3. Bold prediction for 2nd-half of Reds 2023 season: Joey Votto leads the team in home runs.
It's hard to deny that Joey Votto has absolutely been crushing balls since returning from the 60-day IL following a 10-month recovery from shoulder surgery. While his batting average isn't exactly where Reds fans might expect, one thing is for sure - Votto still bangs.
In 2021, Votto had a renaissance-type of performance for the Reds. Alongside players like Nick Castellaons, Jesse Winker, and Eugenio Suarez, Votto led the team in home runs (36) and finished second on the team that season with 99 RBIs.
Votto, who was always known for his patience at the plate, took a different approach that season that saw the six-time All-Star take a less-measured approach at the dish. Votto became more focused on hitting the ball hard rather than taking those borderline pitches.
Heading into the second-half of the season, Joey Votto is sitting on seven home runs and trails the team-leader Spencer Steer (14) by that same number. Also ahead of Votto are Jonathan India (13) and Jake Fraley (12). Votto is tied with Matt McLain, Nick Senzel, and Tyler Stephenson for fourth-most on the team.
In 2021, according to Baseball Savant, Votto posted an average exit velocity of 92.9 mph and a barrel-rate of 17.2-percent. Those numbers this season, after just 17 games, are sitting at 91.1 mph and 22.9-percent respectively. Votto has a hard-hit rate of 51.4-percent.
Joey Votto, unlike last season, is protected very well in this Cincinnati Reds lineup by the likes of Spencer Steer, Jake Fraley, and Tyler Stephenson. This improved lineup will force opposing hurlers to pitch to Votto. Whether Votto returns next season is very much up in the air, but his ability to still punish baseballs is not up for discussion.