DENVER -- Home run totals have jumped this season, with some hitters embracing the uppercut swing to get more launch angle on the ball. Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who entered Tuesday as the National League's co-leader in homers, with 24, has avoided the uppercut style, but he did make
DENVER -- Home run totals have jumped this season, with some hitters embracing the uppercut swing to get more launch angle on the ball. Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who entered Tuesday as the National League's co-leader in homers, with 24, has avoided the uppercut style, but he did make changes to his approach that added some power.
His homer total is a career high for before an All-Star break, surpassing the 22 he slugged during his MVP year, 2010. He hit 29 homers overall in 2016.
"I think it was a good thing going through the previous two years of struggles, especially last year. I think it challenged me to make changes to my game," Votto said on Tuesday afternoon. "I think you can see some of the changes, just if you look at some of the crude numbers. Hopefully, the changes can become sustainable. I've been doing it for a year. I'm not trying to be coy. I don't want to give away too much information, but I've definitely made changes to my style of hitting. I'm noticing the changes on the field, and certainly the results."
Of Votto's 24 homers entering Tuesday, a Major League-leading 17 of them traveled more than 400 feet.
According to Statcast™, Votto's launch angle on homers has dipped slightly, from 32 percent to 31 percent. His average exit velocity on homers was 101.9 mph in 2016, and it's 103 mph this season. He is squaring up and barreling the ball more often, and hitting the homers harder.
On this date last year, Votto had 20 barrels, with nine of them home runs. Entering play Tuesday he already has 31 barrels, with 21 of them going for homers.
Nineteen of Votto's homers this season have been hit 100-plus mph (79.2 percent). That equals the number he had for all of last year -- 19 of his 29 were 100-plus mph (65.5 percent).
During Monday's 5-3 loss to the Rockies, Votto slugged a 3-0 pitch from Jeff Hoffman over the wall in center field. The homer gave him 1,500 career hits, good for 10th in Reds history, but he didn't place much emphasis on the milestone.
"I don't want to dismiss any achievement or any step along the way. I'd like to play good, healthy baseball for the remainder of my career," he said. "I'd like to be able to play for a while. Hopefully, that's a step along the way."
Votto, 33, isn't optimistic that he will reach the more prestigious 3,000-hit club, despite being signed through 2023 with a club option for 2024.
"I think I walk too much. Just doing the math, I'd have to play until I'm 42 or 43 for that to even happen," he said. "As for getting older and having bigger goals and achievements, I definitely do not think of them."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.