Crasnick: Reds’ Joey Votto determined to be great

From SABR member Jerry Crasnick at on May 23, 2013:

Baseball’s elite hitters are a step above the crowd, in part, because they rarely if ever “give away” at-bats. Quick wrists, hand-eye coordination and patience are valuable attributes, but so is the discipline to lay off the borderline pitch and approach each plate appearance with the same machine-like intensity as the one before it and the 300 or 400 still to come.

Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto has an obsession with maximizing the hitting experience and cranking the volume to “11” each time he steps in the box. And if he ever strays from that mission, the words of a baseball sage drift into his subconscious and keep him on the right path.

Votto has committed large chunks of Ted Williams’ book “The Science of Hitting” to memory and frequently been mentioned in the same breath with Larry Walker as an accomplished hitter with Canadian roots. But his baseball muse is a hard-charging, Ray Fosse-steamrolling, Prince Valiant-haircut-wearing, malapropism-dropping, autograph-hawking pariah with a tenacious approach from both sides of the plate.

Several years ago, Votto was standing in the on-deck circle at Great American Ball Park while Pete Rose was watching from a box seat. The two men struck up a conversation, and the Hit King passed along a few pearls of wisdom that resonated. Among other things, he told Votto that it’s no sin to reach for the last cookie in the jar. Rose would never have amassed 4,256 hits if he didn’t have a touch of the greed-monger in him.

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Originally published: May 23, 2013. Last Updated: May 23, 2013.