Joey Votto reaches base six times as Reds rout Phillies

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If you needed a reminder that Joey Votto is the best pure hitter in baseball, you got one this evening as the Reds defeated the Phillies 10-0. Joey Votto came to the plate six times and reached base all six times, including a two-run home run in the top of the ninth that served as the cherry on top of a delicious cupcake. Overall, Votto had two walks and four hits including the homer, a double, and two singles.

Votto is the second player to reach base six times in one game this season, joining teammate Shin-Soo Choo who accomplished the feat on April 20 against the Marlins. Prior to that, Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill reached base six times last September 4 against the Giants. Neil Walker, Ben Zobrist, and Mark Reynolds also joined Hill last year.

Votto entered today’s game with the 15th-best weighted on-base average at .410, somehow a shade below his career average .413. To put his career in historical perspective, he also had a career adjusted OPS of 155, tied for the 19th-best mark in baseball history among players with at least 3,000 career plate appearances. (100 is average.) Other players at 155 include Hank Aaron, Joe DiMaggio, and Mel Ott. Not bad company.

The full list:

Rk Player OPS+ PA From To
1 Babe Ruth 206 10622 1914 1935
2 Ted Williams 190 9788 1939 1960
3 Barry Bonds 182 12606 1986 2007
4 Lou Gehrig 179 9663 1923 1939
5 Rogers Hornsby 175 9480 1915 1937
6 Mickey Mantle 172 9907 1951 1968
7 Shoeless Joe Jackson 170 5693 1908 1920
8 Ty Cobb 168 13082 1905 1928
9 Albert Pujols 167 8288 2001 2013
10 Mark McGwire 163 7660 1986 2001
11 Jimmie Foxx 163 9676 1925 1945
12 Stan Musial 159 12717 1941 1963
13 Johnny Mize 158 7370 1936 1953
14 Hank Greenberg 158 6097 1930 1947
15 Tris Speaker 157 11992 1907 1928
16 Frank Thomas 156 10075 1990 2008
17 Dick Allen 156 7315 1963 1977
18 Willie Mays 156 12496 1951 1973
19 Joey Votto 155 3261 2007 2013
20 Hank Aaron 155 13941 1954 1976
21 Joe DiMaggio 155 7673 1936 1951
22 Mel Ott 155 11348 1926 1947
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/18/2013.

Astros vs. Dodgers is a match made in heaven

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A lot of people who work at the league office or who take paychecks from the Fox network probably wanted to see the Yankees and the Cubs in the World Series. They won’t admit it, of course, but I suspect that many did, as the ratings for a Cubs-Yankees Series might’ve broken modern records. If they are at all disappointed by the Astros and Dodgers winning the pennant, however, they should let that go because they’ve been gifted by a wonderful matchup from a purely baseball perspective. Indeed, it’s one of the best on-paper matchups we’ve had in the Fall Classic in many years.

Before the Dodgers went on their late-August, early-September swoon, this was the potential World Series pairing most folks who know a thing or two wanted to see. At least I did, and I don’t think I was alone. It was certainly the matchup which represented the teams with the two best regular season records and storylines at the time. While Cleveland ended up winning more games than Houston did, for the first time since 1970 we have a World Series pitting two 100-win teams against each other.

Like that Orioles-Reds series in 1970, which featured Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson and a host of other All-Stars, the Dodgers-Astros provide us with an embarrassment of big names and future Hall of Famers. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw and Astros DH/OF Carlos Beltran are destined for induction already. Astros ace Justin Verlander may very well join them, especially if his late 2017 surge is evidence of a second career peak. Houston second baseman Jose Altuve‘s first seven years and Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen‘s first eight are the stuff upon which Cooperstown resumes are made as well. People will be arguing Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley‘s Hall of Fame case for years once he retires.

Youth is served as well in this matchup, with each club featuring a handful of the game’s best young players to accompany their big name veteran stars.

The Dodgers will bat their no-doubt N.L. Rookie of the Year first baseman Cody Bellinger second or third in the lineup every game. 2016 Rookie of the Year Corey Seager, who sat out the NLCS with a bad back, is expected to be activated for the Series where he’ll be the Dodgers shortstop. The Astros are actually an old team on paper — Verlander, catcher Brian McCann, starter Charlie Morton, first baseman Yuli Gurriel, outfielder Josh Reddick and DH Evan Gattis are all over 30 while Beltran is 40 — but young players are essential to their attack as well. Shortstop Carlos Correa just turned 23 and he’s one of the game’s brightest stars. Third baseman Alex Bregman, also 23, made the play that may very well have broken the Yankees’ back during Saturday night’s pennant clincher. Age aside, the Astros are the product of a major, multi-year rebuild and many of their players are making their first national splash this postseason.

Beyond just the names and resumes, though, the Dodgers and Astros represent a fantastic strategic matchup. The Dodgers attack this postseason has featured admirable plate discipline, with third baseman Justin Turner, right fielder Yasiel Puig and center fielder Chris Taylor all letting balls out of the zone pass them by while abusing pitches left out over the plate. Astros pitchers not named Justin Verlander, however, have lived by getting the opposition to chase bad balls. Game one starter Dallas Keuchel did this by relying on his very fast sinker. Lance McCullers pitched well starting Game 4 of the ALCS and pitched spectacularly closing out the final four innings of Game 7 mostly by virtue of his curveball, which Yankees pitchers could simply not lay off. Indeed, his final 24 pitches of Game 7 were all curves, many of them low and away. Who will give in first in this series?

On the side of things, Dodgers relievers have made a living by pumping in strikes. Particularly strikes high in the zone from Jansen and Brandon Morrow. There may be no better fastball hitter in all of baseball than Jose Altuve, however, and the team as a whole was one of the best in the bigs in dealing with gas in the zone. This was a big reason why the Astros struck out less than any team in baseball this year while simultaneously boasting the best offense in the game. The Dodgers throw strikes. The Astros make you pay when you throw them strikes. Again, something’s gotta give.

Maybe the suits in New York wanted the Yankees and Cubs. But everyone else is getting exactly what we want: a matchup of the two best teams in the game. A matchup of strength against strength. What is, from a purely baseball perspective, the best World Series we could’ve possibly hoped for.