Joey Votto is riding a 4-game hitting streak. Is the Cincinnati Reds’ 6-time All-Star finally breaking through after a horrendous start to the 2019 season?
The criticism for Joey Votto‘s start to the 2019 season has been deafening. The Cincinnati Reds‘ star struggled out of the gates, however, over the last four games, Votto appears to have found some semblance of his former self. Will we see more of this version of Joey Votto going forward?
The first three games of this season started out well for Joey Votto. The six-time All-Star and cornerstone of the Reds franchise was hitting .333 with 2 doubles, 1 walk and no strikeouts. That sounds about par for the course, right?
Okay, so the power that we’ve seen in the past wasn’t there, but at age 35, I think a lot of Reds fans don’t expect Votto to hit 35-plus home runs anymore. After a three-game hitless streak during what seemed like an unending string of futility for the entire Reds team, Joey broke through with his first homer of the season on April 6th at PNC Park.
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Votto has four home runs so far this season and just 8 RBIs. To be fair, the entire Cincinnati Reds squad struggled to begin the season and Votto had been hitting in the leadoff role for 15 of his 45 starts this season. It looks like David Bell has decided to abort the idea of Votto hitting at the top of the order and now seems confident with Nick Senzel leading off and Votto in the No. 2 hole.
Perhaps the most mind boggling statistic thus far for Joey Votto is the enormous amount of strikeouts to his record. Votto has 49 strikeouts on the season, second on the team to only Eugenio Suarez and tied with Yasiel Puig. Votto had just 33 strikeouts at this time last season.
Now, we all know that Votto has not performed up to his standard to begin this season, but the last four games should give fans a little hope. Joey Votto is 7-for-18 over the last 4 games and for the first time all season has multiple hits in back-to-back games. Joey had two hits on Friday afternoon and racked up three during yesterday’s loss.
Perhaps more telling is the one walk that Votto has over the last four games. Often criticized for taking too many pitches, it appears as though this season that Votto is swinging at those pitches out of the zone. According to FanGraphs, Votto’s O-Swing%, a stat that calculates the percentage of pitches outside the strike zone a hitter swings at, is up over 3% from last season.
An even bigger disparity exists with his O-Contact%, a metric that measures the percentage of time a batter makes contact with a pitch outside the strike zone. Votto’s O-Contact% in 2018 was 78.4%, but so far in 2019 it’s sitting at 63.2%. That’s a staggering drop of over 15%.
Hopefully the last four games are a sign of things to come for Joey Votto this season. Votto has historically been one of the most disciplined hitters in the league over the last decade. Let’s hope he settles into a groove and gets back to that version that Cincinnati Reds fans know and love.