If you’re anyone other than Reds play-by-play man Marty Brennaman, you probably know that Joey Votto is a really good hitter. Votto is a five-time all-star, he won the NL MVP award in 2010, and has finished in the top seven in MVP voting a total of five times. He’s having another monster season in 2017, on pace to challenge or beat his personal best in multiple offensive categories. His greatness isn’t a secret.
But even die-hard Votto boosters might not be fully aware of what the Reds first baseman has done. Beyond the all-star games and hardware, beyond Votto closing in on Ferguson Jenkins and Larry Walker for the title of greatest Canadian baseball player of all time, there’s also this: By one key metric, Votto ranks as one of the dozen best hitters…ever.
A student of hitting and also of hitting stats, Votto has become keenly aware of all the metrics that define success at the plate. Granted, he’s on his way to topping .300 for the eighth time in the past nine seasons, an incredible feat during a season in which strikeouts are at all-time high levels and the league is hitting just .255.
But Votto is also well-versed in a slew of metrics that go well beyond Triple Crown stats. He pores over exit-velocity numbers, ready to adjust his swing if he’s not generating enough heat off the bat. No one needs to remind him that he’s on track to lead the league in on-base percentage for the sixth time in his career. And he dissects spray charts, looking for the best path to base hits. When the Cubs recently tried an extreme defensive alignment by stacking the outfield with four defenders, Votto calmly slashed a ball down the right-field line for a double anyway.