Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Comparing Joey and Ted

by: Jack Ward
Staff Writer

Joey Votto broke the Reds record for walks in a season with 136. That’s incredible if you really think about it. That takes amazing plate discipline, knowledge of the strike zone and pitch recognition.

Ted Williams, who as we have talked about as the one who Joey has studied intently, had remarkable vision. We have heard the stories of how well Ted could see the ball. He claimed he could read the trademark. (I guess he memorized it.) But his Base on Balls stats are incredible. Ted Williams had six seasons of 140 or more walks. He led the league in walks eight times. Yes, he had eight seasons that he did not walk one hundred times. Most of those where cut short by injury or the Korean War. Only in his second season did he play in more than 140 games and NOT walk one hundred times. He had two seasons that He walked 162 times, his career high.

The most interesting thing about Ted Williams is that he struck out over sixty times in a season only ONCE! He struck out 64 times in his rookie season. He next highest was 54 in his second season and 51 in his fourth season and never more than 47 times after that.

Joey Votto strikes out a fair bit for a guy with such a good eye and that’s a bit confusing. But think about it…..he gets to face all those left on left matchups from the middle of the game on which is very tough. He may strike out a fare amount, but I will still take his production any time. Joey is what he is. His career high in strikeouts is 138 in 2013. This year he has 119 K’s. He is safe as far as setting a new career high in striking out. So 125 K’s a year is not that bad for an everyday first baseman who bats left handed in this day and age of dominate young arms.

Here is an odd stat concerning Joey Votto…..with four hit by pitches, Joey has gone 259 at bats this season without putting the ball in play. That’s almost half a season!

Let’s be honest, Ted Williams never had to face the arms that Joey Votto has faced. Players today get six innings from the starter and then they have to face 95 plus heat and back breaking off speed pitches the rest of the game. How would Ted have fared against Aroldis Chapman? Well, Joey doesn’t have to face him either, but the point is, baseball has become more specialized and the pitchers have inhuman like arms.

I’m sure Ted Williams would have been a lot like Albert Pujols. Albert hit for fairly high average and never struck out a hundred times. In fact Albert has never had more than 76 strikeouts in a season since his rookie year when he had 93. Albert could have been Ted Williams except for the bases on balls. Albert doesn’t walk much. He’s has had only three seasons over one hundred walks. He walked about 80 times a season with the Cardinals. With the Angels his walks have really dropped to about fifty a season.

Ted probably would have stuck out 80-90 times in a season principally because there no way with the lefty on lefty matchups late the game that he is going to keep from getting rung up, good eye or not. But it’s the walks that have set Ted apart from Albert.

Votto has a .959 ops a .423 on base percentage and .536 slugging percentage for his career. Ted Williams had a 1.116 ops, .482 OBP and .634 slugging percentage for his career. That’s why he’s in the hall of fame. And Joey can get there also in my opinion if he has about five or six more years like this year. But he’s already 32.

Ted Williams played until he was 42. From the age of 33 til he retired he batted .340 with only one season with an on base percentage of less than .450. That bodes well for Joey Votto, guys with good plate discipline and pitch recognition can be productive for a long time.

Useless tidbit. We know that Ted William was the last man to bat over .400. In 1941 he batted .406. But did you know that Ted Williams batted over .400 two other times? He hit .400 in 1952 when he went four for ten in six games before he joined the Korean War. And He hit .407 with 37 hits in 110 at bats in 37 games when he returned from Korea in 1953.

Until next week,

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