But so what if his power numbers are a bit down (though based on games played, he’s still on pace for around 30 home runs this year)? The guy is batting close to .330 and has walked a league-leading 47 times in 273 plate appearances, making his on-base percentage a league-leading .451.
What else do you want him to do?
He’s always on base, which has helped his teammate Brandon Phillips drive in the second most runs in the NL behind only Paul Goldschmidt.
Unfortunately, the sexy statistics like home runs and RBIs usually drive the MVP talk. That’s why Alex Rodriguez was able to win the AL MVP in 2003 with 47 home runs and 118 RBIs for a last-place team.
The team finished last with A-Rod; it could have just as easily finished last without him, meaning he really wasn’t all that valuable to his team.
As for this year’s Reds, Votto has been extremely valuable. The Reds are playing great baseball and are right in the mix for the division lead in the NL Central. They’ll almost certainly be fighting for either a division crown or wild card berth come September.
Some have said that Votto should be hitting more home runs since he’s a No. 3 hitter and plays in a bandbox at Great American Ballpark.
First off, No. 3 hitters do not necessary have to be power hitters. Look at Tony Gwynn, who hit for a very high average and let the guys behind him drive in the runs. So far that strategy has worked out well for Votto, as he’s tied for the NL lead with Matt Carpenter with 47 runs scored.
And as for the ballpark, routine fly balls that shouldn’t be home runs leave the yard at Great American. That benefits a deep fly ball hitter -- like Adam Dunn when he played for the Reds -- but a line-drive machine like Votto doesn’t hit fly balls or pop-ups. He sprays line drives all over the field rather than worrying about his home run numbers.
Votto is currently leading the All-Star voting for NL first baseman, so at least the majority of the fans understand that it’s not all about home runs or RBIs.
His RBIs will come. When you’re that good of a hitter -- and a clutch hitter like Votto is -- you’ll drive in your share of runs. Who is going to argue if he finishes the year batting .320-.330 with 20-25 homers and 100 RBI, all while sporting a league-leading on-base percentage?
The thing about Votto is that he likely doesn’t even care about this controversy over his lack of power hitting. He seems like the type of guy who is just focused on winning ballgames not matter how it’s done.
The Reds are winning right now, and it’s been Votto’s line-drive hitting and ability to get on base, rather than his power numbers, that has played a role in the team’s success.