Skip to content

Marty Brennaman slags Saberists, Joey Votto’s lack of RBI

Jun 22, 2013, 9:00 PM EDT

It’s not just the walks that make Saberists praise Joey Votto, though. Entering tonight’s game against the Diamondbacks, Votto was hitting .330 with a .441 on-base percentage and .525 slugging percentage. He is one of only five players in baseball to have a .300/.400/.500 or better slash line, along with Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis, Yadier Molina, and Troy Tulowitzki, all  of them with legitimate early cases for their respective league MVP award. Votto has done the .300/.400/.500 thing in each of the last four seasons. If he does it again in 2013, he would be one of only 35 players in baseball history to have at least five such seasons. Other players to have accomplished the feat five times include Shoeless Joe Jackson, Frank Robinson, Jeff Bagwell, Larry Walker, Lance Berkman, and Miguel Cabrera.

Votto’s RBI total (37) is often compared, disparagingly, to teammate Brandon Phillips (58). According to FanGraphs, Phillips has hit at exactly the league average with a 100 wRC+ (weighted runs created), a stat that weights each offensive event according to its contribution to run scoring, then adjusts for league and park effects. Votto, comparatively, has a 165 wRC+, meaning he has been about 65 percent more productive than an average hitter. Phillips has more RBI than Votto not because he is a better hitter, but because he has simply had more opportunities, in part because Votto gets on base so often ahead of him.

According to Baseball Prospectus, Phillips has come to bat with 239 runners on base, the third-largest total in baseball. Votto has come to bat with 207 runners. It would be higher if Dusty Baker didn’t insist on batting Zack Cozart (.280 OBP) directly in front of him so often. Phillips also walks ten percent less than Votto does (16% to 6%). While Phillips puts the ball in play more often, allowing him to drive in more runners, this also causes him to hit into more outs. Indeed, Phillips has made the sixth-most outs in the National League with 223 in 311 plate appearances (71.7%). Votto has made 198 outs in 340 plate appearances (58.2%).

Look, you don’t have to care about Sabermetrics to recognize that Votto is one of his generation’s best hitters. Sabermetrics certainly help paint him in the light he deserves to be seen in, but all you really need is his slash line. It is criminal to not appreciate Votto’s 2013 as MVP-worthy and his career as being on a Hall of Fame trajectory.

  1. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 22, 2013 at 9:09 PM

    Look, you don’t have to care about Sabermetrics to recognize that Votto is one of his generation’s best hitters. Sabermetrics certainly help paint him in the light he deserves to be seen in, but all you really need is his slash line. It is criminal to not appreciate Votto’s 2013 as MVP-worthy and his career as being on a Hall of Fame trajectory.

    Or we can use some math to do so. Or let Sky Kalkman already do the math:

    1300 more positive PA! 1300!

    • cohnjusack - Jun 22, 2013 at 9:36 PM

      Yeah, but who would know in all the runs? I mean, sure, they’d come up to the plate 1300 more times, but I guess they’d all just kind of stand around on the bases, 3 to 4 guys per base, as the current Votto at the plate stubbornly refuses to knock them in.

      If you don’t mind, I’ll just take a team of Joe Carter’s. I mean…all those RBIs! Plus that home run in that World Series that one time proves that he his uber-clutch and the guy to have in a postseason.

    • heyblueyoustink - Jun 22, 2013 at 9:45 PM

      I’m convinced, Church, that you are WOPR.

      ” Shall we play a game?”

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 22, 2013 at 10:08 PM

        I love that comparison. I wasn’t really big into math in school even though I did well in it, but now I lap that shit up. Definitely in the “let the computer play itself so it learns” phase!

  2. tfbuckfutter - Jun 22, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    “We’re going to pay you to drive in runs, Joey.”
    “How about if I just be really good at baseball?”
    “No! Drive in runs! If you don’t want the money I will give it to Delmon Young.”

  3. kiwicricket - Jun 22, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    So Bonds had a couple average seasons when he knocked in only 80odd RBI?? The guy shouldn’t of walked so much and got on base 55% of the time!

    Isn’t Votto hitting like .350 with RISP?? Not sure what else Brennaman wants from the guy?
    Joey obviously skipped on a round of drinks.

  4. albertmn - Jun 22, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    Funny that I don’t see the Reds management, Reds players, or even most Reds fans complaining. The only ones complaining are the people that make a living by talking that need to manufacture something to talk about.

  5. cohnjusack - Jun 22, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    Votto is hitting .348 with runners in scoring positon.

    But yeah, I all those walks are a problem. It would totally be better for the team if he started chasing pitches out of the zone and started hitting like .275 with more RBIs. Obviously, him just getting on base is not a benefit to anyone. It’s not like they’re are players hitting behind him with the opportunity to know him in or anything.

    I say the Reds trade him immediately to the Pirates for Pedro Alvarez. Now that guy knows how to knock in runs!

    • stlouis1baseball - Jun 24, 2013 at 9:34 AM

      I agree Cohn. The Redlegs should trade Votto to Pittsburgh immediately.

  6. shelbysensation - Jun 22, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    Wait, it’s Votto’s fault that Cozart can’t get on base? And it took Baker this long to pull Cozart from the two hole?

  7. screaminzab - Jun 22, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    One thing to keep in mind is he does turn 30 this season. He’s got a lot of work to do to make the hall of fame. I am not sure he has enough years left at this level to make it. Certainly a great 4 and a half year stretch right now though.

  8. Kevin Gillman - Jun 22, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    Seriously, what is with the Joey Votto slams from Reds officials this season? He IS your franchise. No Sabermetric number can tell me that he IS the best hitter on the Reds….period. Phillips is a good player, but sometimes he tries and hit too many Home Runs, and pops up. Votto never tries to go yard, he just hits, and finds ways to get on base.

  9. wheels579 - Jun 22, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    Whoever came up with “slash line” is incredibly ignorant. Especially “triple slash,” since it consists of three stats with only two slashes. It’s a shame no wordsmiths seem to exist among sabermetricians.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 22, 2013 at 10:19 PM

      Yes, especially since it was sabr writers who came up with the triple slash phrase


    • adenzeno - Jun 23, 2013 at 6:26 AM

      Society of American Baseball Research…SABRE. Why and when did it become its infancy, it was written as Sabremetrics. Craig?

      • tuberippin - Jun 23, 2013 at 5:29 PM


        SABRE was the company that owned Dunder-Mifflin on the US version of The Office.

  10. 161andriver - Jun 22, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    I don’t quite understand absolute refusal of people whose sole job responsibility is to speak about baseball, to try and understand the game differently. Even without buying into every stat, or thinking OPS+ or WAR is the be all end all. Just try to understand what these stats are saying, not immediately dismiss it as voodoo.

  11. Shayna - Jun 22, 2013 at 10:47 PM

    Ahem. Blue Jay Adam Lind is a couple of days away from qualifying, with 224 PAs vs. 73 games at the moment. Current slash line– 340/406/563. Just saying….

    • yahmule - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:14 PM

      So he won’t get demoted again this year?

    • cur68 - Jun 23, 2013 at 1:59 AM

      Never mind Shayna. WE know. In a few more AB’s the rest of the stats community will know, too. THEN the trolls’ll start hating on him, even though most of them have never even seen him play. See the mass of ignorance on the Bautista Homer Post? It’ll be like that once Lind’s name starts cropping up in the MVP talks. We’ll go to wishing for the days before he had the PAs enough to qualify.

      Anyhow, game’s at 1PM EST. Go Beaver!

    • tuberippin - Jun 23, 2013 at 5:33 PM

      Adam Lind is not getting anywhere near an MVP award. Don’t be absurd. He was 15th in AL MVP voting in 2009 when he had a line of .305 with a .962 OPS, 141 OPS+, 46 2B, 35 HR, 114 RBI and 93 runs.

      That year, he hit .275 with a ,780 OPS against lefties.
      This year, he’s been platooned to hit only righties, and has only had 33 PAs against LHP all year.

      Hard to give a guy MVP votes when he’s only playing against right-handed pitchers.

  12. ezthinking - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:07 PM

    The stupidest thing is bitching Cozart hitting in the 2 hole when you look at the lineup and figure out that there hasn’t been a consistently good hitter to put in there. Name the replacement and why you knew he was better BEFORE looking back at the stats now.

    • Alex K - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:51 PM

      I haven’t looked at stats for the Reds once, but I would have put Votto 2nd, Phillips 3rd, and Bruce 4th. That was Votto gets to hit with Choo on base. Phillips still gets to hit with Votto on base and Bruce can clean anything left up.

    • paperlions - Jun 23, 2013 at 12:16 AM

      Cozart has been the Reds second worst hitter this year….so anyone besides Hannigan would be an improvement.

  13. crookedstick - Jun 22, 2013 at 11:51 PM

    He apparently isn’t paid to field ground balls either after booting the one in the 9th that was ruled a gift base hit.

  14. jonrox - Jun 23, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    I’m not sure Marty even likes baseball anymore. He certainly doesn’t like the Reds based on complaints about literally everyone on the team.

  15. raiderhater929 - Jun 23, 2013 at 12:24 AM

    Maybe Votto should bat second, BP third, Bruce fourth

  16. TheNaturalMevs - Jun 23, 2013 at 12:32 AM

    The real story right now ain’t Votto. I’m a Reds fan and it’s BRUUUUUUUUCE

  17. riverace19 - Jun 23, 2013 at 12:58 AM

    What’s missing here is the obvious stat: BA with RISP. What is this article trying to hide?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 23, 2013 at 9:18 AM


      Overall – .327/.442/.521
      RISP – .343/.495/.529

      You were saying?

  18. delusionalcardsfan - Jun 23, 2013 at 1:04 AM

    In related news, the Dbacks are preparing to sweep the Reds at home tomorrow at 1:05 PST.

  19. yousuxxors - Jun 23, 2013 at 4:16 AM

    this guy totally sucks and is overrated. I’ll give you a bag of peanuts for him.

  20. dexterismyhero - Jun 23, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    HoF? God, just let the guy play and STFU Marty!

  21. lordjimington - Jun 23, 2013 at 8:20 AM

    Votto is continuing to prove his value as an individual player and as a teammate. He’s simply amazing.
    Marty is expressing his bafflement with advanced performance measurements, not uncommon to his generation and profession.

  22. dsmaxsucks - Jun 23, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Not to disparage the overall point, but if someone says a dude walks too much and you say that’s silly, it is hardly an argument in your favor to point out his excellent OBP and slash line. These of course factor in the walks, and represent exactly what Brenneman is complaining about. He is wrong, but this hardly addresses that.

  23. thomas844 - Jun 23, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    I am a huge Marty fan but I strongly disagree with him on this one. Votto is getting on base at a ridiculous rate and Phillips and Bruce have done a great job driving runs in. Votto is just fine! If there is anything Marty should complain about it is the Reds’s lack of bullpen consistency.

  24. jm91rs - Jun 23, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Marty praises votto as one if the best all the time. Its well known that votto loves obp more than most. while ill recognize the value of obp I think a lot of reds fans share martys frustration when there are men in scoring position and he’s content to let someone else drive those runs in. I think of Cabrera going out of the strike zone to knock a guy in versus votto taking the walk. Obviously id rather have the excellent hitter swinging the bat. I don’t think it’s fair to say you cant wish a guy were more aggressive in certain situations while still being thankful that he’s so great at getting on base.

    In this reds fan’s opinion, votto is second to none, and that’s why at times I’d rather him swing the bat than leave it up to the guy hitting behind him. Marty is pretty hard on the reds at times, but he also gets as exited as anyone when they win, so I don’t think it’s a huge problem for him to wish votto wasn’t so in love with taking walks in some situations. Of course what makes votto great is that his approach seems to be independent of the game situation.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. C. Correa (2532)
  2. G. Stanton (2472)
  3. G. Springer (2464)
  4. H. Ramirez (2447)
  5. B. Crawford (2261)
  1. M. Teixeira (2250)
  2. J. Baez (2178)
  3. H. Pence (2167)
  4. J. Hamilton (2137)
  5. Y. Puig (2080)