NEW YORK, NY - Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds follows through on a seventh inning base hit against the New York Mets at Citi Field. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Joey Votto was already one of the best players in baseball. But he's taken his game to a freaky place this year.
When there's a story with multiple updates here or on the main SB Nation page, we use something called StoryStream™ technology. It's a way to keep adding on to a story that hasn't ended yet -- if you look to your right, you'll see what StoryStream™ can do for you. In May and June, we wrote about Joey Votto being a freak -- whether he's hitting three home runs in a game or not hitting infield pop-ups.
These stories aren't over. Joey Votto is still a freak. Might as well give it the StoryStream™ treatment because he's just going to keep on being a freak.
The first update: Joey Votto almost hit another infield pop-up. There was an alert sent out on the Joey Votto Infield-Pop-Up Emergency-Broadcast System here, but it was a false alarm.
A pop-up caught by an infielder isn't necessarily an infield pop-up. The ball traveled to the outfield, and Votto still hasn't popped a ball into the infield since July, 2011. Close, but the streak stands.
The second update: Joey Votto is still hitting the absolute crap out of the ball, and he's still using a different plate approach than before.
Back in May, before Votto's three-homer game, the first baseman was still something of a curiosity. He was still hitting well, but he only had two home runs through the middle of May. Before the three-homer game, he wasn't a power hitter -- he was a walking machine. His on-base percentage was a league-leading .448, and even if he wasn't hitting home runs (his slugging percentage was under .500), he was still one of the most valuable hitters in baseball.
Including the three-homer game, he's now hit 11 home runs in his last 34 games. His line over that time, extending from May 13 to the present? .432/.523/.816. I promise that I will never use the adjective "bondsian" without just cause. But, c'mon. That last month-plus has been bondsian. And when we looked at his plate-discipline stats on FanGraphs over a month ago, there was a clear progression. Let's see if that's holding true into June.
Swings taken at pitches out of the strike zone
Swings taken at pitches inside the strike zone
Yep. Still the same trend. Joey Votto is swinging at fewer pitches overall, and he's chasing fewer pitches overall. Here's a better way to explain it:
Votto has entered the next stage of his career. He's floating around in space, like the starchild at the end of 2001.
Votto's agent: If you agree to these terms, my client has agreed to make the transformation from Joey Votto to Super Joey Votto.
Walt Jocketty: Uh, what's "Super Joey Votto"?
Votto's agent: Don't know. You'll just have to sign the contract to find out.
Joey Votto: /glares at Jocketty, holding his hand over a detonator-style plunger with a placard in front that reads "SUPER VOTTO"
Jocketty: I'll sign! I'll sign!
It's not like Votto was a particularly flawed player. He was already patient. He was already powerful. He was already an MVP, fer cryin' out loud. But now we're in Super Votto territory.
There are some caveats, like his batting average on balls in play (which is "yes"), but the plate discipline is legit. He's swinging at fewer pitches overall, and he's swinging at fewer pitches out of the strike zone. He is Super Votto. You can leave your garlands at his feet. He'll pick them up later.