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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. chunkala - Aug 20, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    I’m not against RBIs like most of the crazies here but why don’t people just quote the players’ RBI %. It’s a function of ability and opportunity and is a better gauge than a counting stat like RBIs.

    • mrpinkca - Aug 21, 2013 at 3:04 AM

      To my knowledge, RBI % doesn’t exist. The closest thing is batting average with RISP, which doesn’t reflect the complexity of many RISP situations, and even with a pretty broad net still suffers from small sample size.

      I suppose you could create an RBI % and weight base runners similar to how you would slugging percentage (i.e. value an RBI higher if the runner is on first than you would if he were on third), but something tells me that you wouldn’t have Neanderthals like Daugherty citing it in their articles…

  2. mrpinkca - Aug 21, 2013 at 2:54 AM

    I can’t wait to read Daugherty’s article on why Jose Fernandez doesn’t have enough wins to win the NL ROY.

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