One of the more absurd storylines of this crazy season is the criticism Joey Votto has received from some corners, because he isn’t driving in enough runs for some ink-stained wretches and/or microphone owners. I’m not sure what it is about the culture of Cincinnati that makes print, TV, and radio guys want to attack the good players, while ignoring the real problems with a particular ballclub, but it’s a real phenomenon. It’s baffling.

Next time you feel like criticizing Votto, try to remember this: Joey Votto knows more about hitting than you. By all accounts, he works harder than anyone at perfecting his craft. Oh, and he just happens to be the best hitter in the National League.

Anyway, Votto responded to the critics:

“Yeah, sure, I hear the complaints and I think they are unfounded,” he said. “People think I’ve switched my hitting approach in general, but I’m the exact same guy, the exact same greedy blankey-blank. I do other things, too. I’m in the top five in batting average om the top five in slugging. I just have to be more efficient with it because I get less opportunities, but that’s OK.

“All I want to do is do what I can,” said the 29-year-old first baseman who heard no complaints in 2010 when he took 91 walks and won the National League MVP. “Sometimes I take a pitch, but I might be timing a pitch and looking at it for a future swing. Sometimes I take a pitch in the middle of the plate and people say, ‘Ah, man, how can he take that pitch with runners in scoring position?’ Well, if I don’t see that pitch why swing. And it might result in a better swing later in the at-bat and a better day in general.”

Go read the entire piece; it’s well worth your time, and there are plenty of other quotes from Votto in there, explaining his approach to the plate.

Count me in the camp that considers the Reds lucky to have Votto. Plus, I only hit .280 in Little League; who am I to criticize Votto’s hitting?

Never change, Joey Votto. Never change.

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

Join the conversation! 42 Comments

  1. “Joey Votto knows more about hitting than you”

    That should be enough to satisfy critics.

  2. Is there a camp out there that actually thinks we’re UNLUCKY to have Votto? If so, what other crazy stuff do they believe in?

    I love hearing JV talk about hitting. Guy is a professional and it’s always interesting to hear how his mind works when hitting. Reminds me of things I’ve heard about Maddux and his approach to pitching.

  3. Joey Votto is not only the best hitter in the NL, MVP front runner, but is also a class act off the field. The guy is cut from a different cloth, even compared to other sports super stars. He’s not just articulate but, my most accounts, an extremely intelligent guy. So luckily, he will be able to filter out and disregard the ignorant people that question him.

    • @bohdi: If Votto’s the front runner, it’s not by much. Goldschmidt is having a heck of a year himself. Then, also, it does help the winner of the MVP if his team at least makes it to the playoffs. We are barely there right now, still 3rd in our division.

      • @steveschoen: Yes, I agree. I think it will come down to Votto and Goldschmidt, with the essential tie breaker being which team makes the playoffs. There are other players like Carlos Gonzalez that could be in the mix but unless they are far in away better (which they are not) then playing on a non-playoff team should move them to the back of the line.

      • @steveschoen: At this point, I think Goldschmidt is ahead of Votto and McCutcheon isn’t far behind Votto.

        It’s all going to come down to what happens the rest of the year. If Votto doesn’t get on track and have a few monster games, he can kiss it goodbye. Unless enough voters value walks as much as RBIs (which I doubt).

        I love a 1-3 with 2 walks and 2 runs scored, but that isn’t going to get voters to vote your way.

        Votto has a clear edge in OBP, Walks, Times on Base, Offensive Win %, and Runs Created. Goldy or McCutcheon (or others) generally have clear advantages in every other category.

        If Joey can get to 21-22 homers, 70 RBI, while keeping his AVG at .320 and his OBP at .435, I give him a 50% chance. He’ll definitely receive some 1st place votes.

    • @reds_fanLEX: @bohdi: @bohdi: Plus, he is generous. My nephew is a student at the University of Cincinnati. He has a summer job washing cars at a local dealer. Recently, Votto dropped his car off for routine maintenance. My nephew washed his car and was there when Joey picked it up. He tipped him $120. My nephew said the only downside is that the “finishers” have to pool their tips 🙂

  4. This season has really lowered my opinion about my fellow Cincinnati Reds fans. Sadly, most of this is driven by the local media propaganda via Marty, Daugherty, et al. but I always assumed more Reds fans would be able to filter our their BS. It appears not. This site is obviously an exception, which is why I’ve become a daily RN follower.

  5. I wish a few of his teammates took this approach:

    “Sometimes being passive is better in the long run,” Votto added. “Sometimes there is a pitcher you just can’t read, there are shadows, thousands of reasons. But sometimes I just need to see the ball to prepare my timing. Nothing drives me crazier, nothing, than going up to the plate ill-prepared and rushing to the first available pitch and making a quick out. That’s when I’m at my angriest.

    “I’d much rather have tougher at-bats, see more pitches and do what I’m doing now,” he said. “I don’t want to go just go up and flail at pitches because that approach does not work for me in the long run. I’ve tried it and it just doesn’t work for me.”

    • @vegastypo: I had the exact same thought.

    • @vegastypo:
      Easy to do when you’re an MVP like Joey Votto. You can take the approach you want.

      But when you’re a young player like Todd Frazier or a player fighting for a spot (Chris Heisey) you fall into the trap of having to do what your moronic manager asks of you which is be aggressive early in the count.

      For the record, this is not a knock on Votto. Love the guy and his approach to hitting.

      • @Chris Wilson: Point taken. The two questions that McCoy likely didn’t ask — and Joey likely would not have answered directly if McCoy DID ask — were:

        — Would it help if you had a better hitter routinely batting second in the order?

        — Do you realize that your hitting philosophy flies in the face of your manager’s stated philosophy?

  6. I can understand what some say about Votto and the RBI’s. But, like others, they simply aren’t seeing the big picture. First, look who’s been batting in the 2 hole of the last two seasons. It’s no wonder he hasn’t had many opportunities to drive people in. Second, being a good hitter, other pitchers aren’t going to give him much to hit. They are going to scout the films to see what’s the best way to render Votto ineffective. Such as, if they decide to IBB Votto each time, what can Votto do about that? Don’t be such a good hitter? Then, in not getting much to hit, when Votto can make contact, it may not be effective enough to drive in any runs. And, finally, Votto’s style of hitting, taking so many pitches, puts him closer to getting BB and K’s than other hitters. But, with that, as many have said, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to take so many pitches.

    One thing with Votto I haven’t liked this season, he is K-ing more this season. He’s on pace for 140 K’s. He hasn’t had that many K’s since his 2003 rookie season. I haven’t liked that. I wonder if he is pressing a bit, maybe first because of his knee, and now maybe trying to put the team on his back? Or something?

    • @steveschoen: I should specify, I like Votto and want Votto on this team. If Votto wasn’t having these results, then it would just be someone else. If we don’t take on the big salary of a top player, we are only going to have lower salaries of players not as good. And, someone needs to be the “lynchpin” or “building block” for a team. The only thing I’d like to see him do more is not K so much.

  7. So when people complain about Dusty Baker, is that assuming they know more about baseball/lineups than Baker?

  8. The 2-hole has been the biggest issue, but it doesn’t help when your cleanup hitter has a .267/.316/.410 slash line. Pitchers are going to cut their loss with Votto and pitch around him (even if its not an IBB) plain and simple.

    The same argument degrading Votto has artificially inflated what people think of BP. He’s an average batter that doesn’t frighten opposing pitchers enough to challenge Votto much.

  9. Votto is not only smart, he works at his craft. He reads baseball books and non-baseball books that will help with the overall mental side of his game. I’ve never seen a more thoughtful baseball player – or athlete of any kind, really. At least for me, that’s one of the reasons he’s a real joy to root for. And why the critics are ignorant and insufferable. His game isn’t perfect, but if you’re a fan waiting for the perfect player, good luck.

    Too bad that the McCoy article, which is otherwise great, ducked the punch and only referenced “fan” critics. Hal has been willing over the years to be critical of players, even managers, but can’t seem to put the finger on the important local opinion leaders who spread this nonsense.

    There’s an old expression about sports that involves carrying. In this case, it would start: “Marty Brennaman couldn’t carry Joey Votto’s … “

    • @Steve Mancuso: The dude learned Spanish just to be able to talk to his Latino teammates. That tells enough to me.

      • @steveschoen: Yep, this tells a lot about his character. Good post.

      • @steveschoen:The Spanish lessons resonated early; I’m shocked that more players don’t follow suit. It’s easily accessible in the U.S. school system, offers immediate rewards in dealing with teammates and HUGE future rewards when looking to score long-term coaching and managing jobs in baseball.
        I’m sick of hearing the whines of “America First” guys who bitch about Latin players coming in deficient in English. Most are snatched up outside of draft rules at age 16 and have insufficient schooling, nutrition and dependable support groups. Having a recognized team leader like Votto take the time and trouble to learn the language must be inspiring.

        Moreover, he chats with Latinos from other teams when they reach first base! Tell me that isn’t a plus for the Redlegs when they’re negotiating with Latino free agents…

  10. To me, the most interesting bit of the quote is the part where he says “I just have to be more efficient with it because I get less opportunities, but that’s OK.”

    Is this a shot at the two-hole black hole, or a commentary on how he’s pitched to nowadays? I think the latter…

    • @RC: Yes, I think he’s referring to how he’s pitched and as a result how often he walks. He says earlier in the article that he puts “fewer balls in play” because of the walks and strikeouts.

      Not trying to start a controversy about Brandon Phillips, but BP swings at everything so he puts a much higher percentage of balls in play. He has many RBI off of outs he’s made, like ground balls. He’s been productive from the standpoint of RBI so far, which is good. But many of those RBI come at the cost of a higher batting average or on base percentage — things that affect the batters behind him to keep it going and drive in runs of their own.

    • @RC:

      Is this a shot at the two-hole black hole, or a commentary on how he’s pitched to nowadays?

      Simply a statement of a thoughtfully organized and presented fact. I don’t believe Votto has ever criticized anyone publicly and I seriously doubt he ever will. Votto recognizes that pitchers will routinely pitch around him. He knows why pitchers can and do pitch around him, but he chooses to focus on what he can do and how he can do it best. That makes him a bigger person than bloggers (self included).

      It’s not only the #2 hole that creates the problem, but also the #4 hole. BP has collected a lot of RBI’s this season, but he is not hitting effectively. The #1, #3 & #5 hitters have done a spectacular job, but not a single pitcher fears the #2 & #4 hitters, so the most effective hitters are minimized in the lineup.

      Next season, we won’t have Choo, BP will produce less as he gets older and no one is available from the farm system to fill those voids, but maybe Ludwick will come back to production at age 36 next season, maybe Phillips will hit professionally for the first time at age 33 next season, maybe Mesoraco will start producing consistently next season, maybe Frazier will prove that his 2012 season was not an outlier, maybe Hamilton will produce a .400+ OBP at the major league level after struggling to produce a .300+ OBP at AAA. Wow, that’s a lot of maybes facing the Reds next season even IF the pitching staff can stay healthy.

      The Reds have some potential help on the way from the minor league system, but that is 2-3 seasons away, so unless there is a significant change like the Choo aquisition, things are likely going to get worse before they get better.

  11. The only reason anybody is critical of Votto is because of ridiculously high expectations. I am in that camp. Nobody complained in 2010? Well that is because his numbers from the 7th inning on and the game on the line were astronomical that year. They were also probably unrepeatable. But most of us set the bar there. Pitchers have adjusted and he doesn’t get the same fat pitches as he did then. All of his sabre numbers are fantastic and he is without question the best player on the team, but he isn’t getting it done in the clutch like he was in 2010 and that is the reason for the criticism. With the game on the line and the decision coming down to one AB, there isn’t another Reds player the critics would want to see up there. The difference between 2010 and now is the degree of confidence we have that he will come through. I still feel that, despite what he said in the article, he feels that pressure and is pressing too much in those situations. It is definitely cool that he is that open about the topic with reporters and willing to address it head on. Most players would throw some cliches and canned answers out there. Point is, we all love Votto. I’m sure Marty loves Votto. We just liked the one crushing 3-1 fastballs better. We are a greedy sort and are quite spoiled by his past achievements.

  12. Thank’s for writing this, Chad. I feel the same way.

  13. first of all, Votto could be player/hitting coach, although I am in the camp that he could be player/manager (for these Reds anyway).

    Steve is right about Phillips and how he goes after RBIs. Frazier has that too, but he is lost right now. He should listen to Votto on hitting and re-do his approach.

    Goldschmidt is ahead of Votto and McCutcheon isn’t far behind Votto.

    Goldschmitd is the MVP, and if he isn’t, McCutcheon will be. It will take a major surge at the plate (10 HRs and 35 RBIs) for Joey to be close.

    sorry, but it is a beauty contest

  14. Cardinals taking some extended batting practice in Milwaukee. Problem is, the game already started. 5-0, Cardinals, still batting in the top of the second inning.

  15. I just cannot get my head around any criticism of Joey Votto regarding plate discipline and hitting. Look at any of the BRM players, and they had ups and downs in production. Up until last year when Votto missed 49 games due to injury, Votto has been very, very consistent in his batting numbers. Even so this year, but his 2B’s, HR’s and RBI’s are down somewhat. The lower # of 2B’s are a small concern. I don’t really want to see him turn into a mostly singles hitter. From my aging peepers and untrained eye, it does seem that Votto is a little more content to “slap” the ball more than “drive” the ball into the gaps this year.

    • @WVRedlegs:

      And that may be because he has adjusted a bit. Knowing he is going to be pitched away and outside alot this year.

      • @WVRedlegs: Seems to me that he is looking for the ball outside. That’s why he lets the ball travel and hits it the other way. It appears that pitchers are have success with fastballs on the inside corner. He adapted to that by pulling the ball quite a bit a couple weeks ago. I hope it continues. I think it is a work in progress but if he can truly turn on those inside pitches AND stay back on the outside ones, with his playe discipline– Look out.

      • @WVRedlegs: After last year’s almost magical pass on serious key injuries, this year has been trying, but the rotation has been brilliant (if somewhat battered), the bullpen has been crisply resourceful (if somewhat mishandled), and the offense has most often been just enough (if wildly peripatetic).

        That said, we’re just 3.5 games out with hopes of Marshall, Cueto and mojo returning, but my biggest hope is to see the thing we’ve rarely seen (but may well be seeing more of soon)–COINCIDENTAL HOT STREAKS BY JOEY VOTTO AND JAY BRUCE!

        It’s something that’s eluded us thus far, but dream with me and guess what a two-week, hit-to-left-of-second stomp-fest of Joey & Jay could do to this long-time cluster-flack in the Central.

        Our full pitching staff is better and deeper than the Pirates and Cards.
        Our overall defense is better than either. What we’re missing is some concerted hammering…

  16. Paul Daugherty and his ridiculosity.

    • @gosport474: I have zero respect for Daugherty. It would be one thing if he just had a differing opinion, but he doesn’t. He’s an internet troll that offers zero value-added to any topic. Not only are his assertions unsupported nonsense, he can’t write. His “Morning Line” is completely nonsensical, inarticulate, drivel.

      • @bohdi:

        He drives me nuts with his “opinions,” but I disagree that he can’t write.

      • @gosport474: I have zero respect for Daugherty. It would be one thing if he just had a differing opinion, but he doesn’t. He’s an internet troll that offers zero value-added to any topic. Not only are his assertions unsupported nonsense, he can’t write. His “Morning Line” is completely nonsensical, inarticulate, drivel.

        Except Daugherty gets paid to write stuff which guys like you will read and why I put guys like you on “ignore”. Who’s the troll?

  17. I just don’t see how Joey could conceivably win the MVP when Goldschmidt’s offensive output is basically equal to Joey’s in sabermetric terms, and Goldschmidt is easily better in the old-school baseball stats. Offense is basically the only thing Joey has going for him in 2013 and it’s a push between the two players. Goldschmidt’s defense is likely significantly better than Joey’s defense has been (and we all know Joey has probably had a couple more errors than stated), and Goldschmidt is a good baserunner who may steal 15-20 SBs.

    The same pretty much goes for McCutcheon. His wRC+ is only slightly less than Joey’s, he plays a premium defensive position at a very high level, and will finish with over 30 SBs.

    Not saying Joey isn’t amazing or anything, I think he is the best, most consistent hitter in the NL and his numbers are suppressed due to the guys hitting #2 and #4, but if you are going to win the MVP based solely on offensive performance, you better absolutely dominate everybody else, like Miguel Cabrera is doing in the AL (and even then, Mike Trout has a good claim based on his offensive value + defense/baserunning).

  18. Cardinals bring Mujica in for four-out save against the Brewers this afternoon. #managingwithurgency

  19. Without having read the above comments, I will say that I do think we’ve got an HOF player in Votto and wouldn’t CHANGE anything. He’s amazing.

    BUT – the problem is that he’s our best hitter by a mile. And we don’t have a best/great player who CAN drive in runs. If we had that, end of discussion. We do not. So that usually falls to your best player. We have no Pujols. We have no Cabrera. We have no real and legitimate threat to smack the two-run bomb or go-ahead home run on a somewhat consistent basis.

    This hole in our lineup makes Votto’s style seem lacking. It’s a shame for him AND, more importantly, for our ability to succeed (IMO) in the playoffs.

  20. We can’t criticise anyone who knows more about a subject than we do? Strange rule.

    • We can’t criticise anyone who knows more about a subject than we do? Strange rule.

      Stop trolling

  21. I love Marty but his stance on Votto is where I donot see eye to eye with him! I know when ppl take crap about him it’s due to his contract for the most part. If he wasn’t making what he is making would ppl be complaining? The dude is the only .300 hitter on the darn team!!! Plus he does get pitched around quite a bit. Votto is the only true professional on this ballclub!! He is who the younger guys need to strive to be not the hot dogging antics and mouth that BP puts on the field and in the clubhouse!!!! Votto maybe blue collar but that is what a real ball player looks like too me. Give me Votto over anyone else in the baseball..

  22. Lack of RBI production + a large salary is the reason the Reds traded Sean Casey. Back then all we heard was Casey only worries about BA and doesn’t drive in enough runs. So Casey had to go.

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About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.


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