Lack of instant replay looms big in another no-hitter

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Just like in Johan Santana’s no-hitter exactly a week ago, a close play that could have been overturned by replay loomed large in Seattle’s combined no-hitter against the Dodgers on Friday night.

Dee Gordon, maybe the National League’s fastest player, led off the bottom of the ninth with a broken-bat flare to shortstop against Tom Wilhelmsen. Brendan Ryan, just in the game as a defensive replacement, grabbed the ball and made a strong throw to first, getting the out call. Replay, however, showed that Gordon may have beaten the relay.

In this case, the evidence wasn’t so solid as last week’s fair-foul call on what should have been a Carlos Beltran double. The play at first base was so close there’s a good chance it wouldn’t have been overturned on whatever replay system baseball eventually implements. Still, it did look like Gordon was safe. Besides just disrupting the no-no, it was a huge call in what was just a 1-0 game at the time. It’s one of those calls MLB will someday need to make its best effort to get right, instead of just letting one man try to call it at real speed.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.