Cincinnati Reds fans on social media are fond of cheering the slugging exploits of their veteran first baseman, Joey Votto, with the expression “Joey Votto still bangs.” Votto, in his age 37 season, still has one of the best batting eyes in MLB, but his power numbers dropped off after the 2017 season. After hitting 36 bombs on a slugging percentage of .578 that year, he has not finished a season with a slugging percentage over .500.
In July 2021, Votto seems to have found the Fountain of Youth that has returned him to his 2010 MVP form. He has even told teammate Kyle Farmer that his goal for 2021 is to win another MVP award. Votto finished the month of July with a line of .319/.440/.734 and a wRC+ of 197, earning him National League Player of the Month honors. Reds fans were thrilled by his historic performance in the team’s series against the Chicago Cubs from July 26-29. Votto’s six bombs and 10 RBI tied fellow Cubs nemeses José Abreu and Matt Carpenter for most home runs by a visitor at Wrigley Field. Abreu’s came in three games in his 2020 MVP season, and Carpenter’s came in a five-game set in 2018 infamous to Cubs fans.
Votto finished the month with a seven-game home run streak and his hard-hit single at Citi Field came within inches of tying the MLB record home run streak of eight games held by Dale Long, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey Jr.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) August 1, 2021
While Votto’s average and on-base percentage have slid since his hot July, he is still slugging a respectable .481 with two dingers over his last seven games. His season batting line is .273/.364/.556.
A glance at Votto’s ratio batting statistics shows he is banging home runs at a career-high rate of 6.8% as of this writing. His previous best home run rate was 5.7% in his MVP year. The six-time All-Star is also striking out at the highest rate of his career, 23.0%, but this could be due to a home run-focused approach, as told to Bobby Nightengale.
Was it difficult not to try to hit homers?
“Oh, I’m trying to homer,” Votto deadpanned. “That’s the difference. I’ve been trying to homer.”
If he finishes the season healthy and makes 600 plate appearances with a 6.0% home run rate, Votto is on track to hit 36 bombs, one off of his high-water mark of 37 in 2010, tying his 2017 performance. A rate of 6.5% over 600 PAs would push him to 39 dingers. Maintaining a 6.8% rate over the same number of PAs would give him 40 home runs, an impressive performance for a man in the latter stage of his career.
The Reds are currently 5.0 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central Division and 2.5 games behind the San Diego Padres in the race for the second NL Wild Card spot. Will Votto’s late-career heroics push Cincy into the playoffs? This is certainly the kind of narrative baseball writers would find compelling when considering MVP candidates.
Featured Image: Joey Votto, first baseman for the Cincinnati Reds, batting at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, USA on May 30, 2018, by Keeton Gale / Shutterstock.com.