Hitting 'easy' again for Votto
Revitalized veteran even considering playing in Winter Leagues
MIAMI -- Joey Votto is enjoying a bounce-back season and the Reds are the beneficiaries as they continue to soar towards a potential playoff berth in the National League.
Votto hit a career-low .226 in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. He knew things had to change.
“Tank, be terrible; there’s no better way to make an adjustment than hitting rock bottom, which I did last year," said Votto, prior to Saturday’s game with the Marlins.
Votto returned to a style of hitting that made him successful in his late teens and early 20s. Whipping the bat through the zone has improved his exit velocity and made stepping up to the plate fun again.
“I’ve always had that, I just didn’t use it,” Votto added. “Normally, I would be [among the league leaders] in walks, on-base percentage, I punted on that. I went back to my original style. It’s paid off, fortunately.”
For the first time in his career, Votto has hit 28 homers within his first 100 games and is on pace to finish with 34 homers and 102 RBIs.
Technically, the slide started in 2018 when Votto’s batting average went from .320 to .286, but there really was nowhere to go but down. However, it continued in 2019 when he posted a .261 average. Votto said that was his worst season.
“I was starting to get the sense that I was fatiguing on the style of play that I had been running with over the last 10 years,” he said. “It was really exhausting and I wasn’t having very much fun at the plate. I wasn’t having much fun in my practice work.”
It’s all different now and Votto said that he is locked in on performing well and helping the Reds win.
“I feel like I’ve rediscovered how to hit,” he said. “It’s been a joy. There’s nothing more fun than standing at the plate and hitting the ball really hard, see the ball go over the fence. It’s really a satisfying feeling. It always makes you feel like you’re doing your job.
“Hitting is easy for me again. From at-bat to at-bat, there’s more ease to it. Hitting is very challenging, you never get it solved. But I feel like there’s a lightness to it. I look forward to my next at-bat. I look forward to the next good pitch I’m going to drive into some part of the park. I look forward to batting practice. I look forward to practice work. “
Votto said he feels so good right now that he’s even considering playing in the Winter Leagues.
“I kind of want to go play in the Caribbean Series to be honest,” he said. “I’m not even kidding about that. It’s a good feeling to be able to just finally play an easier style. I’m bouncing back and I’m putting last year in the rearview mirror.”