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
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.