It only took a fortnight. Two weeks. A handful of games. But here we were once again, standing room only at the abyss. Arguing. Pointing fingers. Like a tired married couple hurling accusations, we play the aggrieved party for all it’s worth. It’s all gone wrong somehow. And it’s somebody’s fault. Somebody’s got to pay. A losing record will do that.

The usual suspects are lined up like a perp walk on an episode of Law & Order. There’s the manager, who made the horrible mistake of bringing a crippled lineup minus Shin-Soo Choo north with him from Arizona and using Trevor Bell in a couple of games. Remember when we killed the front office for playing short with the 25 man roster? Not now. How dare a manager use his full complement of players to ease the strain on an already wounded team.

Then, there’s the GM, whose most recent unforgivable sins include not picking up a player (Grady Sizemore) who possessed compelling reasons for signing with another team—and not signing a journeyman infielder (Emilio Bonifacio) playing on his 7th team in 8 seasons and possessing a career OPS+ almost identical to feared slugger Zack Cozart.

And don’t forget that always suspicious-looking guy at the end of the lineup who we cannot identify by look, but is always suspect by the very nature of his position in the shadows of the dugout and the undecipherable job description—the hitting coach.

But, by far, there is one suspect who sticks out in the lineup the most with his high baseball profile and fat financial profile. He deceives us right out of the gate, with his All-American good looks—because he’s not even American, the liar. It’s all right there: the five o’clock shadow. Put a fedora on him and he could easily be one of the shady characters occupying a corner table at Rick’s in Casablanca. Yes, we’ve been feasting on Joey Votto again.

The Donner party goes to the ballpark.

Oh, for sure, the mob has quieted in the last week as Votto has begun to be Votto-MVP again, not merely hitting, but hitting for power, which is a holy grail of fan acceptance for some. But, you know the fire is not out, it’s merely smoldering, waiting for the kindling that is another 0 for 8 at the plate to burn high and hot again. Right now, credit goes to the move to the two slot, even though Billy the Kid is still not getting on base with any regularity, so Joey probably isn’t seeing anything different than he would batting third. And, of course, there are those who will never be happy because “why are we paying this guy all this money to bat second?”

It never should have been thus. Votto, a shy, somewhat reticent ballplayer who just wanted to practice his craft in quiet excellence and go home, broke out of his shell this off-season, starring in an epic series of getting-to-know-you radio conversations with Lance McAlister, designed to share with the fans his methods, his madness and maybe in the process win himself a little bonhomie from the homies in the peanut gallery.

He got all that and more. Some were gracious and understanding, but it was only when a handful of self-selected hitting savants, eager to share their expertise with the misinformed former MVP, did the real fun begin. What could have been a learning experience for a few select listeners turned into some draw-dropping exchanges.

One caller asked Votto if he had considered being less selective. And when the Reds’ first baseman said that no, he wasn’t considering changing his approach, the caller then insisted that yes—based on what he’d seen earlier that day in a Spring Training game—well , yeah, absolutely, he’d changed his approach, and congrats for being less selective and therefore more successful. When a dumbfounded Votto, stuttered momentarily and replied that “no, he really hadn’t changed anything at all,” you could fairly hear the disbelief in host McAlister’s voice as he cued up the next caller.

Another listener likened the signing of Joey Votto to the purchase of a muscle car, only to discover a Prius in the driveway the next morning.

Can we all just take our collective foot off the pedal and relax, people? Take a breath?

The following remark fried a fan base:

“I swung at too many pitches in the strike zone last year. I would like to swing less in the strike zone. And the reason why is so that I’m not just kind of good in a bunch of different areas. I want to be really good in very specific parts of the strike zone. So, instead of me practicing hitting singles you know up-and-in, low-and-away and MAYBE getting a double, I want to take swings that result in extra base hits or home runs every single time I swing. I want to know that I’m going to put a barrel on a ball, I want to know that when I face Clayton Kershaw in the 8th inning and he throws a ball in specific part of the strike zone that I’m going to put a barrel on it and give us a good chance of making contact and helping the team out. I think not wasting swings helps me be better and will help us play better as a team.”

It’s not the initial reaction to all this that’s surprising, but rather the unrelenting negativity in some quarters, the unwillingness to accept Votto for who he is, even as he clarified his remarks to make sure folks knew he wasn’t willing to settle for a walk if a walk was to the detriment of the team in a given situation.

It’s not just the fans.

I heard Marty Brennaman in Spring Training say he thought Joey would swing at more pitches this year. TV broadcasters the other night reacted with puzzlement as Votto took strikes with a 2-0 count and a 2-1 count.

If folks were loathe to accept Votto’s guidelines for becoming the great hitter he hopes to be, you’d think they might listen to hometown hero Pete Rose:

“Joey Votto is Joey Votto. And When he goes up to bat, I think he has one philosophy: I’m gonna try to hit the ball hard somewhere, and I’m gonna try and swing at strikes. You’re not going to change him from that. And you don’t want to change him from that. Just hope he has a better year with runners in scoring position and we get some guys on base in front of him because he’s an exciting hitter.”

We don’t listen to Votto. Or Rose. So, now what? When do we relax and let Joey be Joey?

Votto’s spellbinding interview with the MLB Network gives Reds fans another chance to listen, to know the ballplayer, what he’s been through and maybe where he’s going. He spoke of literally not being able to breathe at the thought of going on without his father, the man who first taught him to play the game, who understandably would have loved to have seen his son become the player and the man he is today.

When I went through a sudden and horrific divorce, it was my weekend role as a baseball coach to 10 year old boys that forced me to step outside of myself and momentarily forget the chaos that awaited me the moment I left the tiny ball fields of Prospect Park in Brooklyn and stepped back into my life. It was the simple act of having a catch with my son and daughter that allowed me to relax and breathe again.

So, it’s not surprising to me that the most moving part of the Votto interview with Sam Ryan was the moment he recounted one of his last conversations with his father. Addressing Joey Votto’s struggles at the plate, father Votto had some advice:

“You just gotta relax.”

Wonderful advice, Pops. Good advice for the son.

In fact, maybe it’s even perfect advice for the rest of us.

42 Responses

  1. charlottencredsfan

    With all due respect I don’t get these defend Votto articles. He is revered and respected to almost a man here. I would like to see a poll of RLN’ers of who is the best position player on the Reds. I would guess JV gets north of 80% of the vote. Not perfect but he wins by a large margin. Jeez, the guys is a great player, who is arguing?

    • charlottencredsfan

      Richard, I realize your not the only guy writing these pieces and don’t mean to single you out. All you guys are fantastic writers but these commentaries strike me as a little paternal. Rant over.

      • ohiojimw

        Yes and in the local media during the last week Votto has acknowledged himself that he has been doing a lot of video work and cage work to try and get back to the results he experienced in “2010 and 2012 up to the time I was injured”.

        He went on to say that he had found some stuff in video, worked on it in the cage and was now starting to apply it with early success in games. He allowed that because he had found how to start driving the ball effectively again that it was likely there would be changes in his approach because now he was again comfortable doing some things that he hadn’t been comfortable doing since he returned from his knee injury.

        I think that speaks to most of the statements myself and others have made on this site about his situation and wishing he would do something about it. Hopefully Joey is going to continue along the lines of the last two series and reestablish himself among the ranks of the truly elite hitters.

    • zaglamir

      You have obviously not read any of the “Game Threads” on ESPN. The vast majority of those comments ride Votto for being “an overpaid soft contact” guy.

      • zaglamir

        Valid point. My work blocks RLN (I think it’s because it’s WordPress), so I have to watch the gamecasts there.

  2. JRS1972

    Almost everyone whose opinion matters knows Votto’s value. The only one of these dolts with any potential influence is Marty.And I doubt he can out-cantankerous the two men at the top of the organization, so he’s more like the Grand Marshall in the Parade of Fools than anything else.

  3. Shchi Cossack

    AHEM, Richard…After so long, I have finally found a point of contention in your writing, albeit a minor point of contention.

    “Then, there’s the GM, whose most recent unforgivable sins include not picking up a player (Grady Sizemore) who possessed compelling reasons for signing with another team—and not signing a journeyman infielder (Emilio Bonifacio) playing on his 7th team in 8 seasons and possessing a career OPS+ almost identical to feared slugger Zack Cozart.”

    Perhaps my reading of this paragraph is incorrect or possibly it just struck a frazzled chord, but it did resonate a bit much with the Old Cossack.

    Your point regarding Sizemore is completely valid. Some contributors failed to realize that WJ did in fact have a deal pending with Sizemore before Sizemore backed out of the deal for some very valid reasons, none of them related to money.

    The failure to grab Bonifacio is what I don’t understand. WJ didn’t even have to negotiate a contract, just make a waiver claim. Bonifacio would not have been a replacement for Cozart. Bonifacio would have been a replacement for Santiago as a utility IF/OF capable of playing 6 positions, including SS & CF. Bonifacio also represented insurance for Hamilton in CF or Cozart at SS if an injury replacement was needed (or in Hamilton’s case if the unproven experiment did not work out). I would gladly incorporate a utilty IF/OF with a career 80 OPS+ who could step in and cover 6 defensive positions and most importantly fill in as a top of the order hitter the Reds sorely lack. The argument then becomes, a career 80 OPS+ hitter with a career OBP of .323 playing CF and leading off for the Reds vs. an unproven rookie with a 23 OPS+ and a .220 OBP playing CF and leading off for the Reds. In addition, Hamilton has 4 SB & 2 CS compared to Bonifacio having 7 SB & 1 CS this season. That’s my issue with WJ’s failure to grab Bonifacio. It has nothing to do with Cozart, unless Cozart goes down with an injury (please baseball gods…no!). In that case, Bonifacio and his 80 OPS+ becomes the starting SS rather than Santiago and his 56 OPS+ over that past 2 seasons. It was a bad decision by WJ. It was a bad decision even if the Reds are 9-6 rather than 6-9. It was a bad decision even if Hamilton had a 108 OPS+ rather than Bonifacio having a 108 OPS+.

    End of rant…sorry to become fixated on a very minor point that was really completely unlated to the topic at hand.

    • Travis Bailey

      Completely agree with Cossack on this one. Bonifacio would have made this team much better at a good price. WJ missed his chance and the bench will be a soft spot on this team just like it has been for many years.

      • Chris Garber

        Don’t look now, but Bonifacio is 1 for his last 23.

    • Richard Fitch

      Thanks for the response, which is thoughtful. However, I still disagree.

      I hate to give further fodder to those who view me as a Jocketty apologist, but here goes:

      It’s extremely unlikely that Walt just whiffed on Emilio Bonafacio, no matter how much some of us love to push the image of him as an old, past his prime, asleep at the switch GM. Even if this were true, which I feel pretty confident it is not, the people in the organization who work for Jocketty are paid to know the value of players throughout the league at any given moment and what they probably saw was a player who is a lousy defender with a 20% below replacement level value as an offensive player. He may have played 6 positions, but he doesn’t play them very well. With the exception of LF and 2B, his defensive metrics are poor based on what I see on Fangraphs.

      I think using his stats for this season are a reach based on an incredibly small sample size. Even the onlookers in Chicago are waiting for the other shoe to drop. So I will just leave it at that.

      Comparing him with Billy Hamilton is tough. A .323 OBP is not particularly good. Yes, we would be happy with that coming from Billy, but Billy offers far more upside than Bonifacio would not just on the basepaths, but defensively. Emilio is a very poor defensive centerfielder.

      We take defense for granted sometimes until we miss it. Very shortly, a cry is going to go up to replace Cozart if he continues to struggle. His defense makes this a non-issue, unless he were to hit absolutely nothing–which I don’t think will continue. Neverthess, people are going to be screaming–and shortchanging Zack’s real value, run prevention.

      While I’m sure you think it would have been fine for the Reds to grab Bonafacio and dump the new signed Santiago, that’s not how the organization works. There are places players don’t want to go to. If the Reds were to begin second-guessing themselves each time a marginal player became available, I would guess that would, over time, have a very negative effect on their ability to attract talent to Cincinnati.

      Santiago fits in with the team’s goals defensively and he may have some clubhouse value that you are not considering. Take it for what it’s worth, but the Reds seemed committed to changing the clubhouse culture this off-season, and Santiago might have fit the bill there too.

      Something to consider, yes?

      • Shchi Cossack

        All excellent points. There is no question that WJ has a model he uses in making player aquisitions. There is also no question, that Bonifacio is NOT going to maintain his early performance, not even close, and his very Cozart-like 1-23 over the past 5 games is a good example. If Santiago was assured of a roster spot when he signed his minor league contract, then by all means that agreement should be honored. That would fall in step with all the weak-hitting, veteran middle infielders WJ has signed over the past several seasons. None of those options turned out well despite all the expertise available to WJ and his staff. With the number of question marks in the Reds roster during spring training and even now (Ludwick in LF, Hamilton in CF & leading off, Phillips hitting in the #2 hole, coverage for injuries at SS, 2B & 3B), Bonifacio simply provided a unique opportunity to enhance the Reds bench support. His .323 career OBP is not good for a top of the lineup hitter, but it beats the heck out of every other option, not named Votto, available to the Reds. I sincerely hope that Bonifacio continues his recent skid for at least the next 3 games, that Hamilton rights his ship soon and that Santiago fills in admirably when given the chance.

        Thanks for your characteristically well-presented topic and response.

      • Richard Fitch

        I’m still unclear on the how you see a guy like Bonifacio enhancing the bench when he is such a poor defensive SS or CFer. That career .323 OBP looms large for you, but I don’t see how it gets in the lineup in CF. Heisey would play there first. Put Bonifacio at SS and you’d give up more runs than that .323 OBP could ever make up for.

        Now, your “weak-hitting, veteran middle infielders” jab at Jocketty seems more to the point. I would just suggest that good-hitting backup infielders are hard to come by, as they are starting if they can hit. That old expression “the bat plays” is a reality. For example, the Mets have a player, Daniel Murphy, who has a garbage can lid for a glove. He’d make you an excellent backup 2B, except he’ll never ride the bench because he can hit.

        I looked at the Yankees backup infielders this year:

        Scott Sizemore 2B .240/.328 OBP lifetime
        Dean Anna SS 2B no MLB experience .286/.386 in minors
        Yangervis Solarte 2B 3B no MLB experience .286/.336 OBP in minors
        Kelly Johnson 2B 1B .252/.335 lifetime

        If that’s all that Brian Cashman can assemble with a $200M payroll, perhaps Jocketty isn’t the fool many think he is.

      • greenmtred

        Yes, Richard: All excellent points. Agree completely about Jocketty, the value of defense, and the rest.

  4. vegastypo

    There comes a point when the attempts to defend Votto become the stir sticks to rehash it all. … I love that Votto is hitting second, because he’ll stroll to the plate a few more times this season than if he was third. And didn’t Votto himself make some comments that he saw “protection” for himself by batting behind Hamilton? If he likes it, yay, he’s happier, I’m happier, and hopefully some pitchers will pay for that happiness. Like Liriano the other day.

  5. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I don’t understand articles like this either. First, everyone is human; people make mistakes. I could even give blame to Walt for not picking up a guy. But, geez, it’s done and over with. And, the history of Walt’s work is one of the best in the business. Even though I would still rather see us concentrate on developing the minors some more, Walt is a better GM than most of the guys out there right now.

    Second, it is more than obvious that Joey is the best player on the Reds. And, thus, his contract would show it. What do people think he would be getting paid, league minimum? People really need to get off this case. Geez, we are getting a consistent MVP caliber player this year for $12 million. That’s a bargain any way you look at it.

    But, then, even being the best player on the Reds, he is still a person and still makes mistakes, like us all. If he did say this up above:

    “I would like to swing less in the strike zone. And the reason why is so that I’m not just kind of good in a bunch of different areas. I want to be really good in very specific parts of the strike zone”

    You don’t think that other teams aren’t going to start to pick up on this and make sure they stay away from the parts of the zone that Votto likes? That’s pitching strategy 101, about as simple as you can make it. That means Votto would have to be waiting for mistakes the pitchers makes or end up K’ing looking. If Votto did state this, I would think he would need to adjust this thinking. Dave Kingman worried about hitting the HR’s and, thus, K’ing a lot, also. We aren’t paying this money for Kingman. We aren’t paying this money for someone who walks. We are paying this money for a hitter, someone who can handle all parts of the plate. There will be times Votto will have to be happy with getting the singles if that is all the pitchers are going to give him to hit. Those can still advance runners, can still drive in runs, etc.

    I haven’t seen many games this year, but like I said last year, teams obviously saw how to neutralize Votto’s effect, aka pitch around him, etc. Since he will let K’s go by, you throw to him right down the middle early, then hang around the edges trying to get him to chase a bad pitch. As a result, Votto K’ed more than ever in his major league career, not a problem for the other team, and walked more than ever in his career, not a problem with the other team since few runners would advance and Votto doesn’t drive anyone in, as well as his lowest HR total since his rookie year, not taking into account 2012 when he was injured.

    But, oh yes, I’m just downing and degrading him, aren’t I? Especially when I specified that he is the best player on the Reds. Especially when I say that if I had to pick a player first for my team from this team, I would pick Votto. Especially when I say he’s a consistent MVP caliber player. Fact is, he like everyone else is human and will make mistakes. Everyone makes adjustments. All major leaguers, all players, worth their weight make adjustments to their game; you don’t think they have to make adjustments when Harvey is on the mound? I never said Votto had to “change” his hitting style. I have always specified that he would need to “adjust” it. That is common and normal in an athlete’s life, anyone’s life. You have to in order to survive.

    At least this, I’ve always felt good hitters can handle all parts of the plate, don’t show any weakness. If Votto is letting areas of the zone go, he is showing a weakness. And, other teams will pick up on it and pitch him as such.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      I think some need to learn how not to listen to the riff raff and consider an actual analysis.

      • earmbrister

        You don’t “understand articles like this either”? You made Richard Fitch’s point for him: the arm chair quarterbacks here and elsewhere continue critiquing Votto’s approach and/or results.

        Joey is one of the best hitters of his generation, yet way too many fans (plus the idiot behind the mike) think he walks too much or is too selective at the plate. You think Votto needs to “adjust” his hitting style. This mindset assumes that he hasn’t adjusted his hitting style while being successful year, after year, after year. He was second in the ROY voting in 2008, and has been prominent in the MVP voting ever since. He won the MVP in 2010 and was on pace to OBLITERATE the MLB record for doubles in 2012 before he got hurt. Yet some fans think that he has failed to make the necessary adjustments, while talking out of the other side of their mouths that teams are pitching him differently. Of course he has made adjustments over the years. Otherwise, he’d be a one or two year wonder.

        As for your last paragraph “At least this, I’ve always felt good hitters can handle all parts of the plate, don’t show any weakness. If Votto is letting areas of the zone go, he is showing a weakness. And, other teams will pick up on it and pitch him as such.” OMG, where do I start?

      • charlottencredsfan

        So I’m clear, no criticism of JV? I don’t even share Steve’s opinion here but I can understand yours even less. Armchair quarterback? Say it ain’t so.

      • earmbrister

        Charlotte —

        I too did not share Steve’s opinion; hence my reply. What exactly don’t you understand about my opinion?

        Great article by Mr. Fitch, as usual.

      • charlottencredsfan

        “the arm chair quarterbacks here and elsewhere continue critiquing Votto’s approach and/or results”.

        I’m sure there were folks that even criticized Jim Brown & Secretariat, so Joey is in good company.

      • earmbrister

        Crazy that people would criticize a Jim Brown or a Secretariat. Likewise with Votto. The guy not only has immense talent, but more important to this conversation, he is a true student of the art of hitting.

        I have no doubt that Votto himself is the best judge of what his approach should be, Marty B’s opinions to the contrary … Like a Michael Jordan, enjoy him and his approach while you can, cause such talents only come around once in a blue moon. And they rarely stay in a market like Cincy’s for their entire careers.

      • VaRedsFan

        Mr. Armbrister, one question. Do you like the 2013 version of Votto or the 2014 version (so far). The belly-aching was because everyone knew what Votto was capable of, and we are now seeing it again

      • charlottencredsfan

        You continue to miss my point, probably because I’m not making it very well. Bottom line, no one is above criticism (warranted or not).

      • Richard Fitch

        Shouldn’t we all rail against the “unwarranted” kind. Especially when it is so strident and off the mark?

      • charlottencredsfan

        Sure, if you want to but I accept it as part of life. Who is to say what is warranted and unwarranted anyway? Who do we elect to carry that responsibility? I sure don’t want it.

        Everybody has their own opinion. Heck I believe BHam is going to be a major factor in MLB – how many are jumping on that bandwagon? Just because it’s my opinion doesn’t make it right. Know what I mean?

      • Richard Fitch

        Not really. True, it’s a part of life. But I write about Baseball. If I took your advice literally, I’d have nothing to write about. None of us would. Why not just say it’s just a game, not important in the big scheme of things? So, let’s just close down this site, right?

        Yeah, everyone has an opinion, but some are more valid than others. Then, there’s this one about Votto, which is patently off-the-charts moronic. The problem with your comparison to Billy is that there remains much valid opinion on both sides. I, too, believe Hamilton will be a factor in the big leagues, but there’s plenty of room to suggest you and I might be wrong.

        The arguments made that Votto has been doing it wrong on any level don’t stand up under scrutiny. They are the products of agenda-driven minds. Money-envy. Metric-hate. Unhapppy people. Take your pick.

    • Richard Fitch

      Twice in the above, Mr. Schoenbaechler, you have suggested that I might not have been accurately quoting Votto. I’d like to take the opportunity to respond not just to you, but to everyone who reads RN, lest anyone get the wrong idea.

      Everybody who writes here does the their level best to accurately convey information about the Reds, whether the content is statistical in nature or quotes from the players themselves. I’m not sure what you accomplish by questioning my honesty, beyond buttressing your own agenda. Good luck with that. Below is a link to the quote I transcribed above. The topic was “in strike zone swing rate.” You can find the specific part at the 28:25 mark in the podcast. Although, I am not word for word perfect, I’ll leave it for others to decide how accurately I recounted the conversation:

    • Chris Garber

      Your premise that “good hitters can handle all parts of the plate” is just wrong. Every hitter makes his living by hitting mistakes. Every hitter has strengths and weaknesses. Ted Williams admitted as much, 40 years ago.

      ESPN, Fox, and everyone else publishes a chart for every hitter. You think that pitchers don’t know that Joey Votto had “red zones” until he said so in an interview?

      • Richard Fitch

        You beat me to the punch, Chris. And not only is Williams such an example, but the best hitter in baseball today, MIguel Cabrera, has places inside the strike zone where he will not swing. This is what the great hitters do.

      • Matt WI

        Joey has quoted Prince Fielder before about “Homeruns aren’t hit, they are thrown.” It’s a battle of who makes the first mistake.

  6. JohnnyCashForever

    Votto as a no. 2 hitter is a little strange, but it seems to be working. On the positive side, you have a guy who knows his strike zone and can handle the bat, but on the negative side, he’s a guy who doesn’t swing at balls outside “his” strike zone.

    I would think a no. 2 hitter would be forced to make good on hit-and-runs and lay down sac bunts. I think JV can do it, but I don’t think he wants to do it. I think he really fits into the 5, 6, or 7 hole better, as a selective hitter who can keep a rally going or start a rally with the second wave of hitters.

    • Kurt Frost

      No bunts. I was watching the Pirates game last night and it was buntapalooza. Stop the bunting.

    • Matt WI

      Going to have to disagree there. Getting on base is a much, much more valuable trait to a team than advancing runners with productive outs. Wasting a .400 OBP anywhere other than the top 3 spots in the lineup would be criminal negligence.

      I love what Price has down… instead of focusing on what a “two hitter” or “three hitter” is supposed to be, he is actually just looking at what Joey Votto is. Instead of making Votto fit a mold, you mold around Joey Votto with no regrets.

  7. greenmtred

    Excellent article, Richard. Well-written and thought-provoking as always. I, too, saw the article in which Joey said that he had worked on his mechanics in spring training, and unless the last few games are an aberration (and I doubt that they are), his work is paying off. To my mind, a good summary of Joey’s approach is that he makes the most of his situation: if he’s injured and can’t effectively drive the ball, he gets on base. If he can drive the ball, he does. I, too, have been frustrated at times when he hasn’t delivered, but as Steve S. wisely points out, he is the best hitter on the team (and one of the best in the game), but he’s still human. I’ve been feeling a little more upbeat about this year’s machine. When they score runs, they are likely to win.

  8. zaglamir

    Also, congratulations Richard. Your article is showing up in Yahoo’s sports feed. Whether they have rights to do that or not, I don’t know… but it’s there.

  9. Shchi Cossack

    Regarding Votto and his approach at the plate, I choose to leave that entirely in Votto’s very capable hands. His interview with Sheldon this week sums up his post-injury struggles through the end of 2012 and most of 2013..

    “There’s zero correlation with the lineup change. I felt like I was getting there,” Votto said on Tuesday before resuming Monday’s game suspended by rain. “There were a couple of things I was doing that I wasn’t doing in previous years, when I was having a lot of success driving the ball. I feel better in that regard. I was weight shifting, transferring too much weight and I wasn’t rotating as much. I had too much weight going from back leg to front leg, instead of holding the weight in my back leg and then rotating. That’s the biggest difference. I saw that all year last year. I wasn’t running into that problem in 2012 before the [left knee] injury, or 2011 and 2010.”

    The only problem Votto had during the year post-injury was he couldn’t turn on the inside pitch and drive the ball. He physically couldn’t do it. Instead, he maximized his contribution at the plate by doing what he could do and did it superbly. Now he is physically capable of turning on the inside pitch again and that’s really bad news for opposing pitchers. Going inside-out on an inside pitch isn’t nearly as effective as turning and driving an inside pitch.

    Votto is now 3rd in the NL with a 1.062 OPS and a 185 OPS+ while hitting at a .327 AVG and .351 BAbip. Votto’s BAbip is marginally lower than his career BAbip of .359. Votto trails Utley (1.286 OPS & 245 OPS+) and Freeman (1.162 OPS & 208 OPS+) who are both putting up exceptionally high BAbip of .462 & .386, respectively, well above their career BAbip of .307 & .336, respectively.

    • ohiojimw

      If he is looking more to drive the ball it makes sense his OBP and BABIP both might drop a bit but if he is driving successfully OPS will improve because of the weighted nature of the slugging % will override the drop in OBP. That is essentially what this entire debate has been about all these many months.

  10. Scott Stenzel

    I’d trade JV now while he’s worth something.

    • D Ray White

      The Frank Robinson school of thought, eh?

  11. preacherj

    As I look around this team, I see problems in the bullpen, at SS, and in the outfield. If there is one area I have no qualms with whatsover, it’s first base. I am exceptionally glad to have Mr. Votto there for many years to come putting up huge numbers. I was never, never of the opinion that he should change approach. The only thing I thought should change was his place in the lineup to get the most out of what he does so well.

    If you want to debate about the Bailey contract. a Latos extension, Hamilton’s place in the lineup, or if Cozart will hit something out of the infield before the trade deadline: fine. These issues may have some genuine merit. But Votto’s production? Votto’s contract? Votto’s value (both on the field and for “butt in seats”)? Please. Preach has no further comment on this subject, nor do I plan on knowingly read any more. Free Joey.

  12. John

    How is that contract working out now? Hes injured all the time and even when he plays he is a soft cookie who only wants to walk and slap hits the other way. Reds will be haunted by this contract for years to come