When Jay Bruce struggles, fans lose their minds in anger. When Zack Cozart struggles, people call for a replacement. When Brandon Phillips struggles, he suddenly is an enigma to the team.
These are common (yet often unwarranted) reactions when players struggle in the major leagues. However, very little is being said regarding the current struggles of Joey Votto. Without a doubt, the cornerstone of the Cincinnati Reds‘ offense is Votto. So why then have many turned a blind eye to his recent slump? As Marty Brennaman said in last night’s broadcast, “Here’s Votto, and he continues to exhibit a very quiet bat”.
Votto’s current .263 BA is lowest his average has been in month of May since .259 on May 21, 2008. #Reds
— Lance McAlister (@LanceMcAlister) May 8, 2014
Take a look at Votto’s numbers over the last 10 games: .162 batting average, zero home runs, zero runs batted in, eight Ks, nine walks and six hits in 37 at bats. The unusual nature of Votto’s struggles were visible to the naked eye last night as the usually patient hitter made easy outs multiple times on the first pitch he saw in his at bats.
Great American Ballpark has provided a safe haven for the Reds’ $200 million man as he is hitting .358 on the season with four home runs, eight runs batted in, .493 on base percentage and a .717 slugging percentage. However, the story away from GABP is radically different — he is batting .185 with zero home runs, two runs batted in, .349 on base percentage and a .200 slugging percentage.
Additionally, Votto’s ability to hit successfully when facing a pitcher’s count has faded as well. Facing an 0-2 count, Votto is batting .105. After a 1-2 count, he is batting .118. And he is batting .200 against a 2-2 count. Perhaps the most shocking statistic of all would be Votto’s average with runners in scoring position — .176 on the season.
Instead of throwing blame around the lineup, maybe it is time to look at the lack of production from the highest paid player on the team for a starting point on how to stabilize a struggling offense.