So far this season, we’ve heard lot of talk about Matt Kemp and Josh Hamilton, and deservedly so. We’ve also heard about the rejuvenated careers of Carlos Beltran and David Wright. All these players are deserving of the recognition they’re receiving. However, one player in particular, whose numbers have been every bit as impressive as they always are, is flying under the radar.
I’m writing about Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto.
Since 2010, Votto has accumulated the highest fWAR in baseball among position players, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. Already this season, FanGraphs rates him as the fourth highest offensive contributor in baseball, having a value of 15 runs above average. To put this into perspective, last year, his teammate Jay Bruce contributed less over the course of an entire season, and he had the third highest runs above average on the entire team behind Votto with 48, and Brandon Phillips with 17.
Perhaps what’s most amazing about Votto’s numbers is that he’s done all this while having some seriously bad luck in the home run department. Prior to yesterday’s game against the Washington Nationals, Votto only had two home runs on the season, all while hitting a typical amount of fly balls. Meanwhile the Reds slugger has thus far decreased the number of ground balls he’s hitting, while increasing his line drive rate. This has led to him leading the league in doubles by a fair margin over those not playing at Fenway Park.
Aside: For an example of why there are those among us who think that the Boston Red Sox play in something other than a proper baseball stadium:
So, due to his bad luck with fly balls not drifting over the fence, we haven’t seen the massive increase in his independent slugging number that we might expect from a player reducing his ground ball rate by more than 6% and increasing his lide drive rate by almost 7%. However, that luck changed yesterday afternoon when Votto hit three out of the yard, including a walk off grand slam in the ninth inning.
It shouldn’t be surprising at all if Votto’s three home run game results in some more attention going his way. With the way that Josh Hamilton is playing right now, it’s going to take something special to get noticed, and Votto is well positioned, as always, to perform at the highest level.
And The Rest
For the other side of Joey Votto’s big day, check out what Washington Nationals reliever Henry Rodriguez was dealing with. [Washington Post]
Yesterday’s loss wasn’t the only bad news for the Nationals, as yet another star player on the team goes down to injury, this time it’s Wilson Ramos with a torn ACL. [Washington Times]
Andy Pettitte’s mediocre return to Major League Baseball. [River Avenue Blues]
Brandon Inge may have a new team, but he’s still carrying the same old baggage. [MLB.com]
Maybe Bryce Harper isn’t really a jerk. On being young and brash in the social media age. [Baseball Nation]
According to Johnny Damon, Johnny Damon belongs in Cooperstown. [New York Times]
Folk songs have been written about people who have done less than Sean Rodriguez during yesterday afternoon’s dramatics between the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays. [Tampa Bay Times]
Via our friend and Getting Blanked contributor Craig Robinson comes the greatest baseball team name in the history of the sport. [BritishBaseball.org]
Rather crazily, the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers combined to intentionally walk only three batters over their three game weekend series. However, they also hit five sacrifice bunts. Here’s Jay Jaffe on the sac bunt hitting craze occurring in Los Angeles. [Baseball Prospectus]
Matt Kemp irritated his hamstring injury yesterday, and may take a few days off. [True Blue L.A.]
Dale Sveum would like Alfonso Soriano to use a lighter bat. [Comcast Sportsnet]
Are pink bats better than regular bats? [Old Time Family Baseball]
After his was stolen, the Boston Red Sox give Derek Lowe a brand new World Series ring. Well done. [Cleveland.com]
Breaking down the hand shakes of the Miami Marlins. [Fishstripes]
Finally, I don’t understand this, and I’m quite certain I don’t wish to understand it. [Twitter]