Joey Votto is having a monster second half

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Reds first baseman Joey Votto went 1-for-2 with three walks in Sunday’s 6-3 win at home against the Brewers. Getting on base four times in a game makes for a solid afternoon, but the performance is not typically newsworthy, particularly if it only involves a single and a trio of free passes.

Votto, however, has had an extraordinarily great second half of the season. Since July 17, the first game out of the All-Star break, he is hitting .401/.581/.730 with 14 doubles, 12 home runs, and 64 walks in 217 plate appearances. No one has been a better hitter in the second half than Votto and it’s not even close. Entering Sunday’s action, he had a .538 weighted on-base average (wOBA), a Sabermetric statistic that individually weights each of a player’s contributions on offense. The next-best is Edwin Encarnacion at .471. The difference between the two, in terms of runs, is between 10 and 11 runs, which translates to over one win. What that means is that, on offense alone, Votto has been a full win better than the second-best hitter in the second half. That’s absurd.

Overall, Votto has a .318/.462/.565 triple-slash line with 27 home runs, 70 RBI, and 85 runs scored. His .437 wOBA is second-best in baseball behind Bryce Harper’s .467. Votto is way ahead of Paul Goldschmidt at .414.

The National League MVP Award debate will likely boil down to Harper versus Zack Greinke. Votto, however, will be deserving of second- or third-place votes on the ballot in a season that has largely flown under the radar.

Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg’s status for 2023 ‘a mystery’

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Stephen Strasburg‘s status for 2023 is up in the air after a series of injuries that limited him to one start this season, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said.

“It’s still a little bit of a mystery,” Rizzo said about the 2019 World Series MVP before the Nationals were scheduled to play a doubleheader at the New York Mets. “I know that he’s working hard strengthening his core and the other parts of his body. We’re just going to have to see. With the type of surgery and rehab that he’s had, it’s unfamiliar to us. It’s unfamiliar to a lot of people. We’re going to have to take it day by day.”

The 34-year-old right-hander has thrown a total of 31 1/3 innings across just eight starts over the past three seasons combined. He had carpal tunnel surgery in 2020, then needed an operation to correct thoracic outlet syndrome in 2021.

After his only start of 2022, he went back on the injured list with a stress reaction of the ribs.

“We’ll have to see where the rehab process takes us later on in the winter,” Rizzo said. “We’re going to monitor him. He’s local, so we’ll see him all the time and we’ll see where he’s at going into spring training mode.”

Strasburg is a three-time All-Star who signed a $245 million contract after helping Washington win a championship in 2019.

He is 113-62 with a 3.24 ERA for his career.

Meeting with reporters toward the end of a rough season – Washington entered with a majors-worst and Nationals-worst record of 55-104 and shipped away the team’s best player, outfielder Juan Soto, at the trade deadline – Rizzo talked about doing “an autopsy of the organization.”

“I look at the season as a disappointment. I’ve always said that you are what your record says you are, and our record says we’re the worst team in the league right now. It’s hard to argue with that,” Rizzo said. “The flip side of that is we’re in a process.”

Rizzo and manager Dave Martinez were given contract extensions during the season. Martinez said his entire coaching staff will return next year.