Sarris: Joey Votto on hitting

From SABR member Eno Sarris at FanGraphs on March 20, 2013:

Joey Votto wasn’t always Joey Votto. Not only is his mother happy about that fact — it would have made for quite a delivery — but his journey from the 44th pick in the 2002 draft to the hitter he is today covers a lot of ground. Talk to him about pulling the ball, infield fly balls, swing planes, and batted ball distance and you quickly understand that this is a man that studies and understands his craft. Learning his story from him can help us understand baseball better.

“I was a big pull hitter in high school, but when I tried to do that in Midwest League, I failed,” he said when we talked about hitting. He’s remembering it right, too — his .231/.348/.287 line in that league was very un-Votto-ian even if the walks were there. But since then he’s changed his approach in order to use the entire ballpark.

“The ability to spread the ball all over the field prevents shifting,” he said, and with his current approach, Votto thinks he’s “a tough guy to defend.” Specifically, Votto thought that the shift (and avoiding it) might be part of the reason why his .359 batting average on balls in play leads all hitters with with more than 2000 plate appearances since 2008.

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Originally published: March 20, 2013. Last Updated: March 20, 2013.