Joey Votto achieves rare feat hitting .408 in MLB's 2nd half
Toronto-born player is first in 12 years to bat .400 post-all-star break
When the Joey-Votto-to-the-Blue-Jays rumours surfaced in the summer, there were several reasons for Toronto management to pursue a potential trade.
- The Cincinnati Reds first baseman's career on-base percentage of more than .400 would have been attractive to the Jays and other playoff contenders.
- Votto would have filled the void for a left-handed power bat in the middle of Toronto's batting order.
- Edwin Encarnacion, the Jays' current first baseman, is a free agent after this season.
- Votto is Canadian, having grown up in the Toronto area, with a batting average above .300 in seven of his previous nine seasons.
But a slump earlier this season — Votto was batting a paltry .213 on May 31 — seemed to raise doubts about whether the 33-year-old was losing his touch at the plate.
However, as the temperature rose in June, so did Votto's production, as evidenced by his .319 average and 1.015 on-base-plus slugging percentage during the month. Votto continued to wield a hot bad in July, hitting at a .415 clip with a 1.212 OPS.
He closed the season hitting .385 in September and maintained good power with seven home runs after hitting a combined eight in June and July.
With Joey, every time he's up there, it seems like he's going to barrel the ball, or he's going to walk. That, to me, is the fascination.- Reds manager Bryan Price on Joey Votto, who hit .408 in the 2nd half of the season
With a 1-for-4 performance in a 7-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs in Sunday's season finale, Votto achieved a first in the major leagues in 12 years by batting .408 in the second half of the season. Miami's Ichiro Suzuki hit .400 in the second half in 2004 while a member of the Seattle Mariners.
"I didn't doubt that I would come back from the start," Votto, the 2010 National League MVP, told reporters on the weekend. "I knew physically I felt good and my mind didn't waver."
Reds manager Bryan Price was impressed with Votto's consistency in the second half.
"Those periods of incredible success are typically followed by a period of at least some struggle," he said. "With Joey, every time he's up there, it seems like he's going to barrel the ball, or he's going to walk. That, to me, is the fascination."
Votto ended the season with a .326 average, an NL-leading .434 OBP and .550 slugging percentage. He was second in the league in walks with 108 in 158 games and OPS.
"Offensively, I felt like I was as competitive as I could compete with anybody in baseball, but defensively, I feel like I've got a ways to go," said Votto, who had eight errors this season and ranked 16th among NL first basemen in fielding percentage at .994.
"It's exciting to have another challenge to overcome, so I'm grateful for that."
Time is on Votto's side since his 10-year, $225-million US contract doesn't expire until the end of the 2023 season.