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Joey Votto 'Went For A Lot Of Walks' To Prepare For 2016

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I can already imagine all the baseball haters not even reading this blog, then showing everyone the headline and going, “See! Look! Baseball players aren’t athletes! Baseball’s not a real sport!” Shut up. Joey Votto is merely trolling the fans and media who criticize him for taking too many walks

“A lot of sleeping, a lot of walks. I went for a lot of walks,” he said. “The Cincinnati fan base can be excited about the future of my performance. I’m rested and I practiced walking a lot.”

Votto hit .314 with an OPS of 1.000 last year, placing third in the National League MVP voting. It was a great bounce back season after Votto had missed 100 games in 2014 with a strained left quad, limiting him to hitting just .255 with a .799 OPS. But we’re not talking about batting averages here. Votto is the king of getting on base, successfully reaching base at ridiculous rate every single year. The reason for that, of course, is largely because he has turned reaching base via the walk into an art form.

The Reds first baseman has led the National League in walks in four out of the last five seasons, with the only season he didn’t being the year that he missed 100 games. As a result of his astronomical walk totals, Votto has an on-base percentage of .436 since 2010, leading the league in that category four times. Last year, he missed being MLB’s leader in on-base percentage by one point, finishing runner-up to the National League’s MVP, Bryce Harper, who got on base at a .460 clip.

But even with on-base percentages that high, you don’t reach an OPS that’s in the neighborhood of 1.000 unless you’ve got some serious pop in your bat, too. And that’s where the criticism comes in. For his career, Votto has averaged 40 doubles and 28 homers per season, which is why he takes heat from media and some fans for not being as aggressive as he could be. The general consensus is that taking a walk and getting on base is nice, but the Reds aren’t paying him $20M+ to take walks, they’re paying him to swing the bat.

I suppose I could see that argument if his on-base percentages were what they have been, in the .400’s, and then his power numbers were slipping while everyone knows he’s capable of hitting for power. But that’s not the case. He’s still hitting his doubles and his home runs, it just so happens that he’s also working a ton of walks in between, instead of swinging at bad pitches and rolling balls over to second base. I’d understand if we were talking about somebody like Mark Reynolds, and wondering how many of those swings and misses would’ve been home runs if he just could’ve made contact in those seasons that he was leading the league in strikeouts and still hitting 40 home runs. That’s not the case here. Votto still had over 60 extra-base hits last year, and when he wasn’t getting extra-base hits, he was still getting on base for you. What’s there to complain about?

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