Joey Votto had 97 plate appearances in April. In these plate appearances, Votto posted a .423 on-base percentage, 1.069 OPS, a 15.5% walk rate and was only making an out in 66.1% of all balls put in play. His BABIP was .339.

In 92 plate appearances in May, Votto has a .326 on-base percentage, .610 OPS, a 10.9% walk rate, and was making an out in 68.3% of all balls put in play. His BABIP is .317.

Is Votto’s performance due to expected regression (his 2015 OPS is .845) or are there other factors at play? The most obvious place for random variation, BABIP, appears to play a small role in this change. What does the data tell us about Joey’s lost May?

[Note: All stats courtesy of ESPN/TruMedia]

Major Change: Power Outage

Votto averaged one home run for every 11.71 at-bats in April, but, through May 27th, he is homer-less. As you can see from his ISO chart, this dropoff is coming from all parts of the strikezone.

trumedia_baseball_grid (1) trumedia_baseball_grid (2)

This power outage is not just bad compared to April, but is one of the worst stretches of his career. In the past four years, Votto has had two other precipitous drops in ISO: June 2014, right before he was sent to the DL and September, 2012, after Votto returned from two surgeries. Votto had half as much power this May than he did during those two periods.


Not surprinsgly, you can also see his batted ball distance has collapsed from April to May.

trumedia_baseball_grid (8)trumedia_baseball_grid (7)

Votto is also hitting fewer line drives than he did in April:

trumedia_baseball_grid (5) trumedia_baseball_grid (6)

Contact Percentage

While Votto’s quality of contact appears to be falling, his overall contact rate does not seem to be changing much. These two graphics seem to indicate Votto was missing more in April than he was in May. This suggests that Votto was being more aggressive April but he was still able to make quality contact.

trumedia_baseball_grid (17) trumedia_baseball_grid (18)

Called Strikes

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, Jay Bruce was facing a high number of low-outside strikes. Could Votto’s drop off be due to an expanding zone?

trumedia_baseball_grid (15) trumedia_baseball_grid (16)

Doubtful. His called strike rate is up in a few places, but there is nothing in this data that screams “I’m worth .400 OPS”.

Instead, the best data I could uncover indicates that pitchers have changed how they are pitching to Votto.

Here are the pitch locations Votto faced in April:

trumedia_baseball_grid (9)

And here are the pitch locations for May:

trumedia_baseball_grid (10)

As you can see from these graphs, pitchers are moving inside against Votto. Specifically, pitchers are throwing harder under his hands than they did in April:

trumedia_baseball_grid (14)trumedia_baseball_grid (11)

Despite jamming Votto under his hands, it appears pitchers are still throwing softer pitches (curve, slider, etc.) away from him:

trumedia_baseball_grid (13)trumedia_baseball_grid (12)


There are many possible alternative factors at play here: ballpark size, quality of pitchers faced, Votto may be trying too hard because no one else in the lineup is hitting, or he might be hiding an injury. I don’t want to oversell the idea that Votto is unable to deal with the inside heat. I think there is a reasonable case to be made that pitchers are throwing inside because Votto is not hitting well. These data can’t make a causal case.

Yet given how well Votto was hitting in April, it would not be surprising if opposing pitchers decided to try a different strategy against our MVP candidate. It could be that given his ability to identify outside pitches, Votto was able to work the count and punish pitches in the zone.

If this is what’s happening, past evidence indicates that Votto has the ability to punish inside pitches (2012-2013, ISO):

trumedia_baseball_grid (21)

At the same time, Votto sudden and sustained loss of power is concerning. None of the traditional places of random variation, such as BABIP, explain his loss of power. I don’t want to sound the alarm or write the words “Joey Votto” and “injury” in the same sentence because if I do, the “we shouldn’t have paid him so much money” fans come out from under their internet bridges. Yet as the season progresses, we will need to keep a close eye on our starting first baseman.

78 Responses

  1. Jeff

    He looks uncomfortable in his stance in those charts!

    Thanks for the article. I hope it’s just that he is pressing right now and not something serious. Did you see the Dave Fleming article linked in the comments on another post? It was specifically about Billy Hamilton, but he did posit a theory that Votto looked better with Hamilton in front of him. I think it’s probably a coincidence but it was pretty good article overall.

    • whereruklu

      AGAIN…..Said it before many, many, many times- Hamilton in leadoff and Joey in the 2 hole compliment each other very well. Having JV being a very patient ball selections hitter, allows BH more chances for an attempt\. Andddddd, having BH on base, distracts the pitcher and catcher enough that Joey can be more selective to put the ball in play, often with more base on balls for him. Which brings up Todd, Todd, the ‘Tater Toter to unleash. After that, either Byrd or Bruce because they are doing better right now. On paper this looks like a good possibility of a couple of runs in the first inning. For some reason, BH looks more comfortable in front of JV, and JV looks like he enjoys the challenge. Please Price, go back to the 1-2 combo. It worked when they did it and I don’t understand why it was halted. You don’t mess with something that works. Scratching my head…..

      • redmountain

        Because Hamilton was not getting on base which sort of keeps the rest of steps from happening.

  2. charlottencredsfan

    “I don’t want to sound the alarm or write the words “Joey Votto” and “injury” in the same sentence because if I do, the “we shouldn’t have paid him so much money” fans come out from under their internet bridges.”

    Just be objective and honest Mike, and all is well. Wherever someone comes down on Votto’s contract, the ink has dried and the money dedicated. Further discussion doesn’t change a thing. Let the Reds provide the obfuscation.

    Very informative piece if not somewhat disturbing.

  3. Whoa Bundy!

    I want him to be healthy but past history, and my gut, tell me he isn’t. A great hitter in his prime doesn’t drop off like this otheriwse.

  4. Whoa Bundy!

    P.S. Great analytical article! This site is the best.

  5. cfd3000

    Saw Votto in Atlanta for one game in April. He looked good with two hard hit doubles. I’m traveling up to Cincinnati for the annual pilgrimage this weekend for three against the Nationals. Hoping to see signs of a strong, healthy Votto but worried it will be the opposite. Fingers crossed for a) wins, b) good weather, c) good health for the Reds.

    • Wallyum

      Can you come back for the next homestand? Maybe catch a couple of games in Philly this week?

  6. Nick Carrington

    Groundball rate has spiked from about 36% in April to over 50% in May. Hard% has dropped significantly as well. He is not hitting the ball nearly as hard in May. I’m concerned.

    • lwblogger2

      That’s what has spiked my worry about his health. And if he isn’t healthy, it makes me wonder if he won’t be able to stay healthy for most of any season going forward. Some of the hard inside pitches that he’s dealing with are pitches that he would have crushed in the past.

      • ohiojimw

        Agree about the pitches he’s not getting to that he used to crush. The look on his face often says it all, “how did I miss that one”.

        Have his eyes been checked recently? Does he already use contact lenses? If so could they need adjustment.

        One would think theses sort of things would be checked as a matter of course but with the Reds enough has happened that one wonders

  7. tct

    “Votto posted a .423 on-base percentage, 1.069 OPS, a 15.5% walk rate and was only making an out in 66.1% of plate appearances.”

    Don’t want to be “that guy”, but this is a mistake. If Votto had a .423 OBP, then he was only making an out in 57.7% of his plate appearances. I think you were looking at his BABIP, but that will only tell you how often he didn’t make an out when he put the ball in play.

    For comparison, Votto in May is making an out in 67.4% of his PA since his OBP is .326. So he is making an out almost ten percent more often this month.

    Really good article and I didn’t want it to be marred by that mistake. Good work!

  8. Vanessa Galagnara

    If he is injured even if a minor injury who do we have to cover first? Frazier and Pena?

      • lwblogger2

        Considering that Josh Satin is dealing with concussion problems, Waldrop may be the best bet. I think that MLB pitchers will wear him out though, considering his propensity for not taking walks.

      • Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

        Didn’t Waldrop have something along the lines of 22 strikeouts and only 2 walks? That would fit perfectly with this lineup sadly but he needs to work on his approach some more before he’s called up. I’d love to see some of the young guys buy there are so many things many if them still need to work on that bringing them up this early just doesn’t seem logical.

  9. Jeremy Conley

    Early in the season, when Votto was crushing the ball, he talked about how last year he was being challenged inside because everyone knew he couldn’t catch up to it. He talked about how it was a really difficult thing to deal with because he’d never been in that position before, where he had a weakness and it was being exploited and there wasn’t anything he could do about it, because of his injury.

    It seems really clear to me that that is what is happening again. With how this Reds team has dealt with injuries, this just seems like another classic example. We will probably hear about the injury in the next few weeks.

  10. Vanessa Galagnara

    This is the big hole in stats. They can’t predict injury, mood, or accelerated regression for whatever reason. I love stats but I do think that there is no stat to show us what is wrong with Joey Votto. He isn’t playing as predicted is all we can say. Maybe he is trying to hard or not trying hard enough, we will never know.

    Hope he isn’t injured, but wouldn’t be surprised if he is. I’ll be cheering for him and wishing him the best of luck. I really thought that this year he would get more off days but it seems like that of all the Reds he is the one who seldom gets a day off….. probably because the Reds never bothered to sign a real backup or develop a first basemen in the minors. There is no one in the system I mean no one who can play first at the big league level and that is just a great tragedy.

    • lwblogger2

      The “insurance policy” was brought in on a minor league deal and was playing at AAA before dealing with concussion problems. Josh Satin was the guy that I think the Reds had in mind for that role. Going forward, it may be Kyle Waldrop.

    • Jeremy Conley

      Are you suggesting that a guy playing at less than 70% of his career level offensively for an entire month (.279 wOBA in May vs. career .405) is due to a) his mood, or b) his level of effort?

      I don’t think so, and statistics can help me to that conclusion, by looking at the severity of the variation. It seems like some fans will try to find any reason to point out a deficiency in statistical analysis for baseball. No stats can’t predict someone’s mood, but nothing can, nor would that be useful or wanted.

      This is a case where, as Mike shows, the use of stats can provide us a much clearer picture of what is really going on with a player, and to come a lot closer to answering the question “what is wrong with Votto” than we ever could get just by watching a game.

      • Vanessa Galagnara

        All I am saying is that stats could not predict Joey’s 2014 season nor are the predictive stats for 2015 on mark. His stat line and the excellent analysis of the writers certainly show that there is a problem. But then again maybe there is no problem…. maybe this is the new Joey Votto.
        See where I am going with this? Maybe whatever happened in 2014 changed the guy and what he is capable of doing, maybe it is age and the injury combined, maybe he is going to go on a torrid June and rip the league up.
        Because of his injury in 2014 there is no way to accurately use stats to project just exactly what we should be seeing from Joey Votto. If I had a point that is it.

      • Jeremy Conley

        The argument that this is “the new Votto” would make a lot more sense if he hadn’t been really good for a month, and then stopped hitting overnight, and began putting up a line that looks exactly like his line did last year when he was playing hurt.

        Statistics are just information, intended to give you the clearest picture of what is actually happening. This idea that there isn’t a stat that could predict everything or project everything perfectly, is missing the point, not making a point. You open by saying “this is the big hole in stats.” What is? That they don’t tell you everything?

        You are basically blaming information for not telling you enough, and using that as a case against using information.

        I think you can use this information to come to a natural conclusion using deductive reasoning. Votto was playing great and looked like his old self. His baseball statistics support this, as well as his statements in interviews. Then overnight he started to hit for a lower average, take fewer walks, and hit for basically no power. Again, you can see that in his stats. You can also compare those stats to his stats from when he was injured last year, and see they are remarkably similar.

        So, using that information, does it make more sense to say that he probably re-injured his quad, or that he has been in a bad mood for a month, or that what we are seeing now is the new Votto. To me the answer is clear, and statistics helped me make my conclusion. If you feel the answer isn’t clear, then there may not be enough information for you, and that’s fine. But it isn’t an indictment of statistics.

      • Vanessa Galagnara

        small sample size as I read on here every single day. The data on Joey Votto is a small sample size. The same argument you made on Bruce. So with Bruce it is a small sample size and with Votto it isn’t a small sample size? How does that happen?

        You can say Votto had a great month of April and a poor month of May but if Votto has a terrible April and a great May that means Bruce is hitting into his variance to balance out his numbers. Why can’t the same be true for Votto?

        As dumb and as foolish as the Reds have been with Votto’s injuries I give them a zero chance of allowing him to play injured even if it were a rash on his backside. Votto is the player that this team has to be built around. They don’t risk the next 8 years.

        If Votto is playing injured and not telling anyone surely a trainer somewhere would pick up on it wouldn’t they?

      • Jeremy Conley

        Vanessa: As I posted above, there are some things that are indicators that you can use to see if someone’s performance variation is probably just a small sample size issue. What that means is when one stat that is usually connected to another, like say WHIP and ERA, and for a particular guy they aren’t (like if he has a low ERA and super high WHIP), you might conclude that over a larger sample, his ERA will go up.

        For Bruce, it was BABIP and the types of balls he was hitting (high velocity flyballs and line drives. It seemed like his BABIP should have been higher, which made it seem like it could be a small sample size issue. Lo and behold, a week later his BABIP is .400 and he’s “hot.”

        With Votto, there aren’t any clear indicators that this is a small sample size issue. Mike went through lots of possibilities, like BABIP, and said that he didn’t see much. That’s good analysis because it helps us understand that this is less likely to be a small sample size issue.

        Herp: Never! 🙂

  11. User1022

    Votto is also in his age 32 season. While on average players don’t drop off a cliff so early in their decline years, it could very well be there are lingering effects of the injury that Votto’s body is just not able to bounce back from on a day to day basis like when he was a spry 28 year old. I think we all can relate.

    Also, players age at different rates. We’ve been relatively spoiled watching guys like Bronson Arroyo and Brandon Phillips remain productive for our team relatively late into their careers, but they are somewhat uncommon, especially in this post-steroid era. Not everyone can be Julio Franco or Jamie Moyer. For reference, former Reds Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns were finished with baseball by their age 35 seasons. (Although Kearns still technically hasn’t retired.)

    Or, look at a guy like Albert Pujols, who compares favorably to Votto. His career numbers are .315 AVG, .401 OBP, .585 SLG. But the last time he hit anywhere near those numbers was in 2011…. His Age 31 season, and even then, his line was .299/.366/.541

    Bottom line: I don’t know what’s eating Votto, but his age can’t be helping at this stage. Hate to bring up the contract, but I’m REALLY starting to worry about it now.

    • Jeremy Conley

      You are right, aging isn’t going to make anything easier for Votto going forward. It just seems really hard for me to believe that a guy who looked like an MVP candidate aged into a below replacement level scrub over the course of two days.

      He looks exactly like he did last year between DL stints.

      • Steve Mancuso

        I disagree that Votto looks the same. Last year, it was obvious that he couldn’t drive off his back leg. He couldn’t swing hard. Heck he couldn’t even support his own weight on that leg. This month’s Votto doesn’t seem to be suffering from the same issue. He swings really hard. He runs with abandon. He is all over the infield on defense. Maybe he has a different injury. But he sure does swing hard and drive off his back leg. He’s just not squaring up the ball for whatever reason.

        I don’t have the answer to this. I can’t explain the profound difference between April Votto and May Votto. I wish I could. But Jeremy, your broader point is certainly right. The month of April (which wasn’t the old Votto, it was a super-fine version of the old Votto) disproves the notion that the May Votto is the new normal.

      • Jeremy Conley

        Yeah, I should have said his line looks exactly like it did last year.

        I’ve tried to watch him closely over the last few weeks, and it’s just too hard for me to tell. Sometimes it does look to me like he’s swinging with mostly his upper body, others it’s too hard to tell.

        If I had to guess I’d guess it’s the same thing, but I believe you that there are differences in how he physically looks compared to last year that I haven’t picked up on.

      • Vanessa Galagnara

        small sample size as you always say. One month isn’t enough for us to know what 2015 Votto is going to be like. Maybe the real Votto is the combination of April-May?

        The argument made in April and May for Bruce was that we were just seeing a small sample size. So as I pointed out above why isn’t this also true with Votto? Clearly not enough at bats to know what we are going to see or be able to project on.

      • Jeremy Conley

        Vanessa: For Bruce the issue was that his BABIP was absurdly low for the time period he was struggling, which made it seem likely that it was a small sample size issue. Mike looked at BABIP in his article and had solid evidence for why that isn’t the case. That is the difference.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Votto is 31 and doesn’t turn 32 until September, that makes this his age 31 season.

      While in general I agree with your point about variability of aging, it’s hard to finger that as what’s happened here because of the April Votto. Age can’t be helping, but this sort of drop off is really unlikely to be caused by that.

      • User1022

        Ah right, for some reason I thought his birthday was coming up soon. Not sure where I got that idea from.

        But yeah, my point still stands. He’s past his peak year(s) and his body is probably not what it used to be. He was fine in April, but he’s suddenly run out of gas in May.

        For what it’s worth, I think Votto is going to bounce back. He just needs to re-adjust his expectations to match the new reality of his decline, and work within those limitations. He’s probably never going to be an MVP caliber player again, but he can still be All-Star level, although with competition from guys like Rizzo, Goldschmidt, Freeman et al, I don’t know that he’ll ever actually make it to the All Star Game again.

    • Dr. K

      Because of Votto’s age (and to whatever degree you want to factor it in, his injuries) should the Reds be looking to shop Votto? It’s hard to believe that the Reds as currently constructed are legitimate contenders in the near future (year or two, maybe three). That puts JV in his mid-30s by the time they are ready to contend again. At that point, 2017, Votto is due $22,000,000 and from 2018-2023 he’s due $25,000,000. I am not belaboring the merits of signing him when they did (it was a solid move). Things change though. Given the makeup of the team today, it’s lack of depth, and (potential) decline in Votto’s value, exploring a move for him might be the prudent route to take.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Do you really think he is moveable? I hope you’re right but I can’t see it.

        BP is probably the guy that you could move “right now” and maybe not a month from now – can he produce any better than he is?

      • Dr. K

        That’s the $25 million question, isn’t it? Just looking very quickly, and I think the Astros could be a great fit. Their 1B, Chris Carter, looks to be having a terrible season, but the ‘Stros have a 6 game lead in the West. They have the 29th lowest payroll in baseball, so it stands to reason that they could afford to take on a big salary. In a month or two, if Votto turns it around (and I think he will rebound unless there’s a serious injury) the Astros could be looking to fortify themselves as a legit contender in the AL.

        I’m sure I’m missing something, but this seems to make sense to me.

      • Robby20

        I agree. Votto is not going anywhere. And as you stated the contract was mistake but it a done deal. No need to rehash it.

      • Robby20

        that should be was a mistake but is a done deal. (Typed too quickly)

      • Robby20

        Turf toe and age make him a Red for the length of the contract.

      • lwblogger2

        All players who don’t have 10/5 rights are movable. It comes down to how much money the Reds would want to eat and what if any prospects they’d want to send to the receiving team. Having said that, I think the Reds would have to take on a ton of money to move Votto. Enough money that if Votto becomes even 75% of the player he was, the Reds would probably be kicking themselves for giving him up. I am of the mind that unless his production improves, he probably shouldn’t be moved due to the salary the Reds would have to pay for him to play for another team.

      • Jeremy Conley

        If I were another team, this is how I would look at it:

        Votto is signed for nine more years and is owed $219M after this year, counting his buyout. I would figure out how many WAR I expect him to put up over those nine years, or at least a ballpark figure. Let’s say the decide he’ll be worth 30 wins in that time. If I were going to sign him as a free agent, those 30 wins might be worth $195M, but I would want a discount for it being such a long commitment. So maybe knock it down to $150M.

        So, if I’m the Reds, I would assume that unless I’m willing to eat about $70M, it’s going to be pretty hard to move him at all, and I wouldn’t be getting anyone good in return at that level.

      • jdx19

        I think this sounds correct.

        Presumably, the Reds would want something for Votto, even if they ate some money. I don’t see that happening.

        Also, if the Reds happened to think 30 more WAR was coming from Votto he’d be a borderline HOFer. They’d get some nice marketing opportunities from him in the future, perhaps.

  12. big5ed

    If anybody remembers Jim Bouton’s Ball Four, this is how you pitch God–hard stuff in, breaking stuff away. Votto has to adjust.

    Personally, I don’t think he at age 31 is as quick to fastballs as he was 5 years ago, and I think scouts believe that as well. He can and will make some adjustments, but it is possible that he has just begun the decline phase and won’t get it fully back. It happens to every player sooner or later.

    I don’t think he is hurt–he is plenty nimble in the field, and much better defensively than he has been the past two years.

  13. ragekage83

    In looking over the ISO data there is also a bit of a decline in the June-August ’09 time frame. This is when he first came out about his battle with depression/anxiety and the toll the death of his father was taking on him. It is possible that he is going through a difficult stretch with that right now and nothing is structurally wrong.

  14. jdx19

    Great as always, Mike! Thanks!

    Last night I looked into the issue of Votto being pitched inside, May-15 vs Career, and the numbers were eerily similar (30.1% vs 30.9% total inside pitches, by my counting methodology). So, since that’s the case, I think April was the abberation in how pitchers were treating Votto. And if THAT is the case, then I think it’s possible he could only be an adjustment away from being back to his baseline. After all, pitchers have been pitching him this way his whole career and he’s been fine.

    Let’s just all hope he is only an adjustment away…

    • pinson343

      I think pitchers were pitching him outside in April to test his left leg, to see if he could drive the ball the other way. He could.

      • jdx19

        “Oh, crap. That didn’t work.” -NL Pitchers

  15. WVRedlegs

    Superb analysis Mr. Maffie. I have been in the camp that this has been just one of those things. But as the games have gone by here in late May, I find myself a bit more concerned. The lack of power is disconcerting, to say the least.
    As Votto goes, so do the Reds.

  16. Jeremy Conley

    For comparisons sake, here’s a breakdown of some of Votto’s numbers from last year.

    2014 April: .292/.453/.483
    2014 May until DL: .209/.346/.419
    2014 June & July until DL: .250/.357/.333

    2015 April: .317/.423/.646
    2015 May: .235/.323/.282

    • Steve Mancuso

      He’s been worse than when he was hurt last year.

      • Jeremy Conley

        Yeah, pretty surprising, I hadn’t put together the numbers with his two DL stints before.

        I do think his May line this year does bare some striking resemblance to last years two injured periods, though more exaggerated.

    • HerpyDerp

      Maybe not relevant, but more comparison – Andrew McCutchen

      April – .194/.302/.333
      May – .330/.411/.577

      Some said he was injured. Maybe he was. Either way, great hitters can work through slumps, and I’m not convinced Joey can’t bounce back at least doing near what he did in April.

  17. seat101

    Thank you for a well-written piece. I imagine as his season unfolds will find out more. I hope the news is good.

    Thanks again

  18. ohiojimw

    I don’t think it is out of question that Votto could have a game stamina issue. He essentially missed an entire year. No doubt he worked hard to get ready for the season; and was and is in good general condition. However across sports one hears athletes talk a lot about getting an being in game condition and how that is another whole state of being at the top levels of sport.

    Game stamina certainly would fit in that Votto came out so strongly but seems to have lost his edge rather quickly as he played virtually every inning of every game.

    • tct

      Agree with you here, Jim. I remember in 2013, when Votto had missed a couple months of the previous year and didn’t have his power when he did come back, Dusty played him in all 162 games. When people asked him about it, he would say Joey didn’t need a game off because he played first base, which is just stupid. And Joey faded pretty bad down the stretch that year and looked worn out.

      I’ve heard that Joeys muscle issue last year was caused by overworking it and not letting the muscle recover. I would give him at least one day off per week. A healthy Joey playing four or five games per week is much more valuable than a worn out Joey playing every day. Or even worse no Joey at all because his worn out leg gets injured.

      The way the Reds have handled Votto since the injury is just insane.

      • DavidTurner49

        Thanks for a very informative article.

        Re Joey’s possible stamina issues, why not dfa Boesch and bring up Selsky who can evidently play some 1b as well as outfield?

      • pinson343

        I agree 100% that playing Joey every game is just plain dumb. It’s a form of denial: “Look, he’s playing every day, he must be OK.” Another example of how disappointing Price has been.

      • lwblogger2

        I don’t know if a 1B needs a day off a week but a couple days a month can do any player good.

      • VaRedsFan

        I’m with you LW on this….2 days/month should suffice

  19. beelicker

    Apr 13 @CHI Votto went on a torrid 14 for 33 run & w/ 6 HRs to that point … until the Apr 23 getaway game #4 @Milwaukee. That getaway game saw him go o for 4, followed by o for 6 in 2 games @Wrigley & an o for 5 in the 1st Milwaukee game of the homestand & with but a single HR since:

    Anybody remember anything unusual corresponding to that sequence?

    • beelicker

      Welp … I thought some more about my own question here & next up came a small week of success until … on May 6 he contacted an ump & got tossed o for 2, o for 4 the next day, then DNP, 3 for 4 the game after that & then the current malaise fully kicks in … you don’t suppose maybe the umps independently reached a collective decision to possible maybe perhaps somewhat adjust how they could feel about JV’s personal strike zone parameters in the seemingly relevant ‘in on the fist’ dimension spontaneously …?

      • pinson343

        I don’t believe the umps are conspiring against him. But the date you mention, the ump bump day, is very interesting. It’s the closest one can come to a turning point. The Reds reporter guy wrote an article then about what got Joey so upset, saying how Gerritt Cole was pitching him hard inside with a lot of success and that set off memories of last year when pitchers were pitching him that way with success.

        Michael’s data confirms that pitchers have gone more with pitching him hard inside again.

      • beelicker

        Perhaps word ‘got around’ that Votto ‘could’ be pitched inside thusly after that little dustup? Even though the ump was grandstanding & Votto ‘accepted’ responsibility & got a light suspension, Votto could also be perceived by them otherwise to be somewhat ‘showing them up’ with the intensity of his body language & other reactions at inside pitches that he ‘thinks’ are strikes & that he ‘shouldn’t” have to swing at

        They may have decided to make him see what it’s like if they called that inside pitch a little differently in on the fists so that he’d have to start whacking at something that he ‘thinks’ is clearly not a strike. I don’t think the umps are above sending such messages or the ‘word’ also getting around, sort of a ‘purpose’ gesture. Votto surely can’t say anything about it & it might even be up to the fan blogosphere to ‘notice’ so that all parties can then move on …

  20. Carl Sayre

    Could it be that his bat is slowing down and the pitchers have caught on to the decline. I hope it is just a slump like mere mortals go through and we have just been spoiled by superman when he has been healthy. He is a professional hitter he will figure out a way to handle those inside jam jobs.

  21. pinson343

    I’m with Steve that he’s not injured. Or if he is, it’s not his left quad. He has a lot of mobility on defense, he had none last year. Nothing wrong with his vertical leap, as we saw on a leaping catch the other day.

    In April, when he’d get a fast ball on the outer half, he was able to drive the ball to left center field, staying back and using his left leg for power. As Michael’s data also shows, he’s getting fewer of those pitches now.

    • VaRedsFan

      I concur with you and Steve. The eye test for me indicates there is no injury

  22. pinson343

    The statement that he has a stamina issue sounds like a very good guess (we’re all guessing, obviously). Recovering from a long time off and coming back to play every day at the major league level is very tough. And even with the slump he is the guy in the Reds lineup that opposing teams focus on shutting down.

    Look at Tulowitzki and Cargo this past week, looking like shadows of their former selves. Tulo is chasing pitches that he never would have swung at before this year, he’s struggling with fastballs. I didn’t notice that anyone said: “Tulo must be hurt.”
    It’s easier to be objective about players on the other team. Tulo is adjusting to playing every day again. He might not reach the superstar level of his peak years again but he will do a lot better (hit with more power) than he is right now.

  23. pinson343

    Many have noted that Joey is not “squaring up” the ball, not getting the barrel of his bat to it. If he were doing that and the ball would die on or not even get close to the warning track, that would be a sure sign that he can’t drive the ball and most likely something is physically wrong. Remember all those lazy fly balls to LF in 2014 ?

    But I don’t see that, I see him rolling over the ball for weak ground balls or getting jammed for weak fly balls. Pitchers have adjusted to the April he had, now he has to adjust to them. I believe he will.

  24. Mick

    Up here in Minnesota we are familiar with your frustrations….Joe Mauer’ s decline seems similar to Votto’ s…..I think injuries and age are catching up to them. Judging by his reaction to a bad at bat,Joey seems like he puts lots of pressure on himself.
    This is a great blog. Always good reading.

  25. Vanessa Galagnara

    Steve whatever happened to banning people for personal attacks? Someone saying I don’t understand statistics or never will sure sounds like a personal attack to me. My argument is that we are looking at 2 months of the season. By arguments posted on this website by the writers that is a fairly small sample size in which to draw a conclusion on a batter. Joey’s April was hot, Joey’s May is cold. Looks like he is needing to make an adjustment as batters go through it. How can we draw a conclusion based upon 2 months of the season?
    Using the logic used against me I can just as easily use stats to say Joey’s June he is going to be hot again. April hot, May cold, June hot… etc…. prove me wrong on that one. You can’t not until June is finished.
    You guys criticize and belittle everyone that doesn’t agree with you and that gets old…. FAST.
    You use your logic one way to defend Jay Bruce and you use the exact same logic to say Joey Votto …. something wrong.
    Don’t call me stupid or not understanding because I do understand, however, I choose to not agree with the logic and koolaid you are handing out.

    • lwblogger2

      I saw that Vanessa and it wasn’t cool. It wasn’t from one of the site’s staff though. Maybe nobody has spotted it or gotten around to moderating the comment?

    • Steve Mancuso

      Just hadn’t seen it. We do our best to moderate comments, but none of us do this anywhere near full time. The comment was made by a new commenter, not one of our regulars or writers. His attack was unjustified, but so is your broad brush condemnation of “you guys.”

      • Vanessa Galagnara

        you are right I apologize as well. Votto hit a home run today so all is good. On top of that we won!!!!

    • jdx19

      I feel like I should apologize. I think I might have made a similar, less pointed, comment in the heat-of-the-moment a few weeks back. So, for that, I apologize, Vanessa. And as Steve pointed out, it was the “you guys” type of talk that set me off, I believe. Either way, it wasn’t right and I’m sorry. I will not do it again!

    • Jeremy Conley

      Vanessa: I posted above twice why the Votto and Bruce situations are different. Bruce had a crazy low BABIP for the types of balls he was putting in play. Mike said this in his article: “None of the traditional places of random variation, such as BABIP, explain his loss of power.” That is why they are different, and why it is less likely that what we are seeing from Votto is a sample size issue.