Votto and Browning

Hard to believe you can put both Joey Votto and Tom Browning in the same headline, but I managed to pull it off, didn’t I? There’s a reason for it. Trust me.

In regards to Votto, there is a small groundswell bringing the 2010 NL MVP into the matter of being considered for this year’s NL MVP. A quick take on this was written by John Fay yesterday. Here’s a little of what Fay wrote.

“His big day yesterday (Wednesday) — he was 5-for-7 with two home runs and four RBI in the doubleheader — put him in the lead in on-base plus slugging. That’s what I look at first as an MVP voter. He’s at .992. Ryan Braun is second at .985.Votto also leads the NL in average with runners in scoring position at .435.”

But the accolades for Votto’s 2011 did not end there.

Call to the Pen’s Blaine Blontz mentions Votto as a contender in his post where he took a look at those in the NL he considers worthy of the honor. Here’s a little of what Blontz said about the Reds first baseman.

“His RBI (84) and home run (24) numbers aren’t as high as some in the NL, but Votto’s combination of skill at the plate and defensively at first base have him currently sporting the NL’s best WAR (6.5) among position players.”

Blontz also mentions Votto’s on-base percentage and OPS as well.

Although this isn’t an endorsement for Votto to repeat, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan listed 25 things you didn’t know about baseball. Among his 25 things, two are directly related to Votto’s hitting prowess. Those two where he mentions Votto are his lack of popping out and his extreme success in hitting the ol’ number 1. In his point about
Votto and not hitting into a popout, he does mention that Votto has done it this season. He also mentions this…

The reigning National League MVP is following his perfect 2010 with a near-perfect 2011. He had the temerity to pop out once this year, giving him one in 1,010 at-bats over the last two seasons. It’s doubly noteworthy because Votto frequently drives the ball in the air, accumulating 130 extra-base hits during that span.”

There are only two players, according to Passan, that have not poppedout this season: the Angels Howie Kendrick and the Rangers Michael Young. But Passan even lavishes more praise on Votto and his 2011 season. In fact, he calls Votto’s success on hitting fastballs as “the single best weapon in baseball this year”. Here’s why.

“Votto is so good – and so anonymous – he deserves a little elucidation. FanGraphs calculates a metric called Pitch Type Values. Essentially, it assigns a run value for a hitter against each particular pitch as well as one for every type a pitcher throws. And Votto has blistered fastballs this season to the tune of 35.1 runs.”

While it is likely Votto will not repeat, he will garner some votes a little on down the line. I imagine a fair amount of thirds, fourths and fifths. Seeing a sixth or so wouldn’t be a surprise either considering the seasons some are having like Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp.

My darkhorse (but he should be on the radar of every voter) is Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks.

And we now move to one the the best moments in Reds history, Tom Browning’s perfect game from September 16, 1988. The opponent was the then-rival Los Angeles Dodgers. The opposing pitcher was Tim Belcher. And as Call to the Pen’s Jonathan Bohall points out, Belcher also had a great game. Just not the game Browning had.

If you weren’t a Reds fan then or have forgotten one circumstance surrounding that perfect game, Bohall reminds us.

“After a lengthy rain delay of two hours and 27 minutes, the Dodgers and Reds finally started on September 16, 1988. The crowd that waited around was in for a treat. Both starters, Cincinnati southpaw Tom Browning and Dodger hurler, Tim Belcher were on their game.”

If you click on the date above, you can view the boxscore from that game.

One thing I liked about Bohall’s post (one in a series) is that he’s rating perfect games on a scale. While these type of “grades” are always from one perspective, it always creates discussion among fans. He succeeds here.

Head over and give Bohall’s piece a read. It brought back some good memories.