Taking liberty with Mark Twain's famous quote, the demise of Joey Votto's baseball career has been greatly exaggerated. The 38-year-old Cincinnati Reds legend turned in a performance this season that led even the most skeptical members of Reds Country to feel a sense of pride.
Joseph Daniel Votto was in peak form this summer and easily compiled his best numbers since the 2017 campaign in which he finished just two points shy in of capturing his second NL MVP trophy as the senior circuit's best player.
Reds' first baseman Joey Votto regained his power in 2021.
Votto's 36 homers, 99 RBIs, and .938 OPS marks were his best since his aforementioned magnificent 2017 season. To put his 2021 campaign in perspective, Votto went deep only 38 times in the previous three years. Additionally, Votto missed a month with a broken left thumb.
The renaissance year also saw the return of the Canadian native to the NL leaderboard in several categories. Votto finished in the top 10 in the National League in OBP (.375), slugging (.563), OPS (.938), home runs (36), RBIs (99), and walks (77).
However, even though fantastic numbers don't capture the entire story of Votto's year. Before the season the 15-year veteran vowed to hit for more power in 2021 even if it meant his batting average would suffer as a consequence. Needless to say, mission accomplished.
His 6.8% home run rate was a career high. In addition, Votto's 92.9 MPH exit velocity and 53.2% hard hit ratio were his best marks since those numbers started being collected beginning with the 2015 season.
Another departure for the six-time All-Star was his unwillingness to go to the opposite field. Instead, Votto became much more a pull hitter this year due to his increased focus on power numbers. As a result, his 35.1% pull ratio was a career-high, while his 15.4% oppo mark was the second-lowest of his 15 big league seasons.
Finally, who can forget the former MVP's consecutive-game home run streak? Votto launched round-trippers in seven straight games from July 24th through the 30th, falling just one game shy of the all-time MLB record.
For his remarkable 2021 season, Joey Votto earns an A grade. Can we possibly expect him to replicate this kind of production in the 2022 campaign? Even though he'll turn 39 next September, I, for one, will not bet against Joey Votto.