Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto is hitting when it counts

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 19: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds doubles in the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on May 19, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 19: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds doubles in the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on May 19, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /
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Joey Votto hasn’t exactly been lighting it up lately for the Cincinnati Reds, but his hits, when they come, have been very timely.

Joey Votto is the greatest hitter in Cincinnati Reds‘ history. Sorry Pete Rose fans, it’s true. Lately, however, Joey seems a bit off. He hasn’t hit a home run since May 13th. You read that right, May 13th. That was 31 games ago.

Votto hit 36 home runs last season, and 29 of his hits in both 2015 and 2016 went over the wall. With only 6 homers on the season through 70 games, Votto is only projected to hit 14 round-trippers on the season. That number would be his lowest since 2014, a year in which he only played 62 games.

Okay, I’m done picking on Joey Votto. He’s been the best player on the Cincinnati Reds since, arguably, his rookie season in 2008. He’s a fixture in the Cincinnati lineup and just played his 1,500th career game in a Reds uniform last Sunday.

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The interesting aspect of Joey Votto’s play this season has been the timeliness of his hitting. While one could argue that he’s having a “down year” at the plate, the numbers don’t suggest that at all.

Joey’s current slash line is .302/.425/.444. A .425 on-base percentage, are you kidding me? Votto’s ability to take pitches and draw walks is uncanny.

Over the past 10 games, Votto’s numbers are not fantastic, but they don’t tell the whole story. In his last 10 games, Votto is hitting .278 with 8 RBIs and 12 walks. His on-base percentage is .469 and he’s slugging .472. But let’s dig a little deeper.

During that same 10 game stretch, Votto’s only had 10 hits in 36 at bats. However, 6 of those 10 hits have gone for extra bases; 5 doubles and a triple.

On two separate occasions during the game against the Cardinals on June 8th, a game the Reds would ultimately lose in extra innings, Votto came up big with the Reds trailing. He singled in a run in the 6th inning to help the Reds close the gap, and did so again in the bottom of the 9th that helped the Reds extend the game.

As the designated hitter in Kansas City, Votto came up big in a big moment again. After a Tucker Barnhart homer in the 9th inning extended the game into extra innings, Votto came up in the 10th inning with a chance to blow the game wide open. He did just that. With the bases juiced, Votto pounded a line drive to center field, scoring 3 and helping the Reds to a 5-1 win over Kansas City.

Just this past Sunday, in a game the Reds needed to win in order to secure a winning road trip, Votto came up clutch again. With the bases loaded again, Votto hit a double to right field in the 6th inning that scored Billy Hamilton and Scott Schebler. That hit increased the Reds lead to a 6-1 edge over the Pirates. It turns out those runs were valuable, as Pittsburgh’s comeback fell just 2 runs short.

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So, while Joey Votto isn’t having the same type of stellar season he did last year, the former MVP is still playing very well, especially in key moments. Don’t forget, Votto usually finishes better than he starts. Last season, a year he should’ve won his 2nd NL MVP Award, Votto hit .317/.429/.621 to start the year, and .323/.479/.532 to end it.