Oh, Joey, You’re So Fine


May 22, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Votto hits a single against the New York Mets during the seventh inning of a game at Citi Field. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Apologies to Mike Chapman and Nicky Penn, the duo that penned the 80’s smash Mickey, for the slight “editing” from the first line of the tune, but it is true. Joey Votto is fine. Depends on your definition of fine, of course.

To some, it could refer to his handsomely good looks. Well, I know of a few that believe that’s the case.

Others may look at Votto as spew forth praises for his humble, quiet and unassuming nature.

We could deliberate the status of his surgically repaired knee. It appears that all is well there, too.

But when you hear “Joey Votto”, the following words, in some form, flow: “one of, if not the best hitter in baseball”. And it is honestly no wonder.

If you haven’t taken the opportunity to Jerry Crasnick’s excellent article on ESPN.com about Votto, you are truly missing a fine piece. Yes, I said fine. Within the contents, Crasnick notes a chance “meeting” that took place early in Votto’s career.

"Several years ago, Votto was standing in the on-deck circle at Great American Ball Park while Pete Rose was watching from a box seat. The two men struck up a conversation, and the Hit King passed along a few pearls of wisdom that resonated. Among other things, he told Votto that it’s no sin to reach for the last cookie in the jar. Rose would never have amassed 4,256 hits if he didn’t have a touch of the greed-monger in him."

And like that, the torch is passed.

There is significantly more to Crasnick’s article, and, again, it is a highly recommended read. He talks about the professional relationship between Votto and Shin-Soo Choo and the history they have a chance to duplicate. There are excellent quotes from Votto, his teammates and Dusty.

At the beginning of the article is a video from Eric Karabell and David Schoenfield that is watch-worthy. Take a few minutes to set aside to read the article and view the vid.

The superlatives for Votto are endless. Just today, SI.com released its newest MLB power rankings. While I personally have no liking of such, what Joe Lemire notes in ranking the Reds #2 tells us that if Joey leads the NL in on-base percentage this season, he will have done so for four consecutive season. There is a select group he would join: Barry Bonds, Wade Boggs, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and Rogers Hornsby. Four in the Hall of Fame and the one, well, that’s another discussion/debate for another day.

No one would doubt that Votto was not Votto-like once he returned and might not have been at the onset to this season.

But for today, or even for the past few days, a question that has to be on the mind of some baseball fans (not just Reds fans) is a simple one. Can Votto regain his 2010 form which brought him the NL MVP? This was asked by Kyle Sullender of Players View.

While his question was from a couple of days ago, there are some valid points Sullender makes. No one can deny that Votto’s RBI count is down. Crasnick even notes that there are a few players with more RBI than Votto that you might not suspect. Home run number isn’t where some feel it should be, but the production is. In 42 less plate appearances in May, Votto has as many RBI than he did in April (11). He has one less home run in May (3) than last month (4). All three for this month came during the recently completed road trip.

You know. The road trip where he slashed for .559/.651/.882 with those three big flies, drove in 7 and scored 12 runs…

Now that I think about it, maybe the question needs to be re-phrased. Is Votto back to that 2010 form? Or maybe this question. Has Votto surpassed his 2010 form?

I ask that last question because of where Votto was last season when that whole meniscus thing occurred. He had produced a triple slash of .342/.465/.604 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI. He was on pace to set the record for doubles in a season with 36 at the time and was issued 66 walks. Even then, Votto’s name was being mentioned as a potential NL MVP candidate.

I know, the HR and RBI totals make that last one a stretch because it seems they do hold meaning to those which vote for such things as MVP awards.

Worth noting, and a referral back to the video from Karabell and Schoenfield, comes from BRM Twitter follower Nick Kirby.

The only other NL player with an OPS over 1.000 is Troy Tulowitzki (1.014).

I think Votto is doing all right.

One last reference to Crasnick, Rose told Votto that you play for yourself and compete for your team.

I’ll take it. That’s fine with me.