Gleeman: Joey Votto credits second-half surge to

From SABR member Aaron Gleeman at Baseball Prospectus on September 6, 2016:

Joey Votto is a fascinating player. He’s almost always great—hitting above .300 with an on-base percentage over .400 and an True Average over .300 in each of the past eight years—yet seems underappreciated by a not-insignificant segment of Reds fans refusing to look past modest RBI totals. And whenever Votto falls into a slump, that vocal minority cranks the volume higher. It’s an odd dynamic for a superstar and his fans—not unlike Joe Mauer in Minnesota, but even more extreme because Votto’s performance hasn’t actually declined.

His performance has, however, fluctuated wildly. Well, sort of. Votto is one of the most consistent and consistently great hitters in baseball, a .300/.400/.500 machine save for an injury-wrecked 2014 campaign. Basically every season he hits .300, leads the National League in walks and on-base percentage, and racks up at least 6.0 WARP. Within that clockwork-like season-to-season production have been some extreme highs and lows, particularly of late.


This season Votto stumbled out to an even slower start, posting a .207/.330/.367 line after 50 games that was straight-up “bad” rather than “bad for Votto.” Then he went in the lab, with a bat and a pad, trying to get this damn season off. In Votto’s last 81 games—half of a full season, dating back to the end of May—he’s batting .375/.494/.621 with 15 homers, 20 doubles, and 70 walks. And, like clockwork, his overall season line is now at the usual .312/.435/.526, with the NL’s most walks and highest OBP.

The beauty of Votto is that, when asked about his turnaround, he admitted to feeling self-doubt and admitted to seeking help via, searching for examples of in-their-prime superstars bouncing back from terrible starts to top their usual numbers. “I looked back at Willie Mays in the early 1960s and Stan Musial in the 1950s and Derek Jeter in his early 30s,” Votto told the great Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News. “All of them had really poor starts and they all exceeded their career numbers that year.”

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Originally published: September 6, 2016. Last Updated: September 6, 2016.