Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bryan Price wants more runs batted in from Joey Votto

Since making his major league debut in 2007, Joey Votto has posted a career line of .314/.419/.541, which is tops in the entire league save from Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera over that span.

As productive as Votto has been, critics have pointed out his low RBI totals over the past two seasons, 56 in 2012 and 73 in 2013, as extreme cause for concern. Of course, part of the reason for Votto's lack of RBI is the fact that he draws more walks than any player, thus essentially taking the bat right out of his hands.

Although opinions on Votto's approach are split, new Reds skipper Bryan Price told reporters at this week's winter meetings in Florida that he would like to see Votto be slightly more aggressive, and ultimately drive in more runs.

"What we hope is, he's able to take more advantage of those 'cripple counts' where he's in a good count and maybe not be quite as selective in that situation," Price said. "Still trying to hit strikes but ... there were some times when maybe he got deeper into the at-bat but maybe he had some pitches to hit (that he didn't swing at). In the end, he did have a phenomenal year.

"He is conscientious that one of his responsibilities will be to drive in runs. We've got to present him with those opportunities. I think we'll see some differences between 2013 and 2014."

Price isn't the only one in the organization who has expressed such a sentiment. General manager Walt Jocketty has previously been quoted in saying that he hopes Votto becomes more aggressive next year, too. But asking a successful hitter to change their approach at the dish is most likely a double-edged sword. Because hitting is so mental, and because Votto is often labeled as a cerebral player, the Canadian native may be more inclined to do things he's not necessarily comfortable with. Namely, swinging at pitches he knows all too well are bad pitches to hit.

Here's a thought: Perhaps Votto isn't the problem in the batting order. Perhaps he has been the target of criticism due to Cincinnati's inability to boast a formidable cleanup hitter. If the Reds had a more dependable run-producing bat slotted behind him, Votto's propensity for milking a walk rather than trying desperately to drive in runs wouldn't be an issue. Again, just a thought.

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