Man, every time I hear the name “Joey Votto” I think of Bob Sheppard.
I could throw a gazillion other numbers at you to help define the wizardry of Votto, but I like these three best:
• Votto has not popped up to the infield all season. In fact, he has popped out to the infield only three times in 2,138 plate appearances over the
past four seasons.
• The average NL hitter bats .198 when he is behind in the count. Votto hits .300 when he is behind in the count.
• Votto has pulled a ball foul into the stands only once in his entire major league career. Once.
“Sure, I remember it,” he said. “It was my rookie year. It wasn’t that deep — and maybe 20, 30 feet foul. I haven’t hit a long home run foul in my whole career.”
I was stunned when Votto told me that. We were talking about pull hitting last Friday because I was intrigued that he had not hit a home run to rightfield all year. (Lo and behold, he smacked a Wandy Rodriguez breaking ball into the rightfield seats about two hours later.) I told him I’ve noticed that he almost never gets out on his front foot with the barrel well in front of the plate — a mistake of timing that often creates the empty drama of the majestic but worthless foul “home run.” And that’s when he told me he never has hit one of those crowd teasers.