the responsibility.

    A hitter of Votto’s caliber should NEVER be passing the buck if he can help it. It’s not so much that he wasn’t getting anything to hit, it was more that he was being hyper selective and choosing to walk when he could have been hitting doubles or even HRs.

    Sorry to say, but I agree with Jocketty here. If Votto is going to continue his “walk first” mentality, he has no business hitting 3rd.

    • @CI3J: Choosing to walk when he could have hit doubles or even HRs? I think that’s where the misunderstanding is. He (Votto) does not think he can turn those pitcher’s pitches on the edge of the strike zone into productive hits. The choice is not walk or a double. The choice is a walk (or possibly a strike out if the umpire disagrees and it’s a 3-2 count) or maybe a single/double/triple/home run/out. The big part there is the maybe, where you now have Votto swinging at a pitch that is harder for him to handle than something in the zone would be and are now subject to all the whims of a ball put into play even if he does make contact. This tips the scales much more into the favor of “out” or a weakly hit ball instead of the productive double or whatever that you want.

    • @CI3J:

      I think the “role” they see for him is much as I see: the traditional slugger who drives in runs.

      Votto bats 3rd. Your third hitter should be driving in runs. And don’t give me the tired excuse that the 2 hitter was a black hole, Votto was hitting behing SHIN SOO CHOO. He had plenty of chances to drive in runs, but instead he would regularly pass on borderline pitches and let the inferior hitters behind him shoulder the responsibility.

      A hitter of Votto’s caliber should NEVER be passing the buck if he can help it. It’s not so much that he wasn’t getting anything to hit, it was more that he was being hyper selective and choosing to walk when he could have been hitting doubles or even HRs.

      Sorry to say, but I agree with Jocketty here. If Votto is going to continue his “walk first” mentality, he has no business hitting 3rd.

      Your theory falls on its face once you recognize that the two players who batted after him most of the year in the 4th and 5th spots both had over 100 RBI. Votto was an outstanding team player in the 3rd spot and enabled his teammates to accumulate the team stat – RBIs at a very high clip. They did this even though Votto clearly outhit both of them.

      Votto is fine exactly where he was and his performance led the league in runs created.

    • @CI3J: In 2004, Barry Bonds drove in 101 runs in 617 plate appearances. Marquis Grissom drove in 90 in 606 plate appearances. Now, was Bonds only 11% better than Grissom?

  3. Count me among those who was surprised when I heard Jocketty say this. A little bit of it might have been pandering to the interviewer, who clearly had that slant in mind with the way he asked the question. But Jocketty should have added the context that he thought Votto had another great season, which he did, even if not as great as 2010. I wouldn’t mind them moving Votto to #2, especially if they acquire a big RH bat somehow. I also wouldn’t mind Votto batting second and Jay Bruce batting third.

    Jocketty has always had the old-school “RBI guy” weak spot. “We’ve got to go out and find an RBI guy.” If translated, that means a guy with a good OPS, I’m fine with his shorthand. If it means we have to go out and find a guy who has driven in a lot of runs without regard to his slash line (like BP this year) then it’s off the mark.

    I don’t want to suggest anything too strong here, but Jocketty’s comment, in combination with not having seen a Votto reaction about the Price hire, has me scratching my head a little bit.

    • @Steve Mancuso: I think the comments were in direct response to Votto admitting that he doesn’t have any situation hitting approach. They are going to tell him that he needs to, as well they should. That’s the accountability everyone’s talking about.

      • @al: What if Votto’s consistent approach is always the best way to increase the odds that the team wins? I haven’t run the numbers, but I’d guess that, with very few exceptions, it is.

        If that’s so, why should he care about situational hitting?

        Also worth noting that very few players have situational hitting stats that are vary much from their career stats over the course of a career. (League tends to be about 5% better with RISP, so an OPS+ of 105 is average in those situations.)

        • @Jason Linden: It’s a good question, about situational hitting. I’d have to dig into it more to be able to answer. I think there is a ‘bird in the hand’ issue though with runs. Because most PA result in outs, if there is a chance to score, I think you have to jump on it. It’s the same idea of sending a guy home with two outs where you would hold him with one out. You don’t want to leave him at third because odds are the next guy is going to get out, so you risk sending him.

          I also think that since this was Votto’s worst clutch season by far, it’s not a good time for him to be going to the media talking about his situational hitting.

    • @Steve Mancuso: Doesn’t appear to only be backing away from this….

      I asked Walt Jocketty if Price is up to the task of disabusing Joey of the notion that a base on balls is as beneficial as a run scoring sacrifice fly.

      Walt gave me an emphatic “Yes,” but added, “that is something many more of us in the organization will also try to convey.”

      Other thing I’ve found interesting that Jansen mentions is no quotes from Votto on either the hiring of Price or the firing of Baker. Don’t know if this means anything or not…but do find it interesting.

  4. I’m a little disappointed in watching JV all year. He did seem to take a borderline pitch that the last couple years would have been a double or opposite field long shot. I think you’ll see a much different hitter next season. I would like to think that all our guys will have more attitude in the box. I understand WJ, but don’t really like seeing it in print.

  5. Who was more important to the 76 Reds, Joe Morgan or Lee May?

    George Foster had 121 RBIs and 89 strike outs. Maybe we need RBI guys who know the zone

    Joe Morgan had 114 walks and 41 strike outs and hit 27 HRs. He hit #3 in the order. Are we saying that Morgan should have walked less?

    I say teach all the guys the strike zone and don’t mess with Joey. Let Joey be Joey.

    Adam Dunn had a great idea of the strike zone until everyone was not happy with his 100 runs and 100 RBIs, thinking he should have more. now he hits in the 230s

    • @reaganspad: I love this comment. One thing that does get me is people talking about strikeouts in different eras as though they are equivalent. They aren’t, necessarily. This is a high-K era, and until they do something like lower the mound, it’s going to keep being a high-K era. Too many hard-throwers.

      But, generally, yes. Don’t worry about Votto at the plate. That is not your problem.

    • @reaganspad: I think you mean Tony Perez or someone else as Lee May was playing in Houston I think. I agree with you that Votto should hit third as that is the place you put your best hitter. The place for Phillips, if he is still here is #2. If you want Bruce to bat 4 that is fine or if you want him 5 that is good if you have a good rbi guy for 4. We do not know what effect the injury to Votto had, but he says he did not feel right until near the end of the season. Will Ludwick be able to return to 2012? Maybe not. I would think that Frazier will not hit quite the slump he had last year. Is Heisey a trade chip? Maybe a different manager puts him in LF and lets him play for an extended period. If so then he is a classic 6 hitter.
      I think a lot of people forget there is a catcher with big time power that might benefit from playing most of the games. Does that make Hanigan available?

  6. I’m actually not surprised at all, because Joey Votto brought this on himself with his late season interviews. I was much more surprised at what Votto had to say then, than at what Jocketty is saying now.

    When asked about walks and RBI, what I expected Votto to say is that he’s being pitched around, and he’s not going to get himself out more because of being frustrated. Period. That’s it.

    What he did say was:

    “I’m not willing to hit the ball on the ground to shortstop or pop the ball to center field to just score that run, like a lot of people want.”

    “I take an approach that very rarely concerns itself with the current situation.”

    “If I wanted to drive in 100 runs, I promise you I could do that. If I wanted to, I could tack on another 10 homers.”

    Each of those is a stupid thing to say, and a stupid thing to say to a reporter. He’s admitting that he has no situation hitting ability? He’s admitting that he could hit for more power and drive in more runs, and chooses not to?

    I never thought I’d say this, but Votto is pushing me further towards the the Brennamen with stuff like this.

    • @al: The context of what he’s saying is different though. The question is, at what cost could he do those things? You don’t want him turning into Joe Carter.

      So you get 10 more homers. How many more outs? 10? 30? 50? What’s worth the trade? Outs are very valuable. People are too willing to make that trade. Votto is aware of this.

      • @Jason Linden: He said he very rarely concerns himself with the current situation. That’s bad baseball.

        And you seem to be undervaluing power. It really isn’t all about OBP. 10 more HRs from Votto would be very valuable. Even if it was 50 more outs, that would give him a .925 OPS compared to his .928 of this year. If it was any less, his OPS would go up. OPS is far from perfect, but it is more highly correlated with runs than OBP.

        • @al: Actually, if you work the numbers, OBP is more important to scoring than SLG. I did a basic illustration of this a while ago.

          2 scenarios
          1. Every batter walks every time. OPS = 1.000. Runs scored = infinite.
          2. Every 4th batter hits a homer. All other PAs are outs. OPS = 1.250. Runs scored = 9 per game.

          Thus, the portion of OPS that is derived from OBP is actually more important than the portion derived from slugging.

        • @Jason Linden: You don’t need to condescend about the math, I can do the numbers just fine. My point is that increasing slugging is a good thing. OPS is still a better offensive measure than OBP, while flawed (which I mentioned).

          If Votto had just said, I’m not getting good pitches to hit, that would have been the end of it. But he went out and said that he could hit 10 more HRs if he wanted to. I want him to do that, unless it would totally destroy his offensive game, and he gave no notion that it would have.

          In the article, he seemed to think it would drop his batting average about 20 points. You want to do that math for me too?

        • @Jason Linden: Also, that’s not actually why OBP is more significant in OPS than SLG. No actual statistician is basing their weighting off of some hypothetical No outs scenario.

          The reason that OBP should be weighted more heavily in OPS is that the numerators are different. The max for OBP is 1.000, and the max for SLG is 4.000. That means that a point of OBP is more valuable than a point of SLG. That’s the actual reason.

        • @al: Yeah, I get that. Of course, OBP isn’t 4 times more valuable than SLG, either.

          Obviously, if he can hit 10 more homers and drop his average 20 points, he should do that. Of course, the other question is how much does his OBP decline through lost walks.

          The thing that gets me about the Votto hitting criticism is just that it’s so silly. Criticize his fielding and baserunning, sure. He has issues there, but by every measure except RBI he is one of the very best hitters in the league.

          Depending on what you think of Bruce, there were 5-6 guys in the lineup every day this year who could stand to work on their approach. Joey Votto wasn’t one of them.

          Does he have things he needs to improve on? Yes. Is one of them hitting? No.

        • @Jason Linden: I disagree, based on what Votto said. I think that situational hitting is important because some situations are higher leverage than others.

          No one is saying that he isn’t a good hitter. My point, and I think Jocketty’s point in the interview that shocked you was that he needs to do a better job with situational hitting and maybe needs to stop sacrificing power for getting on base so much. That would make him a better hitter, and they need him to be as good as possible.

        • @Jason Linden: I think that what @al and a lot guys including myself are getting at, is there could be times in a game where that run may indeed be more valuable than that out. There are game situations that dictate that a run needs to be brought in, even if it is at the expense of one of the very valuable outs.

          An example of such a situation is late in a game in which you are tied, leading by one, or trailing by one. Runner on 3B, less than 2 outs. That run is more valuable than the out in this case because of what it represents in the outcome of the game compared to what the out represents at that point. Another time where those runs could be extremely valuable to cash in, even at the expense of an out are when you don’t anticipate getting too many runners to 2B or 3B and you are anticipating a very low scoring game. If you get a guy over, even early in that case, you have to get him in, even at the expense of an out.

          I think that is what is tripping up a lot of the general fan base. I am a SABR member. I do a lot of baseball research, mostly with past players but do some Reds related stuff for fun. I enjoy math. I enjoy metrics. I also played a long time and that makes it very hard to dismiss the idea that runs are going to be more valuable than outs, and that sometimes, an out needs to be traded for a run.

          In most cases, Votto’s approach is a beautiful thing. I want hitters to work a count. I want hitters to take walks. I want hitters to hit the pitches they can drive and take pitcher’s pitches, prior to having 2 strikes on them. You need to have guys on base to score so yes, OBP is very, very important. It’s just that sometimes, that potential run that is already out there is more valuable than getting to 1B and being another potential run with a lower change of scoring from your current base.

          My two-cents.

        • @LWBlogger: “I want Votto to have this great approach, except for these very certain circumstances under which I want him to be a completely different type of hitter.”

          It’s like saying “I love this Porche, but I can’t sail it across the lake. Why can’t it be more like a boat?”

        • @Chris Garber: That’s much more extreme than what I’m trying to say Chris. I’m trying to say that a player can vary his approach in certain circumstances to drive in that run. I’m not talking hacking away at bad pitches but maybe putting some of the more borderline ones into play in tight games when it may make sense to trade an out for run.

          Of course, maybe Votto is already doing that based on the results that Steve posted later in the thread. Then there is also the possibility however slight that changing his approach in even these very specific situations would render him nearly ineffective (such as a Porsche on water), in which case he positively shouldn’t do it. With Votto’s amazing talent to hit a baseball however, I don’t think a slight adjustment in his approach would render him moot. Like I said, maybe he is already doing it and that’s why he said “…almost never…” and not “never”.

        • @Chris Garber: You apparently believe that Joey is a complete automaton or a one-trick pony. Why couldn’t he alter his approach situationally? From a game early in the season; bottom of the ninth, two out, bases empty, Reds down one run, and Joey works a walk. Not on 4 straight pitches, either. To my mind, he had little to lose if he took a few hacks. The bottom line for me: the Reds aren’t playing now, largely because they didn’t hit well at inopportune times. This certainly isn’t Joey’s fault, but I have enough faith in his demonstrated talent to believe that he can hit for more power and still have a terrific OBP.

        • From a game early in the season; bottom of the ninth, two out, bases empty, Reds down one run, and Joey works a walk. Not on 4 straight pitches, either.

          Setting aside the fact that you’re using a sample size of one, I’d love to take a look at the Pitch F/X or GameCast of that PA, to see just how hittable the pitch was.

          Honestly, if there are less than 2 outs and the winning run on third, even Joey Votto is trying to make contact to score that run. But in essentially every other situation, the team is better off with Votto on first (plus whatever other runners), and Brandon Phillips or Jay Bruce up — compared to hoping that Joey’s feeble grounder makes it through a hole, or the popup sneaks over the SS.

        • @LWBlogger: What if Votto can hit better when he treats every at the same. He has proven he can hit in the clutch, so it may be that that is what makes him a good hitter, that they are all the same.

        • @redmountain: Certainly possible. Although, I didn’t think it likely. If however, Votto feels that altering his approach, even on fairly rare occasions, will be a severe detriment to his hitting, then he shouldn’t do it. The Reds in this case need to be aware of that however and need to work around it.

          Honestly, I think he already has been doing it in very limited situations. Steve’s numbers for Votto with a runner on 3B show he’s been effective. More effective than I perceived having not run any numbers for him yet.

      • @Jason Linden:

        In what context are you dissing Joe Carter? Joe Carter led Toronto to back-to-back World Series titles and hit a dramatic HR in game #6 to clinch the title in one series. Votto has not come even remotely close to duplicating that feat.
        The Reds didn’t sign up for a $220 million contract for JV to drive in 73 runs. There is responsibility and accountability that comes with the #3 spot in the batting order. It’s just some accountability being thrown JV’s way. You aren’t saying JV is above accountability are you??

        • Who contributed more to winnings games this year, WVRedlegs? Votto, Bruce, or Phillips?

        • @WVRedlegs: Carter was a solid player, but those teams had a lot of great OBP guys on them. Thus the RBI. Carter had a really unusual career in that respect and it kind of distorts his value. Both his OBP and SLG are well south of Votto’s career numbers.

          I would never say Carter wasn’t a good player. He was. At times he was excellent. But he was also often in the right place at the right time and so we remember him as being better than he was.

          The best players on those teams were Alomar, Olerud, and (if you buy defensive stats) Devon White.

    • I’m actually not surprised at all, because Joey Votto brought this on himself with his late season interviews. I was much more surprised at what Votto had to say then, than at what Jocketty is saying now.

      When asked about walks and RBI, what I expected Votto to say is that he’s being pitched around, and he’s not going to get himself out more because of being frustrated. Period. That’s it.

      What he did say was:

      “I’m not willing to hit the ball on the ground to shortstop or pop the ball to center field to just score that run, like a lot of people want.”

      “I take an approach that very rarely concerns itself with the current situation.”

      “If I wanted to drive in 100 runs, I promise you I could do that. If I wanted to, I could tack on another 10 homers.”

      Each of those is a stupid thing to say, and a stupid thing to say to a reporter. He’s admitting that he has no situation hitting ability? He’s admitting that he could hit for more power and drive in more runs, and chooses not to?

      I never thought I’d say this, but Votto is pushing me further towards the the Brennamen with stuff like this.

      I thought his comments were thoughtful and spot on. I think he demonstrates a fundamental understanding about a hitter’s role in the modern era. I had absolutely no problem with them. Calling them ‘stupid’ just demonstrates emotional thinking on this issue, which unfortunately describes the majority of fans.

    • @al: Can see your point. When I first saw this, it made me think that the”team” is not his first concern. He is such a great hitter it really doesn’t make much difference. We would all like to hear “every” player say, “I always do what is in the best interest of the team”. You will probably never hear this from the lips of Joey Votto. I feel like this is maybe what Walt was getting at. It is one of the things I find endearing about BP.

    • @Johnu1: Not sure who deleted your comment, but it wasn’t me (and only because someone beat me to it). It violated the commenting policy because it didn’t contribute to the discussion.

      But, for just a minute, let’s be honest. If you’re reading this site and complaining about sabr-focused posts, you’re probably reading the wrong blog. You can disagree with it, sure (just give reasons), but if you don’t want to hear it, you’re in the wrong neighborhood.

    • @Johnu1: I deleted it. If all a comment does is complain about the topics chosen for a post, it’s not going to get by if one of us is watching. It wasn’t deleted because you disagreed with the post. No discussion? Obviously, there are plenty of people here who express their disagreement with lots of supporting reasoning. Bless every one of them.

      How can something be “forced down your throat” when you don’t have to pay for it, believe it, let alone even read it?

      • @Steve Mancuso: I read the column. I came away with the notion that, no matter what, daring to question Votto is a heresy. I also listened to the radio interview — twice, in fact. I found nothing in Walt’s comments that suggested advanced metrics was even part of the conversation. In my world, discussing content is as useful as discussing point of view. My contributions here and interest therein are as a fan — and there’s a lot of attempts by contributors to coil up in the corner — in advance — to defend something that has already been covered, debated and dismissed.

        Can we talk about the Reds without first making sure everyone is clear that we’re all in favor of advanced metrics? I honestly don’t care one way or another so long as the Reds win the last game of the post-season.

        I came away with this as the column attempting to initiate a “fight” over advanced metrics. That’s tired and worn out.

        I suppose that’s all I am going to read here now until March, so I’d best be going.

        • @Chris Garber: I like the blog. I like advanced metrics. But the blog is not called AdvancedMetrics, and your constituency isn’t all sabermetricians. There is a discomfortingly level of condescension (even with this that agree and appreciate the blog). Perhaps if the editorial group weren’t such an echo chamber, these things might be more apparent.

          Also, it’s entirely fair to criticize Votto for having NO situational approach EVER. In general, I agree HITS>WALKS>OUTS. But im a tight game during a pennant race, am I to believe Votto would shun a sacrifice fly on principle?? That’s patently absurd.

        • But im a tight game during a pennant race, am I to believe Votto would shun a sacrifice fly on principle?? That’s patently absurd.

          I agree that it’s absurd. So you shouldn’t believe it.

        • @walshjp: As to an echo chamber, we welcome all sorts of views. But if you’re looking for irrational criticism of the team’s best player, I can recommend Marty Brennaman and Paul Daugherty.

        • @Chris Garber: You’re misstating my point. The echo chamber was a reflection around the diversity of thought in advanced statistics, not about whether or not to criticize Votto.

          There’s a healthy discussion around situational hitting going on in the comments section. There are more nuanced views on sabermetrics. Al, who seems to be work in statistics, is a believer. I happen to work in economics, and also believe in numbers. Numbers aren’t gospel — they can often lead to multiple interpretations (they say if you ask five economists a question, you’ll get six different answers).

          I’m merely suggesting that there’s a level of dogma on the board that perhaps has room for more nuanced views when it comes to advanced metrics. Make of that what you will. I enjoy most of the contributions. I understand it’s free. You can be a stubborn Dusty Baker, or acknowledge perhaps there is some validity among your not-so-uniform constituency.

  7. When it comes to hitting, I’ll defer to the former MVP who hit over .300 last year as opposed to the fans or the GM. That’s just me though.

    • @Garth: While I would agree immediately that Joey knows more about hitting (his hitting, anyway) than Walt or any of us, he is, as you pointed out, a FORMER MVP. He’ll get few votes this year. Many people feel that he was less productive than usual, and many people disagree, and while numbers may not lie, they can certainly be ill-chosen or misinterpreted.

  8. I don’t think there is anything malicious in what Walt said. He’s simply stating that if this is the version of Votto we can expect moving forward, batting third isn’t the best use of his talents. Is there anyone here who doesn’t agree with him and want to move him up to second?

    More to the point, I’m with Al that there most definitely should be a situational approach. Let’s not forget, Votto struck out looking over 40 times, which can have a ripple effect of not advancing a runner over or forcing the defense to make a play.

    Not to play psychologist too much, but would it suprise anyone that Votto is bullheaded? I mean, we can all see his fielding technique sucks and of course it has been brought to his attention, yet we still see him fielding the ball off to the side. That’s an indicator to me……..and don’t get me started on him flatly refusing to entertain the idea of moving to LF a couple years ago.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: Sultan, that is a great point about Joey’s fielding.

      And therein lies the difference in Price and Baker. I believe that Baker let Joey field with poor mechanics. I do not believe that Price will.

      Price will tell him that it is not acceptable for him to not field a ground ball without being in front of it. Just like he told Homer that he has to cover 1st base.

      Joey will improve his fielding in 2014, the Reds will win more games and it will no longer be an issue. I seriously believe that Dusty did not address this with Joey at all

    • @Sultan of Swaff: Some teams teach the fielding off to the side for infielders. It puts them in a position to throw the ball. Whether that is a good idea, or the way he is getting taught I cannot answer.

  9. I hope in fifty years Joey Votto will be deemed as the initiator of a new era of baseball that looks at giving away outs versus being the “RBI guy”.

    • @rfay00: Hear, hear! Hopefully, Brian Price believes that now. It’s refreshing that that’s at least a possibility considering Dusty’s love affair with throwing away outs

  10. If Walt Jocketty or Bryan Price don’t think that Joey Votto hits with enough power to bat third in the lineup, that’s fine. Bat him second, or lead off for that matter.

    I wish that’s the way the complaints about Votto would be couched – he doesn’t hit with enough power – instead of saying he doesn’t drive in enough runs. Because that’s what the “10 home run” hypothetical is about, and that’s a valid concern.

    Votto said he rarely considers the situation, not never. There really aren’t that many times in a game or season when it’s called for.

    • @Steve Mancuso: He actually said very rarely, and I totally disagree that there are few times in a season where situational hitting is called for.

      When no one is on base, get on base as much as you can. But if there is a guy on third with less than two out, try to drive him in. Hitting is hard, if you just walk, you’re putting the responsibility on the next guy, and he’s probably going to fail, because everyone fails most of the time in hitting. You have to take your shots when you get them.

      Remember when everyone on this board was going nuts about the Cardinals hitting line drive singles with guys on base? That’s situational hitting. If Votto doesn’t have an approach at the plate that is different when there are guys on base, he should get one.

      • @al: I don’t get the second paragraph. If you walk, you don’t lose a “shot” you still have the same number of outs as before the walk, just now with a chance for a bigger inning.

        Regarding the Cardinals – no this isn’t about hitting. It’s about walking vs. making outs. Votto hits. You’re saying you want him to hit a ground ball or fly ball to get the run in even if he makes an out. The Cardinals example doesn’t apply. That’s stringing together singles. Who in the world is against that? And, not to open up an entire new can of worms, it isn’t something teams can just call on. “Oh, let’s string together some hits this inning.”

        What the Cardinals did do, which is worth emulating (you better get ready to duck), is they sacrificed power stats for base hits. St. Louis was 13th out of 15 teams in the NL in home runs. They just tried to hit line drives. Remind you of anyone?

        Critics can’t have it both ways. Can’t say you want Votto to be more like the Cardinals and that you want him to hit ten more home runs. No one on the Cardinals had more than 24 homers.

        • @Steve Mancuso: I don’t think it’s just about walks vs. making outs I guess. I think situational hitting is more than grounding out, and to hear him say that he very rarely takes the situation into account is disappointing for such a smart hitter. It seems OCD or selfish or both.

        • @al: I know that Votto wasn’t being selfish. But when I put myself in the mindset of so many guys that I played with, they would take those comments to mean that Votto values himself and not making an out, over sacrificing his AB to drive in a run and help the team win. Is that right? No, I don’t think it’s right. There are a ton of players however who would strongly feel that way.

        • But when I put myself in the mindset of so many guys that I played with,

          Was this in the National League?

        • @Chris Garber: I played with a couple people that played in the NL however alas, I flamed out with the Lancaster Scouts in 1993 in the Frontier League.

      • @al: Votto batted 27 times with runners at third base (only). 20 of those times were with zero or one outs. Here’s what he did in those AB:

        2 home runs
        1 wild pitch scored the run
        3 singles
        5 walks
        4 intentional walks
        4 sacrifice flies
        1 hit by pitch
        3 strike outs
        4 ground outs (one scored a run)

        Excluding the wild pitch, Votto had 20 productive AB out of 26. It’s hard to know, but I bet many of the walks were intentional/unintentional walks. He walks a lot in that situation because he doesn’t see good pitches because the guy hitting behind him most of the year was a much worse hitter.

        • @Steve Mancuso: That’s interesting. I guess maybe it’s just his comments that bothered me not the actual results. Like I said above, if he had just said “I’m not getting pitches to hit,” I never would have gotten on him at all. I’ve defended his approach for years, but I didn’t like what he said about it.

        • @al: Maybe the reason he doesn’t say the pitchers are pitching around him (when for much of the season they clearly were) is that it would implicitly say something negative about his teammates.

        • @Steve Mancuso: That’s fine. I don’t know why you have such a problem with me saying I would have preferred that he didn’t say what he did in that interview, but I would have preferred that he didn’t.

          What he said didn’t make him sound like an unselfish hitter, it played right into all the criticism he’s gotten, and it was unnecessary. If he had just said, I’ve gotten good results with guys on third when I’ve had the chance, that also would have been fine.

        • @Steve Mancuso: By comparison, Brandon Phillips batted 19 times with a runner on third (only). Here’s what he did:

          4 singles
          1 sacrifice fly
          2 walks
          1 ground out with run scoring
          2 ground outs without run scoring
          9 fly/line/pop outs, no run scoring

          So out of 19 AB, 8 of them were productive. 6 runs scored. In Votto’s 27 AB, 13 runs scored. Plus he got on base 13 times (Phillips 6 of 19) to be available to score a run and keep the inning going.

          The numbers show that Votto performed much better in the specific “situation” that you mention.

        • @Steve Mancuso: Dude. You call people out for using straw men all the time. I said specifically that I was not comparing him to BP, and you’re still trying to compare him to BP and referencing my posts. What gives?

        • @al: Not really directed at you. Lots of people compare Votto’s season to Phillips because BP had the classic “situational” hitting season. Drove in lots of runs despite not being so great at the plate. Breaking down BP’s season, even in the context of 103 RBI, gives an indication of how misguided a search for “an RBI guy” is. Search for a “power guy” absolutely. I also don’t disagree with your complaint about Votto’s statement. Definitely poorly chosen words. The internets have trouble expressing tone some times. :-)

        • @Steve Mancuso: I like those outcomes. I’m sure a couple of those 5 walks were pitch-arounds. I mean, I’d much rather pitch to BP than Votto and I might induce BP into a DP w/ Votto on 1B.

          Thanks for digging out those outcomes and shedding some light on Votto’s ABs with a runner on 3B and less than 2 outs.

  11. All that said, we wouldn’t be having this conversation had Dusty constructed his lineup properly.

    Choo
    Votto
    Bruce

  12. I think what most people would like to see is Joey Votto “exchange” 30 walks for 30 hits.
    If you take his stats and add 30 hits and take away 30 walks, his OBP is the same but his average rises to .339. He would have (more than likely) driven in more runs. I’m not saying he should change anything. I do think he is more suited for the 2 hole as opposed to the 3 hole.

  13. I think Walt is looking back at last year when we had so many games wasting the #2 spot (cozart, frazier, ludwig when they were struggling; izturus (aargh)). If you had Choo get on, instead of giving up that likely out (how often did dusty bunt choo over when he got on), you have JV walking and then the Phillips & Bruces coming up with 2 on nobody out – instead of 1 out. Of course all of that depends on the personnel that we have in ’14. But i can’t see that he is talking about moving him down.

  14. I saw the good part of this comment. I think it is a positive that the organization could see batting him second.

    • @TC: I still believe you hit your best hitter 3rd but as has been mentioned before, there is a lot of study being done that says maybe he should hit 2nd. I don’t like LaRusa but what he did in constructing his lineup with the pitcher hitting 8th and a position player hitting 9th was also relatively sound strategy. The idea being you have more hitters and higher OBP batting in a row ahead of Pujols.

  15. Here’s how I look at Votto’s season vs. the people who wished he hit more “situationally” like BP:

    Votto had more hits than BP last year, more singles, more doubles, more triples and more home runs. Joey Votto HIT more than Brandon Phillips did last year. His season wasn’t just about walks.

    Yet, despite having more actual hits than BP he also walked 96 more times. That’s not a typo. In addition to actually hitting more hits, he also contributed as a base runner and runner advancer nearly one hundred times more than BP.

    Yes, I’d rather have Votto taking those walks with runners at third base than have him pound ground balls into the dirt, making an out, just to drive that run in. Obviously, in certain situations, you’d take the run. But the vast majority of time, you keep the inning going.

    Repeat, the choice between hitters like Votto and Phillips isn’t between walks vs. hits. It’s walks vs. outs.

    • @Steve Mancuso: Bringing in BP is a straw man.

      My situational hitting comments were based on nothing more than what Votto himself said. There are high leverage hitting situations, and most of the time I’d rather have an RBI than a walk.

      Votto is a better hitter in every way than BP. That doesn’t mean he’s above critique, especially when he says that he doesn’t hit based on the situation, and sacrifices power for OBP.

      • @al: He’s not above critique, I agree.

        Let me ask you a question. Is it ALWAYS the right thing to do to trade 1 run for an out? Or only sometimes?

        If your answer is sometimes, then you are arguing semantics with Votto over what “very rarely” means. As Steve showed, he does fine with men on 3rd and 0-1 outs.

        I also think the BP thing isn’t a straw man. You seem to be arguing that you want Votto to 1) have not said what he said (we get you) and 2) hit more “situationally,” which inherently means “hit more like BP did last year.” I think that’s why BP has been mentioned more than once. You want Votto to trade outs for single runs.

        Is this accurate?

        • @prjeter: I guess I think that there’s a pretty big difference between the statements “I think situational hitting can be important” and “I think Joey Votto should hit more like Brandon Phillips.” That’s why it seems like a straw man. Why not just discuss situational hitting, rather than bringing in an obviously far inferior hitter as a comparison?

          And yes, I am arguing semantics over Votto’s statement, but that’s sort of implied when discussing interview quotations.

          I haven’t looked at the numbers, but I would say that in close games, I would take the run for the out trade. In games where you need to score a lot of runs, you need to preserve the chance for a big run inning, even if it isn’t likely, so you save all your outs.

    • @Steve Mancuso: This is the kind of perfectly reasonable and well-structured thought process I’d expect on this high caliber “free” blog — and it was all done sans condescension.

      Votto generally was the best hitter. People are overly critical because they don’t see $225m in value without looking at advanced metrics. In general, Votto’s approach is sound. He leads to run creation through various means. But it was perhaps a bit much (and even an overstatement) for him to say he has no situational approach.

      I personally agree — but I do still wonder if he could put good wood on more borderline pitches. Perhaps this isn’t fair, but I compare Votto to Cabrera. Power corner. Similar salary structure. Cabrera hits for average, creates just as many runs, and drives the ball more. I suspect that’s the kind of production many thought was coming after 2010. It doesn’t make him a bad hitter. I just wonder if Cabrera is nearly as picky as Joey.

  16. I completely agree with Jocketty. The JV from last year would fit better in the #2 hole simply because A. – we don’t have a consistent #2 hole hitter, and B – he was awesome at getting on base. Part of me senses a touch of selfishness on JV’s part to never change his approach regardless of the needs of the team in the moment. Perhaps this is the ‘message’ that Walt is sending. Regardless, I like it than no player is out of the range of accountability.

    As far as whether Votto should bat 2nd, I think it simply depends on who the CF is and if it ends up being Hamilton, is he ready to lead off as a rookie?

    This offseason is shaping up to be interesting.

    • @Redgoggles: This is it. You can’t change people. Much like Pete Rose, Joey is a stat guy first and foremost. Deal with who he is and capitalize. Who is better suited to the #2 slot than JV? I believe this is Walt’s point: we would like Votto to be the 2010 model and will hope he can but, if not, we will place him in the optimal spot in the lineup given his skill set. I don’t know – sounds masterful to me.

  17. Votto was great last year. Period. If he replicates his 2013 numbers for the rest of his career, he’d easily be the best Reds player of all time.

    With that said, Votto was even better in 2010. That season may have been a statistical outlier, or maybe Votto’s approach has changed slightly since then. Maybe pitchers are approaching him differently now. So I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sitting down with Votto and analyzing the differences between his approach in 2010 vs. 2013.

    I don’t really like the way that Jocketty phrased his response, but as long as his intent is just to work with Joey to get him back to his 2010 output levels, that’s fine by me.

  18. First, I think it was stupid of Walt Jocketty to say this for the newspaper. There’s a way to do this – but this ain’t it.

    Second, I think it’s misguided, but the team isn’t totally out of line in wanting more power from the #3 hitter. Joey got himself sideways by saying he “could” do that, if he wanted to. So in essence, they’re calling him on it: “Hit more HR or bat 2nd. Your call.”

    Again, I’m not sure that’s wise, but it isn’t insane.

    Here’s an (imperfect) comparison: Imagine an ace starting pitcher, who has a 1.50 ERA but only pitches 5 innings per start. He basically pulls himself from the game at that point – most of the time – saying that he knows he’d be ineffective if he went out for the 6th. He’s cerebral, and can explain his thinking behind every thing. (Before you object, this isn’t wildly different from the last 10 years of Greg Maddux’s career). Our guys says he COULD throw 7 innings if he wanted to, but doesn’t want to compromise his process and approach.

    Anyway, would it be wildly unreasonable for the GM to say, “We really need 7 IP out of our starters. He needs to decide if he wants to do that, or move to the bullpen.”

    Again, there are smart ways and dumb ways to have this conversation. And the smart thing may be to graciously accept the 5 IP, 1 ER starts and build a better bullpen. But if you signed the guy to a big contract coming off a number of 220 IP seasons, I can see why you’d be frustrated.

    • @Chris Garber: The calling out of Votto is the part I really don’t get (and no one has really mentioned it until you). It seems like a very odd move for Jocketty given how reserved he normally is. I wonder if Bob has let it be known that Walt will be looking for a new job if there are no results this year.

      • @Jason Linden: I also think that the quote was printed from an interview that Jocketty gave to Bill Cunningham at 700 WLW. I’m sure that Cunningham “lead the witness” some and baited Jocketty. I’m actually kind of surprised that Jocketty didn’t give a non-answer type of answer. I didn’t listen to the interview because I can’t listen to Cunningham talk for that long.

      • @Jason Linden: I believe this was a calculated move. I think it sends the message that no one is above being evaluated from all aspects of the game. JV is THE guy. Calling him out sends a strong message to the rest of the players.

        It wouldn’t surprise me if Walt did get a message from Bob — “win or else”. Walt had probably been pushing for Dusty’s dismissal (there tends to be politics in every organization). Now that Walt has gotten his way Bob is going to hold him accountable (again, politics). Given the organizational ties between the Reds and the Cards success will mean beating the Cards in 2014.

    • @Chris Garber: You’d hope this is something they had already addressed to Votto personally, but I doubt there was really time for that. You’d think they’d give a player that much respect rather than using the media to send the message. But, maybe it was calculated. Who knows.

  19. I would LOVE for someone to do pitch f/x analysis on all of Votto’s walks last year. How many times did he take a hittable strike before walking?

    Of course, the called strikeouts are a different thing.

  20. It seemed to me that, in the context of the interview, he meant that Votto was taking borderline pitches that were very hittable. I don’t know for sure if that’s what he meant, though.

    Either way, I don’t really have an opinion at this point. I just think that Votto knows what he’s doing more than we do. At the same time, Jocketty knows what Votto is doing more than we do as well.

  21. Minor thread jack… just to point out a Cards pitching prospect accused Lester of using vaseline last night in their beat down. What a surprise :) It was probably smokey and the lights were too bright too. Silliness.

    On the Votto topic… I don’t think it would hurt anything if Votto was slotted to the 2 hole. What I’m happiest about is that I have faith Price won’t slot Cozart in the 3 hole because “who else is there?” Bruce batting 3rd intrigues, but that’s a non-starter if the Reds happen to pull out the rabbit of re-signing Choo. So who does slot there if Joey is moved down?

    Otherwise, I can’t help but agree with Al above that it sounds a little funny to the ear to hear Joey say he doesn’t pay attention to the situation. I know part of it is also believing his teammates are going to pick it up if he draws a BB and it’s first and third instead of him driving in the runner. We’ll see. In the scheme of things, Joey Votto is one of the last thing I will obsess over (negatively, I mean… ’cause, like, everybody likes to pretend they are Joey every now and then right? At work? Introduce yourself as Joey? That kind of stuff? Yeah.)

  22. The discussion of numbers is great and all folks have their opinion. It is like an old man (me) not understanding the need for a new phone every 6 months. The truth is that I fail to see the value of the phone other than talking, unless it is business related. Now having said that, the value of Votto’s bat (contract length and dollars) is the real issue that causes most fans to comment even though they don’t want to say it. The placement in the batting order and production numbers discussion by fans is to justify in their minds whether he is worth the dollar value or not. If you really want to see numbers that justify Votto’s bat just imagine what a Votto free agency this year would cost a team like the Yankees. The Reds would like city of Detroit bidding for the Olympics.
    Be happy you are able to watch a craftsman at work.

  23. Maybe the issue here is that were way too many situations in 2013 when the Reds had runners in scoring position and no one drove them in. These were, essentially, wasted scoring opportunities. Some of those situations could have been game changing if the run(s) scored – it may have given the Reds an early lead, may have started a comeback win, or may have forced a pitcher on the ropes out of the game. I don’t know a lot about advanced metrics (in fact, this is my first post here) – I find them interesting but cannot speak about them with any authority. What I know from watching on TV or attending about 90% of the Reds games is this – there were too many times when we should of scored but didn’t. Is that Joey Votto’s fault – no! Whose fault is it? There is plenty of blame to go around – (1) too many guys swinging for home runs, (2) too many guys swinging at pitches in the dirt, (3) too many guys swinging at pitches three feet outside, (4) too many guys swinging at pitches over their heads, (5) too many guys taking called strikes on pitches right down the middle or in hittable areas (and this certainly includes Joey V.). What’s the answer? A different hitting approach! Sometimes a walk is good, sometimes you need to go the other way with the ball, sometimes you need a sacrifice fly, etc. That is what situational hitting means to me, so I do think it is important but is not the only thing that is important. Again, this has less to do with Joey than with (1) the insane lineups that Dusty put out there, and (2) the apparent lack of an organizational hitting philosophy. Hope this contributes to the discussion! I really enjoy this site!

  24. So many of these ‘old school’ vs. metrics discussions follow the same pattern:

    1. Metrics Guy makes an argument using advanced metrics
    2. Old School Guy rebuts that they don’t ‘believe’ in them
    3. Metrics Guy points out that math isn’t really subject to ‘belief’
    4. Old School Guy gets mad because reciting math is ‘condescending’ towards them
    5. Metrics Guy states that numbers are just numbers
    6. Old School Guy tells says ‘fine! you can believe in them if you want, but I’m not going to’ and then takes his ball and goes home muttering angrily that he is tired of being persecuted for not having the appropriate viewpoint.
    7. Metrics Guy is left wondering if he just got trolled

    • @Jason1972: I really don’t see that in this discussion at all. I’m the one who mostly disagreed with the premise of this post, and I’m a statistician by trade. I think this is actually a pretty nuanced discussion, and your summary misses the mark.

    • @Jason1972: Quite aside from whether advanced metrics reveal what needs to be revealed, the idea that math is not subject to belief–while sometimes true (not all theories prove to be correct)–misses the point. If you measure something accurately, but the thing that you choose to measure is irrelevant or provides an incomplete basis for evaluation, what have you got? A result that is subject to belief. Advanced metrics will surely be refined over time. Useful now, no doubt. The last word? Likely not.

  25. I don’t see much to get all flustered about here.

    The role Votto, or any other player, has in the lineup is going to depend on who the other players are and what contributions they can make.

    I’d take that comment — apparently devoid of context — to strongly suggest the team doesn’t want next year’s lineup to be the same as this year’s lineup. That seems to me to be a good thing.

    In any case, Votto has an array of skills. There’s nothing wrong with asking him to emphasize some of those and de-emphasize others as the nature of the club changes. Be happy, you know, that he offers the team that luxury.

    Not too long ago they were worried about where to bat Adam Dunn. This is way better.

  26. I think Votto had a good year offensive but a horrible year defensively. The year was not good enough for the large percentage if the team payroll that they are paying him. the Reds need more for the amount spent. Votto is the right guy to hit 2nd or 3rd but he cant hit both. They dont have anoyone else who should bat 2nd or 3rd but him.
    There is no reds player I disliked more than Adan Dunn.

  27. This year Votto was paid $17M. He was worth over 6 wins above replacement. The cost of a win on the open market is probably somewhere between $5M – $6M. So, he was worth over $30M. Seems like a pretty good deal. He’s also getting a $5M pay cut next year.

  28. Going from memory here, but I’m fairly certain one of the stated reasons that Jocketty was forced out of St. Louis was his lack of interest in sabermetrics or the Moneyball approach. St. Louis has always been able to play like a large market town. One of the things that impressed me about Jocketty in Cincinnati has been his adapting to new baseball philosophy. May be had a relapse—or maybe he knows more than we think.

    Baseball Musings (baseballmusings.com) has a ‘lineup tool’ that can be used to maximize runs in a lineup. Using the players with the most plate appearances by position this past year suggests this is proper line up (I used the 1959-2004 model since I firmly believe baseball is returning to 1970′s era baseball now that we are out of the steroid era);

    Choo
    Votto
    Phillips
    Bruce
    Frazier
    Cozsrt
    Mesoraco
    Heisey
    Pitcher

    The lineup tool suggests the Reds would score 4.43 runs per game. The Reds actually scored 4.31 runs per game this year.

    2) Situational hitting is more important to hitters who aren’t very good hitters.

    3) Joey Votto subscribes to the Ted Williams version of hitting. I bet he has the Williams hitting chart totally memorized. If you aren’t familiar, Williams mapped out batting averages for baseballs pitched in certain locations. I don’t live in Wyoming, but I found the chart at this youth baseball site: http://www.wyomingareabaseball.org/

    Joey Votto knows what he’s doing…and batting 2nd isn’t such a bad thing.

    Oh…the lineup analysis program seems to like to use the #3 hitter to advance runners–Brandon Phillips actually did that pretty well this year (outside of the double plays). And, putting Heisey 8th isn’t a bad idea. 8th position becomes maximized with Choo and Votto coming up soon after.

    in fact–one of the hardest slots to score from is the 6 hole.

      • @Aaron Lehr: Ditto. Nice post.

        It would be interesting to see the code behind their lineup optimizer. From the rudimentary calculations I’ve done, it suggest batting your two highest OBP guys in succession and then following them with your highest Isolated Slugging (ISO) guy. Usually this occurs 2-3-4 or 1-2-3. And this year, that would have looked like Choo/Votto/Bruce against RHP. Maybe there is a built-in “break up the lefties” threshold.

  29. Votto was 7th in wOBA and 5th in wRC+ (for those non-advanced people 16th in AVG and 2nd in OBP). He is exceptional. Elite. That doesn’t mean he can’t refine his approach to be a better hitter. Some people want him to expand the zone. I don’t. He struck out looking 44 times. His ZSwing% was way down. I just want him to be more aggressive with balls in the zone. I think he will be. Personally, I belive Votto’s issue was he didn’t trust his knee, and he didn’t feel like he could drive the ball like he did in years past. As a result, he became more selective, looking for that perfect pitch. It wasn’t always there and he would rather take a walk than make an out. After being fully recovered, he should start trusting his swing to generate more power and drive balls which are perfect.

  30. Walt didn’t say anything that wasn’t true and he certainly wasn’t “calling him out” Geez, does every comment have to be overblown? You didn’t hear his tone of voice or expression. That means a lot.
    It’s true that Votto shouldn’t hit 3rd if he can’t drive the ball or drive in runners. If that is the case he should hit 2nd. Hopefully, he gets his power back and can hit 3rd. What’s the big deal? Analyze the situation and make the right decision. Isn’t that why we have a new manager? Because Dusty didn’t do that?

    • @Redstockings:

      “It’s true that Votto shouldn’t hit 3rd if he can’t drive the ball or drive in runners.”

      Votto had the highest slugging % on the team in 2013, a “down” year in which is power numbers “suffered”. He also hit the highest % of line drives on the team, by far. So…

      (1) He can drive the ball.
      (2) Driving in runners isn’t a skill.

      The problem is that the situation WASN’T analyzed. At all.

      • @Aaron Lehr: He didn’t drive the ball like he has before this year. I can’t see how that is argued. Me personally, I think the knee is probably/hopefully still on the mend and see a huge 2014 as he does start driving the ball pre-2013. He had a great season for nearly anyone on earth other than Joey Votto. To me, he was and should be the best hitter in the NL and second to all but Cabrera. Since doubting his work ethic is not wise, I’ll go with some lingering issues with the knee.

        • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: I agree with your first statement. Perhaps my quotation marks were misleading. I was pointing out that even despite that, he is still better than anyone on the team. And that notion is counter to WJ’s comment and the one I responded to above, which seem to imply there are others on the team better suited to “drive the ball” in a way that might result in runs.

      • @Aaron Lehr: I’m encouraged because we now seem to have a manager with an open mind. If Joey is going to produce like he did in 2013 (very high OBP, little power) consistently from now on, he should do it from the 2 spot. If his lack of power last year was due to the knee still getting back up to strength, then that power will eventually return and it might make sense to move him back to the 3 spot. The idea of moving a hitter like Joey around in a lineup based on the style of baseball he’s playing in any given month or season would give Dusty heart palpitations. But it’s the kind of thing a smart, progressive minded manager wouldn’t hesitate to do and it sounds like that’s what we might have in Price. The fact that Walt is discussing the fact that Votto may not have been used to peak efficiency in 2013 tells me he’s becoming more progressive in how he sees the roster as well.

        • @eric nyc: Definitely a glass half full analysis of the comment, which is fine. I’m not really commenting on batting order here. I too would like to see more flexibility and progressive thinking in that regard. What I don’t understand is how Votto’s *relative* lack of power last year is leading people to believe that other players on the team could perform better. He still led the team in SLG!

        • @Aaron Lehr: Joey’s signed through next century. Nothing Walt says is going to make Joey change his approach. Joey’s an incredibly smart baseball player – I suspect he’ll sit down with Price in the Spring and they’ll talk. If Joey believes there’s anything he can do differently that would help the team, I’m sure he’ll do it. If Joey believes that his current approach is right for him (and the numbers certainly support that) then I suspect Price will find the best way to use him. As of now that’s in the 2 spot. We’re never going to see a situation where Walt is somehow forcing Joey Votto to swing at more pitches because Marty Brennaman wants him to.

    • @Redstockings: You know what worried me most about the whole interview? The fact that Walt Jocketty is one of the 20 people on earth who know the MOST about Joey Votto’s knee.

      Presumably, if Votto’s knee had sapped his power all last year, Walt would’ve said that. Or at least not said what he did. Walt’s comments strongly implied that Votto’s power drought was somehow by choice, not by injury. I don’t believe THAT. But it DOES scare me that the power drought is permanent.

      • @Chris Garber: The possibility exists that no one except Joey and maybe his GF know the true story of the knee. In that case, it’s possible you and I know as much as WJ.

  31. I took this as a sign that Walt (and more importantly Price) is finally willing to look at moving Votto to 2nd in the lineup. I think just about everyone here would support that move. In Dusty’s very rigid world of lineup construction, Votto’s approach wasn’t very productive in terms of creating runs. The fact that it WAS so productive at so many other important offensive categories (namely getting Joey Votto on base) just means that his role needs to be reworked. He can still play the exact same game he does so well, just do it in a spot in the lineup that makes more sense for that kind of a hitter. I was thrilled when I heard Walt say that yesterday.

  32. I really have no basis for the following comment other than what if…

    What if WJ singled out Votto for a very pointed critical comment simply to put the entire team on notice? WJ is sharp and the tone of every interview since Dusty was fired has been accountability. Votto was not responsible for the Reds failure (is 90 wins a failure?) last season, but there were certainly failures by the team last season. If the GM can single out the Reds best player for criticism, the rest of ther team better take notice.

    I really believe (and I think WJ and Bryan Price really believe) that Votto struggled with his power and plate coverage for most of last season due to lingering effects from his knee injury. With a completely healthy and hungry Votto at the plate in 2014, the concerns and ‘situational hitting’ takes care of itself.

    I think Votto and Bruce have the #3 & #4 holes covered for 2014. The really big 800lb gorilla in the room is who is going to set the table from the #1 & #2 spot. If the Reds can cover the #1 & #2 holes effectively, Votto and Bruce will have monster numbers in 2014.

    • @Shchi Cossack: I got a similar impression from the interview. It was a very odd interview from Walt – I’ve never heard him be so forthcoming and open about current players. There was lots of murmuring going around that no one in the organization had the guts to come out and point out any even potential issue with Joey (defensive errors, baserunning mistakes, etc). Joey Votto is the best player on this team, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have room for improvement.

      As for Bruce, I’ve been on record saying many times that he has an MVP season lurking in him. If Price finally pulls the trigger and bats him cleanup behind an efficient top of the order (no more Cozart at #2) I have no reason to think 2014 couldn’t be that year. It just seems like a mathematical probability that one of these years he’ll find a way to avoid the slumps and string together just the hot months. It seems like every year his slumps get shorter and shorter.

      • @eric nyc: Agree with this. Bruce is waiting to explode and gets closer and closer to erupting every season. His increased performance against lefties may be the harbinger of an MVP!

    • @Shchi Cossack: Remember toward the end of the season when Votto said he hadn’t really been right for most of the year, but it had “clicked” sometime in August?

      I remember seeing that and glancing at his numbers and wondering what he was talking about. Well, I just went back and looked at the splits and I think I found something. Votto’s wRC+ by month was:

      APR – 150
      MAY – 209
      JUN – 135
      JUL – 136
      AUG – 158
      SEP – 149

      May is an outlier, but now look at his BABIP by month:

      APR – .366
      MAY – .436
      JUN – .342
      JUL – .352
      AUG – .333
      SEP – .318

      Now, BABIP, we know, fluctuates wildly. This is true from season to season, never mind month to month. Votto has shown the ability to have a consistently high BABIP. For his career, it’s .360

      Now, look back at August and September. He was pretty unlucky in those months by his normal standards and he still posted his 2nd and (tied, more or less) 3rd best months of the season. The only month better was May when his BABIP was absurdly high (that is, he was probably pretty lucky).

      If you tack 30 or so points onto his BABIP for the last two months (make them luck neutral for his career), then all of a sudden he’s up there with May.

      Basically, he was hitting better for the last third of the year, but an unusually low BABIP was masking it.

      Does that make sense? Lots of numbers I know, but it at least gives some support to what Votto has said.

      • @Jason Linden: IMO, the whole issue is the ability to drive the ball consistently was missing. His lowest Slugging Percentage since he has been in the Bigs and outside of his first full season (2008) by a pretty good margin. I would not bet against JV being the 2014 MVP.

      • @Jason Linden: I know that Votto had made some comment about turning things around at the end of the seaon, but I never saw the exact quote referencing August specifically. Thanks for the analysis to support what Votto claimed and what I was seeing. I know he was hitting into a lot of ‘bad luck’ at the end of the season, a lot of balls hit VERY hard but not finding holes.

        As far as 2014, I think there is a very good chance that Votto and Bruce may be competing against each other (and leading the pack) for MVP honors, if WJ can get the table setting in place. Wouldn’t that just be a hoot :!: Votto hitting 30 HR, 60 2B, driving in 110 runs and scoring 110 runs while Bruce is hitting 40 HR and driving in 140 runs.

        How long until pitchers and catchers report :?:

  33. I just donot understand this at all. Yes Votto did not have his 2010 mvp year but that will not happen everysingle season WALT!!! Votto is the one guy on this team that you need not worry about or publically trash! There are plenty of other clowns on this team that deserve this garbage!!! I agree he didn’t have the season that he normally has but if he knee was still not right I feel he did pretty good with what he had to work with. Without him BP would not even come close to his rbi digits! Maybe Walt did this to mask the whole BP saga or something? Maybe BP went to him and was crying like a baby about JV’s contract and to shut him up Walt went after Votto. This would not shock me one bit! Let Joey be Joey!

  34. There is something called “Run Expectancy” that I believe everyone lurking around here can understand and get behind. Basically, it’s a number that shows (based on empirical data) how many runs have been scored in the past in the same situation from that point on until the end of the inning.

    For example, for the data set 1993-2010, 0 out and bases empty (aka leading off the inning), run expectancy is 0.544 runs. This is not something that can be argued. For the data set stated above, that’s how many runs, on average, scored when the initial condition of 0 outs, bases empty were met. And that’s a biiig data set, which means it has some teeth.

    Let’s take the following situation:

    Initial Situation: Man on 3rd with 1 out.
    Run Expectancy: 0.989

    Outcome Situation A: Man on 1st and 3rd with 1 out following a walk
    Run Expectancy: 1.211

    Outcome Situation B: Bases empty with 2 outs following a sac fly
    Run Expectancy: 0.112 (But since a run is in, add 1)
    Total Run Expectancy: 1+0.112 = 1.112

    So, 1.211 > 1.112

    Therefore, unless you are sure 1 run is going to win/save the game for you, it’s better to walk than get a sac fly to score the run. And by “better to walk” I mean, your team will score more runs on average given what happened over the 1993-2012 seasons, if you walk with a man on 3rd and 1 out than you will if you hit a sac fly.

    (Side Note: These same tables are the basis for the “sac bunts are dumb” argument)

    Source: http://www.tangotiger.net/re24.html

    • @prjeter: The issue with this is that the run expectancy tables are for total runs, and not the probability that 1 run will score. In a close game (say 1 or 2 runs), I think it’s much more important to get the guaranteed run, than to preserve the chance at a huge inning. It’s the huge innings that skew the average run expectancy up.

      The table in this link is a little older, but shows the run expectancy and then the probability of scoring at all.

      http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/users/brooks/public_html/feda/datasets/expectedruns.html

      With these numbers, the expected runs with 1st and 3rd and 1 out is 1.17 runs. However, the probability of scoring is only 65%. If you’ve already gotten the sac fly, your probability of scoring at least 1 run is already 100%. That’s why in a close game the trade makes sense to me.

    • @prjeter: it’s fair to note that the current run environment is much lower than the 93-2010 era. Not sure how that affects the thresholds for various things.

      • @Chris Garber: Fair point. If homers are the main culprit in the run decline (likely, I’d say) it would probably devalue the walk and increase the value of getting runs in when you can. For what it’s worth. It’ll be nice if/when the same tables are published for the 2010-2013 span.

        • @prjeter: It might do that. Another hypothesis is that outs are even more scarce than before? I honestly don’t know.

  35. This thread got big in a hurry.. can someone go back and re-link the Votto interview everyone is upset over? It was from a New York site I think and if I recall correctly people are taking it out of context. In that same interview he expressly said (if I’m remembering right, it’s been a month or two) that he does change his approach to hit sac flies and whatnot during close/extra inning games. So he does do situational hitting, he simply doesn’t do it earlier in the game perhaps? I can’t remember the exact wording he used. Either way I remember thinking it was a great interview.

  36. Jason: your points about Joey are well-taken, but I do have a couple of points: what are the criteria for determining who the “best” hitter is? “Best” may not be a nebulous term, but it’s close. Secondly, everybody keeps proclaiming OBP as an independent stat, an accurate measure of a player’s ability/value. Of course, it is not independent–it is clearly influenced by who bats in front of and behind the player in question, just as RBI totals are. Joey’s traditional power numbers declined, and I agree that nagging injury and other teams’ refusal to pitch to him were factors–perhaps great factors–but Joey has never had a fearsome enforcer batting behind him and never had an OBP machine (Choo) batting in front of him, so the power decline (in an otherwise praiseworthy offensive year)merits some concern.

    • @greenmtred: I agree with most of what you say. OBP is more independent than RBI, but the rest of the team does make some difference. Still, once you get to a hitter of Votto’s caliber, the chances that someone else in the lineup is as good/better than him are slim.

      But yeah, the power concerns are legit. Power was down across the league this year, but not down like Votto’s was down. If you look at the comment I made just above this in the thread, you’ll see some hope that Votto recovered toward the end of the season. We’ll see next year, of course.

  37. Well, the thing is, Walt may very well know exactly what he is getting to. In terms of advanced metrics, I’m going to make up one called plate appearances/RBI. Since 2010, Votto’s PA/RBI has been:

    2010 – 5.74
    2011 – 6.98
    2012 – 8.48
    2013 – 9.95

    So, let’s see, even with having one of the top OBP players in front of him this past year, it still took Votto longer to get an RBI than the previous 3 seasons, getting worse with each season, including last season when he was on a torrid pace of doubles and two black holes in front of him.

    So, Walt seems to have a little bit of an idea what is going on. As well as, what he said exactly was the same that many of the advanced metricians have supported with many of the top hitters, that Votto will have to hit in a different spot in the order if something doesn’t happen.

    Thus, the only thing I could see anyone getting upset with has absolutely nothing to do with any kind of advanced metrics but actually that Walt simply treated Votto like any other player, which I support Walt for. For Votto should be treated as such. If Votto doesn’t like it, he can always be traded. Let’s see, it could be to akin to something like the Herschal Walker trade in football (Cowboys to Vikings). And, if I recall correctly, that trade started the Cowboys on a decade of prominence.

    From what I see, Votto does need to make an adjustment, which has pretty much been a hallmark with every successful player in the in the history of the league. You either make adjustments or the league “learns the book” on you and deals with you as such. And, last season, if I could see the book, it would be a pretty easy book to read. Votto will let 2 strikes go by without much of a problem. Then, after that, the pitchers just start nibbling at the corners. With those pitches, the hitter gets a weak hit. The hitter can easily swing and miss, a “K”. Or, the hitter ends up getting a walk. Votto’s effectiveness dismissed.

    Votto needs to make adjustments, either to tweek his batting philosophy to swing at some of the earlier pitches that are coming right down the middle. Or, he needs to adjust his swing to be able to better hit the balls that are reaching the corners of the K zone, just off the plate, etc. If I remember correctly, someone quoted Votto before that he swings only at pitches he knows he can do something with. Two questions:

    1) What’s wrong with the pitches that are coming right down the middle of the plate early in the AB, causing him to get 2 strikes in the first place?

    2) If Votto is going to get “nibbled” on, it would seem like he needs to learn how to do something with the pitches that are nibbling the corners.

    Votto may be the most feared hitter in the league right now. And, I would probably still select him for my own team, also. But, that doesn’t mean he is a god. He is still human. The other teams still plan for him, making their adjustments. Votto simply needs to make the adjustments right back. Either that, or, as Walt said, move to a different spot in the order, exactly what Walk and the advanced metricians have said.

      • @Jason Linden: But, yet, he struck out more than he ever had last season. You just made the case with this that Votto still has to make an adjustment, an adjustment that may very well be something like get his eyes checked, or make an adjustment as in improve his hand-eye coordination, or other items. For, if he’s average at swinging at pitches in the K-zone, and he still lead the league in walks and K’ed more than he ever has last season with the fewest number of hits he’s had ever since before his MVP season (except for his injured season last year), he must not be connecting on many of those balls that are coming right down the middle. The adjustment could be anything, even things we may not even have heard of. Maybe he was trying to push the ball too much last season. Or, trying to pull the ball too much. Or, trying to hit the HR for us too much, since he was seeing men on base more than he has for the last 2-3 seasons. But, fairly obvious, he has adjustments to make. The best ones in the game will tell you they make adjustments at anytime, since they need to be ready for most anything.

        Bottom line, Jason, the name of the game isn’t just advanced metrics. One thing can be how you answer to them. Another is making adjustments. If players don’t ever learn how to make adjustments, they gradually will render themselves ineffective since other teams will figure out how to pitch to/hit them, making themselves ineffective.

        An example? Why would you think any teams would overplay any infielders for certain batters to pull the ball? Because certain batters are known to pull the ball. And, until those batters learn how to hit the ball the other way, aka make the adjustment, they will still keep being defended that way. It’s a lot easier to play offense when you make the other 9 players play the entire field rather than only half the field.

    • Votto may be the most feared hitter in the league right now.

      How could he be such a feared hitter? You just gave a dissertation on how easy it is to pitch to Joey, how he takes too many pitches, how he doesn’t adjust.

      Now with all due respect, that’s amusing. Because this is precisely what has gotten Joey Votto in this predicament to begin with. He’s adjusted to the way he’s being pitched and now people don’t like it. He’s adjusted to his knee, what he thinks in his head the knee is capable of, and he’s getting killed for it.

      Meanwhile, you tell us he needs to learn how to adjust. Perhaps you should have led with “…that doesn’t mean he is a god.” You want him treated just like any other player, right? That’s what you said. No special treatment. And if he doesn’t like it, he can be traded, right?

      I mean, that was the point, right? Take the man down a peg?

      • @Richard Fitch: You sort of answered your own question, Richard. The other team’s had to plan for him because he was such a feared hitter. Could you imagine what he would do if the other teams in the league didn’t fear him? Hint, look at his stats in 2010.

    • @steveschoen: The whole “having a high OBP guy in front of him” argument doesn’t have much weight. Choo, with his walks, HPB, and singles was usually on 1st base if and when Votto came up with him on. Choo doesn’t score on a single and rarely would score on a double. Only way to drive him in is triple and homer in most of those situations.

      Folks batting after Choo AND Votto though, would benefit from TWO guy who walk a lot. A BP single would score a run much more often than would a Votto single. This is evidenced by the RBI numbers and BP’s sub-.400 slugging %.

      • @prjeter: Peter, which goes to the whole point that the other teams have learned how to make Votto ineffective.

        Second, Choo isn’t as slow as you think. He did steal 20 bases this season. And, playing CF, you have to have some speed in you. Is he Drew Stubbs? Who is besides Hamilton? But, is Choo slow? Nope. Very capable of scoring on a double when on first just as much as scoring on a single from 2nd. Why didn’t Votto drive him in more? Because, the other teams have adjusted to Votto. So, Votto needs to find a way to adjust back.

  38. Here’s what Joey Votto meant: He doesn’t believe in changing his approach to the situation because he believes his approach as it is gives the team the best chance to succeed regardless of the situation the majority of the time. Yes, he could hit 10 more HRs, but not without sacrificing in other areas, which would, in the end, reduce his overall productivity and thus, his value to the team and it’s chances of winning any given game.

    People want to believe Votto can simply swing at the pitches off the plate with men on base and somehow achieve similar results. He’s effectively saying no, it doesn’t work that way.

    Someone says Votto “wasn’t very productive in terms of creating runs.” I can’t even explain how ridiculous that statement is. It completely ignores the reality of this past season. Someone else says he’s not above being held accountable–as if he’s some wayward child who needs a timeout.

    Wanting Votto to trade an OUT for a RUN presumes you’re going to get the RUN. It’s a false assumption. You’re trading an OUT for a CHANCE at a RUN. That’s a rather large difference and we should be honest about that.

    All this parsing of exactly what Votto said does him a disservice. But because the team had a disappointing year and Votto is the face of the team and takes home the biggest paycheck, he’s gotta pay, whether the criticism is valid or not. I don’t believe Votto would ever put his personal stats above team goals. But that’s precisely what some are suggesting.

    Agendas sure reveal themselves when the subject is Joey Votto.

    Good grief.

    • @Richard Fitch: Your response to the response seems way more over the top than any of the comments above. AND WE CAN HEAR YOU RICHARD.

      What are the agendas that have revealed themselves to you? What is my agenda?

      Also, by posing the trade as an out for a run, aren’t you also assuming that he would make an out? Isn’t that just as “false?”

      No one has said anything about swinging at pitches off the plate. Votto himself says he could hit more HRs, and seems to reference about a 15 to 20 point drop in batting average. He also talks about sac flies and ground balls, and looking for a pitch that he can do “damage” with. Nowhere did he, or I, or anyone on this thread but you talk about pitches off the plate.

      Do you think situational hitting doesn’t exist? Couldn’t exist? Is it wrong for people to talk about it when a star player says he doesn’t take the situation of the game into context?

      Good grief indeed Richard.

      • @al: Hmmm. I don’t remember singling you out, Al. However, now that you mention it, you did label Votto’s remarks STUPID. That seems much more “over the top” than anything above, including my response. At least that’s my opinion. You’ve said he’s seems OCD or SELFISH. Over the top? I wouldn’t know if you have an agenda, but some of the remarks here tonight clearly show one, as I’ve already pointed out. When someone says “he’s not God,” well, you get my drift.

        When you make statements like “He’s admitting that he could hit for more power and drive in more runs, and chooses not to,” I think you know that’s not what he’s saying at all. IMO, you’re putting words in his mouth. Why would he NOT want to hit for more power, drive in more runs–unless implicit in that statement is that he feels there’s a demonstrative downside to doing that?

        You say you have no agenda. So why do that?

        You also said this: “But if there is a guy on third with less than two out, try to drive him in. Hitting is hard, if you just walk, you’re putting the responsibility on the next guy, and he’s probably going to fail, because everyone fails most of the time in hitting. You have to take your shots when you get them.”

        That implicitly suggests that yes, you do think he should be swinging at pitches off the plate. Hitting is hard, right? He has to take his shots, right? How does he do that, how does he not pass the responsibility on to the next hitter–if he won’t swing at pitches, borderline or even a few inches off the plate?

        He couldn’t accomplish what you are asking of him above without swinging a questionable pitches, could he?

        • @Richard Fitch: Well, if saying that talking to reporters like he did is stupid is over the top, I guess I’m over it. It seems like fueling his detractors, so I wouldn’t have done it.

          He did admit that he could hit more HRs and drive in more runs. It’s in the link I posted. Of course it’s assumed that he thinks what he’s doing is better, but that’s the discussion. It might not be, right? A change in his approach might make him better, which is what Jocketty was saying.

          In the interview, Votto says that he’s looking for pitches to do damage with. To me, that means looking for things he can drive, rather than hitting a ground ball or a sac fly, both of which he also mentions. Again, the plate isn’t mentioned at all, you’re making that up entirely. I’m only using things he said. He said he could hit more HRs, not me. Off the plate or not, he thinks he could do it. Same with RBI.

          I don’t know what you think a questionable pitch is, but apparently Votto thinks he’s getting the pitches to hit more HRs and RBI. He wants to take a different approach than that, and the club has some concerns about that. That all seems like fodder for a really good discussion.

          But then you come in and criticize the people having that discussion, and accuse us of having agendas. What would those even be?

        • In the interview, Votto says that he’s looking for pitches to do damage with. To me, that means looking for things he can drive, rather than hitting a ground ball or a sac fly, both of which he also mentions. Again, the plate isn’t mentioned at all, you’re making that up entirely.

          I’m making nothing up. The words “borderline pitches are all over this thread. They are in the 2nd comment.

          When you say things like “To me, that means….” you’re interpreting Votto’s comments. And incorrectly IMO. Votto was merely saying that if he wanted to, he could sit on his back leg, guess, and hit more home runs. That doesn’t mean he thinks he’s getting HR pitches down the pipe he’s choosing to let go by.

          But then you come in and criticize the people having that discussion, and accuse us of having agendas. What would those even be?

          What would that even be? You’re kidding right? How about jealously over the outrageous amount of money he’s making? How about the need to scapegoat somebody, anybody for the team not meeting expectations? How about the fact that Votto doesn’t look like he cares? You know, doesn’t break enough things in the dugout after an out? I’ve heard that one.

          In the end, I don’t know what any individual’s agenda is for unfairly criticizing the guy.

          That’s for each individual to answer.

          As someone said, “he’s not god.”

        • @Richard Fitch: You’re one of the contributors to this site right? Don’t you think you should uphold the commenting guidelines?

          As far as I can tell, pretty much everyone here was having a good discussion before you came along. Steve did post some numbers that surprised me, and look at my response above, I said that the results were great and that I guess it was just how Votto said what he did that bothered me. Is that so wrong?

          To me, you really crossed the line when you start talking about people’s personal agendas. That doesn’t seem relevant to the discussion at all, and is much more in line with personal attacks on the posters than it is with creating good discussion.

          This isn’t my site, but I like it a lot when we can have good discussions. I hope you revise your approach.

        • @al: What commenting guideline am I violating? Pushing back against those that say Votto thinks he’s a god, Votto’s selfish, or OCD? How is THAT relevant to the discussion? Again, if people want to hammer Votto for his fielding are baserunning, that’s one thing. But this over-the-top criticism of a guy who was ranked #1 in weighted runs created plus as late in the season as August or early September, suggests, yes–agenda driven criticism.

          You don’t like it, Al. I get that. But, it’s absolutely relevant. Anybody who makes statements with little to nothing to back them up can expect others to think other motives are at play. Unfair criticism of Votto has gone on all over the internet this year, just as it did above in the comments yesterday.

          And you’re the one who responded to my post, right? Until then, I said nothing directly to you. You want to discuss, let’s discuss. But this idea that you can imply flaws in a players’ character, then get offended when someone calls you on it–well, too bad.

        • @Richard Fitch: What flaws in character did I mention?

          I think I stated pretty clearly that I thought accusing people of having agendas (also, I’m not sure if you know what that word means, but saying someone is jealous is a motivation, not really an agenda) went against the commenting guideline of making your post about the posters, rather than the topic.

          Look at the comments above. Steve Mancuso replied at one point that he thought that Votto didn’t word his statements well. Jason Linden said that he thought it was a good nuanced discussion. They seem to be capable of engaging in this discussion and not lashing out at posters.

        • @Richard Fitch: And in case my comments above were construed as insulting to Joey, I didn’t mean them that way. What I meant was that if someone has such a rigid approach that they admit they don’t take the context into account except very rarely, it could be interpreted as selfish.

          Votto also says he understands that in the interview I linked to.

        • @al: Or his comments could be interpreted as well thought out, researched and field-tested. What you choose to regard as “rigid” can just as well be viewed as “committed.”

          You’ve been shown Votto’s production with a runner on third base, but results still are less important to you than parsing Votto’s words and extrapolating outward.

          It seems pointless. It’s definitely inaccurate.

        • @Richard Fitch: What is? You’re not even making sense or responding to the points. Of course his could be interpreted different ways, that’s why I mentioned that Votto said he understood the risk he was taking in saying what he did. It adds credibility to the way the I, others, and seemingly the front office, interpreted the statements.

  39. When you look at this post in the context of what has transpired this off season, something exciting appears to me:

    1. No Dusty, now we have Price. Hopeful change of philosophy in ‘giving away outs’.

    2. The Reds are seemingly openly shopping Brandon.

    3. Jocketty, whether in a correct fashion or not, is openly discussing shaking up the lineup.

    4. GM is wondering if Votto should be in another spot in the lineup (presumably 2nd).

    I am hopeful that means if someone can displace Votto from the third hole, and Brandon is no longer on the team, we are seriously looking at bringing in a big bat. That’s the only way I see both those things happening. If Choo walks, Brandon is traded, and Votto switched, the whole top of your order has changed. The only way that is a positive is by bringing in a real hitter. If someone shows up who is better equipped than Joey to hit third, by all means let them.

    I’m also not sold on the comps of Morgan and Votto. Two different skill sets. Morgan’s ability to score from first cannot be overlooked, nor can his ability to drive pitchers crazy when he was on first. Many grooved fastballs were thrown to Foster/Bench because of that. Joey is a great player, but I think his quotes to indeed reflect a two hole mentality more than a three hole one. I have no problem with the move, if Jay and whoever else we bring in is up to the challenge.

      • @Bubba Ho-Tep: Nice troll comment. Where’s your data the suggests “runs” win games? I saw the Sox score runs last night and lose. THE MOST runs wins the game. One run will win VERY FEW games. Sacrificing an out early in the game is mathematically incorrect for optimizing run production.

        I don’t think ANYONE EVER on this board will argue that socring 1 run when down by 1 or tied late in the game is the wrong play. So don’t even try to take it there.

        But it IS the wrong play to sacrifice outs early in the game to score a single run. The name of the game is outscoring your opponent, not scoring a single run. Empirical data (whether you like it or not) shows that you’ll score more runs on average when getting on base in situations where you have a chance to trade an out for a run (i.e.- man on 3rd, 1 out).

        • @steveschoen: Many people are completely misunderstanding my point. I do think he should bat 2nd. But not because he’s a certain type of hitter. It’s because he’s the best hitter on the team and the best hitter should usually bat second.

          The implications that he’s somehow inferior to other players on the team are ridiculous and have no basis in fact.

          You keep talking about making adjustments, but do you really know he hasn’t? You seem to be ignoring his acknowledgment that he wasn’t fully healthy for much of last season. I would assume that requires some adjustment. Given how good he was this year, I’d say he adjusted pretty well.

          But you can’t really be convinced, and I think we know it. Was Votto as good last year as he was in 2010 or 2012? No. However, he was almost exactly as good as he was in 2009 and 2011. Careers have ups and downs. I think a lot of people are simply using the RBI boogeyman to draw convenient conclusions when really the correct conclusion is probably this:

          Votto’s knee was wonky for most of the season so the power wasn’t there. Also, BP isn’t much of a hitter, so it was easy to pitch around Votto. Votto didn’t get as many RBI as we might have expected, but that kind of thing happens. It’s just random. Votto’s clutch numbers, to the extent that clutchness extists, have been pretty awesome and the tiny subset of PAs they consist of in one season doesn’t tell us anything useful.

          You can say you disagree with that, I guess. But you have zero evidence to back you up. Ultimately, as I (and others) have (in this post and plenty of others) provided mountains of evidence while you have provided essentially none, the burden of proof falls on you.

          I start to wonder how much reading have you done on modern metrics? Have you educated yourself? If so, why are you unconvinced? And don’t tell me it’s a feeling you have. People have completely opposite feelings all the time. Feelings don’t tell us very much about the truth.

        • @Jason Linden: Absolutely no one has said nor alluded to Votto is inferior to the others on the team. The only thing has been we have said Votto hasn’t made the adjustments to counter the adjustments the other teams have made to make him less effective.

          You mention I didn’t provide evidence. I have done nothing but provide evidence. You haven’t provided any evidence. Just where have anyone said Votto is “inferior to other players on the team”? So many other people recognize this, Jason. Sorry if you can’t recognize it.

        • @steveschoen: The only thing people have even alluded to is that with Votto’s current production, he would be better as a #2 hitter. With his current lack of power numbers, high OBP, and high run total, all of which you have said, that would only support all of our premise.

        • @steveschoen: No one has said Votto is inferior to the others on the team. We’ve only said he is inferior to what he is called on to be in the 3 hole, inferior to his MVP numbers, etc.

        • @steveschoen: I think you misunderstand. All of the people in Jason’s camp (SABR guys), will tell you Votto is the best hitter for the following spots in the lineup; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. He’s the best hitter. Period. Hitting 2nd makes sense because he’ll get more at bats in a season. Hell, batting leadoff would make sense, too. But usually batting the guy with the highest slugging % (career AND 2013) leadoff is a poor choice. So, 2nd it is.

        • @prjeter: Peter, with all due respect, by Jason’s own words, you are missing Jason’s point. He admitted in another post that he didn’t like Walt calling out Votto. Past that, you simply supported not only the SABR’s out there but Walt’s own point.

        • @steveschoen: You said Votto’s current lack of power numbers, high OBP, and high run total would make him a better #2 hitter.

          I’m saying Votto being a better hitter than anyone one the team means he’s better than anyone else in every position, 1 through 9. #2 is being mentioned, NOT because it’s what WJ says or because someone with a “lack of power” and high OBP should hit there, it’s being mentioned because #2 is where most forward-thinking baseball strategists agree your best hitter should hit.

          We’re arriving at the same conclusion for differnet reasons. I say (and SABR folks) say he should hit 2nd because he’s the best hitter. You say he should hit 2nd because he lacks power and would be a poor 3-4-5 hitter.

          Also, my name isn’t “Peter,” so please stop referring to me as such. Thanks.

        • @Jason Linden: By a landslide more runs are scored via hits than walks.

          A home run will score a run with no one on base.

          It’s pretty clear where the value is.

        • @Jason Linden: By a landslide more runs are scored via hits than walks.

          A home run will score a run with no one on base.

          It’s pretty clear where the value is.

          But you were advocating sac flies, not HRs.

        • @Jason Linden: You are missing entirely missing the point, Jason, where advanced metrics miss. Walks can only score a run one way, with the bases loaded. But a hit can score a run with 1, 2, 3 men on base or even no men on base, on any base. The 3 hole is a position in the batting order of RBI production. That’s the way it’s always been with the 3, 4, and 5 guys. Votto’s RBI numbers decreased 30% from last season, even with one of the league’s OBP leaders in front of him this season. He’s the same hitter? Maybe so, but with the teams pitching him differently, they have decreased his effectiveness as a batter in the 3 hole.

          The best players always make adjustments. The best clubs always make adjustments. They will always make adjustments. They will always have to make adjustments if they want to remain on top. The team can adjust the roster by getting a real 4 hole hitter behind Votto. Or, the team can adjust their batting order by moving him to the 2 hole. Or, Votto can adjust his hitting philosophy/stroke/eye/whatever. Like you said with your own stats, if Votto is at the league average at % swinging at balls down the middle, yet he still struck out more than he has ever before and walked more than he has ever before, then he must missing on a lot of those swings on balls coming down the middle of the plate. It would be either that, or he isn’t getting many balls coming down the middle and, thus, is swinging at a lot of balls outside the K-zone. I’m not talking percentage, I’m talking the actual number of pitches and swings.

  40. I think this has been blown COMPLETELY out of proportion.

    Votto is the best hitter on the team, and may be asked to change his approach. Like BP was asked to bat cleanup. Votto will most likely comply with the request, then hit .290 with 35 HRs and 120 RBI.

    OR he moves to the 2 spot and continues not to give away outs.

    The problem isn’t Votto. It’s surrounding Votto with better hitters.

    • @jessecuster44: Now, that’s what I can agree with. For, with the team as in, Votto is probably better for this team in the 2 hole. But, get a 4 hole hitter behind him, aka what Halladay and McGuire (sp?) did for Pujols, what Fielder did for Braun and Cabrera, then we would see Votto’s power numbers, and the team’s wins as well, increase.

      And, that’s what advanced metrics wouldn’t cover, any kind of strategies and relations between players. No kind of statistics tell “why” things happen. They only tell how much things have happened. Not to say I don’t like advanced metrics. I have specified I do like them. You just have to take anything with a grain of salt.

  41. This is all a ploy to make Price/WJ look like geniuses when Votto has pretty much the same season next season but isn’t saddled with Cozart and BP in the #2/4 spots & ends up with 120 RBIs.

      • @VaRedsFan: It’s pretty clear the people strongly advocating Votto NEEDS MOAR RBIs could care less about total team run production. They think it’s pure coincidence that the Reds had 2 hitters in the top 4 in NL in the RBI category, and they just happened to hit behind Joey.

  42. I can’t tell what you are having trouble with, Jason. If you are trying to support advanced metrics, Walt if anything is only showing the support for those same metrics that you have even stated here, how teams may look to move their best hitters to the 2 hole. If you are against moving Votto, then why are you bringing up advanced metrics that would show the team’s best hitters should be batting second?

    The only thing I could imagine is that you are against Walt treating Votto like any other player. I’d rather have that than having him treated as a prima donna. Remember, that’s what got the locker room in trouble with Dunn and Griffey, the Red Sox in trouble last season, etc., when certain players were treated special and different than others.

    • @steveschoen: Calling out the best player for the thing he is best at is stupid. It’s as simple as that. It shows that you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

      Maybe that’s too blunt, but it’s what I was trying to get across. As I said earlier. Call him out for his fielding or baserunning. Those need work. But he knows more about hitting than pretty much anyone, so maybe just let him do his thing since the only person in MLB who can definitively be called better at it is Miguel Cabrera.

      • @Jason Linden: Agree it was questionable to criticize Votto about his approach this season. However, the Reds didn’t score enough runs. They lost a mess of 1-0, 2-1, 3-1 games.

        I love metrics, I think they work, and I think Votto is a great hitter.

        Yet the Reds are not one of the two teams still playing.

        After a horrid end to the season, I think you worry less about hurting feelings, and worry more about making this team better.

        Joey is a big boy with a big contract. I bet he can take this criticism.

        • @steveschoen: Mr. Burns held Don Mattingly “accountable” for his sideburns. That’s basically what Walt is doing here – criticizing Votto for a nonexistent problem.

          For some reason, some guys here get off on seeing the “prima donna” being taken down a peg. That’s definitely a Cincinnati thing.

        • @Chris Garber: I just think it’s not fair to say it’s a “non-existent” problem. We can debate (and have) the exact value of different components of offense, but I think you should at least be willing to admit that there might be a way for Votto to improve offensively if he took a different approach.

          I think that’s a fair thing to say because the Reds wanted more power from him, and he said explicitly that if he wanted to, he could hit for more power. Maybe that’s all Walt was saying, right? “We’re going to ask him to hit for more power, and if he won’t change his approach, we’ll move him to 2nd in the order.”

        • @al:
          Three thoughts on that:
          1. The statement you suggest would’ve been reasonable.
          2. But it wouldn’t have involved the “accountability” that some folks are grasping on.
          3. And based on the other Q&A, I think Walt was making a different point to Votto.

        • @Chris Garber: Oh, I wouldn’t say it’s a problem. And, Walt didn’t say it’s a problem. It is an adjustment that needs to be made. I mean, seriously, when your 3 hole hitter has the 3 worst isolated power average in the entire league for 3 hole hitters (if I recall correctly), something needs adjustment. It’s not uncommon. Professionals do it all the time. Geez, Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan even said themselves they really didn’t learn how to pitch until they decided not to just throw it as hard as they can but to actually hit locations. And, look at their careers, started slowly, they made the adjustments, and look what happened. It isn’t unheard of for stars to make adjustments. Why is it so hard for some here to consider it?

        • @steveschoen: I think the people on “Votto’s side” would argue that no adjustment needs to be made. Votto embodies the sabermetric approach, which is:

          #1: avoid outs
          #2: make as solid contact as possible

          That’s it. Your RJ and Ryan examples actually miss the point, in my opinion, and argue for the opposite stance. They’re staying once they stopped mindlessly using their physical skills and started to be more methodical, they found success. That is EXACTLY what Votto does.

          And not to get too sidetracked, but I am not a fan of the ISO state. As I said in another post, a high batting average makes your ISO worse. How does that make sense. Votto hits for a high average because he hits line drives and his BABIP is naturally high. That’s what I want out of a 3 hitter. If he hit a few less 2B and HR beacuse of knee or random luck or whatever, then that’s fine and sub-optimal and hopefully it improves next year. But it has nothing to do with “approach” or “adjustments”.

        • @Aaron Lehr: You are missing the idea of adjustments, Aaron. Any player will tell you that adjustments could very well be made from game to game, even from AB to AB if not from pitch to pitch. Most simply, if you get a different kind of pitcher to come in from the pen, the batters will have to make an adjustment.

          The other teams have learned how to limit Votto’s effectiveness and have adjusted. I never said “Make Votto ineffective”. I’ve always said “Limit Votto’s effectiveness”, entirely different aspects. If Votto, the coaches, the managers, or the club doesn’t answer the other team’s adjustments right back, we will have what we have, a 20 HR 70 RBI $25 million 3 hole hitter. And, the thing is, it doesn’t have to be an adjustment in “how Votto bats”. It could simply be “where Votto bats”. His numbers this season would be more conducive of a 2 hole hitter. A top 4 of Choo, Votto, BP, Bruce I wouldn’t have too much of a problem with. And, Votto wouldn’t have to adjust his swing at all probably. But, an adjustment would have been made.

        • The other teams have learned how to limit Votto’s effectiveness and have adjusted.

          I’m 90% sure that the power drought is knee-related, not the result of pitcher/defensive adjustments.

        • I mean, seriously, when your 3 hole hitter has the 3 worst isolated power average in the entire league for 3 hole hitters (if I recall correctly), something needs adjustment.

          But Walt Jocketty said that Votto needs to hit more sacrifice flies. Nothing’s been said about extra base hits.

        • @jessecuster44: Actually, the Reds didn’t have that many low-scoring offensive outputs in relation to the rest of the NL. Their record in such games also was decent. I studied this recently. Expect it to be published here soon.

          That said, scoring more runs is always good.

        • @LWBlogger: looking forward to that article.

          What I meant to say was that IF the reds had scored more runs, maybe a 2-1 loss would have turned into a 4-2 win, leading to about 8 more wins this year, and perhaps a division title.

        • @LWBlogger: Let me clarify…. Their record in such games relative to how the rest of the NL performed in such games isn’t that bad. Generally, scoring more than 2 runs means you are likely to lose the game.

        • @LWBlogger: *Sigh* I mean generally scoring less than two runs means you are likely to lose the game. Can’t think straight today. Sorry guys.

      • @Jason Linden: And, what’s he best at, Jason? Driving in runs? That dropped 30% from last season, even with one of the league’s best OBP guys in front of him. Getting hits? That dropped to his lowest he’s had since his MVP season, with the most PA he’s ever had. Getting on base? That’s what teams structure for the 1-2 hole guys to do; that’s not where Votto batted. The 3-4-5 hole guys are there to drive in the 1-2 hole guys.

        It could be the knee. But, what if it isn’t? Quote from USA today from September, “Votto also says his left knee is not bothering him.”

        That’s all Walt said, Jason, that Votto needs to change or he may need to be moved in the batting order. That’s more than obvious. What, he didn’t say, “The front office needs to find someone to bat behind Votto”? Oh, let’s crucify him, then, for not holding himself accountable. You really don’t think Walt hasn’t been looking for someone to hit behind Votto? What about player accountability? Votto is suppose to be left off the hook even when the problem could be with him? You are reading a lot more into that then there is, Jason.

        • @steveschoen:

          Do you even understand that you’re trying to argue Votto isn’t the best hitter (“And, what’s he best at, Jason?”) and then giving examples that compare him to himself?

          Do you understand how that makes no sense?

          You also are implying that leading the league in OBP and setting a club record for times on base is a bad thing since he hit #3. Of course, that’s not what teams “structure” the 3 hole for!

          “The 3-4-5 hole guys are there to drive in the 1-2 hole guys.” Sooo, Choo’s walks, hit-by-pitches, and singles put him where? 1st base. Cozart, Frazier, BP, Ludwick, and Izturis. Were they good hitters from the 2 hole this year? Nope. So, you want Votto to have a lot of RBIs because Choo gets on 1st base well? Makes no sense. The ADDITIVE EFFECT of Choo THEN Votto (walk/walk, single/walk, hbp/single, etc) put a lot of men on 1st and 2nd or 1st and 3rd for BP/Bruce. However, your arugment also would suggest that ALL #2 hitters who have a good leadoff hitter should have a lot of RBIs because “a high OBP guy is in front of them.” But I doubt you’d make that statement. So you contradict yourself.

          Here’s something for you. Votto was intentionally walked 19 times in 192 PAs with men on base. THAT’S TEN PERCENT (or close enough that it doesn’t matter). Take those 19 PAs and give him 4 walks, and 4 hits. Those 4 hits drive in 6 runs, probably, given the situatiosn in which Votto is usualluy walked (to get to Phillips, cough). That’s 6 more RBI. I bet if he had RBI in the 80s rather than 70s more people who liek the “eye test” wouldnt be as up in arms about Votto’s RBI production.

        • @prjeter: That’s just it, Peter. You really need to go back and read the post here and previous threads. I have only been spouting Jason’s own SABR talk, nothing else, that would defend the SABR’s move of Votto to the 2 hole. And, Jason was being against it. I asked Jason for an explanation. And, he told me, that he simply didn’t like Walt to call out Votto on it.

          You really need to read the posts, Peter.

        • @prjeter: And, here’s one for you, Peter. Votto’s “isolated power”, a SABR measure of a batter’s raw power, was the 3rd worst in the NL for all 3 hole batters. His RBI production decreased 30% from a year ago (on pace last season for over 100 RBI’s overall last season). Not exactly what you call for from your 3 hole hitter.

        • @steveschoen: You’re making arguments that I (and no one else, from what I can tell) don’t care about.

          His ISO was 3rd lowest from the 3 hole. Ok. Cool. I agree. So what? Also, a measure of “raw power?” Please. That’s your interpretation of it. It’s a measure of the average about of total bases you record per at bat not counting singles.

          ALSO. Stop calling me “Peter.” I think you’re doing it intentionally now and I find it offensive. My name isn’t “Peter.” And you’ve referred to me as “Peter” five times now on four different posts. Please stop.

  43. @gschiller13: Well, in high-leverage situations this year, he has hit .196 and has a wRC+ of 76. So, over the course of the year in high-leverage situations, the Red Sox would have been better off with a league average player performing at their normal level than what was provided by Ortiz. There is no doubt that he has hit some memorable “clutch” hits in the postseason, but it was not routine for him this year. Over the course of his career, he has performed slightly worse in high-leverage situations than he has overall.

    Also, to those people that are saying Joey Votto was striking out a lot more this year. Not really. His strikeout rate was up 1.1% over last year, which amounts to about 10 strikeouts for the season. His strikeout rate this year was lower than it was in 2010 when he won the MVP.

  44. This all got pretty long and I hope I don’t restate something that has already been said several times.

    What I see missing in this entire discussion is the reality of how Votto or anyone fits into the real world versus stat world team structure.

    The team needs someone to produce high OPS with the slugging component. They bought Votto for 10 years for that role (Jocketty said in the interview they expected to get 10 years of Pujols). If Votto doesn’t fill that roll, then the team needs somebody who does but they have the very large problem that they’ve spent the money set aside for that role on Votto.

    To state the obvious, everybody isn’t Joey Votto at the plate. Perhaps some one should try to explain to Votto from that point of view what and why they want from him offensively. Votto getting on base by walking only helps the team if there are players behind him to take advantage of the situation. Too often in 2013 there were not. In light of that, they would have been better off in many situations had Votto trusted his batting average versus the batting average/ OBP of the guys behind instead of walking.

    One last thing, it seemed to me there were many times when Votto was at the plate actually looking to walk versus looking to put the ball in play. And I did not like that.

  45. Like OhioJim above, I apologize if I rehash anything by not having read every single post on this. I lean old school on this discussion but I truly try to understand the new school point of view on this. A few things that bother me.

    1. I hate when this becomes a Joey vs. Brandon debate. I completely understand the tendency to overrate the value of BA w/RISP, and I completely understand that it’s not a “predictive” stat, and that most good hitters will simply hit well regardless of the situation. None of that erases the fact that BP finished the season at .338/.404 with RISP (not to mention .611 BA with the bases loaded). And I don’t have the numbers, but I have to figure these numbers were way better at the all-star break. How any Reds fan could watch this season and not notice BP getting every big hit the Reds needed for the first three months of season is beyond me. Did his RBI numbers greatly depend on Joey getting on base? OBVIOUSLY. But why does it always seem that the old school gives 100% credit to the guy who gets the walk and ZERO credit to the guy who drives him in? This is what bothers the old school guys like me. I’m sure someone will tell me that no one is claiming that BP should get zero credit for his RBIs, and only pointing out that RBIs are team dependent…but that just ain’t the case in this context. In this context people are arguing that one of the reasons that Joey drew so many walks is because pitchers would rather face the terrible Brandon Phillips…who then BURNED them over and over again.

    I subscribe to the theory that BP was very banged up in the latter part of the season, and his numbers fell as a result. Give me a gold glove second baseman like BP on my team any day of the week.

    2. I’ve almost never criticized Joey for taking a walk. I really don’t like this argument that he “left it up to inferior hitters behind him.” As I just mentioned, that strategy worked perfectly fine, at least for the first half of the season. My problem with Joey is all the other times when he struck out or hit into a double play, and didn’t come through when we needed him. It’s not all about him having only 73 RBIs. His BA was the lowest since his rookie year. His SLG was his worst. His strikeouts were his most. He had only 30 doubles in 162 games – compared to 44 in 121 games last season!

    I LOVE JOEY VOTTO. I think it was clear that he was still affected by the knee injury and I expect him to have a monster season next year. But I don’t know how anyone can call this season “great.”

    • @PRoseFutureHOFer: It’s pretty easy to see why it devolves to a Joey vs. Brandon debate. It’s overwhelmingly clear that many posters want Joey to hit more “situationally.” Which is to say, “hit more like Brandon hit this season.” “Situationally” means “improve your hitting approach when the team needs it.” I think we can all agree on that.

      Many folks feel Votto didn’t “improve his hitting approach” this season when warranted. Which is all heresay since we have NO IDEA what Votto did or didn’t do with his approach. Too many factors to accurately make a statement either way.

      So, basically, it seems to me what happens is the people who like stats and data want to defend the best hitter on the team from criticism and the folks who want Votto to be the MVP every year with his AVG/HR/RBI get upset that he isn’t this year.

      Have the time it seems liek we aren’t even arguing about the same subject! Ha!

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