Oh, friend, if only! If only you and I could face our daily trials with the patience Joey Votto brings to every turn at-bat. If only we could be so disciplined, so rational, so content with the cumulative value of mundane victories. If only we could fully trust the data, if only we could so comprehensively refuse to compromise on the things we know to be right, then what?
(David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports)
Maybe this world wouldn’t suck so hard, then, or maybe we’re doomed no matter what, and maybe the best any of us could really hope to do is make an MVP case for a last-place team. I lost control of this metaphor.
Point is, on Sunday, Joey Votto came to the plate five times, saw 43 pitches, and walked five times – meaning he had zero official at-bats. Votto went 0-for-0 with no runs scored and no RBI, and the Reds lost, 5-2, to fall eight games back of the Pirates in the race for fourth place in the NL Central.
Votto opened the game with 11-pitch walks off Pirates starter Jameson Taillon in his first two plate appearances, then drew a nine-pitch base on balls with no outs in the fifth that raised Taillon’s pitch count to 108 and chased the pitcher from the game. Votto’s final two walks of the day required only six pitches apiece.
(AP Photo/Gary Landers)
The ever-committed first baseman and likely future Hall of Famer has caught criticism at times for his steadfast refusal to expand the zone in RBI situations, but Votto knows better than to willfully swing at pitches he can’t hit hard. He has offered at only 15.7% of pitches out the strike zone this season, a new career best and by far the best rate in the Majors. The Reds have plenty of power behind Votto in the lineup, and outs are a team’s most precious commodity. You’d always rather take a walk than a weak groundout.
Only 49 players since 1913 have reached base safely at least five times in a game in which they got zero official at-bats. With his effort on Sunday, Votto, who also went 0-for-0 with five walks in a 2013 game against the Mets, became only the third player in Major League history to do it more than once. He joins Hall of Famer Mel Ott and Barry Bonds in that odd and impressive pantheon. Bonds achieved the feat three times, but was aided in all three by intentional walks.
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Votto leads the Majors with a .447 on-base percentage in 2017. His .427 career mark ranks first among active players and 12th on the all-time list.
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