Found June 18, 2012 on StraitPinkie.com:
Redsbrewers_4f87

To thundering chants of “MVP! MVP! MVP!” no one in the MLB does more with less.

 votto1 300x187 Most Valuable Votto

When Joey Votto steps to the plate, taking his customary glance into a distant empty seat before settling into the left-hand batter’s box, one truth seems inevitable to the fans of Cincinnati –something great is about to happen. To a city that hasn’t witnessed a playoff victory since 1995, he brings more than a monstrous bat and poise to the plate. He brings hope. He brings with him a notion that never before resounded within the walls of Great American Ballpark; we may be witnessing the greatest hitter in baseball.

Votto’s 2012 campaign, so far, has transformed that once seemingly impossible notion into something, oh, so possible.  Sixty-five games into the season, no one is hotter, and the numbers Votto is creating are simply incredible. In his past 22 games, he’s hitting .500, reaching base safely in all of them but one. He’s on pace for 70 doubles this season; the all-time record is 67, held by Earl Webb since 1931. No one has even hit 60 doubles since 1936. Votto is also on pace to amass 200 hits and 130 walks. Most people have heard of the last, and only, player to ever do that. It was some guy named Babe Ruth. Needless to say, Votto is potentially facing a season of not just greatness, but historic proportions.

Obviously, Votto’s incredible season doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Other players across the league are having great hitting seasons, thus far. Here’s how Votto compares to some of baseball’s most prolific hitters of 2012 (through June 17, 2012):

Name BA OBP % HR RBI Doubles SLG % WAR (wins above replacement) Joey Votto .366 .489 12 44 28 .652 3.5 Josh Hamilton .330 .390 22 62 14 .674 3.4 Ryan Braun .316 .395 19 47 11 .620 3.3 Carlos Beltran .306 .389 19 48 7 .594 2.4 David Wright .355 .458 8 37 22 .575 3.7

 

Clearly, Votto isn’t currently vying for the Triple Crown or running away from his competition in every category. But, a closer look reveals that Votto ultimately is the most valuable hitter of this elite group. For one, his lower power numbers are deceiving. While he isn’t mashing home-runs at a record pace, combining doubles and home-runs into total bases evens the power-playing field (Votto: 104, Hamilton: 116, Braun: 98, Beltran: 90, Wright: 76). And his low RBI total can’t be blamed on Joey Votto –that falls on the shoulders of those hitting around him.

The most common hitters batting in front of Joey Votto are Zach Cozart and Drew Stubbs. They aren’t exactly giving him ample opportunity to drive them in. Zach Cozart is hitting .264, with an on-base percentage of just .308. He’s also struck out 55 times. Drew Stubbs’ numbers are very similar, if not worse. He’s hitting .235 with a .300 OBP and 59 strikeouts. And to make matters worse, Votto’s protection in the cleanup spot hasn’t done much to strike fear in the pitchers issuing walks to number nineteen. Brandon Phillips, the most common cleanup hitter, is having a pretty good season. He’s hitting .287, getting on base over 33% of the time, and has recently gone on a home-run tear. But he’s also grounded into ten double plays this season. There’s a reason that Joey Votto leads the league in intentional walks. Pitchers aren’t too intimidated by Brandon Phillips.

votto3 300x205 Most Valuable Votto

Compare that supporting cast with the lineups that surround most of the other hitters on the list, and you’ll see why Votto means more to his team than any hitter in baseball.

Hitting in front of Josh Hamilton:

  • Ian Kinsler: .274 BA/.338 OBP/33 SO
  • Elvis Andrus: .298 BA/.375 OBP/33 SO

Hitting behind Josh Hamilton:

  • Adrian Beltre: .309 BA/.336 OBP/11 HR/5 GIDP (Grounded into Double Plays)

Hitting in front of Carlos Beltran:

  • Rafael Furcal: .287 BA/.339 OBP/33 SO

Hitting behind Carlos Beltran:

  • Matt Holliday: .282 BA/.305 OBP/12 HR/7 GIDP

Hitting in front of David Wright:

  • Kirk Nieuwenhuis: .290 BA/.350 OBP/60 SO
  • Daniel Murphy: .273 BA/.318 OBP/34 SO

Hitting behind David Wright:

  • Lucas Duda: .262 BA/.352 OBP/10 HR/3 GIDP

 *Stats in italics are the few in which Reds’ hitters have better stats.

That’s right. David Wright is getting better support from the unknown trio of Nieuwenhuis, Murphy, and Duda than Votto is from his friends leading off and cleaning up. In nearly every category, all of these hitters out-perform those batting before and after Votto at the top of the Reds lineup. So, yes, Votto trails in RBI. But 19% of all base-runners that have been on in front of him this season have scored on his at-bats. That’s bested, in this group, only by Josh Hamilton.

If anyone can empathize with Joey Votto’s lack of surrounding support, it’s his fellow NL Central MVP candidate Ryan Braun. His most common leadoff hitter, Rickie Weeks, is hitting a lowly .177 and has struck out 77 times in twelve less games. At cleanup, Aramis Ramirez is only batting .252, has only hit 7 home-runs, and has grounded into eight double plays. If anything, Braun’s supporting cast (which also includes the irrationally flamboyant Nyjer Morgan in the two-hole) may be worse than Votto’s.

votto5 300x225 Most Valuable Votto

So why is Votto more valuable than the reigning MVP? One needs to only look at the standings. Braun’s team is far from first place, despite a rotation that includes Zach Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Shawn Marcum, and Randy Wolf. Even though they lost Fielder in the off-season, expectations were high in Milwaukee. The reality is much lower.

That can’t be said in Cincinnati. Votto, alongside one of the league’s best bullpens, is carrying his team to a smashing of most analysts’ pre-season predictions. Their rotation of Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, and Mat Latos doesn’t look near as prolific as the Brewers’ staff, but it is the Reds that sit atop the standings and well above .500. The season is young, but in the River City of Cincinnati, it is also promising.

Much of that promise –a foreign scent in the air of Cincinnati these days—arrived with the bat and consistent greatness of Joey Votto. If Cincy is to be restored to its old status as a baseball city, it will come alongside the beautiful swing of their favorite Canadian left-hander. Not only can I not imagine a hitter in today’s game more important to his team’s success…I can’t imagine a player more important to his fans. A trip to Great American Ballpark reveals why.

votto4 300x225 Most Valuable Votto

The stadium is littered with the number nineteen –on the backs of children, adults, and their newest hero. When “Paint it Black” by the Rolling Stones sounds over the system and Votto steps to the plate, first glancing upward, then zeroing in on the pitcher, the crowd erupts. He’s their guy. And there is no other quite like Joey Votto. Often, the bases are empty when Votto takes his place in the batter’s box. And sometimes, the fans can only look on in silence as the catcher stands up to issue the intentional walk. But none of that matters.

Because something comes alive in Cincinnati when Votto shakes off the donut and takes his wood to the plate. It’s more than his incredible stats and his quest for history. It’s a feeling –a feeling that hasn’t touched the hearts of Cincinnati in over a decade.

It’s the feeling that, by God, with this Canadian kid at the plate, they have a shot. They have a shot at greatness. And with the recent contract extension given to Joey Votto through the foreseeable future, it’s a feeling that promises to last for many more nights in Cincinnati’s riverside stadium.

Over the years, many definitions have surfaced for “value” in the prognostication of the Most Valuable Player Award. But this year, much like the base paths that fall beneath his feet, Joey Votto seems to have all of them covered.

votto2 300x253 Most Valuable Votto

 

*Author’s note: As I wrote this article, Votto hit his 13th home-run of the year.

THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Votto gets 1M All-Star votes this week

It’s All-Star vote status report day: my favorite days in June! Joey Votto increased his lead over the second-place vote getter in the first base field. The person he’s beating has changed, though. Freddie Freeman of the Braves has overtaken Lance Berkman of the Cardinals for second place. But whereas Votto had 2.47 times as many votes as Berkman last Tuesday, he has 2.64 times...
SWEATSHIRT

Bronson Arroyo sings Adam Sandler song

Reds’ pitcher and stuck-in-the-90s poster child Bronson Arroyo played the Fan Cave recently. I thought there was no way the Fan Cave could top the Brandon Phillips eating weird gourmet foods … [visit site to read more]

RLW Episode 14 – Relax Reds Fans

After sweeping the Tribe last week in Cincinnati, the Reds trip to the Mistake by the Lake got off to a rocky start Monday night as Mat Latos only goes 4 innings and gives up a few longballs. In this week’s show: Derek Lowe vs Dusty Baker, Round 2 was Much Ado about Nothing People need to stop tweeting Dallas Latos when her husband pitches poorly We caught back up with Louisville...

Quality Start Allows Reds to Sweep Mets

The Reds (38-27) met the Mets (35-32) in their last game of a three game series this Father's Day afternoon. Johnny Cueto not only had a great outing on the mound (7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER 1 BB, 8 SO) but also got the first multiple base hit of his career on a stand up double in the 3rd inning. Cueto continues to prove he's one of the best pitchers in the National League. Great...

Game 56: Reds 9, Indians 10

Last night’s game for me was like Las Vegas: exhaustingly active but ultimately disappointing. The Reds dropped the first of the series with the Indians 9-10. Mat Latos took the mound and was just terrible. In 4.0 innings pitched he allowed 7 runs (earned) on 8 hits, including 3 home runs. Before the game Chris Welsh and George Grande were talking about how Latos could eventually...

MINOR details 6/18/12: Bats win; Mustangs start season with loss

The Mustangs got their season under way with an ugly loss. Louisville 9 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 2 Bats (23-49), Last place International League West, 19.0 GB -Sean Gallagher (W 5-4, 5.04) pitched five innings of two-run baseball for the win. Bill Bray struck out one in 1.1 innings of scoreless ball. Nick Christiani threw 1.2 scoreless innings, and Jordan Smith added...

Another day, another one-run loss for the Reds

Chapman is now 0-3 with two blown saves in his previous seven outings Tuesday's edition of the Battle of Ohio at Progressive Field unfolded much differently than Monday's 19-run, 27-hit slugfest. Instead of offense, stingy pitching was on full display by the Redlegs and Indians. However, the end result on Tuesday was just the same for the Reds (38-29) as they fell...

Minor League Game Review – 6/19/12

6/19 Game Review Louisville won 4-2. Box Score Joey Gathright went 2-4 with a run. Mike Costanzo went 1-4 with an RBI. Dioner Navarro went 1-4 with a solo HR (3). Bill Rhinehart went 1-4 with a double and a run. Cody Puckett went 2-2 with a walk, HR (8) with 2 RBI. Ryan Feierabend allowed 2 runs in 5.2 innings with 4 walks and 3 strikeouts. Scott Carroll threw a shutout inning...

Hitters are pulling a fast one on Reds' Chapman

Left-hander Aroldis Chapman has gone from unhittable to questionable. Chapman took the loss Tuesday, giving up a two-run walk-off home run to Asdrubal Cabrera in a 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Cleveland Indians. The Reds had taken a 2-1 lead in the top of the 10th when Chris Heisey scored on a wild pitch. "The game goes from jubilation to a down in one swing," Reds manager...

Reds' Rolen activated from disabled list

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Scott Rolen has been activated from the disabled list, and the third baseman is in the Cincinnati Reds' lineup for the opener of a series against the Cleveland Indians. Infielder-outfielder Kristoper Negron was optioned to Triple-A Louisville to make room for Rolen, who had been out since May 12 because of a sore right shoulder. Rolen is batting seventh in the...

Mat Latos implies Indians were relaying signs from second base

Pitchers Mat Latos and Derek Lowe opposed each other for the second time in a week, and much like their last game, a controversy ensued. The Indians beat the Reds 10-9 on Monday in the first of a three-game series in Cleveland, and Latos thinks some funny business was going on. The Reds starter got hammered for seven runs including three home runs over four innings, and he implied...

Notable quotes, notes from the weekend

Friday: + “I mean, you’re throwing a projectile 90-plus miles an hour. Evidently they were trying to throw him inside after he hit that ball to left center field, a pitch low and away. No, we didn’t think there was any intent. Every time somebody gets hit now, people think there’s intent. In the umpire’s opinion, if there had been, then he would have issued a warning...

Reds continue to struggle in Cleveland

CLEVELAND (AP) - No matter how well the Cincinnati Reds have played, they continue to struggle in Cleveland. The Reds look to avoid a sixth consecutive road loss to the Indians when the interleague rivals continue their series Tuesday night. Cincinnati (38-28) outscored Cleveland 24-9 while sweeping the Indians at home last week and had little trouble scoring runs Monday, but its...

Reds 3, Mets 1

NEW YORK -- Before the game, Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker shook his head. A life-long student of the game as a player and manager, he was as stumped as an average fan on some questions. He pointed to how the New York Mets had scored 29 runs against an impressive Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff in a three-game sweep entering the weekend, then struggled against the Reds in the...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.