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.
With a 6-1 win over the Twins in Sunday’s season finale, the Royals clinched the best record in the American League, which nets them home field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. The Royals stand at 95-67 while the Blue Jays, who lost on Sunday, finish at 93-69.
95-67 is the Royals’ best record since finishing 97-65 in 1980, when they lost the World Series to the Phillies. Their division title is their first since 1985.
In the ALDS, which starts on Thursday, the Royals will host the winner of the AL Wild Card game between the Astros and Yankees. They are looking to avenge last year’s World Series loss, in seven games, to the Giants. The Blue Jays will host the Rangers in the other ALDS series.
Both the Astros’ and the Yankees’ fates were decided before their own games had completed on Sunday. The Rangers defeated the Angels, which clinched a Wild Card spot for the Astros. Then the Astros dropped Sunday’s season finale to the Diamondbacks, which clinched the first AL Wild Card slot for the Yankees. The Yankees are on their way to a loss against the Orioles as of this writing, but that will not affect anything now.
The Astros were in a 3-3 tie with the Diamondbacks in the seventh inning, but reliever Chad Qualls served up a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt. That would prove to be the deciding factor in a 5-3 loss.
The Yankees are losing 7-4 to the Orioles behind a subpar start by Michael Pineda and a shaky performance by the bullpen.
The MLB postseason opens up with the Yankees hosting the Astros on Tuesday in the AL Wild Card game. The winner moves on to face the Royals in Kansas City in the ALDS.