I’m every gifted athlete’s holy grail. There is fame—and then there is Me. Travel in my company and know that my outsized brother, Expectation, comes along for the ride. Ask Albert Pujols. He courted Me with all the fervor of some young Shakespearean lover, only to see Fortune turn his back on him almost before the next spring thaw.

Joey knows.

I bring with Me the wrath of scribes and spectators alike. Accomplishments are as yellowed as old newsprint. Injuries from a bygone campaign are invoked. Yesterday’s benchmarks are nothing before Me. Lies become truths. Motives become impure. Feel free to question the gifted eye, the brilliant synapses, the relentless baseball intellect. All is fair in glove and WAR.

Consider the misunderstood Walk, drawn from the pitcher with all the effort of summoning blood from the proverbial stone. The four-tenths of a second between pitcher’s fingertips and catcher’s pocket precisely measure the cruel, singular moment that separates the great hitter from the forgotten player. In that crucible lies the fate of every would-be major leaguer from Billings to Pawtucket. How could you, average Horatio, ever hope to comprehend such feats?

Joey knows.

He strides into the pitch, driving the man on base from the first corner to the hot corner. Yet, it is another who reaps the glory, scoring the run with a replacement level swing beaten into the infield turf, forever recorded in the Book—the exalted Run Batted In. Without a doubt, there are more things between these foul poles, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your RISP-driven philosophy.

So, unburden your mind of the absurdity of it all and release the hounds. Dispatch from your thoughts all objective measure that tells you Joseph Daniel Votto is producing another season of most valuable-like proportions. Fie on thee, Plate Discipline. Because of Me, that is no longer enough. To him I have given much. In return, he must humble himself before the madding crowd.

Freedom and crippling Judgment are my twin attendants. There cannot be one without the other. Above all, I must have my pound of flesh.

I’m the Money.



Join the conversation! 90 Comments

  1. And the award for best performance in a drama goes to…

  2. Nice prose. This deserves an actual, unsarcastic award.

  3. I don’t care about any of this mumbo jumbo. The guy is on pace for less than 75 RBI out of the 3 hole. For the money he makes, that ain’t getting it done. As I’ve said before, the Reds will regret the Votto contract sooner rather than later.

    • @homerandbruce: Answer this: how much would Votto make, today. Suppose he was going to be a free agent at season’s end.

      I’m almost embarrassed to be a Reds fan. There are legitimate concerns about Votto, his knee, as well as the likely situation that near the end of his contract, he’s probably going to be a relatively expensive mediocre player. He will be pretty old then.

      But a not small chunk of Reds fans simply dislike the guy and would rather him not be a Red. It’s really amazing.

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I do not understand those people. Votto plays hard, is well-spoken, and does good in the community. He’s a good interview, sticks up for his teammates, and is honest about himself. He’s my favorite current Red. Maybe this isn’t his best year, but he deserves support from every Reds fan.

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate: As usual you overstate things. Why? Who dislikes JV? Who? Come on name names or stop it. I love the guy. He is having a hard time. Do I not “like” him because of it? No. I root as hard as anyone can for the guy. Your getting married to guys, I don’t. If any of the 25 guys are not playing up to “their” par, I call them on it. Whether the name is Parra, Cozart, Frazier, Phillips and yes, Bailey, Bruce and even Joey. Your married to JV and can not be objective. Worst yet, you castigate those that do.

        • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: Since you asked. (And I mean dislike Votto as a player, not a person.)

          cincyreds14, homerandbruce, and redtitan19 have all stated their unhappiness with Votto’s contract and said the Reds will regret it soon, with cincyreds14 comparing Votto’s contract to Zito’s contract (that might be trolling, I suppose). I assume that anyone who is unhappy with the albatross contract would rather trade Votto and avoid the huge financial investment that the Reds have made in him. After all, after a year, the Giants knew the Zito contract was a problem and would have loved to dump him for free…on anyone.

          In addition, if 3 people here (and I haven’t looked for others) out of say 40 posters think Votto would be better off not a Red, and this is the most sophisticated Reds site out there, then I’d guess that maybe 25% of the common fan think Votto’s contract’s a disaster—his traditional numbers are .318, 15 homers, 44 RBI.

          As for my backing of Votto, you are wrong. I was one of his largest critics here in April. No one is above criticism when you’re playing professional sports. I stated time and again that I was worried the knee had completely sapped his power. That was wrong on my part, but I do think it’s possibly sapped a little of it.

          What I hate is people using incorrect stats, as you do, to say how much Votto is struggling. These are often outright falsehoods. “Votto is not hitting in the clutch”. Scroll down to abox03’s post and you’ll see he’s hitting .310 with RISP. In my book that’s pretty good. Considering that you’ve already been debunked by others here with your insistence that he hit .370 with RISP in that 4-5 more hits would get him there, I’d think you’d choose a different line of attack. But instead, you and others say “no, he’s hitting .125 with 8 ABs with the bases loaded”, or “he’s hitting poorly with 2 outs and RISP”, which are so small sample sizes that they are worthless. Apparently hitting with RISP and 0 or 1 out doesn’t matter (except today, of course). Oh, and he hits well in high leverage situations this season also.

          Overall: I do think Votto is *not* performing up to his standards; I think the difference is small though; and I don’t think that RISP stats show anything other than he’s a clutch player, if one were to believe in clutch players. But you respond to this with: no, he’s not. Without any reasonable data to back it up, unless you are holding something back I’m not aware of.

          • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Hold up there! I never said I dislike Votto. I started wearing 19 instead of 11 on my softball jerseys a few years ago. I just don’t feel like he is currently playing up to Votto standards and we have differing opinions of why.

          • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Dude, no wonder you have the rep you have on this board. Never compared Votto’s contract to Zito. And go read the comments on the Enquirer sports page. There is an abundance of fans displeased with Votto’s contract as well as his lack of hitting and driving in runs. So please stop identifying only a few when there are so many unhappy Reds fans this morning. It is becoming abundantly clear, this team does NOT have what it takes to get over the hump and be a contender. Bring on the BENGALS!!

          • @cincyreds14: You are a troll and cannot tell the truth. Do you want Votto on the Reds at 20M, or not?

            And, I said:

            In addition, if 3 people here (and I haven’t looked for others) out of say 40 posters think Votto would be better off not a Red, and this is the most sophisticated Reds site out there, then I’d guess that maybe 25% of the common fan think Votto’s contract’s a disaster—his traditional numbers are .318, 15 homers, 44 RBI.

            Which is exactly saying that a lot more common fans are angry at Votto than people here.

          • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Please name names of the three and the comments you are referring to.

          • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: I will, as soon as you answer my previous question to you.

          • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I don’t know the question you are referring to but would be happy to answer if I can.

          • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: Read my response to you (the long one) above. I want to know which stat you are using to determine that Votto isn’t clutch, and I want you to acknowledge that I do not blindly support Votto (ok, the last one isn’t a question).

          • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: Read my response to you (the long one) above.I want to know which stat you are using to determine that Votto isn’t clutch, and I want you to acknowledge that I do not blindly support Votto (ok, the last one isn’t a question).

            Never ever said Joey was not clutch. Ever. Now please answer my question to you.

          • Never ever said Joey was not clutch.Ever.Now please answer my question to you.

            I named the people above. But:

            CincyReds14: Thanks VOTTO – And no you are not an All-Star (what a joke). THE REDS ARE STUCK WITH YOU!

            Homerandbruce: I don’t care about any of this mumbo jumbo. The guy is on pace for less than 75 RBI out of the 3 hole. For the money he makes, that ain’t getting it done. As I’ve said before, the Reds will regret the Votto contract sooner rather than later.

            RedTitan19 has denied that he said or implied this, and I need to go back further. So that one might be wrong, I need to look further, but I don’t think so. Instead, we’re going to have the bonus untruth from you (and this was yesterday), since you said you never ever said Votto isn’t clutch:

            CharlotteNCRedsFan: Joey Votto is a “clutch player” historically. He is anything but this year.

          • I named the people above.But:

            CincyReds14: Thanks VOTTO – And no you are not an All-Star (what a joke). THE REDS ARE STUCK WITH YOU!

            Homerandbruce: I don’t care about any of this mumbo jumbo. The guy is on pace for less than 75 RBI out of the 3 hole. For the money he makes, that ain’t getting it done. As I’ve said before, the Reds will regret the Votto contract sooner rather than later.

            RedTitan19 has denied that he said or implied this, and I need to go back further.So that one might be wrong, I need to look further, but I don’t think so.Instead, we’re going to have the bonus untruth from you (and this was yesterday), since you said you never ever said Votto isn’t clutch:

            CharlotteNCRedsFan: Joey Votto is a “clutch player” historically. He is anything but this year.

            Okay – my comment was wrong. The comment should have stipulated “for Votto”” he has been anything but clutch. But clutch by normally “human” standards, I would say he has been clutch.

            So one (1) guy says “the Reds are stuck with you” out of ~150 posters? I bet Red would take that back today or at least I hope he would.

            As far as the Contract goes, we just won’t know for a couple of more years IMO. It sure beats the heck out of the Pujols deal, that is for sure.

            I would ask that you just not claim that there are people who dislike a player when there is scant, if any, evidence. I’m guessing all of the folks here love JV the same. Some may speak out of frustration that in the longer view they would take back. It tends to discourage honest dialogue because some may be afraid to speak their own opinions for fear of being belittled. You and I have thick skin. Not everyone does. I like posts with 300 comments even if a lot of them make no sense to me. I try to respect all opinions as I believe 95% of the posters do. I probably miss the mark a time or two (smiley face) but I try.

            Thanks for taking the time to do the research and you caught me “RED-handed”.

    • I don’t care about any of this mumbo jumbo.The guy is on pace for less than 75 RBI out of the 3 hole.For the money he makes, that ain’t getting it done.As I’ve said before, the Reds will regret the Votto contract sooner rather than later.

      Who cares? RBI is a stupid statistic that means little. Where it counts, Votto is elite, including leading the league in OBP, Times on Base, Walks, Runs Created; and top 10 in WAR, Runs, OPS+, Adjusted OPS+, among others.

      Seriously, the argument that Votto is ‘not producing’ is so spurious it’s a non-sequitur.


  4. Question: How many RBIs do #3 hitters on other teams have this year? 6 AB with the bases loaded isn’t a good sample size.

    The DP today was a killer, but you can’t expect Votto to deliver all the time. I seem to recall he delivered quite a lot last year. Maybe this year is regression to the mean?

    The real problem is the failure to replace Ludwick, especially after he admitted he won’t be 100% until after the season. Remember a less than 100% Votto last year?

    WJ has had since April to find a bat to replace Ludwick, and he hasn’t done it. That’s very foolish.

    • @jessecuster44: Since you asked: Craig, mccutchen, Goldschmidt, Pedroia, Nellie Cruz, Longoria, Encarnacion and Cabrera (and probably more but I stopped looking) all have more RBI from the 3 hole than the exalted Votto. I agree with hitting him in the 2 hole and have espoused it for some time. It’s too bad the idiotstick we have filling out the lineup card still lives in 1974.

      • @homerandbruce: I feel as though you’re just trolling at this point. After all the evidence Jason, HAT, Abox, and others have given you, if you continue to stubbornly hold fast to your beliefs, then there is nothing we or anyone else can do to change your mind.

        By all means share your opinions. Please don’t state them as fact without at least having supporting facts to back them up.

        Also, about RBIs: they are a stat of opportunity. If you have guys on base you naturally have more chances to get more RBIs. That is why Phillips is doing so well in regards to RBIs this year; he has Votto and Choo (who has been sent first to third and been stopped by Speier an awful lot this year) hitting in front of him.

        Also, about the “idiotstick” as you termed him… look at how he reacts when given stats supporting flexible thinking then go back and read your own comments and others responses. Please. I think you’ll find that Baker isn’t the only stubborn one around here.

        • @rhayex: Baker is the only stubborn one around here with the ability to torpedo the Reds’ season with his outdated thinking and player first mentality.

          “I left Homer in so he could get the win.” Can you imagine Sparky, Lou, or Tony LaRussa saying that? It makes me sick.

      • @homerandbruce:

        You are correct about Cutch, Miggy, Goldschmidt, and Pedroia, who have had most (if not all) of their at-bats in the 3 hole. But the rest of your list of #3 hitters are actually clean-up hitters, or have spent a lot of time hitting clean-up or 5th.

        Cruz has 108ab at 3, and 251ab as 4-5-6. Craig as 24ab as 2-3, and 336ab as 4-5. Encarnacion has 221ab as 3, and 139ab as 4. Longoria has 35ab as 3 and 322ab as 4.

        Your statement about Votto having fewer RBI that the men listed is true, but I’d expect him to have fewer RBI than just about every #4 hitter in the league.

    • @jessecuster44: Um, you’re aware they use the DH in the AL, right? Don’t you think having someone other than a pitcher bat 9th might have an impact on the RBI opportunities for a 3-hole hitter? Maybe, possibly? Bringing the AL guys into this discussion is just a waste of time–it’s comparing apples to beach balls.

  5. This Votto contract thing is just insane. If this is “all” Votto is, that is, a guy who “can’t drive in runs or hit for power”, and has to hit leadoff or #2 and posts a .440 OBP or so, how much is that worth? Please tell me. Because the answer is, “a lot”.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: You’d have to think that if he hit FA this year, with this weak of a free-agent market, he might set records. No joke. The only thing hurting him would be durability concerns over his knee, and who knows what teams would do with that. He’d still break 200 mil easy.

      • @rhayex: I don’t think it would set records but I certainly think he would get paid a lot of money. I don’t think it would be more than the contract he has, although that is mostly because I think there will be some reaction to the long contracts that are clearly not working out (Pujols, ARod to some extent). I don’t think there would be a huge reaction because Votto would be 30 as opposed to 33 next year, but I think it would be difficult for him to get 10 years, $200 million. It would be very close to that though- maybe even something that is a bit shorter with more money per year. Thinking about this as I’m writing, my guess is 7 years, $170 million (more money per years, less overall money).

        The question that HAT brings up about whether the Reds are better off with or without Votto’s contract is not an easy one IMO. I think signing Votto is something they had to do, otherwise their window to win would be closed after this season (and that question would hang over this season every day). Signing him opens the window for the Reds for at least an additional two years, although I think it will be hard to top the talent on this particular team. The contract will hurt the Reds down the road but this is the price of doing business. The Reds will be able to use Votto to fill seats (by both winning more games and having a marketable star) and will be able to negotiate a better TV deal (more eyeballs with them winning more and wanting to watch Votto). I have no idea how the dollars and cents break down, but signing him was very important for Castellini to back up his commitment to winning.

  6. 3rd hole this season to date..NL rankings

    Hits – 2nd
    HR – 5th
    RBI – 12th
    BB – 1st
    SO – 6th
    AVG – 1st
    OBP – 1st
    SLG – 5th
    OPS – 1st

    Another piece of information…Votto has 87 at bats with RISP with 27 hits and 28 walks…thats a .310 batting average…. and 38 RBI’s.

    I wonder how much of his lack of RBI production is a lack of opportunities to hit with RISP, and a lack of pitches he gets when there are RISP.

    • 3rd hole this season to date..NL rankings

      Hits – 2nd
      HR – 5th
      RBI – 12th
      BB – 1st
      SO – 6th
      AVG – 1st
      OBP – 1st
      SLG – 5th
      OPS – 1st

      Another piece of information…Votto has 87 at bats with RISP with 27 hits and 28 walks…thats a .310 batting average…. and 38 RBI’s.

      I wonder how much of his lack of RBI production is a lack of opportunities to hit with RISP, and a lack of pitches he gets when there are RISP.

      It has lots to do with a 2 hole hitter with an OBP of .274.

  7. Would this many words be spilled if Votto had hit a sac fly? I think not.

    The reason I like Redleg Nation so much is because it’s the best fan site for reasoned discussion. Unfortunately, there’s been far too much hand wringing over single at-bats and games. The lack of perspective around here lately is depressing and beneath the standards that have been the norm for years.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: And single pitches, too. So-and-so should have thrown a fastball on the 1-2, not a slider. Or whatever.

      What if Votto had homered? Would that have changed the whole season?

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Point is, he didn’t homer or even hit the ball hard. He rolled over and hit a weak ground ball in a situation where your big hitter has to come up big. And don’t look now but the Dodgers are only 4.5 behind in the race for the second wild card.

        • @homerandbruce: And meanwhile, the Reds are only three behind the Pirates for second in the NL Central, and four or five behind the Cards.

          Also, to whoever said the Cubs were “breathing down the Reds neck”, they’re currently ten and a half games behind the Reds alone. That’s fourteen and a half to fifteen and a half out of first to those counting.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: I agree, this is the best fan site for reasoned discussion. Lately there has been too much “I’m right and you’re wrong” going on and not as much reasoned discussion though. I hope it stops.

  8. Out of curiosity, why are my comments awaiting moderation now? Am I banned/on probation or something?

  9. The guy is on pace for less than 75 RBI out of the 3 hole. For the money he makes, that ain’t getting it done.

    The 4 spots directly in front of Votto most of the season have been (1) Mesoraco/Hanigan; (2) the Pitcher; (3) Choo; and (4) Cozart. Exactly where do you expect these RBIs to come from given the production from this quartet? Is there some third dimension of unseen batters that are getting on base between Choo and Cozart that the rest of us don’t know about?

    I love the Alice in Wonderland mentality that permeates this topic. When a team isn’t performing in a manner some folks think they should be, reasons have to found and people have to be scapegoated, no matter how illogical or goofy the analysis. People love to put a player with a large contract between the crosshairs–whether it’s warranted or not, because the beast needs to be fed.

    Even so, you’d think Votto, of all people, would be exempt from this nonsense. But you’d be wrong.

    • @Richard Fitch: I am far from the only Reds fan who feels this way. I do not appreciate my opinion being called nonsense.

      • @homerandbruce: Then please listen when we’re trying to explain things to you. You seem to have a preconceived notion of how things are, and when you read our replies you gloss over what we say in favor of looking for things to pick at, argue about, or be offended by.

        Also, simply because many people believe something is true doesn’t make it so. You had people KNOWING, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Earth was the center of the universe, as well as it being completely flat.

  10. Maybe if people would quit posting stats etc. about how great Votto is all of this conversation would stop. He failed today. It happens.

    • @Just A Fan: This conversation began with people complaining about how bad Votto is. That is entirely false, which would start an argument by itself, but then they claimed that the he isn’t worth his contract, implying that they don’t want him on the team and would rather have lost him to FA. That’s just absurd.

      • @Just A Fan: This conversation began with people complaining about how bad Votto is. That is entirely false, which would start an argument by itself, but then they claimed that the he isn’t worth his contract, implying that they don’t want him on the team and would rather have lost him to FA. That’s just absurd.

        There have been good points made on both sides of this argument. It’s getting tiring though, especially when there seem to be veiled insults with some replies. It’s been happening a lot lately. If you have to insult or ridicule the person you are responding to it takes something away from what you’re saying. I agree with your statement that wanting to lose him to FA is absurd. There is no one on this team I would rather see come up to bat in yesterday’s situation than him. But I’ve seen people start their reply with “You’re absurd” or “You’re wrong” and go on from there, and it’s becoming more of the norm here. And that bothers me.

        Anyone could have hit into that double play with the bases loaded yesterday and they would have been criticized. It’s normal, we’re all Reds fans and we never want to see them fail.

  11. This is my take on the Votto situation:

    When Joey Votto was signed to his monster contract, some felt that Votto was a certain type of player. What kind? A high average slugger who would drive in runs. Basically, Albert Pujols. Consider this: Albert Pujols, for every single year he has played baseball, and has averaged about 120 RBI per season. These are the kind of stats people expect from Votto.

    However, Votto can’t be that guy for a few reasons reasons:

    1. As some have pointed out, RBIs are a team stat. Votto simply doesn’t have as many chances to drive in runs as Pujols did/does.*

    2. Votto simply does not have Pujol’s power. Votto is a guy that seems like he would max out at about 30-35 HR a season, not the kind of guy who could routinely hit 35+.

    3. Votto can be a bit too selective sometimes for the role he is in. Yes, I actually just said that, but please note the caveat: “for the role he is in”.

    However, this does not mean Joey Votto is not a brilliant offensive player. He is. He gets on base at a tremendous clip. Despite that, the name of this game is scoring runs, and in a way, some may feel Votto is shirking his duty by electing to put himself in position to be driven in instead of being the one who drives in others. In fact, last 2 years, he has scored exactly the same number of runs as he himself has driven in. This year, he is on pace to score MORE runs than he has driven in.

    I honestly think that if Votto converted about 20 of his walks into that many RBIs, everyone who follows the team would be happy with him, sabermetricians and traditionalists alike. The thing I think drives people nuts is that, for the last 2 years, Votto has accumulated more walks than he has RBIs and is very likely to do so again this year. That is simply unheard of for the prototypical slugger/RBI machine people want him to be.

    The uptick is, look at Brandon Phillips. The fact that he is tied for 3rd most RBIs in all of MLB, even though he himself is not the prototypical slugger, speaks volumes about Votto’s on base skills. Phillips is simply taking advantage of the fact that he is being given a riduclous number of chances to drive in runs due to the virtue of Votto getting on base at the rate he is.

    The thing is, though, Votto has his own OBP machine hitting in front of him in the form of Shin Soo Choo. I don’t think Cozart has taken away THAT many RBI chances from Votto by hitting 2nd. Choo is extremely close to Votto in terms of OBP, yet Votto is far behind Phillips in the RBI count.

    So what does all of this mean? Votto is miscast. He is not a slugging 3 hole RBI machine, but rather a 2 hole hitter with a good deal of power. The problem is, the Reds don’t even have a true cleanup hitter, much less anyone who could conceivably replace Votto batting 3rd.

    So now the question becomes, if Votto isn’t in fact this RBI machine, is he worth the contract he received? I personally feel he is, but I think he would be worth even more if he could be put in a better position to use his particular skillset, that is, hitting 2nd.

    No one can say Joey Votto isn’t one of the greatest offensive players in the game today. However, his skill set projects him more as a Derek Jeter type instead of an Albert Pujols type. In fact, we may have the greatest #2 hitter in history on our team right now, he just has not had the chance to showcase this fact.

    If people can just accept that, we can all be happier.

    *One thing I would really like to see is how many RBI chances Votto has had vs how many actual RBIs he has generated and then compare this to other hitters around the league who also bat 3rd. I think this stat would go a long way to resolving what kind of offensive player Joey Votto tuly is.

    • @CI3J: I agree with most of what you wrote, but the stats tell us definitively that Votto has driven home runners at a lower rate in 2013 and 2012 than in prior years. My intent is not to bash him, but hopefully add to the discussion. Maybe it’s a simple matter of bad luck, but when viewed in conjunction with his ISO of .185 (vs .230 career average) it makes me wonder if he’s ever fully recovered from his injury.

      I threw in current year numbers for Pujols; he’s had one more baserunner on than Votto despite 22 fewer PAs, and has 14 more RBIs. Note that ML Avg is based on the same number of PAs as the relevant player:

      2013 Votto RBI 44 Runners 269
      2013 ML Avg RBI 46 Runners 259

      2013 Pujols RBI 58 Runners 270
      2013 ML Avg RBI 43 Runners 246

      2012 Votto RBI 56 Runners 263
      2012 ML Avg RBI 51 Runners 282

      2011 Votto RBI 103 Runners 418
      2011 ML Avg RBI 76 Runners 435

      2010 Votto RBI 113 Runners 391
      2010 ML Avg RBI 70 Runners 401

      • @GeorgeFoster: One thing I think needs mentioning when looking at these stats are you is on base and where. The where part I’ve had a hard time finding and if someone can (and point me to where) that would be great. But as for whom, we can take care of. This year if we look at the players in front of Votto: Choo, Cozart, Robinson, pitcher, Hannigan, and Mesoraco sprinkled with a little Heisey and Paul. The only player that is particularly fast is Robinson. Both Choo and Cozart are not by any means slow but they do not possess great speed. Hanningan and Mesoraco are slow. And so is all the pitchers save maybe Leake. Add this in with a conservative base running plan and it seems that Votto should have a harder time driving them in.

        Then you take a look at Puljos. I don’t know much about the Angels speed, but I do know this: Trout is fast. From what I remember he has the same kind of speed Robinson does, or at least near it. He can likely score on most hits from Puljos, even from first. This alone can really drive up RBI numbers.

        And lastly you take a look at previous years. Votto had Stubbs in front of him. The much-maligned Stubbs definitely did not reach base very often. However, when he did he scored often. He scored 91, 92, and 75 runs in the past three years, scoring 69%, 62%, and 71% of the time he reached base. He scored the most often the tear Votto missed a good portion of the year and when he wasn’t always at the top if the lineup (just to show it wasn’t all Votto). Stubbs had great speed, and much like Trout, he can score from first. Add in a much more aggressive base running game and I think you can make up much of Vottos “missed” RBIs.

        That being said, I agree Votto is having a down year… For Votto. All his numbers show it, but Votto is still very good, and if this is a down year, I’m glad to have him on our team because the good years will be great.

        • @Shadowcast: This.

          Also, I don’t know about the numbers for other #2 hitters, but Cozart has attempted 0 stolen bases as of yesterday. It’d be interesting to see how many times some of the top RBI guys (Miggy, Davis, Craig, Goldschmidt) picked up an RBI on a single after a stolen base got the guy into scoring position.

          Also, we aren’t discussing Votto’s league leading IBB total, which all but 1-2 (I think) have come directly after Baker calling for a sac bunt. Teams consider Votto with a man on 2nd a bigger threat than Phillips with a man on 1st and 2nd. Maybe “threat” isnt the right word. The calculated risk (more runs) is less than the reward (possible double play).

    • @CI3J: More walks than RBIs isn’t unheard of, there was that Bonds guy. I wonder what Marty would have said about a guy who walks 232 times and drives in 101 runs. Or 148 walks and 90 RBI. Obviously an extreme example, but you did say unheard of.

      I’d be thrilled if 20 BB became 20 hits that drive in runs, but not necessarily if 20 BB became 20 outs that drive in runs.

    • @CI3J: Makes perfect sense to me. And I think you effectively summed up the expectations vs. reality part.

    • @CI3J: I’ve posted this on every Votto thread of late, and I will continue posting it until it sinks in.

      Votto has the highest slugging percentage on the team. SLG, not OBP. Highest on the team.

      You can argue that you want him to bat 2nd, that’s fine, but Derek Jeter? Votto’s career SLG is 100 points higher than Jeter’s.

      Votto is having a down year for power, but his SLG is still 50 points higher than Jeter’s career mark, and higher than all but one season Jeter ever had. This is all just so crazy!

      Why can’t people see that he is still the best hitter on this team in every way. AVG/OBP/SLG. He’s having a down year, but so are a lot of other Reds. Ever think that it might be the pitching they’re facing?

      • @al:

        I never once said Votto isn’t the best hitter on the team, and in fact said he might very well be the greatest #2 hitter in the history of the game should he ever be put in that role.

        Isn’t that enough praise for the man? And believe me, 99% of all MLB hitters would love to have their comparison player be Derek Jeter. It’s not like he’s some stiff.

  12. Excellent breakdown. Eye-opening numbers.

  13. It’s as if THom Brennaman and Paul Daugherty hijacked the comments on this site under the guise of multiple screenames.

  14. I don’t get all the angst about Votto. Right this moment, I’d take 8 Joey V.’s batting in the lineup any and every day.
    Frazier is the one I’m worried about. Heard on the telecast of the game yesterday, the Reds are searching high and low for a veteran 3B. Frazier may have played his way to Louisville, unfortunately.

  15. If the Reds had one at bat for the season and each person here could choose to have Votto up or Phillips up, I bet about 25% of the people here would choose Phillips.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I doubt it is that high. I am quite sure that everyone would agree that Votto is the best player on the team. The margin just isn’t as large as it used to be.

      Maybe 5% would want BP up in that spot.

      If it was a RH pitcher, you could make the argument for Choo…

      • @RedTitan19: Sounds like a good “poll question” for RedlegNation to me.

        • @LWBlogger: That surely would settle it. I would hazard a guess that the number would be closer to 5 than 25. Love that BP but he is not JV. Very happy to have both on the squad.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate:

      I think it would really depend on the goal of the at bat. Votto and Phillips have different skill/mindsets to hitting.

      Votto works counts and gets on base, Phillips swings and drives in runs.

      Votto is better at what he does than Phillips is. But it’s a question of what you value more.

      • @CI3J: Let’s say: you must have a hit in the at bat. This gives all of the advantage to Phillips, as Votto walks a lot.

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Even leaving walks completely out of it, Votto gets hits at a much higher rate than Phillips does.

          • @Steve Mancuso: Yes he does. And this is the most sophisticated Reds site I know of, and I still bet 25% say Phillips, with this rephrasing of the question. I am trying to give every advantage to Phillips to make the point that I still want Votto up in the most critical situation.

          • @Hank Aarons Teammate:

            Yeah, in almost any case, you would want Votto up in that situation.

            However, if Votto ends up taking a walk, does that mean he failed in the AB? Because if that is the case, then even with his higher batting average, Phillips might actually end up meeting your conditions more frequently.

            Basically, the way I look at it is this: Votto has 75BB and 85K, meaning these are situations where he didn’t meet your conditions, or 160 times. He also has 114 hits. That means, all things being equal, he will meet your conditions 71% of the time.

            Phillips, on the other hand, has 25BB and 57K(!), meaning he won’t meet your conditions 82 times. Coupled with his 96 hits, and…

            Whoa, hold on a second there… Phillips has MORE hits than he does K/BB?

            That’s…. Interesting. So if you want your conditions met, maybe Phillips IS the better choice.

          • @Hank Aarons Teammate:

            You know, it seems like what I posted above HAS to be mathematically wrong somehow…

            Can anyone find the error I made in how I calculated those numbers?

          • @Hank Aarons Teammate:

            Oh, wait, I got it, I forgot to include other outs besides strikeouts.

            So the way I look at it, an AB can end with any of one true outcomes: HIT, WALK, or OUT. And if I understand Hank Aarons Teammate correctly, only HIT is a good outcome.

            Ok, so Votto has 360AB and 114H, so that means he has made 246 outs to go with his 75BB, meaning he will get a hit 36% of the time he bats.

            Phillips has 361AB and 96H, so that means he has made 265 outs. Add in his 25BB, and Phillips gets a hit 33% of the time he bats.

            There, that seems better. So yes, Votto wins out. But not by as large or a margin as some would think. Since he walks so much, thus taking away hit opportunities, it about makes it even.

          • @Steve Mancuso: Yes, I believe SABR invented a stat for this called “Batting Average.” 🙂

  16. And oh, yes, since we’re inventing stats in which Votto is bad in, let’s start with Bruce now. The “Bruce chokes in the clutch” mantra seems false, given that for his career he’s 4 points worse in BA with RISP, and 12 points better with men on.

  17. It seems to me that we are all agreeing on what is important, but disagree on which stat measures performance in that “what is important” category. Well, what IS important? Scoring runs. That’s what wins games from an offensive standpoint.

    RBIs, as some will argue, is the best measure. It shows how often you create a run with your bat.

    Runs Scored, as some will argues, is the best measure. It shows how may times your foot hits home plate, adding a run on the scoreboard for the good guys.

    Home runs aside, each of the above two stats is flawed because (as many have stated) they are “team stats.” You can’t score a run without someone to drive you in (errors/wild pitches exlcuded) and you can’t get an RBI without ducks on the pond.

    So wouldn’t it be great if there were a stat that measured your contribution to runs scored? I think all people would agree that it is more difficult to hit a triple than a fly ball. But, RBI purists will extoll the virtues of that sac fly and almost completly forget about the much more difficult task that occured before.

    The closest we have to describing how important each player is in relation to how many runs (and thus, wins) they create is wRC, weighted Runs Created. It’s based off Bill James’ state, Runs Created, but uses wOBA (weighted On Base Average) instead of regular ‘ol OBP. By extension, wRC+ makes the stat an index to leage average. Thus, 150 wRC+ means the player is 50% better than league average at creating runs.

    So, even if a walk is not as sexy as an RBI, consider the common situation where Votto walks and gets Choo to 2nd. Or gets the runners on 1st and 2nd to 2nd and 3rd. Then someone comes up behind him and hits a sac fly, or a two-run single. Great! We’ve scored! But who gets credit? wRC will correctly give credit to ALL players involved in the play, rather than just the person who was fortunate enough to come up with ducks on the pond.

    With all that said, I agree completely that Votto has not performed as well this year as in the past with RISP. He’s not “struggling,” in my opinion, he’s just not performing as well as we’ve come to hope from an MVP caliber player.

    So, what are the wRC+ numbers? Votto: 157, Choo: 152, Phillips: 97.

    Take it with a grain of salt. I know it’s just “another stat,” but I think it is one that more accurately measures a player’s value in terms of how often they help to create a run, rather than just being the last person in the chain to help the run score.

    • @prjeter: Not to mention Votto’s 157 ranks him third in the entire National League. 1pt behind Wright (158) and 5pts behind Posey (162). Combining wRC+ with OPS in which Votto ranks 4th in the NL but above Posey and Wright, one could make a very reasonable argument that Votto is still the best offensive player in the NL.

  18. Use the space between this post to post FACTUAL evidence that shows that Votto isn’t “clutch”, or that he is doing poorly, beyond his lack of RBIs. I will admit I am wrong if you convince me. On the same token, keep an open mind about what we’re saying, please.

    • @rhayex: Nothing to do with Joey not being clutch. As you say, “lack of RBIs”. My point, is and has been, “at this time” I believe the most productive spot in the order is the second hole. That’s it. Even if his RBI were considerably higher, I would probably bat him second. The thought of the #1 # 2 batters having .400+ OBP makes me giddy like a school girl. My other point is that I don’t believe he is driving the ball like he did prior to the injury. I don’t even know how to qualify/quantify that opinion other than watching nearly every game. Maybe he is but I’m not picking it up.

      Bottom line, he is a great player and easily the best on this roster. He is not playing up to the standards he has set. I don’t think he is lazy, stupid, lacking talent, etc but for Joey Votto he is having a hard time of it. But heck that is still better than nearly every other player in baseball. In 2010 and pre-injury 2012, I think you could make a very strong case that he was indeed the best hitter in the game.

      As far as stats, I’ve posted this before:

      2010 – .369
      2011 – .383
      2012 – .370
      2013 – .310

      That is a huge drop-off. Maybe it is just a correction back to the mean and I acknowledge that could be the case but it is not my view. I think this year is the exception to the rule. I think that Joey has been one of the best clutch hitters in the game, current day and historically. I don’t believe that is accident or happenstance that he hits so much higher with RISP.

      • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: I don’t know if there is any credence to this idea, but here’s how I think about explaining why a lot of good hitters hit better with RISP than their career averege: Pitchers throw them better pitches.

        I think everyone would agree that most hitters have better stats against fastballs than sliders. With RISP, I’d bet (don’t know where to look it up) pitchers throw more fast balls in the zone than when there aren’t RISP. If you put those two things together (more fastballs, batter hits fastballs better then breaking stuff) over a career you’d see higher BARISP and BA with out RISP, and that wouldn’t have anything to do with being “clutch.” Just a good hitter hitting easier pitches to hit.

        • @prjeter: You have a good point however in my. admittedly, limited research I found that hitters (great, good & bad) tend to have roughly the same average with RISP and without. There are exceptions but they are rare. But the fact is: there are. Joey Votto is an extreme example of this so yes I believe there are some (very few) that do indeed hit better with ducks on the pond. JV is one of the very best of all-time that I could fine. The list is small, examples: Rose, Aaron, Clemente, Ortiz, Youkilis, M.Cabrera, Rudi. But there is a list.

          • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: I defintely agree. I wasn’t advocating that all great hitters do better in RISP than without. Simply saying that there may be a reason why some hitters (Votto, in his career to date, is one example, as you mentioned several more good examples) have performed slightly better than their career BA. Thanks for looking those guys up. Good knowledge.

      • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: (1) it’s a difference of FIVE hits. (2) You just said you weren’t saying Votto’s not clutch, then you point out that he’s dropped off in RISP, doesn’t that mean you are saying he’s not clutch? Or what are you trying to say: that he’s gone from clutch to “sort of clutch”? Isn’t .310 good?

        • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Exactly. Compare to his history, he has not been clutch this year. Bingo. Now, your answer please. Joey Votto is a clutch player that is not having a clutchy year for “him”. Your answer, please.

          • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: Ah, so I see you admitted you did say that he’s not clutch. Got it. If he had 5 more hits, you’d say he’s extremely clutch. It’s just a weak argument from a statistical reliability point of view.

            What answer? I need the question.

          • @Hank Aarons Teammate: Yeah but how about if he had 5 more outs? Fact is he doesn’t have those 5 hits. If in his next 5 AB’s with RISP he produces hits, we will all be saying “Joey’s back”. He needs to get the hits though in order to say that. Saying it theoretically just doesn’t carry the day.

          • @CharlotteNCRedsFan: @Hank Aarons Teammate: What I can’t get about you two going back and forth is why it’s all about RISP. We all know that clutch hitting is more than that, and there are readily available stats for it.

            I love fangraph’s Win Probability stats. They make so much intuitive sense to me: over years and years of data they have calculated the probability of winning for every situation that can happen in baseball. Down 3, 5th inning 1 out. They have that. Up 1, bases loaded. 2nd inning, 2 out. They got that too. They got’em all.

            Then every time a player comes up to bat, he changes the situation, and they just calculate the change and give it to the player. Makes perfect sense. Some of the situations are more important, and they call those “high leverage” situations.

            Go look at them for the Reds, and it will make so much sense, and it turns out, Everyone’s Right! Votto has been the second most valuable guy on the team by winning percentage added (2.8 to Choo’s 3.6). He’s awesome. He’s better than Phillips. But his clutch score (high leverage) is negative.

            So he hasn’t done well in those situations this year, but he’s still been a great player, and better than Phillips, even though Phillips has a positive clutch score.

          • @al: Thanks, I wasn’t even aware there was such a stat. Just ignorance on my part.

  19. I got after Phillips about a week ago for being a lousy clean-up hitter who ought to be hitting second. Since then, he’s averaged about 7 RBIs a game and now leads the league. And I still think he ought to hit second.

    Actual RBIs aren’t a bad thing, by the way. It means you have done some positive things when guys are on base, which is better than not doing so. As stats, RBIs and “clutch hitting” have little or no predictive value, but they do inform you of positive things the guy has done in the past. We don’t really want Phillips to revert to the mean on RBIs and average with RISP, even though he probably will.

    Votto will be fine. This discussion reminds me that Dave Justice divorced Halle Berry, apparently tired of her act. You can find fault with anything if you look so hard that you turn cross-eyed. It wasn’t Votto’s finest at-bat yesterday, but he hit one ten days ago in the clutch that Chris Gomez made the play of the year on.

  20. Let’s imagine that Thom Brennaman’s Super Joey Votto actually existed. Do you think Thom and the rest of the doubters would be happy if Votto hit .400 with RISP? OK. So guess what: six times out of ten Super Joey Votto would fail. And one of those six times might be with the bases loaded and nobody out against one of baseball’s best set-up guys in 2013.

    (For the record, yesterday’s game was lost when Dusty decided to play with only seven batters because Homer apparently can’t throw to one of our only RH players who hits LHP. Or maybe when Dusty left Homer in too long so he gave up the third run. Heck, you could argue he should have been pulled before he gave up the second run. But that’s defensible; the 3rd run isn’t.)

    • @Eric the Red: They’d be satisfied with .400, IF he didn’t often walk.

      As for Corky Miller, I really disagree with the discussion yesterday (Annapolis in particular, who I disagree with at my own peril, because I almost always agree with him). Either Dusty should have pitched Bailey Saturday, so Miller faces the righty and Mes the lefty, or Bailey should pitch to Mes if necessary.

      Put it this way: if the Reds play a one game wildcard with Pitt, and Pitt pitches Locke and the Reds pitch Bailey, and the choice were Mes or Miller, is Miller really getting the call? I remember that Bobby Cox almost always had Maddux throw to Eddie Perez, but in the postseason, it was Javy Lopez. So in other words, Cox thought the best chance to win was to have Lopez in, but during the regular season just gave Maddux what he wanted. (And he was pretty dang good, so there’s that.)

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate: So for those people, .400 avg with .000 walks is better than .375 with .250 walks? Let’s say Super Joey hits .400 with an OBP of .600. That would still mean Thom could complain about Votto taking bases loaded walks–as Thom did yesterday–and yet Votto would be incredibly productive. Yet fail very often. Super Joey–what a bum.

        Sadly, I believe Dusty would start Miller in your scenario. It’s ridiculous, but there you go. I don’t know why they didn’t pitch Homer Saturday–that would also mean he’d face SF, a team he just no-hit. On the plus side, at least Dusty pinch hit for Miller. Progress.

  21. I’ve never seen so much criticism of a guy who is hitting well.

    Votto 2013: AVG/OPS
    Overall: .317/.964
    RISP: .310/.942
    Bases Empty: .337/.975

    Or are you picking on what happens when a runner gets to third base and there are two out? In a whopping 14 PA’s (that’s equivalent to about 3 games worth of PA’s) he’s batted .250 with an .857 OPS. Not Joey Votto great in a very small sample size. Or how about a runner on 3rd and less than two out? (.316/1.056 in 34 PA)…just like all his other splits.

    • @Greg Dafler: Fans remember high leverage situations, and in this case, it seems the numbers bare the fans out. Look at fangraphs “clutch” stat under Win Probability. Joey Votto has been the second least clutch player on the team, in front of only Cozart. All that means is that he hasn’t done well in high leverage situations, and it’s a very small sample size.

      But that’s what people are remembering.

  22. It is simple…Walt needs to pick up the phone and call Milwaukee and not hang up until we have traded for Segura… this team is literally going nowhere. When complete, call Miami and relent to allow them to unload the last worthwhile player they have in Stanton. Trade really whatever you would have to honestly… they combine to be 46 years of age and really are exactly what is missing from our team period.

    Then go win some rings!

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2013 Reds, Editorials