Joey Votto

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.

Joe Mauer reveals he’s had blurred vision since 2013 concussion

Joe Mauer
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After a decade as the best all-around catcher in baseball Joe Mauer suffered a concussion in August of 2013 that forced him to change positions and marked the end of his time as a great hitter.

Mauer was doing his usual thing at the time of the concussion, hitting .324 with a .404 on-base percentage and .880 OPS. Since returning from the brain injury he’s hit .270 with a .348 on-base percentage and .725 OPS while seeing his numbers decline across the board.

Mauer revealed today to Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that “lingering symptoms occasionally blurred his vision at the plate the past two seasons” and “he will experiment hitting with sunglasses for the first time to improve his pitch tracking” this season.

Here’s more from Murphy:

Bright sunshine sometimes triggered blurred vision that Mauer links to the concussion with which he was diagnosed in August 2013 after absorbing at least “two significant blows” from foul tips while he was still catching.

“I don’t want that to be kind of an excuse. If I’m out there, I’m out there. That’s just the way I am,” Mauer said. “There are times I’ve gone up to the plate and I just couldn’t pick up the ball. That’s part of the frustration because I’m trying to do everything I can to get back. It just takes time.”

There are more quotes along those same lines and Mauer’s numbers in night games were much better than his numbers in day games last season.

I live in Minnesota and it has been incredibly frustrating to see such a large (or at least vocal) segment of the Twins fan base treat Mauer’s steep decline as if it has nothing to do with the significant brain trauma he suffered. I’m hopeful that Mauer going public about literally struggling to see the baseball while at the plate will convince fans to treat him more humanely, but that’s probably wishful thinking at this point.

What a shame, on every level.

Masahiro Tanaka can’t say for sure if he’ll be ready by Opening Day

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Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka said today that he “can’t say for sure” whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

Tanaka underwent arthroscopic surgery in late November to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October and, while healthy, may be behind other pitchers.

Tanaka posted a 3.51 ERA and a 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season. He also has a partially torn UCL he’s been pitching through for some time which is always something the Yankees have on their mind when it comes to schedules and workouts for their ace.

Denard Span, not Angel Pagan, will be Giants’ center fielder and leadoff hitter

Denard Span
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Making official what was assumed when the Giants signed Denard Span to a three-year, $31 million contract last month, manager Bruce Bochy announced that Span will start in center field and bat leadoff.

That means 34-year-old Angel Pagan, who’s been the Giants’ starting center fielder and primary leadoff hitter for the past four seasons, will slide to left field and bat further down in the lineup. About a month before the Span signing Bochy said Pagan would remain in the center fielder/leadoff role, but the situation obviously changed.

It’s a move that makes sense, because Span–if healthy following hip surgery–is a superior defensive center fielder with better on-base skills. And if Pagan doesn’t bounce back following a rough 2015 season then having him in left field will make it easier for the Giants to platoon him or bench him in favor of, say, Gregor Blanco or a bigger bat.

Pitchers to receive new visor-like protective headgear

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MLB/MLBPA
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For the past few years MLB, the MLBPA and cap and helmet manufacturers have been working on various models of protective headgear for pitchers. Some of the models have been unworkable, some of them have not met the satisfaction of pitchers and others have, well, looked a little odd. At present the only pitcher who routinely wears any headgear is Alex Torres, who wears the bulky isoBLOX helmet.

Now, however, there is a new option. And, as you can see above it’s a bit different than what we’ve seen before. It’s more or less like a visor, which will have a nylon top on them to give a full cap-like appearance. The ear flaps will be lefty and righty-specific, given that righties are more likely to be hit on the right and lefties on the left given their follow-throughs.

The new caps will be given out to players this spring and, like the old ones, will be used or not used at the choice of the players. You can read more about the new helmet at ESPN’s Outside the Lines report.