Reds first baseman Joey Votto has a .320 batting average, a .423 on-base percentage that ranks second in the majors, a .590 slugging percentage, 33 home runs and 101 RBI this season over 490 at-bats.
Still not convinced that Votto is one of the top hitters in all of baseball? Try this:
According to Rob Neyer of ESPN.com, the Cincinnati slugger has yet to hit an infield pop-up this season. Seriously.
FanGraphs, an excellent resource for stats both advanced and old-fashioned, has Votto at a 0.0% IFFB (infield fly ball) rate this season over 581 plate appearances. The great Albert Pujols has a 13.5% IFFB this year. American League MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera has a 7.5% IFFB. Josh Hamilton has a 3.3% IFFB.
Votto hit walkoff home run in the 10th inning of Saturday’s 5-4 victory over the Pirates. His Reds currently own a seven-game lead over the Cardinals in the National League Central and appear to be locked in for their first postseason appearance since 1995. Votto and his smooth swing might just nab the NL MVP.
h/t Baseball Think Factory
On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.
The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.