Joey Votto Is Really Good

Earlier this week I wrote about Yu Darvish being rather unbelievable, and today I’m bringing you the equally earth shattering news that Joey Votto is a good hitter … a really good hitter. At least, this seems to be the irrefutable thesis of Handsome Tom Verducci’s latest piece for Sports Illustrated.

Among the statistical evidence of Votto’s greatness (best in the league in wOBA, wRAA, wRC, and OBP since 2010), Verducci adds these two facts:

  1. He has pulled only a single batted ball foul into the stands in his career; and
  2. He has hit only three infield pop ups over the last four seasons.

That’s phenomenal, but Votto does hit a majority of his fly balls the opposite way, and so it might not be as remarkable as it sounds at first.

Here’s his spray chart since the beginning of the 2011 season:

What’s more remarkable is the low number of infield pop ups, which lends credence to Verducci’s praise for Votto’s swing.

Votto’s balance is so great and his stroke so fast that his contact zone — the airspace where his barrel meets the baseball — is deeper that just about every other hitter. The deeper the ball, the more time a hitter has to decode its spin, speed and location.

We get the best idea of what Verducci is talking about when we see where Votto hits the ball with two strikes against him. While most players shorten their swing, the Reds first baseman is still able to knock the ball all over the park. Therefore, it shouldn’t be all that surprising to see that Votto’s OPS when he’s down two strikes this season is approximately 80 points better than average hitter’s starting a fresh plate appearance.

To see his placement, here’s Votto’s spray chart since such ball placement data was available when the count is two balls and two strikes:

Other than fewer samples, it doesn’t look a whole lot different than his overall spray chart since 2011.

To see it in action, compare Votto’s first pitch swing on an A.J. Burnett pitch in the first inning of last night’s game against Pittsbugh:

To Votto hitting a single against Juan Cruz with a two balls and two strikes count in the ninth inning of the same game:

While Votto appears to sit back on the slider in the second clip a bit longer, the mechanics of his swing are almost identical, from the front foot to the weight shift to the bat drop.

Put simply, Votto is the best hitter in baseball. We can see it visually, graphically and statistically.

Something that may have been slightly glossed over from the second paragraph is that Votto has the best OBP in baseball since 2010. That’s not an abstract sabermetric number. That means that Votto has managed to avoid getting out while at the plate at a better rate than anyone else. And that to me, is a hitter’s sole duty. The fact that he accomplishes that while also offering some of the higher power numbers as well speaks to his tremendous swing and incredible talent for hitting baseballs.

So, Joey Votto is really good. Yet another astounding discovery from the Getting Blanked team.

Comments (23)

  1. you, sir, neglected to mention the MOST IMPORTANT DETAIL. Where the fuck was he born?

    SHAME! TROLL!

  2. Pfft, if he’s so good then why can’t he rip more foul balls into the stands? He’s junk Canada sucks.

    • Agreed! He needs to give the fans more souvenirs! They’re paying his salary for the next 50 years after all.

      • Typically arrogant Canadian. Thinks he’s too good to give souvenirs to fans.

        • if YOU think Canadians are arrogant, i’d hate to think what you think of yourselves, Canadians are by far the least arrogant people in North America, and you know it…go ANYWHERE around the world and ask different nationalities. I guess that’s why so many americans put a Candian Flag on there back-pack when exploring different countries, Canadians are treated with respect while americans are viewed as arrogant & egotistical. it is my opinion that it’s becasue of bone heads like you that give so many of the great american people a bad name world wide. so many of your countryman are great, nice people who open there arms to all those in need, but then there is you, someone who should zip his lip and hide his head in the sand, becasue it is people like you my friend, who give all Americans a bad name, and that is truely unfair to the rest…should you need it, i’ll buy you a zipper and pay the semstress to put it on. You are “smart enough” to know what a semstress is without looking that up aren’t you? I doubt it!

  3. I for one was relieved that you didn’t feel a need to remind us of his nationality. After 20 years on the PGA circuit Canadian sportscasters still refer to Mike Weir as “Mike Weir of Brights Cove Ontario”.

  4. He has pulled only a single batted ball foul into the stands in his career; and
    He has hit only three infield pop ups over the last four seasons.

    WAT.

  5. maple dick is probably the most annoying saying ever created

  6. That would be YOLO.

  7. The three most untradeable players in baseball?

    Joey Votto
    Albert Pujols
    Prince Fielder

    • yet two of three of them were traded!… which is amazing. and prince fielder is tradeable despite his numbers. that boy doesn’t miss a meal… which worries me for his future a bit the older he gets.

  8. Is the North arrow supposed to enhance the spray charts?

  9. In case people are wondering how often the IFFB happens to great hitters, Pujols hads had at least 21 per season in every year except 2007. Prince Fielder has between 11 and 21 every year. Miguel Cabrera has had between 9 adn 21 in all his full seasons. Bautista had 37 and 29 the last 2 years.

    Since the IFFB is an almost automatic out, like the strikeout, Votto’s unique ability (for a power hitter) is quite valuable.

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