Thursday, September 10, 2015

Marveling at Joey Votto's Second Half Surge


by: Jack Ward
Staff Writer

The Reds continue to fade right along. Now that they are firmly entrenched in last place all we have left now is to enjoy the great second half and overall season that Joey Votto is having. I guess Joey has proven all those wrong that wanted him to swing at more pitches and be more aggressive than previous two or three years. Remember the grief fans gave him then? How quickly we forget.

Two things by which Joey is vindicated .

One, those who thought he wasn’t really injured. Obviously based on his performance this year he was injured the past two years and it did affect his power and his swing. How embarrassed we must be. Yes I said “we” for I also had my doubts about Joey at the time. I hope he will forgive me and all of us. It’s Joey’s greatness that made us wonder how could he be so bad so fast? Well, we found out and to our shame he has embarrassed all of us who doubted him.

Number two, He has been vindicated of those who disagreed with his patience at the plate. Again, I was also guilty of this at the time. It would drive me crazy when he would let what I thought was a good pitch sail right on by. I have decided that we should let Joey be who he is and what he is. Votto is a guy who wants to hit his pitch not the pitchers pitch. Joey is a student of Ted Williams. Ted walked 100 plus times a season and Ted always preached “wait for your pitch, you will only get one per at bat maybe. And when you get it, hit it.” The Boston media was very hard on Ted because he was hard on himself and them. He was focused on hitting and pitching. How to hit those pitches and how those pitchers pitched. Joey is like that with the exception that he is very good with the media. But like Ted, Joey is a very, very focused hitter. He is very selective. But this is who he is, and let’s accept who is as a ball player. And he is a baseball player who is about as good a hitter as you will find in the world today.

Joey Votto, forgive us all and the next time you are in a slump we are going to say….”wait for your pitch you are not being selective enough.”

As happy as I am for Votto I am feeling the pain of Todd Frazier. No better person in baseball than Todd. No better third baseman. After a marvelous first half including that magical All Star home run hitting contest, he’s having a very tough second half. I know he hates losing more than anyone on the team and I think it’s getting to him. But listen he’s going to be okay. If he doesn’t hit another home run all season it’s all right. He’s still gotten better this year and he’s perfect for the Reds. What Todd will do is take what he’s learned from this season and it will make him better next year.

The Reds have to have more from Jay Bruce. He’s going to wind up with around 25 homers and 85 RBI and that’s a good season but he’s capable of so much more. He knows that. But is he ever going to be that consistent guy? A .230 average is much too low for someone with his talent. I’m a big Jay Bruce fan so I expect more from him next season.

By the way one closing thought…..all of the Reds have got to cut down on strike outs.

I never was a major leaguer but I played in an old independent baseball league as a young 15 year old teenager with adult men who were ten to twenty years older than me. I was not a great hitter but occasionally I hit with some power. My coach told me that all the teams thought I was an easy out. He would have me so fired up at the pitcher before a game that I couldn’t wait to get at him. I now know what he was doing. He was trying to get me mad at the pitcher. But it taught me that the better the pitcher the better I would focus. I convinced myself that the faster they threw the better I liked it. I’d be darned if I was going be an easy out and let them strike me out. It was pride and it worked.

It used to be a shame for batters to strike out. Now they swing and miss terribly and calmly stride toward the dugout. I would be so mad I would chew the bat in two if I were them. Get some pride guys. Get mad at the pitcher.

There’s not a player in major league baseball that needs to swing a hundred miles an hour to hit the ball out. It will go, if you hit it! But you’ve got to hit it first.

Until next week….

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