Votto proud of club on-base record, playing every day
CINCINNATI -- Some players say they aren't aware of their numbers, and if they are, some don't care. Reds first baseman Joey Votto fits neither of those categories.
Votto is keenly aware he avoids outs better than most and places a premium on it. He knew he was approaching Pete Rose's 1969 club record for reaching base in a season via a hit, walk or hit-by-pitch. With a pair of singles in Friday's 4-1 loss to the Pirates, Votto reached for the 311th and 312th time to break Rose's mark.
"I was really very excited and really happy about that achievement," Votto said Saturday morning. "It's a combination of playing every day, which is something Pete was very good at. I don't know if it's a skill or luck, a determination or personality trait, but whatever it was that helped him play every single day, he did that so consistently throughout his career. That was the first step. I played every day. The second was the ability to get on base, be competitive and not make outs. It's a difficult thing to do. To put that combination together, I'm very proud of it.
"This was a little different version of a baseball year for me offensively. But to have been rewarded with something like this, anytime you get mentioned with an all-time great like Pete Rose or Joe Morgan with the walks, I'm very proud of it, yes."
On Saturday, Votto added another Reds record. His first-inning walk gave him 133 for the season and moved him ahead of Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, who had 132 walks in 1975.
Votto might get some National League MVP Award votes, yet he has received criticism in some circles this season for not having more RBIs. He entered Saturday with 73 RBIs and 24 home runs. But he leads the NL in walks, intentional walks and on-base percentage and was fifth in total hits and runs scored and 10th in batting.
"I've been probably asked more about my failings than my successes this year, which is kind of frustrating," Votto said. "I think it's a two-headed monster -- it's the lack of RBIs and also being compared to my previous self. I can understand people's perspective. They hope for the best for me. They want me to play my very, very best for the ballclub."
Assuming he plays the regular-season finale on Sunday, Votto will have played in all 162 games this season. The last Reds player to do that was Aaron Boone in 2002. Votto was limited to 111 games last season after missing about six weeks in the summer to rehab from a pair of arthroscopic surgeries on his left knee. At times when manager Dusty Baker looked to give Votto a day off, he would ask to be kept in the lineup.
"Despite my performance at times this year, I'm very proud of playing every day," Votto said. "I had two surgeries and I played every single day. That's something I think I owed to the Reds fans, I owed to management and the people signing my checks. I think I owed it, most importantly, to my teammates. I think playing every day is a sign of health and what I'd like to be about as a player."