Opportunity Knocked for Votto


Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

I know it’s difficult to relive any of last night’s loss. I realize the endless string of bunts and bunt attempts are most likely driving you mad. Today, I wonder how many people are talking about the game’s most important AB? Well, might not have been according to win expectancy or win probability.

I know of at least one person who mentioned such last night.

Yep, that’s BRM’s own Tyler Grote.

Know what? He’s right. That’s a situation where you need, no, you must have Joey Votto be successful. I’m not talking about moving the runner to third base by pulling the ball to the right side of the infield, which is what happened. That run must cross home plate during his at-bat and end the game.

The only reason you take the moving of the runner is because you still have at least one more chance to push that run across. Walk Bruce and then the…

Let’s forget the botched whatever-the-hell-Chris Heisey-and-Shin-Soo Choo-were-thinking bit for a moment or two. (Dusty states that wasn’t him, but that’s actually moot.) Go back to Votto’s AB.

Were you a bit confused, maybe even shocked, that the Cardinals elected to pitch to Votto in the first place? Walk Votto, pitch to the guy behind him. Been used to seeing that in the past even with one out as the situation was last evening. Opponents have not wanted Votto to be the guy to beat to beat them, yet Cards manager Mike Matheny presented Votto that golden opportunity.

We know what happened.

Curious. Whenever anyone, anywhere attempts to states anything remotely negative regarding the Reds first baseman, the masses are quick to lurch into defense mode and be all too happy to thrust a sword through your sternum. You’re simply not permitted to do so. Take your shots at anyone else on the roster, just not #19.


Back to the AB…

There might be a reason for why Matheny made the choice he did.

That table represents the stats for Votto. He has been human since the All-Star Game.

And it must be added that Bruce hasn’t exactly brought the house down as of late either. With one out, the Cards elected to pitch to a former MVP. Not issue him a walk and pitch to the next guy. That’s what we’ve seen before though.

You could say the Reds go as Votto goes, but you could also say the same for just about any player on the roster. Concerning Votto, when the Reds win, he sports a 3-slash of .353/.468/.557. Whenever the Redlegs taste defeat: .234/.368/.401. And he was 0-for-7 last night.

And you better believe opponents are aware of this funk, slide or whatever other name you wish to use.

We have heard that Votto needs to be more aggressive at the plate. Wait. Isn’t that like everyday we hear that?

Well, for those that have stated such, he’s more aggressive this year than last year, but (always a big “but”, huh?), not as aggressive in years past.

There’s another purpose for this table.

For those stating that Votto doesn’t see strikes, this shows that he’s seeing almost as many, from a percentage standpoint, than he has his entire career. In fact, if you go to Fangraphs, you will be able to further see that Votto is actually seeing more strikes – again, based on percentages – than he did last year. That said, last year does represent the lowest percentage of strikes he has seen.

This table also shows a discrepancy where some have said Votto isn’t aggressive. Well, that is true to an extent. Votto is swinging at far less pitches over the past two seasons as he did during that MVP year of 2010, but he is getting back to 40% for this season.

And that might be another reason Matheny was unflappable in letting his rookie pitcher, Carlos Martinez, send a couple of 99MPH fastballs buzzing Votto’s way. Sure, Votto hits a fastball as well as anyone in baseball, even when he’s in a funk, but Matheny took a path few dare to travel.

Matheny’s risk paid off in a big way. All you do is tip your cap to him for having the kahunas to go against the grain.