With his first hit of the 2014 season, Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto will reach the 1,000-hit mark for his career.
A bit of a late bloomer, Votto made his major-league debut Sept. 4, 2007, just six days before his 24th birthday. He took over as the Reds' starting first baseman the following season and probably won't be giving the job back anytime soon.
A near-elite batter from day one, the Canadian slugger has 999 hits in six-plus seasons, a strong but rather unspectacular number. Such a statistic far understates the extent of Votto's offensive impact, as his lofty walk totals reduce his chances to pile up base hits.
The 30-year-old led the National League in both walks and on-base percentage in each of the last three seasons—including 2012, when injuries limited him to just 111 games.
Last season, Votto led the league with 726 plate appearances and ranked 10th in batting average at .305. Yet five other players bested his 177 hits. The culprit? Votto's 135 walks, which placed him 23 ahead of second-place Shin-Soo Choo (112) and 36 ahead of third-place Paul Goldschmidt (99).
Votto's disciplined plate approach won't be changing any time soon, so the 3,000-hit club seems out of his league. However, his excellent approach should allow for a lengthy career. He's typically been one of the game's more durable players, with the exception of an injury-riddled 2012 campaign.
2,000 career hits should be well within reach, and the 2,500-mark isn't out of the question.
Of course, Votto would probably prefer that his impact not be measured in hits, as he typically lets his OBP do the talking.
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