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Joey Votto actually has to defend himself? This is where we are?

Aug 20, 2013, 10:30 AM EDT

joey votto ap AP

Every time I think that the bulk of baseball fans and commentators has moved on from the dark ages of batting average and RBI meaning everything and into at least the Renaissance period that was the early-“Moneyball Days,” something odd happens to make me realize that, nope, not as many people have moved on as I thought.

This year it’s Joey Votto and the treatment he has received from the media and some fans. And actually, “media” is too broad a term. The treatment has mostly been from Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer, who has taken it upon himself to cut down Votto for his alleged inability to drive in runs. Daugherty has paired this with pumping up Brandon Phillips as the Reds’ MVP due to his high RBI totals (despite his worst offensive season in a while) and by waging war against “stat geeks” making simplistic and overly-broad arguments. Worth noting that the geeks and those arguments are almost certainly an invention of Daugherty’s imagination, as he attributes to them the most straw-like of straw man tendencies.  It’s been a hoot, actually.

Obviously most of us don’t need to entertain these arguments seriously. Daugherty either knows or is too dense to know that RBI is a function of opportunity and that Phillips has had way more opportunities to drive in runs than Votto. Mostly because Votto is always on base.  Daugherty either knows or is too dense to know that Votto has had an astoundingly good season despite his low RBI totals. We certainly need not engage in a point-by-point rebuttal to Daugherty because he’s either, as I said, too dense for it to be worthwhile or because, in reality, he’s just trying to throw bombs and grandstand to get attention.

Sadly, though, Joey Votto has been reduced to having to defend himself in print. He does so in Hal McCoy’s column at Fox Sports Ohio where he says, really guys, he’s a good player:

“Pitchers can be kind of picky when they face me,” Votto said. “I strike out a lot (106) walk a lot and that leads to a lot of balls not put into play. But I’m hitting for a high average (.316) …  I’m in the top five in batting average om the top five in slugging. I just have to be more efficient with it because I get less opportunities, but that’s OK. All I want to do is do what I can.”
You’re doing just fine, Joey. Ignore the ignoramuses. Make as few outs as you can and drive the ball when you have a ball you can drive. That’s your job. That’s the job of every hitter in baseball. If someone is saying differently — if someone is saying that there’s a better measure of a hitter than out-avoidance — they’re failing to understand the game.
  1. contraryguy - Aug 20, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    ‘Doc’ and his material has always had a bit of Internet troll to it, but this latest stuff is ridiculous. If the Reds pick up a few games and somehow make it to 1st place in the NL Central, see how fast this indignation over production vanishes.

  2. stlouis1baseball - Aug 20, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Joey Votto is one of the best hitters in the game. Has been his whole career. Daugherty is a joke.
    And Joey is on point. Pitchers are very picky with him in the box. I wonder why that is Daugherty?

    • 18thstreet - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:57 AM

      What the writer fails to accept is that the alternative to walking isn’t hitting: it’s swinging at pitches that would be otherwise called balls. And that’s how you get yourself out.

  3. andreweac - Aug 20, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    Daugherty is not imagining things. I think he is a complete tool and a brain dead former NFL player has a better decision-making process than him.

    If Daugherty was a GM their team would never win more than 70 games and would always be the laugh stock of the world.

    • jm91rs - Aug 20, 2013 at 10:48 AM

      Daugherty would never actually manage a team, it’s far easier to sit back and play the armchair qb.

    • sportsdrenched - Aug 20, 2013 at 2:08 PM

      so you mean Dayton Moore?

  4. jm91rs - Aug 20, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    I wish Votto would swing a little more often in crucial situations, because I’d rather see him swinging at the ball than anyone else on the team. However, the fact that his approach does not change is what makes him a great hitter. As a fan it can be frustrating in big situations, but step back and look at the big picture and say “damn I’m glad he’s on the team I cheer for”.

    I’m sad that Doc even gets a mention on this blog. He lives for making people mad by hating the things we all love. I wish we could just refer to him as “that $hit stirrer at the Cincinnati Enquirer”.

  5. wheels579 - Aug 20, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    I’m not a big critic of lineup structure, but Dusty could also hit Votto second on occasion if this were that big of a deal, which its not. If Ludwick were healthy all year, Phillips probably would hit there between Choo and Votto. Any way you slice it, this is about Votto’s contract, and even 92 RBI probably wouldn’t be enough to satisfy people at that price compared to what Cabrera and Davis are doing at a fraction of the cost.

    • ifdmoose - Aug 20, 2013 at 2:37 PM

      Fraction of the cost? Really? Cabrera’s contract is higher than Votto’s this year. Yes, Davis is much lower, but Davis’s career is no where close to Votto’s and is on just a two year run in a less than stellar career.

  6. thomas844 - Aug 20, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    As a die-hard Reds fan, I can tell you that Votto has been huge for us this year. Just because he is the #3 hitter and our highest paid player, people think he should put up “sexy” numbers like 30+ homers and 100+ RBI. I love the kind of hitter Joey is, he has led the league in OBP most of the year, and has allowed Phillips and Bruce (92 and 81 RBI, respectively) to knock in plenty of runs.

    Though guys like Phillips and Bruce have put up the big power numbers for us this year, they are also prone to slumping, which is something Votto doesn’t really do. A hitter who stays consistent all year as others have their ups and downs is a very rare commodity and should be appreciated rather than rebuked.

    • ptfu - Aug 20, 2013 at 12:05 PM

      Reminds me of a fangraphs article last week mentioning how Joey Votto almost never hits infield pop-ups. He’s averaging maybe two a season, and only one if you ignore his first year. How’s that for a consistent swing, good batting eye, and a sound approach?

      • thomas844 - Aug 20, 2013 at 12:18 PM

        That’s a great point, I forgot about that. He has a machine-like ability to put the ball where he wants.

      • Cran Boy - Aug 20, 2013 at 1:37 PM

        Since you bring up Fangraphs, ptfu, here’s another stat from the site: win probability added (WPA). It’s not some sabermetric hocus-pocus:

        Anyway, on the Reds, it’s Choo 3.60, Votto 3.36 (fifth in the NL), Bruce 2.45, Phillips 1.54. Adjust it for high-leverage situations and Votto’s No. 1 on both the Reds and in the NL.

  7. cohnjusack - Aug 20, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    Apparently he hasn’t drawn the connection between Joey Votto’s OBP and the fact that he’s 2nd in the league in runs scored…

    How do people still value an RBI over not making an out? In nearly 100% of cases (the exception being…say…in the bottom of the 9th in a tie game), not making an out is more valuable than making an out and driving in a run. Walking with a runner on 3rd and 1 out does your team more good and provides a greater likelihood of scoring more runs than grounding out to 2nd and having the run score.

  8. yahmule - Aug 20, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    What has always impressed me about Joey Votto were his incredibly consistent splits from virtually his first day in the majors. Versus RHP or LHP, home or away, day or night, month after month this man just produces. He also plays excellent defense and runs the bases very well. I remember some people criticizing him because he missed time for anxiety issues as a young player. It turned out the root cause was because he had a hard time getting over the death of his father. That just made me want to root for the guy even harder.

  9. drewsylvania - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    Jealous people attempting to destroy their idols because they are jealous.

  10. chrisbradley9 - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Any Redlegs fan knows that Joey could careless what the media says, that is why he is a fan favorite. GO REDS…

  11. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    It is probably a compliment to Phillips that Votto does not feel the need to expand. If he had a lesser hitter behind him all year, he might feel more pressure to try to drive a pitch even if it is a bit out of the zone. That would certainly not be an ideal approach, but might be justifiable if the hitter behind Votto were not capable of getting the job done.

    If you want a reason for Joey’s low RBI total, look at Cozart and his .260-something OBP and ZERO stolen bases (in zero attempts) and remember that Dusty had him in the #2 hole for half the season.

    • Uncle Charlie - Aug 20, 2013 at 12:48 PM

      Philips IS a lesser hitter. That’s why Votto is pretty amazing.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 20, 2013 at 1:48 PM

        Not comparing Votto to Phillips there. Just saying that if Phillips were not the players that he (phillips) is, it would put more burden on Joey. Joey apparently has enough confidence in Phillips to feel comfortable passing the baton when he does not get a pitch to hit.

  12. hansob - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Phillips has had 34 more runners on first, 10 more on second, and 20 more on third base in his plate appearances. Couple that with Votto’s willingness to take a walk in an RBI situation, and there you go.

    Now if you want to view Votto drawing a walk with runners already on base as deferring to his teammates, that’s fine. But it shows an absolute ignorance on how runs are scored and baseball games are actually won, and what’s a positive outcome.

    Also, Phillips has a 0.239 OBP when leading off an inning, and a 0.254 OBP with bases empty and 1 out. But I guess that doesn’t matter, because it’s not as much of an RBI opportunity?

  13. cur68 - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Joseph D. Votto: the pride of Toronto, Canada, land of beavers. He is probably the most consistent, productive player in all MLB. Anyone criticizing this guy is merely displaying their deep ignorance of what really counts in baseball.

  14. eatitfanboy - Aug 20, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    You can’t argue with these old hacks holding on their meaningless (when taken without context) old school stats. These are the same idiots who wanted to deny Felix Hernandez the Cy Young in 2010 because of his weak won-loss record despite him clearly being the most dominate pitcher that year.

  15. lolnfl - Aug 20, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    Put Votto cleanup and Phillips in the 3 hole and see how many RBI Phillips still has…It’s a joke that people don’t understand why Phillips has as many RBI’s as he does.

  16. modellforprez - Aug 20, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    Votto is a beast. would love to have him on my squad. who wouldnt

  17. gosport474 - Aug 20, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Paul Daugherty and his ridiculosity.

  18. chiadam - Aug 20, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    There isn’t a 1B in the league that a smart GM would take over Votto.

  19. Jeremy T - Aug 20, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    I clicked on the headline expecting another nonsense PEDs accusation. Words can barely describe how relieved I am to find out I was wrong.

  20. r8rnuck - Aug 20, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    its been said before but…

    those who can do…those who can’t write about it…

  21. northstarsmitty - Aug 20, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    This is nothing more than speaking to the fact we have a lot of radio hosts, sports personalities, show hosts that get their jobs based on the wrong credentials that is worth possessing for the fans. Sounds like a ton of people could talk him into the ground to the point of folly, just like any of us could school Matt Millen in common football knowledge. Then you realize guys like this actually have jobs where they are paid a large sum of money to sit there and be unworthy of challenging your audience. That’s why sports pages or blogs like this are so valuable to all of us. When was the last time you read an article on ESPN? That’s what I thought…

  22. crgabe - Aug 20, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    Joey V is as close to Roy Hobbs as anyone in the National League. He would more RBI is Dusty would stop putting automatic outs in front of him all season. He also might get better pitches if BP would be more patient. Phillips makes a LOT of outs. Pitchers don’t mind taking chances with him.

  23. largebill - Aug 20, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    I grew up in Cleveland and now live in Cincy. I used to always hear how smart the fans were in St Louis and Cincinnati among other towns. After living here a decade I dispute those claims. They are good fans from the standpoint of attendance. However, they are no more knowledgeable a fan base than in any of the other major league cities where I have lived. I’m not judging the area on the fools who call talk radio begging the manager to bunt, but rather based on folks I interact with. There is a lot of little league mentality here. Each area has local players they over rate, but I almost lose it when otherwise intelligent people claim Pete Rose is the best player ever based on the total hits record. Being very good, very durable and having longevity are all good things which marked Rose’s career, but he is NOT the best player ever. Not to start an argument, but I’m not sure he is in top 50 (maybe not even top 75). What I’m getting at is Daugherty is not alone in his belief Votto is hurting the team by not swinging at bad pitches.

  24. Walk - Aug 20, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    There is no way I want him hitting against my team with runners on or the game on the line.

  25. aweasome101101 - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:42 PM

    I know there’s a lot of reds fan here. But i think his contract was done prematurely still under. If Votto saw his production this year and probably next year he probably wouldn’t have valued himself so high, neither would the reds. They could have waited no one was going to offer Votto this contract at 30 years of age with limited post season experience. As Boston and New York are a bit more tame these days. His contract is in the same base as pujols and Albert at least had a decade of great work plus help out the cardinals tremendously in the post season. They have Bruce, latos, cueto only up to 2016 so they better win now. Chapman, schoo choo contract will come up eventually, so point I’m trying to make is they are a little cap by that contract. Votto is a great player no question about it but he’s definitely not worth all that money, no player is.

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