I said my piece on this topic last week, but over at Fangraphs, Jeff Sullivan has an interesting take on the never-dying controversy over why must Joey Votto walk so much???

You really should go over and read the entire piece, as it well-reasoned. Plus, it has actual graphs! In the end, however, Sullivan’s conclusion was nearly identical to mine:

There are ways that Joey Votto could be a better baseball player, because he isn’t perfect. There have been pitches he’s taken with runners in scoring position that he probably could’ve hit. Likewise, with runners in scoring position, there have been pitches Brandon Phillips shouldn’t have swung at. This is just who Votto is, and there’s little sense in complaining about an elite player when he’s performing at an elite level. There are people who don’t particularly care for Votto’s patience. There is a person with a .435 OBP and a 159 wRC+. One of those is Joey Votto. Defer to the guy who reaches base all the time. He probably has the hitting thing figured out.

Yes, he does.

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.

You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Join the conversation! 54 Comments

  1. To me, the most important line in the piece was this one:

    “This year, with runners in scoring position — and excluding intentional walks — Votto has seen the fourth-lowest strike rate in baseball.”

    • @RC: Yep, I came over here to post the same thing. He has such a good eye for the strike zone, it really is incredible. The guy just rarely swings at a bad pitch. The thing is, if he strikes out swinging at some of those balls, people will get pissed at him for being impatient. He takes them and gets on base, people still get mad.

  2. So who do we trust to define a proper approach to hitting, Joey Votto or Dusty Baker? Those who ‘get’ what Votto is saying will not be dissuade in their thinking. Those who ‘get’ what dusty is saying will not be dissuade in their thinking. The two groups are so set in their thinking that the aurgument is really pointless because it really is an aurgument rather than a debate.

    Personally, I simply enjoy the artistry of watching Joey Votto facing down a pitcher and seeing who blinks first.

    • @Shchi Cossack: I saw a lot of Dusty hitting and he is not at all the polar opposite of Joey. Dusty did not K much as he had a good eye for the strike zone. When they talk in depth about hitting their bottom line is the same: it requires a combination of patience and aggressiveness.

      The sound bite for Dusty’s approach to hitting is “aggressive.” We should go beyond sound bites here. You do hear Dusty say “aggressive” a lot more than “patient”.
      His idea of aggressive includes smartness, which involves patience. If you get a fat fastball on the first pitch, depending on the situation, swing at it. Joey will do that. Don’t ever swing at a pitcher’s pitch on the first pitch, etc.

      Dusty’s dumb statements about walks are made in anger to amateurs whom he feels don’t know as much about hitting in the major leagues as they think they do. Joe Morgan, an all time walk and OBP king, makes the same comments out of the same anger.

      Most relevant is that, to my knowledge, Dusty has never ever criticized Joey’s approach to hitting, even when reporters bait him.

      • @pinson343: Once again, you articulate my sentiments flawlessly. I’m so glad to see you active on this blog again.

        I sincerely hope that Bruce continues to hit behind Votto for the remainder of this season. What will be interesting is not how Votto adapts to Bruce hitting cleanup, but how pitchers adapt to Bruce hitting cleanup. Bruce’s shot last night after the walk to Votto was a very good start to getting their attention. Let’s hope that someone steps up to hit equally effective behind Bruce.

      • @pinson343: I 100% agree with response, Dustys hitting approach is often assigned to him by someone cherry picking a line from a whole interview. I have heard him preach patience and plate discipline ,and end with …..but sometimes the first pitch is your best pitch to hit……of course that becomes the quote to run with and its simply not true. I don’t claim that he is flawless ….like all people he has his strengths and weaknesses, but I have never seen a manager scrutinized so relentlessly ….great post! GO REDS

      • @pinson343: What I recall Dusty saying about Votto was that Votto needed to be “more aggressive in the strike zone.” He said that directly to Marty on at least one pregame show, and that was very early in the season. Who knows what Dusty might have said to Joey privately. The message I thought he was sending was, don’t automatically take the first pitch since it might be his best pitch to really drive during the whole plate appearance.

  3. I’m a huge Joey Votto fan. He’s probably my favorite player on the Reds now that Stubbs is gone (don’t start – favorite and best can be too different things, and for anyone who cares my all time fav’s are Bench and Larkin so shush). And I do like his approach and results. But I’ve seen two stats in recent days that give me some cause for concern. I don’t quite know how to retrieve them, but if there’s someone who can pull them up for us and provide proper data for discussion I’d be grateful:

    Votto results with 2 strikes (and any number of balls), 2013 vs. career?
    Votto results with full count, 2013 vs. career?

    My sense is that he’s gotten very cautious with 2 strikes and especially with a full count. And yes, I understand that he pretty much never swings at balls regardless of the count. The problem seems to be that he also seems to rarely swing at those borderline pitches and I’m seeing a lot of called strike three lately. I don’t see evidence that Joey is in on that whole “too close to take” deal. But my eyes have deceived me many times before. Data anyone?

    • @Chris DeBlois: I’ll try to handle this request for you…

      .181/.309/.248=> 2013 with 2 strikes in 304 PA with 46 BB & 110 SO.
      .215/.318/.341=> Career with 2 strikes in 1797 PA with 231 BB & 677 SO.

      .176/.484/.270=> 2013 with full count in 122 PA with 46 BB & 29 SO.
      .263/.533/.471=> Career with full count in 629 PA with 231 BB & 146 SC.

      Is that what you wanted?

      • @Shchi Cossack: That is what I wanted to know, and I thank you sir. Those numbers do corroborate my general sense. I’m not one who thinks Votto needs to carry the team for the Reds to win. He needs a lot of help. It is, after all, a team sport. And I’m not really disappointed in Votto’s approach or results this year – he’s terrific as most here acknowledge. What I’m wondering about is long term expectations and trends. Those full count numbers are a bit worrisome to me. It will be interesting to see how Votto adjusts (see Baseclogger’s comment below). The differences on the 2 strike numbers are relatively small and probably meaningless. But with a full count Votto has a reputation for being a beast that hasn’t held up this year (1.004 OPS career vs. .754 this year). I’ll be watching with great interest… Thanks again.

    • @Chris DeBlois: Just from my own observations — no stats to back this up — my sense is the league has figured something out about Votto, which is that he’ll take an inside fastball with two strikes. With two strikes he’s looking to punch the ball the other way, and he’s looking for something other than a fastball. Even with a full count he’s thinking they might not throw him a fastball. So I think this makes him susceptible to inside fastballs because he can’t swing in time to pull them and can’t punch them to left, so he tends to let them go and hope they aren’t called strikes. I’ve seen him strike out on other pitches, of course, but I believe the inside fastball has become his biggest weakness (only with two strikes, I mean), and I think the league has definitely noticed. My assumption is that sooner or later Votto will start looking for those pitches and start yanking some of them into right, and the league will have to figure something else out.

      • @Baseclogger: Also just based on observation, I agree.
        Joey likes to go the other way with 2 strikes and is getting inside fastballs (not always obviously). He doesn’t always take them, he’s struck out swinging on some high and inside fastballs and he’s ripped some inside fastballs down the right field line.

  4. There is a pattern of mind among people who follow baseball to project a team’s shortcomings onto its best and highest paid players. In this case the Reds have trouble scoring runs, ergo Joey Votto isn’t doing enough to remedy that.

    I would suggest that Votto has had a somewhat disappointing season by his standards, but that speaks more to how high the bar has been set rather than the value he has brought to this team. It’s not as simple as saying he gets paid to drive in runs. Joey Votto gets paid to do whatever he can to put his team in position to win baseball games and that is something he does very, very well.

    Can his approach to hitting be difficult to watch sometimes and lead to called third strikes? Sure. Would I love to see him hit towering 470 foot shots to the outfield every time there are runners on base? Absolutely, but that’s not the kind of player Votto is.

    Jeff Brantley is fond of saying, “When you put the ball in play, good things happen.” The trouble with this offense this year is that it often has trouble putting the ball in play. At least when Votto doesn’t put the ball in play, there’s a reasonable chance of something good happening. Walks have the benefit of preserving outs and making opposing pitchers work harder.

    I think a lot of us agree this team would benefit more from having more of its hitters taking a more cautious approach than having Votto take a less cautious one.

    When runners get on base, good things happen.

    • @iw1967: I completely agree, that when a team is struggling it’s easy to look at the stars and assign the fault to them if they are somehow underperforming. I think that’s misguided. With this year’s Reds, look at the results from some of the every day players: Cozart, Frazier, Left Field, Choo against lefty’s, and Mesoraco until about a month or so ago. Too many outs in that lineup for a consistent and powerful offense. That’s not Votto’s fault. Nor Bruce’s or even Phillips’. But what I am interested in is whether or not Votto plays up to his own high standards. If you look above you’ll see that the numbers agree with the eye test – on a full count he’s been too patient. The walk and strikeout rates are about the same this year as for his career. The batting average and especially the power are well down. The sample size is fairly small so maybe it’s nothing to get worked up about. And maybe it’s exactly as Baseclogger suggests – maybe the league has figured something out that Votto is now trying to adjust to. Bears watching though. I don’t expect Votto (or anyone else) to carry the offense. And I’m not suggesting that he should be less (or more) cautious. But I am hoping that as long as he’s going to play for the Reds that he can live up to his own admittedly very high standards. Plus, though this has no direct correlation to the stats, it’s simply more FUN when Votto is slugging .470 on a full count.

      • @Chris DeBlois: Let me rephrase one small point. I said “on a full count he’s been too patient.” That’s not quite what I meant. I think he’s been just about as patient (in terms of swinging or not) as his past results would suggest. But I do think he hasn’t been aggressive enough when he does swing. The numbers say that he’s walking and striking out at the same rate as always. But they also say he’s not driving the ball as in year’s past (see slugging %). So I wonder if he’s been too worried about whether a pitch is hittable or not, and not worried enough about being ready to drive the pitch if it IS hittable. Or maybe (and more likely) this is a case of trying to read too much into a whole lot of not much…

        • @Chris DeBlois: I absolutely agree it’s more fun when Votto is doing well in full-count situations and this year he is not.

          Having said that, I am not a fan of this particular stat because I don’t know that is gives a full picture. How many of those full counts have come with the bases empty and how many have come with runners in scoring position. His reluctance to swing at close pitches may be dictated by the situation. Plus there’s the dreaded small sample size to take into consideration.

          I have wondered a few times this year if his how concerned he is about his knee even a year after the injury and how much that has affected his confidence in his ability to drive pitches.

          • @iw1967: I mention Joey’s dropoff in slugging pct. below. That might be related to his knee. It was especially evident early in the season on the basepaths that the knee was still not 100%, and that he was concerned about re-injuring it.

          • @pinson343: I’ve seen a number of hard slides lately, left leg extended and right knee down with the lower leg tucked and bearing most of the weight, that suggests Votto is not holding back on the knee at all. I take that as a very good sign.

          • @iw1967: And to quote another student of (a different game) who was a whole lot smarter than me “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.”

      • @Chris DeBlois: I find it interesting that when most people list the team’s offensive problems, they list Frasier…but rarely list Phillips, though their OPS are only .010 apart. I’m not saying Frasier has been great, but why is Phillips never included in the “problems with the offense” discussion?

        • @Bill Lack: Frazier and BP both bring exceptional defense and marginal offense. Frazier is 27, making $528K, not arbitration eligible until 2015 and under team control through 2017. BP is 32, making $10MM that escalates by $1MM each year through 2017.

          Frazier may or may not improve offensively. This coming off season and next season will be a critical juncture in his career. If Frazier can make the necessary adjustments to gain some consistent, positive production at the plate, his defense makes him a solid 3B. If not, his flexibility and salary will make him a solid utlity player.

          BP is playing on the down side of his marvelous career. His defense has and will continue to deteriorate, but he is still a defensive asset at 2B. His offense will also deteriorate, probably on a pretty steep curve, while his salary increases.

          Like you, I see both players having equal skill and production value to the Reds going forward, but BP’s salary really tips that scale dramatically. Spending $12MM for <100 OPS+ and <2.0 WAR just doesn't make sense to me for a small to mid market team. Spending $1MM for <100 OPS+ and <2.0 WAR makes a lot of sense to me for a small to mid market team.

          With Henry Rodriguez playing solid 2B defense and now absolutely raking at AAA (.273/.318/.333 for the season, but .343/.396/.371 since the all-star break), I think the Reds have to make a move to better allocate their limited financial resources.

  5. Defer to the guy who reaches base all the time. He probably has the hitting thing figured out.

    And here it begins and ends.

  6. The other theory is that over the long haul, he will get better pitches to hit when it’s recognized that he is selective about what he WANTS to hit. The old story about Ted Williams getting the calls because when the ump saw Ted taking it, he knew it was a ball.

    I assume that last night, after 3 walks, JV finally got his groover ball and hit the long double.

    The problem is that by the 6th or 7th, we might have needed a bit more offense than just 3 walks.

    Dunno … I don’t want to see outs, but I want to see the guys behind him profit from the chance to hit with a man on base. So far, it seems the onus is on BP and Bruce, not Votto.

    • The bizarre thing to me is that people seem to love arguing about Votto as if the choice is OBP vs. hitting.

      Votto is hitting AND getting on base, it’s not one or the other. He’s got the highest batting average and slugging percentage. These aren’t new stats, they’ve been on baseball cards for decades. He is the Reds best hitter, when you only consider hitting.

      But at the same time, he’s also gotten on base at least 60 more times than any Red not named Choo via the walk. So he’s got the best batting average, hits for power, and just as a bonus, has more than twice as many walks as everyone else. Where is the problem?

      He hasn’t come through in the clutch this year as much as we’d hope, but is that really enough to start a national season-long debate?

      No. No way. This is just the latest incarnation of old-school vs. new-school that’s come around since Money Ball and Billy Beane started costing old timers their jobs.

      The old baseball establishment was so dramatically embarrassed by the fact that outsiders came up with new and better ways to think of their game. They have been trying to show that they weren’t really wrong for all those years ever since. Votto is not really the point. He’s a great hitter, period. You don’t like walks, don’t look at his walks, look at everything else.

      But stuff like this won’t go away until the last of those people who were shown up have moved on. In 25 years stuff like this will seem like flat earth theories.

  7. The main difference between Joey this year and his previous seasons is simply that his slugging pct. is barely over .500. This is about 50 points below his career average and about 100 points below his 2010 season.

    I’m not worried by this. A hot September could raise his slugging pct. And if his 2013 season does end up relatively low in slugging pct., he will figure out what adjustment(s) to make in 2014. A very intelligent hitter.

  8. I hate when people make my point for me. I especially hate it when they do so much better than I can. This article said everything I have ever tried to say about JV and did so with with zero negativity. I struggled to bring up the same points without giving the impression I wanted to crucify the guy. Excellent read and evidence that I don’t have what it taked to be a sports writer. Time to pick a new major…

    BTW: Pirates are losing.

  9. one question i ask myself, and i’m not sure if it’s a negative or a positive, is that joey is in his prime years and i’m sure he could slap singles and draw walks at this rate when he is 40. does this mean he will “age well” with his contract or that we should really be getting the bulk of his career power now? does this make any sense? lol

    • @zab1983: I think this makes sense and could possibly be the case. He’ll continue to be some form of the 2010 MVP (some power, avg, obp, etc) probablu until he’s 33-34, then he’ll start the dreaded decline. However, if he can turn himself into a Tony Gwynn sort of hitter with lots of singles and doubles and walks, he’ll continue to be a valuable player for the Reds through his contract. I’d rather a player like him than Pujols when taking aging into account.

  10. without a doubt a good player. great? not until he elevates his game in the playoffs – not necessarily winning the Series (although that helps a lot), but show that he can be a clutch player when it counts the most. been a Reds fan for 30+ years and have seen many great players, and just in my humble view, Votto is not that “yet”. Don’t get me wrong – I am glad he’s a Red but I don’t carry “oh my god, Joey Votto, what a player” like I did with many of the older Reds greats. I think his slugging is off this year, does take too many walks “regardless of the situation”, perhaps he is stubborn that he will play this kind of game no matter what others say. Good for his stats and if he keeps it up for another 7-10 years, maybe the Hall will be calling… but I, for one, just isn’t a fan of his type of game.

    Don’t get me going about BP… I am no fan of BP… guy needs to chill and not piss off 60% of obese American… or even Dusty – he is an awful game manager. Hate to say it, but he isn’t fit to manage anymore and certainly not a guy who can win the whole thing.

    Other than 1990, which was just great to watch, as I was heading to the Gulf War…. it’s been a long road of patience… They have the talent to win it all but missing intangibles.. leadership… manager who has hunger.. it’s too bad…

    can we win at all this year – technically yes.. but can we really? beat the Braves? Dodgers? or better yet, the Cardinals? (or even Pirates?). I doubt it.

    But I will still be watching from 7000miles away, because it’s my team no matter what

    Go Reds!

  11. A post in the other thread got me thinking (and it’s along the same lines as a few posts earlier here).

    Let me preface my post by saying I am a huge Joey Votto fan, I love having him on the team, I see him as the 2nd best hitter in baseball behind Cabrera, and I was ecstatic (and still am) that the Reds signed him to a contract that will make him a Red his entire career. I also want to say that it bugs me when people say “This isn’t the same as the 2010 Joey Votto.” It is, he’s just feared and revered and doesn’t get the same kinds of pitches that he did in 2010.

    That being said, one thing that has jumped out at me is Votto’s approach on full counts. I know a lot of people were frustrated at him taking a lot of called strike 3s in recent history. Votto’s slash line on full counts is (over 120 PA): .176/.484/.270 (24.2 K%, 38.3 BB%). Basically, not many hits, not a ton of power, but lots of walks. He’s trying to get on base, which is certainly good, but look at the Reds’ stats as a whole. On full counts, they are hitting .256/.480/.429 over 692 PAs, with a K% of 25.9% and a BB% of 29.9%. His OBP is barely higher than the swing-happy team as a whole, so I’m not sure that approach is entirely working. I feel like perhaps his approach with a full count is to try to take the walk, rather than be Goldschmidt-like and take advantage of the pitcher needing to throw a strike. Granted, I’m sure a lot of the time, pitchers will gladly walk Votto rather than challenge him, and that’s a part of this, but I feel like that’s only a part of the equation. There’s also possibly some small sample size bias that’s possible, but it’s not that small a sample.

    Again, I love Votto. I love that he’s patient. I just feel like this is one very small part of his game that could use some improving.

    • @Omri: He WAS the poster boy for fouling off close pitches until he got what he wanted to hit. Now he takes close pitches because he either: A. Doesn’t expect to get anything to hit and expects to walk, or B. Doesn’t have the confidence that he can deliver even if he gets his pitch, or C. Isn’t seeing the ball as well as he has in the past, or D. Joey Votto knows more about hitting than I do and I am a buffoon for attempting to analyze it.

  12. In his epic book on hitting, Ted Williams says the most important thing in hitting is simply getting a good pitch to hit. That’s the beauty of Votto’s approach. Most of time, he gives you four-five great at bats per night. Not many hitters can do that.

  13. I think the proper thing to do in any Votto argument is to compare him vs his peers in ALL categories. I stink at math but we should lay it out, plain and simple. There are several who think he should bat second so lets include all 2-3-4 hitters in just the NL and see where he ranks in: OBP-AVG-yes RBI-HR-OPS-WAR- and Steve this is just for you WRc+.

    Lets see where he racks and stacks with traditional and Sabre stats.

  14. Plenty of Votto’s walks still have come from really the opposition pitching around him. BP is a pretty decent hitter, but he isn’t a big power hitter. I think with just having Bruce behind Votto that JV will see more fastballs.

    I’m sure Miguel Cabrera sees way more pitches and cannot be pitched around just for the fact he has Prince Fielder batting behind him.

  15. I can’t believe this is even a conversation. Puts me in mind of the Salem witch trials. “If he doesn’t drive in runs, he must be a witch!” The fact of the matter is that if every player hit as well as Votto, this team would break every existing offensive record in baseball. Makes sense for a guy like that to be paid more than other hitters.

    Even if we take as a given that ANYONE should be making millions of dollars to play baseball, half the players in baseball are overpaid. Arroyo is making almost a million dollars per win, whereas Leake will only get maybe 300K per win. Those wins count equally in the standings. Doesn’t that make Arroyo VASTLY overpaid? Broxton is making about a million dollars per pitch. Ludwick will make nearly a million per home run. (Because of his own stupidity. His injury didn’t just “happen,” he injured himself doing something stupid.) And we’re really going to argue about whether the best hitter on the team, the guy who contributes more than anyone else offensively, is worth exactly what he’s being paid? We’re really going to spend time agonizing over whether his salary should be more like $13 or $14 million? What is wrong with people? Of all the things to worry about on this team, we’re worried about what Votto is “paid” to do? Why not just admire what he does, and let the Reds worry about what they’re “paying him for.”

  16. And…. if anyone thinks the argument really isn’t about his salary and is just a question of whether he’s taking the best possible approach, then I’d ask: Do you really think this would be a topic of debate if Votto were in the middle of a 3 year deal paying him $2 million/year? I think we’d all be talking about what a great hitter he is and how the Reds are so lucky to have him, end of discussion. There’s a reason nobody is debating Hanigan’s inability to hit home runs or Izturis’s inability to play major league baseball. This entire discussion is about Votto’s money, which is just so silly.

  17. No player is perfect. This is the only thing I don’t like about Votto. The book is out on him that he will let a lot of pitches go by. So, then, the other team knows it’s going to be pretty easy to get 2 strikes on him. Thus, all they need is a borderline pitch that will get called a strike to get Votto out. Thus, like this season, Votto is on pace to have more K’s than he ever has as well as his lowest SLG since his first full season.

    But then, also, what people must remember is, his hitting will be what the other team is giving him to hit. If they don’t give him anything to hit, Votto isn’t going to hit that much. It is a double edge sword.

  18. There seems to be a general consensus that most folks on this board are (a.) OK with what Votto does and (b.) think the criticism is based on the notion that numbers matter.

    The problem with the Reds offense is two-fold.

    1. We have shortstops hitting like shortstops
    2. We have left fielders and third basemen hitting like shortstops.

    Votto can’t hit 5-run homers and he comes to the plate often enough in tough situations that we sort of need him to do that. An example of why our attitude changed in one day: When the Reds have 10 runs on the board, nobody is ragging on Votto.

    Sometimes, Votto — like Casey in Mudville — comes to the plate in a must-win scenario. We all know how that one turned out. Ironically, if it had been real life, they would have pitched around Casey with runners at 2nd and 3rd.

  19. I watched the Milwaukee feed for yesterday’s Brewers-Pirates game. They had one of those silly twitter polls asking “which NL Central batter do you fear the most?”. Votto won with 48%, followed by McCutchen at 21%. (Molina third, Bruce fourth, Craig last if you’re wondering.). Smart fans up in Milwaukee.

    Oh, and if anyone around you argues for McCutchen as MVP, show them his first inning triple, which should have been an inside the park home run except he didn’t run out of the box. (The Pirates ended up getting shut out, dropping two of three at home to a Brewers team that was 1-6 in Pittsburg before this series. Sound familiar?)

    • @Eric the Red:

      I watched some of that game last night too. Milwaukee is only a couple of players shy from being a really good team. They are sound up the middle with Lucroy at C, Segura at SS, Gennett at 2B, and Gomez in CF. They will have the freshly paroled Braun back next year to go along with their rookie Kris Davis in the OF. The aging Aramis Ramirez at 3B and Juan Francisco at 1B are the only position ??? marks. They have 3 very good starting pitchers. Their bullpen needs some help.
      The NL Central could be extremely tough in 2014 with improved Mil and ChiC teams next year.

      • @WVRedlegs: I had the same feeling. I really hate the Angels for giving them Segura–he’s a monster in the making. If I’m the Brewers, I’m looking to flip Braun for some pitching help, thereby removing a major distraction and strengthening the team since Davis is looking pretty good. Top to bottom, this could easily be the toughest Division in baseball next year.

  20. I am reminded of the article on here 2-3 months back on Votto and his approach. His approach: “I hate to make outs.”
    How can you ever argue against that kind of approach.

  21. Just saw this post and wanted to say “thank you.” Well written.

  22. I am reminded of what our NL Central buddies the WLBs did when more and more pitchers pitched around Pujols, and his walk totals ratchetted up year by year.

    They got Matt Holliday to hit behind him.

    Mr. Castellini? Mr. Jocketty?

  23. This is good timing for this article. Great comments all. Now let’s play ‘did you know?’:

    The Reds lead the NL in walks (Braves 2nd, Dodgers/cards/pirates 5-6-7.

    Cards 1st in OPS. Reds are 23 points lower in 6th, which is almost entirely attributable to batting average (.271 to .248).

    Braves 1st in strikeouts (pirates 3rd, reds 5th). Dodgers and Cards 13th and 14th.

    Cards 1st in runs, reds 4th, pirates 10th.

    My 2 cents—you definitely want to play the Pirates and Braves in the playoffs. The Dodgers/Cardinals both put the ball in play a lot but don’t hit it out of the park when they do (tied for 12th in HRs).

  24. Another cool FG article. The author asks a bunch of major leaguers what offensive stat they’d most like to lead the league in. It’s neat to see everyone’s different viewpoints. Oh… and Votto’s in there, with the most well thought out answer (of course).


  25. I just looked up Brook Jacoby’s stats for the first time; he was a better hitter than I remembered. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/j/jacobbr01.shtml

    His best season was his age 27 season in 1987, when he slashed .300/.387/.541, with 540 ABs and 75 walks. Interestingly, he cut his Ks from 137 in 1986 to only 73 in 1987. It was kind a of Joey-Votto-lite year for him. He had 32 HRs, but only 69 RBI, which is pretty hard to do, unless your team goes 61-101. His 2 highest comparables are Scott Hatteberg and Keith Moreland.

  26. There is an old canard about the golf swing: “paralysis by analysis”. Could Joey be suffering from some of that? Or maybe he is just in an old-fashioned slump over the last 2-3 weeks, which is what most of us tend to remember and focus on in our Reds fan “moods of the moment”. I definitely don’t want him to change his overall approach, as one must be authentic and true to oneself or bigger problems will arise. But maybe clearing the mind and free-wheeling it a bit more in specific at-bats wouldn’t hurt. But what do I know? We can probably feel comfortable to trust his history, and we’ll all see where things end up season-end.

    • @Billy Joe in Chi-Town: I think it’s just an old-fashioned slump for the last 3 weeks, as you suggest, attributed mostly (based on my opinion and observation) to taking called third strikes. Some of them have been warranted, others probably should have been walks.

      At any rate, since the first game in San Diego (3 weeks ago) he is moving along at .238/.420/.462. Definitely not what we’ve come to expect, but I always find it impressive that even when he’s slumping for a long period of time he still gets on base to help the team.

      Also, his OPS on July 8th? .939. His OPS today? .939. (Basically, he’s been his “season average” for the last 7 weeks)

  27. Votto is not hitting as well as he has in the past. His slugging percentage is .504, the lowest of his career, and off .96 points from his MVP season. His strikeout rate is higher than the last 2 years, but pretty much the same as in 2009 and 2010; his AB/SO, though, is a career worst. His extra-base hit percentage is way off, at only 8.4%, when he had never been below 10% before; this year, 33% of his hits are for extra bases, versus a career average of 40%.

    His “luck” stats may be in his favor, as his line-drive percentage is 31% v. career 26%, and his HR/FB is 9.9 v. 16.3 in his MVP year. He is hitting line drives instead of the majestic, back-spinning, ever-rising homers he hit in 2010, and I have no opinion on why that is.

    Votto couldn’t hit the way Vladimir Guerrero did any more than Vlad could Votto. Everybody has their own style, and Votto probably couldn’t change much even if he wanted to.

  28. I’ll take Votto’s approach to hitting any day in contrast to a free swinger. Getting on base is what the offense is all about. When, and if, the Reds get a slugging right handed cleanup hitter back of Votto, he will get better pitches to hit. The Reds need a sweep of the Rockies this weekend to make their move with the Cards and Pirates facing each other at PNC.

  29. Hi all,
    I apologize my mind isn’t as good as it once was. But one thing that stuck with me was JV against the Dodgers closer last year maybe year before out in LA. Everything is probably not as clear as I imagine but it seems he was throwing nothing but gas, and Joey kept choking up on the bat. He fouled off maybe 8 or nine pitches until he got one he could hit. The runner scored and the Reds ended up winning. What it comes down to is that Joey will do what needs to be done most of the time. Probably better than anyone else on the team. He does have weakness in his game but I will take him for what he is than complain about what he is not.

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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. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.


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