Every once in a while baseball fans are treated to true greatness being played out before our eyes. Very few players have the abilities to flash this type of performance, but when they do, it is amazing to watch as it unfolds.
Joey Votto currently stands atop the baseball world, as a man among boys.
The Cincinnati Reds first-baseman and 2010 NL Most Valuable Player is on pace to claim his second MVP award in three years while attempting to lead the Cincinnati Reds to an N.L. Central title for the second time in that same three-year span.
Votto's stats are herculean to say the least. He finds himself as of June 19th leading all of baseball with a .369 BA, a .490 OBP, and with an incredible 1.155 OPS. His 30 doubles put him on pace for a record 73! ESPN's Jason Stark even claims that, "Joey Votto is literally having a Babe Ruth-like season."
But, as amazing as these stats are, it's the means by which he accomplishes these feats that are truly unworldly. Votto has developed some hitting habits that are just as remarkable as the stats that these habits produce.
It was reported in an article that SI's Tom Verducci wrote, that Joey has only pulled a foul ball into the right field side of the stands ONCE in his entire MLB career. He recalls this single instance that occured during his rookie season in the article. Votto has also popped out to the infield only three times in the past four years, and not once so far this season.
These claims are absolutely remarkable. Let's put it in these terms; you could probably find multiple players in every game that pulls more than one foul ball into the stands. They same can be said for popping out to the infield.
It takes an incredible amount of bat control and discipline to accomplish such a feat as to not commit these batting errors. Yet, Joey Votto seems to proceed with ease in avoiding them.
His ability to let the ball travel further before committing to a pitch is the main key. Votto takes pitches middle-in and drives them to the opposite field with authority and power—keeping his hands back and inside the ball. Not only do you have to let the ball travel further through the hitting zone, but in doing so you must be able to react and get your hands through the zone much quicker while letting the bat head lag behind.
The discipline needed to do this is uncanny. Not even the great Albert Pujols can lay claim to the amazing bat control that Votto shows.
The next time that you have the chance to watch Joey Votto hit I challenge you to study his at-bats and compare them to all other hitters—his swing just looks much more compact and more in control than all other hitters.
So back to the stats, check these out. Votto maintains a 12.12 Runs Created Per 27 Outs -- Josh Hamilton ranks second in all MLB with 9.80. Joey also weighs in with a .536 Secondary Average.
Hands down, Joey Votto is the best player in baseball right now, and by the looks of things he is continuing to get better—that is just plain scary. The Reds made a major investment in Votto before the season started. If you didn't understand why then, you should now.
Joey Votto is having that Babe Ruth-type season—it's about time that all of baseball stand up and recognize the best hitter in the game.