Joey Votto hit .289 with a .939 OPS in April. Then he hit .355 with a 1.160 OPS in May. And now he’s hitting .491 with a 1.392 OPS in June.
Overall the former MVP leads the National League in batting average (.366), on-base percentage (.489), slugging percentage (.652), OPS (1.141), doubles (28), extra-base hits (40), walks (54), and times on base (131). He also leads the league in Runs Created (74) and Wins Above Replacement (4.3).
It might seem weird to suggest that someone who won the MVP as recently as 2010 is actually underrated, but I really think we’ve reached that point with Votto. Obviously anyone paying any kind of attention knows he’s a great player, but the fact that he’s been arguably the best hitter in all of baseball for the past four seasons seems to get lost in the shuffle somewhat.
Votto had a really good rookie season in 2008 and then took things to another level in 2009. From then until now he’s hit .324 with a .477 on-base percentage and .575 slugging percentage in 507 games. During that four-year span Votto is the only hitter in baseball with an OPS above 1.000. He leads all MLB hitters in on-base percentage, is .002 points away from tying Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols for the lead in slugging percentage, and trails only Joe Mauer and Cabrera in batting average. And he’s done all that while hitting slightly better on the road than at home in Cincinnati’s hitter-friendly ballpark.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.