CINCINNATI -- Joey Votto famously promised to buy Reds teammate Zack Cozart a pet donkey if he made the National League All-Star team this year. Leading all NL shortstops in Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot voting, Cozart is days away from making Votto pay up.Votto's 21st home run of the
CINCINNATI -- Joey Votto famously promised to buy Reds teammate Zack Cozart a pet donkey if he made the National League All-Star team this year. Leading all NL shortstops in Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot voting, Cozart is days away from making Votto pay up.
Votto's 21st home run of the season provided the go-ahead runs in the Reds' 8-6 win over the Brewers on Tuesday. It might be another sign that Votto should be given the chance to ride into Miami with Cozart on that burro.
"I voted for him. I don't do that, I'm not that [biased] guy. I vote for the guys that I think deserve it," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "The power is great. ... More walks (57) than strikeouts (37), really good defense. There are so many parts of his game that I'm impressed with and he continues to become a better and a more well-rounded player. But we get to see him every day so we're spoiled by that. I really think he's a very deserving candidate to make the team."
Votto had 703,832 votes as of Monday's final voting update, which was in fifth place among NL first basemen and more than one million votes behind the leader, Washington's Ryan Zimmerman. It would likely require a managers or players vote to get him on the team.
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Ranked sixth in the Majors in Wins Above Replacement -- according to Fangraphs -- and tied for second in the NL in home runs, Votto's 1.009 OPS is fourth in the NL overall with Paul Goldschmidt and Zimmerman in the top two spots, respectively. Overall, he's batting .304/.414/.594 with 21 homers and 55 RBIs in 76 games and he's hitting .360 over with seven homers his last 23 games.
On Tuesday against Brewers starter Junior Guerra in the fifth inning, Votto attacked a 2-0 pitch to snap a 5-5 tie after the Reds had blown a 4-0 lead earlier. The ball cleared the right-field fence and according to Statcast™, had a 106.2 mph exit velocity and traveled 406 feet.
"It was an off-speed pitch, splitter, and I happened to put a good swing on it," Votto said. "It's always great coming back. Losing stinks, and any time you don't lose that's a good thing. I like when we don't lose. Today was a good comeback."
The last time Votto had at least 20 homers before the All-Star break was in 2010, when he slugged 22 of his 37 for the season. That year, he went on to win NL Most Valuable Player honors. It was also the first year he was named to an All-Star team, and it came as the winner of the MLB.com Final Vote. Votto was elected as a starter in 2012 and '13 but the four-time All-Star has not been back since.
As the Reds' highest-paid player, Votto is often criticized for his stoic and steady approach to hitting and valuing advanced statistics. But he has given his detractors less to complain about this season.
"People just are like, 'Why doesn't he do this? Why doesn't he hit home runs? Why does he walk?' They don't understand the type of player he is and what he does for this team," Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton said. "He's the biggest part of our team, to be honest with you. He's one of those guys you see every day working, doing the same routine. It's great to be in the clubhouse with him because you know he'll set the tone for guys like us."
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.