The Votto Discussion


Phillips and Votto talk during a pitching change in the seventh inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park. The Pirates defeated the Reds 3-2. (Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports)

I figured that once the whole “Votto isn’t getting paid for/to…” stuff eventually died down, this subject would never again be discussed to the proportion it is now. How foolish of me for ever thinking so.

Okay, so in yesterday’s 3-2 loss to the Pirates, Joey Votto came to the plate with bases loaded and no outs. He grounded into a double play. Twitter went berzerk. And we know how that goes as there are two sides to everything.

In one corner, those that have seen enough of Votto “struggling” this season. The other, those that are staunch supporters that state Votto can do no wrong and those in the opposite corner are crazy.

What if I told you that both sides have the numbers that can back their case on this?

First off, I think some folks need to be re-educated. For anyone to say that Votto is horrible with runners in scoring position, you need to seriously reassess your statement. And before you ask, yes. I actually read a comment stating this. Not here, but elsewhere.

As you can clearly see in looking at the top line of the above table, that statement is simply false. Couldn’t be anymore false.

Now, if anyone meant to say two outs and RISP, then he/she would be correct. And, after seeing this table, you can say the same for when Votto comes to the plate with bases loaded as well.

Why did I include stats for Brandon Phillips? BP does lead the team in RBI and that’s where Votto is “deficient”. But we see something else in comparing the two: Votto and BP have almost the same number of PAs with RISP.

But what isn’t here is this: In Votto’s 441 PA on the season, 239 of those, or 54%, have come with the bases empty. By comparison, of BP’s 400 PA, only 181, or 45%, have been with the bases empty.

Those that have stated that you have to have guys on base in front of Votto do have a case for making such a statement.

But here’s a little more evidence for those that are troubled by Votto’s perceived “lack of production”. The projected 24 HR and 72 RBI are extremely eye-popping and are bothersome, problematic or both.

I want to interject something here. I don’t know how it came to be that Votto acquired the label of “slugger”. I personally have never thought of him as such. He’s had one season where he topped 30 HR and that was his MVP season of 2010. In looking at all his other seasons, his next highest is 29 (2011). Now, when I think of a “slugger”, I believe that he should have more than one 30+HR season. In adhering to that, the Reds have one ”slugger”: Jay Bruce. He’s had two and projected to have a third.

I think of Votto as a hitter.

Yes, Votto is second on the team in HR. Still doesn’t make him a “slugger” in my book.

But if you want to point to one area that might be more concerning is that of hitting doubles. Votto has all of 19 this season. Over the prior two seasons, it only seemed like he hit one every other AB. Prior to his injury last season, Votto was on pace to break or tie the MLB record for doubles. Oh, there’s the projected 31 for this season, but this tells me that on some level Votto might not be driving that ball as much as we’ve seen in the past.

So what have we learned from all of this? Isn’t the answer obvious? We can take some stats and find the means to skew them in our favor.