Votto is humble. So humble that he hesitates to talk about himself. Joey is very respectful of the game, very honorable. He is also an exceptionally clean living man. He takes care of himself. He often says, "Baseball is just my job." And he treats it as such, preparing meticulously, taking pride in his work, harboring ambition while avoiding office politics.
Growing up in hockey-loving Canada, Joey said, "I just didn't want to play hockey in youth leagues or high school growing up. I wanted to play only baseball. My Dad got me started in the game, and I haven't stopped playing since." He never even got the hang of skating. He tells about going to a rink as a teenager for a first date with a new girlfriend. "When she saw what a disaster I was on the ice, she dumped me," Joey said.
Votto's parents, Joseph and Wendy, owned a restaurant. And when it went bust, the family struggled. Eventually, Joseph got a job as a chef at a Toronto yacht club. And Wendy became a wine steward.
He is a hard working, self-motivated player. He studies the game, reads books about improving his skills, and applies the knowledge.
Even as a youth, Votto devoted reading time to books and other information that would help make him a better ballplayer. To this day, he works on all aspects of the game with diligence.
Joey even claims to never watch ESPN or read articles about himself. He values daily improvement, hard work, and diligence in approaching his craft.
"It's better for him that way," shortstop Orlando Cabrera said. "He is eventually going to get his side of the pie, there's no doubt in my mind. He just does his thing. He works hard, and he does have high expectations for himself."
As a teenager, Joey was given Ted Williams' book, The Science of Hitting and was fascinated by the single-minded challenge of solving a pitcher's intent. It fit an introvert like him.
Joey has always been infatuated with the legend and lore of Ted Williams, having read every book by him and perhaps most every book about Teddy Ballgame. "When I was younger, he was like a super-hero to me. I studied what he would do about his eyes, the way he acted, the way he sacrificed four years of his life to go to war..."
In 2003, Votto led the Pioneer League with a .452 on-base percentage.
In 2004, Baseball America rated Joey as the #5 prospect in the Reds' organization. Before 2005 spring camps opened, the magazine announced Votto had moved up to 4th-best prospect in the Cincinnati system.
But during the off-season before 2006 camps opened, Baseball America had Joey moved down to 9th-best prospect in the Reds' organization. Then, in the spring of 2007, Baseball America moved Votto back up to #3 in the Cincy farm system. And in the spring of 2008, they again had him at third best prospect in the Reds organization.
One aspect of his game that has never been questioned is his desire. Considered a coach's dream, Votto is a tireless worker who aims to improve in every aspect of the game. Votto spent hours each day throughout high school working on his game in an indoor facility just outside of Toronto. He is still one of the first guys to the ballpark, and one of the last to leave.
After the 2005 season, Votto played for Canada at the World Cup Games.
Joey says his favorite meal is pizza. And his favorite TV show is "Seinfeld." Favorite actors: Russell Crowe and Tom Hanks. For music, Votto likes Hip-Hop.
The person in history he'd most like to meet? Ted Williams.
Joey says he learned more about the game from Scott Rolen than anyone else.
Votto says the sign of success is: Happiness
Favorite sports team (other than baseball): Los Angeles Lakers.
Votto's first car was a beat-up Plymouth Sundance. "It was a mess. Dents all over. Couldn't open one of the doors. It was a special car," Joey said.
In 2006, Votto not only led the Southern League in doubles (46), but he also tied with Seth Smith of the Tulsa Drillers for most doubles in all of Minor League Baseball for the season.
Joey won league MVP honors after leading the SL in batting (.319), on-base percentage (.408), slugging (.547), runs (85), hits (162), doubles (46, tying for tops in the minors), and extra-base hits (70).
In 2007, Votto was the International League Rookie of the Year while with the Louisville Bats. He ranked fourth in the loop in home runs (22), second in RBIs (92), and he has compiled a 42-game on-base streak.
August 9, 2008: Votto was on the bereavement list for the passing of his father Joe. "He watched every game," Joey said. "It was part of his routine. He was a hard worker, too—one of those guys who did it every single day, then came home looking forward to watching my game (with the Reds)."
Votto's father was a chef for a retirement home, worked 9-to-5, but made sure he got back to his suburban Toronto home in time to watch the Reds.
In 2009, Votto finished a distant second to Cubs catcher Geovany Soto in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. Joey received the only first-place vote that Soto didn't receive.
Early in the 2010 season, Joey got a new roommate when he obtained a black Labrador retriever puppy from a shelter and named him Maris, after Roger Maris, the man who hit 61 home runs in 1961 for the Yankees, breaking Babe Ruth's record.
During the 2010 season, Joey got a dog. And he loves that dog.
In 2010, Votto was the landslide winner of the NL MVP. He received 31 of the 32 first-place votes.
In 2011, Chris Singleton (ESPN'S Baseball Tonight) said that Votto is probably the most intense player in the NL.
During the offseason, Votto likes to spend the month of October doing a lot of fun activities, "such as bike rides, Rollerblades, tennis with a buddy," he says. Then, starting in November, he starts more serious workouts.
"I try to strengthen my hands all the time," Joey said. "I have exercise balls, rice, weights. I want to feel strong when I hold the bat, like I'm in total control."
Two of Joey's hobbies are learning to speak French and Spanish.
Before 2012 spring training, Joey hired a private tutor to teach him Spanish, then backed that up with additional sessions on the Rosetta Stone program. Votto came to the realization that if he wanted to form better relationships—on and off the field—with all of his teammates, then he would have to close the communication gap between himself and players whose first language is Spanish.
He felt it was wrong that he couldn't communicate with Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, for example. Joey learned French as a kid and felt there were enough similarities between it and Spanish so that he could grasp it quickly. Votto even challenged Chapman to a duel: He would speak Spanish better than Aroldis could speak English.
Votto is pretty quiet and stays mostly to himself. But he can be funny once he gets to know you.
In 2013, an act of kindness by Votto gave a dying man, and Reds fan, a final thrill. Jeff Crews, who was from Centerville, Ohio, near Dayton, had terminal brain cancer and was invited by Votto to the Reds' July 2 game vs. the Giants. The entire family was given field passes to watch batting practice and meet Votto and some of the team. Votto chatted with Crews and gave him one of his bats.
"Jeff literally had to hold his chin up because it kept falling down in disbelief at what we were experiencing," the Crews' family blog said. "Dusty Baker came over for autographs and a picture, as well as Todd Frazier. Then the moment came when Joey walked over to meet us. Joey Votto couldn't have been a nicer, more humble, and down to earth guy."
Crews and his family watched the game in seats behind the Reds dugout. It was the game when Homer Bailey threw his no-hitter. Crews and his wife happened to be in Pittsburgh for their anniversary and watched Bailey throw his first no-hitter vs. the Pirates last season.
On July 4, just two days after his time with Votto, Jeff passed away.
"He was so lucid when I was talking with him that when I had heard he died two days after, it was a bit of a surprise to me," Votto said. "He was really fantastic to talk to, a very nice man and his family. It just seemed like a normal meeting. They were happy to come to the ballpark, happy to watch the game, happy to meet me, happy to watch batting practice. Homer threw a no-hitter. I'm grateful and very humbled to have been a part of that." (Sheldon -mlb.com - 7/09/13)
In June 2009, Votto revealed publicly that he was battling depression and crippling anxiety that surfaced several months after the sudden death of his 52-year-old father, Joseph.
Joey suffered from panic attacks that led to two hospital stays. He rebounded in 2010 to win the National League MVP award.
In 2013, citing his own bouts with panic attacks and depression, the Reds star launched the Joey Votto Foundation. The Foundation supports the healing of service members, veterans and military families affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the Greater Cincinnati and Toronto areas.
Walk-Up Music: Votto strolls out to The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black,” which is what pitchers have to do if they want to avoid getting crushed.
Joey is generally known for being serious and straight-laced, but the Reds first baseman showed his sense of humor when he did a TV interview with MLB Network's "Intentional Talk" show—dressed in a Canadian Mountie uniform and hat.
For Votto, who hails from Toronto, it was a fun shot at revenge for something that co-hosts Chris Rose and Kevin Millar did to him on a show during Spring Training. "They photo-shopped me in a Mountie outfit [with Bret Michaels]," Votto said.
Votto's face was deadpan throughout most of the interview as Rose and Millar did not know what was coming and ad-libbed questions throughout. Votto, the serious Mountie, talked about being part of "the red surge" and proudly mentioned that he rides his horse named "Nibbles" to the ballpark every day.
"I think it's fun to do stuff like that," Votto said. "Kevin is a really fun guy to chat with. Chris is also. Hopefully they liked that." Reds teammates watching the show on clubhouse televisions were laughing out loud.
"He was straight-facing Millar and Rose like that. I don't know how you can't smile with those two. He can be at the top of the general's list if he wanted to," Reds third baseman Todd Frazier said. "That's what we like. That's what we need more of." (Sheldon - mlb.com - 4/8/14)
Spring 2015: The Reds and Blue Jays played a couple of exhibition games in Montreal. Votto made a point of saying "Bonjour Montreal" to greet his French-speaking Canadian fans.
Votto made his Reds debut in 2007, so he never had the opportunity to play a Major League Baseball game against the Expos in Montreal. The Toronto native said he did play a few games at Olympic Stadium as a member of a traveling team.
"It brings back a lot of good memories. I'm really, really excited to be here," Votto said. "I feel like any time I cross the border I feel like I'm home, and that includes Montreal."
Votto said that when he arrived in Montreal, he could feel the energy in the city from the anticipation of two-game series between the Reds and the Blue Jays.
"I think myself and the team are excited to play in front of a packed crowd," Votto said. "I think it's more of a reflection on the fans and the interest in watching a couple of baseball games than it is the teams included, but I'm very proud to be here and to be playing in a stadium that has some much interest, that is so willing to fill up a stadium. So myself and my teammates, and I'm sure the Blue Jays feel the same way."
Montreal Expos right fielder Larry Walker was a Canadian player who Votto singled out as a particular influence on him, beginning a line of succession that also included Justin Morneau and Russell Martin.
"Larry was a big influence on all Canadian players, and you hand that off to guys like Justin and Russell and Ryan Dempster, and it continues," Votto said.
Reds manager Bryan Price made his first trip to Olympic Stadium, but was well-versed on Expos lore.
"I'm a baseball fan and have been for many, many years so I'm certainly aware of Rusty Staub, and Steve Rogers, and the great team they had in 1994 before the strike. And the fact that, when I was a minor league player, I don't think any team was putting out more credible big leaguers through their system than Montreal," Price said. "They had a great system in place, they were developing big leaguers and they had some of the better teams over the course of the 1980s and early 1990s. So being able to come in here and see the facility and get a chance to see what the environment's like here with the people of Montreal is pretty fun for me." (S Farrell - MLB.com - April 3, 2015)
May 8, 2015; Votto received a one-game suspension for bumping an umpire during an argument.
September 11, 2015: Votto received a two-game suspension and an undisclosed fine from Major League Baseball for what was termed "inappropriate actions" after his ejection by home-plate umpire Bill Welke during the September 9 game against the Pirates.
In an impassioned retort to the development, Votto announced his intention to appeal the suspension levied by Joe Garagiola, Jr., MLB's senior vice president of standards and on-field operations.
"In this instance, I disagree with the suspension. I disagree with the ejection," Votto said. "At no point did I misbehave before the ejection. At no point was I disrespectful. On many occasions … there was politeness on the field. I went over and above to be respectful and unfortunately, I'm put in a situation where I now have to defend myself publicly."
During the eighth inning of a 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh, Votto took a 1-1 pitch for a called strike by Welke. He asked for timeout and it was denied. When he turned to manager Bryan Price in the dugout to appeal, Welke ejected Votto. (M Sheldon - MLB.com - September 11, 2015)
During a drill at Reds 2016 Spring Training camp called "27 outs," the team needed a runner on first base to start the play. Any Minor Leaguer or rookie could have done it, but it was team star Joey Votto who grabbed his helmet and jogged to the base.
A few observers this spring have anecdotally mentioned that Votto is often among the last off the field during workouts.
"I haven't done it intentionally," Votto said. "I was doing the same thing when my leadership was questioned before."
Votto has taken some hits in the media over the years for not being a vocal clubhouse leader. He has cringed in the past when players toss around the leadership word and announce that they will be team leaders. As far as Votto is concerned, leadership doesn't work that way. He generally aims to set a high standard on the field and be a good example. That could be even more important in 2016 since the Reds are rebuilding and feature a slew of new, young players.
"2015 was a very humbling experience, an embarrassing experience," Votto said. "I think we've realized that we can go in two directions. One being that we're the kind of organization that's a walk-all-over team, a team that is just a stepping stone for other organizations towards the playoffs and World Series. Or we're not going to say, 'We're bad,' and be embarrassed by that and do our very best to be as competitive as possible."
Though the Reds finished last in the NL Central in 2015, Votto was third in the NL MVP balloting. (Sheldon - MLB.com - 3/10/16)
Votto rarely lets outsiders delve into matters concerning his hitting approach. His thoughts inside the batters' box are his alone. Therefore, what the Reds' first baseman was doing in the box in the sixth inning vs. the Dodgers in Spring Training 2016 will remain a mystery.
"I'm not being coy," Votto said. "I'd just rather not get into it. Nothing good can come out of it for me."
Between pitches in the sixth, Votto didn't step out of the box, but placed his bat between his legs, the bottom on the ground and the handle around his belt, and bent over with his hands on his knees. Since the game was televised by the Dodgers, it drew the attention of their broadcasters while photos and video clips went viral among fans on social media. Votto finished the plate appearance with a line single to center field.
"Clearly we need a regular-season game," Votto said. "Holy cow, we need to play some baseball. This is just ridiculous. And I've done that before, during a regular-season game. And it must have been on TV. And someone must have taken notice that wants to say something about it." (Sheldon - MLB.com - 3/29/16)
May 7, 2016: Neither Joey Votto nor Brandon Phillips could remember much about their first game together with the Reds. It’s likely they didn’t know at the time they’d be in for such a long partnership.
On May 7, the pair made their 1,000th start as a tandem for the Reds, the longest active pairing between a first and second baseman in baseball and eighth-longest in baseball history. It was also Phillips’ 1,500th career game with Cincinnati. (Zach Buchanan - enquirer.com )
Dec 2, 2016: Joey certainly gets it. As long as he keeps producing while signed to a monster contract for a small-market club, his name will come up in trade rumors and trade suggestions each offseason. But Votto's feelings, and the club's, don't follow the narrative. He has no interest in waiving the full no-trade clause in his contract and going to another team.
"I do understand why there is a conversation. It's interesting," Votto said as the team gathered for Redsfest. "After a while, you get used to it. You don't pay much attention to it because if they're going to [report rumors] five years in a row, then at some point there's not much meaning to it."
Votto, 33, has 7 guaranteed years and $179 million left on the 10-year extension he signed in 2012. There is a $20 million team option for the 2024 season.
"I'm looking forward to the team getting better," Votto said. "I'm looking forward to being a part of it. I know I have to do everything I can to be a better all-around player so I can keep up with the rest of the guys on the team. Watching both the Indians and the Cubs compete in the World Series this year, you saw almost every different aspect of what makes winning baseball happen.
"I felt like there are parts of my game, specifically, that I was coming up a bit short on. I'm looking forward to playing with 25 guys that can bring a championship back to Cincinnati. The three playoff experiences that I've had were short-lived and disappointing. I'd like another go here." (M Sheldon - MLB.com - Dec 2, 2016)
December 2016: Votto committed to play for Canada in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Already known for gifting donkeys to teammates and baseballs to the often-ignored upper decks, Votto made a young fan's day during the Reds' 7-2 victory over the Mets.
Before coming to bat in the bottom of the 7th, Votto pointed to Walter—also known as Superbubz—a young fan sitting in the front row that is stricken with a rare disease known as neuroblastoma. After Votto homered, he came around and high-fived Walter before giving him his bat.
Before the game was over, Votto also changed into a new uniform top and gave Walter his game-used jersey, too. Naturally, No. 19 is Walter's favorite player, too.
After learning that Walter's parents said that the gift meant the world to the young boy, Votto told a reporter, "That's all that matters." (Clair & Fay - mlb.com - 8/31/17)
Oct 12, 2017: Six-year-old Walter "Superbubz" Herbert's smile and upbeat attitude during his cancer battle was one that had an entire city cheering and rallying for him—including Joey Votto.
Herbert died on Oct. 6 after two years of battling neuroblastoma. According to WLWT-TV, Votto was among the hundreds of mourners who paid his respects to the family during a visitation. A family friend told the TV news station that Votto refused an offer to move to the front of the long line and waited his turn. He also brought flowers for Herbert's parents.
On Aug. 31, Votto connected with Herbert when he was at Great American Ball Park with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. When Votto hit a home run vs. the Mets, Herbert was sitting in the front row of seats next to the Reds' dugout. Votto made the little boy's day by high-fiving him and handing him his bat. After the game, he took his No. 19 jersey off of his back and gave it to Herbert.
The Reds later invited Herbert back to the ballpark for another game to be an honorary team captain. His pediatric cancer had reached Stage 4 when it returned in the spring following a period of remission.
The young boy also had dreams realized by getting to spend time with the Cincinnati Bengals, FC Cincinnati soccer and the Colerain High School football team. Although his parents said their son was in pain throughout, his smile touched everyone. That smile was on big display as well on Aug. 31, when Herbert was wearing Votto's jersey and holding his bat after the game.(M Sheldon - MLB.com - Oct 14, 2017)
Nov. 17, 2017: Votto won the MLB Best Player-Fan Interaction Award for that moment.
2017 season: Votto arguably had the finest season of his 10-year career. Votto, 34, batted .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBIs, 106 runs scored, 134 walks and a 1.032 OPS. He reached base 321 times and logged 7.5 wins above replacement. He led the Majors in on-base percentage, walks and times on base, and led the NL in OPS. His Major League-leading walks-to-strikeouts ratio was 1.61.
In advanced statistics like weighted runs created plus (wRC+), which calculates runs created and adjusts for ballpark factors, Votto was tops in the NL at 165. In weighted on-base average (wOBA), a version of on-base percentage that accounts for how a player reached base, Votto was also tops at .425.
Votto was named the Reds' finalist for the Hank Aaron Award, clubbing 36 home runs and hitting .320 in his fifth All-Star season in one of the achievements that Votto was most proud of, he started all 162 games of the season.
"I will say, playing every day adds a degree of difficulty and playing for a non-contending team adds another degree of difficulty," Votto said. "Playing those extra innings … can be a bit of a challenge. Obviously, not ducking any starting pitching can be a bit of a challenge for bullpens or pitching staffs in general. Playing, ideally, every moment of every inning. I'm not going to toot my own horn—I enjoy playing every day. I like attempting to get better and I don't feel like you can get better without playing. However, they are challenges and at times they can hinder top-end performance."
In all of 2017, there were only 12 games in which Votto did not reach base. He had three streaks where he reached safely in 32, 29, and 27 consecutive games. In August, he equaled the NL record reaching safely at least twice in 20-straight games, one shy of Ted Williams' 1948 modern Major League record. Votto also placed second in the MVP voting.
Dec. 12, 2017: Votto was named as the 2017 winner of the Lou Marsh Award for being Canada's most outstanding athlete of the year. The 34-year-old, who also won the this award in 2010, is only the third baseball player to earn it and the only two-time winner among baseball players.
Dec. 26, 2017: Votto, the 34-year-old first baseman for the Reds, was voted the Postmedia Male Athlete of the Year after a season in which he lost the NL MVP to Giancarlo Stanton in the closest vote for that award since 1979.
March 23, 2018: Because he's been in the Major Leagues for 10 years and doesn't seek attention while performing at a very high rate, fans could be vulnerable to taking Joey Votto for granted. Don't. There aren't many players around like the Reds first baseman, who is getting better with age. What do teammates appreciate most when watching Votto?
"Other than the fact that he's arguably the best hitter in the game right now?" said pitcher Homer Bailey, the only Reds player with more tenure than Votto.
Votto, 34, is coming off of the best season of his career in 2017. But he finished two points shy of Giancarlo Stanton from winning his second NL MVP. The season before that, Votto was the first player to hit better than .400 in the second half since Ichiro Suzuki in 2004. "Seeing him go about his work every day—offensively and defensively and baserunning—it's just impressive," said young Reds outfielder Jesse Winker, a left-handed hitter like Votto.
It wasn't all that long ago that Votto was criticized by some for walking too much. Those concerns have been all but drowned out. His discipline hasn't waned—he struck out only 83 times last season. Votto knows the strike zone as well as anyone, and he keeps his approach the same.
"Against lefthanded pitching, righthanded pitching, velocity pitching, guys that throw more breaking balls and changeup, pitchers that pitch him inside, outside, up-and-down, he gets the barrel of the bat on the ball as well as anybody I have seen with great consistency," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Over his career, Votto is a .313/.428/.541 hitter with 1,586 hits, 257 home runs and 830 RBIs. It's unlikely he'll reach the once-coveted benchmarks of 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, but Votto could redefine the modern evaluation of a Hall of Fame career. Teammates definitely notice that diligence. Reliever Jared Hughes faced Votto as a division rival with the Pirates and Brewers. Now he gets to watch up close what it takes for Votto to be Votto.
"Oh my goodness," Hughes said. "He comes here every day, it's almost like you know where he's going to be and what time he's going to be there. I feel like it's every morning at 7:45, he's going to be in the weight room doing his exercises and getting ready to go hit. It's nonstop greatness." (M Sheldon - MLB.com - March 23, 2018)
Before April 12, 2018's series opener vs. the Cardinals, the last time someone not named Joey Votto started at first base for the Reds was Ivan De Jesus Jr. It was Sept. 2, 2016, also vs. St. Louis. A streak of 202 starts and games played, including all 162 games of 2017, came to an end when Votto was given a day off from Cincinnati's starting lineup. It was not for health reasons, but to give him a rare break. Adam Duvall, normally the Reds' left fielder, started at first base in place of Votto.
"We talked about it in Spring Training 2018," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "There's certainly a point in time when we've got to look at some scheduled days off. I talked to him about it and decided this would be a good one. It's something moving forward that he'd have access to like the rest of our players. He's our most established player. He's our oldest regular. I've asked a lot of him." (Sheldon - mlb.com - 4/12/18)
July 2018: Votto was selected to play reserve in the MLB All-Star game.
Joey had another delightful interview with MLB Network, talking about hitting and how he actually checks Baseball Savant to see what kind of year he's having. The former MVP has become a must-listen nearly every time he's around a microphone.
And at the end of the interview, Votto gave us a look into what he'd like to do with his life post-baseball. No, he doesn't want to be a hitting coach or a broadcaster or a Canadian Mountie, he wants to serve his community as a school bus driver.
He plans to retire at age 40 or 41; from that age until he dies, he wants to drive a "yellow bus." Or he wants to be a crossing guard so, you know, he can show the kids how and when to walk. (Monagan - mlb.com - 7/24/18)
Aug 10, 2018: Whether he's doing something on the field, answering a question off the field or in making most decisions, it's very likely that Joey Votto has put in a lot of thought before acting. Votto's choice for a Players' Weekend nickname underscored that again. He chose to put In Flanders Fields above his No. 19. It's the title of a 1915 Canadian poem written by a military doctor named John McCrae during World War I.
"I thought about this last year," said Votto, a native of Toronto. "Last year being the first year we did Players' Weekend, I didn't realize the freedom we had. I just felt like last year, I had fun with it, but this year, I wanted to do something that had more meaning." The poem reads as follows:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow. Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky. The larks, still bravely singing, fly. Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago. We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie in Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw. The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die. We shall not sleep, though poppies grow, In Flanders fields. (M Sheldon - MLB.com - Aug 10, 2018)
Dec 5, 2018: For Cincinnati Fire Department Station 19, a typical day is usually rather exciting considering it's one of the city's busiest firehouses. But when Joey Votto walked into the firehouse, it's safe to say the firefighters were thrilled to finally meet the Reds first baseman who wears their station number on his jersey. Votto was invited to the fire station to sign the door of the No. 19 firetruck that was recently retired.
"In July of 2017, we got a new pumper truck and they were going to take the old truck and basically scrap it," said firefighter Eric Monahan. "We asked if we could keep the door and hopefully get Joey to sign it." Votto agreed to visit and meet with the firefighters while he was in Cincinnati for Redsfest. He spent about 30 minutes at the firehouse meeting the firefighters, taking photos and signing the No. 19 firetruck.
"It means the world to us to have Joey want to stop here to meet us and sign our truck," said Monahan. "To actually want to spend time with us and connect with us is an awesome sign of respect. It was such an honor to meet him and see first-hand how nice and humble of a guy he is."
Before leaving the firehouse, Votto was given a Cincinnati Fire Department hat, shirt and sweatshirt. He wore the CFD hat at Redsfest. Votto is not the first Reds player to add his signature to a Cincinnati firetruck. Johnny Bench signed the door of the Engine 5 firetruck when he was the Grand Marshal of the 2010 Findlay Market Opening Day Parade. That door now hangs on the wall at Station 5.
In 2014, Joe Morgan continued the tradition and signed the Engine 8 firetruck at the parade. There is a strong history between the Reds and the Cincinnati Fire Department, which was established in 1853 as the first professional and fully paid fire department in the United States.
"We've had a great partnership with the Reds considering that they're the first professional baseball team and we're the first professional fire department," said Matt Alter, president of the Cincinnati Fire Fighters Union Local 48. "Going back 100 years, Engine 5 has been the leader of the Opening Day Parade every year, even when it was horse and buggy and a steam pumper. The history with the Cincinnati Fire Department and the Reds is as old as both of our organizations." (M Anderson - MLB.com - Dec 5, 2018)
2018: Votto had the highest current WAR (58.8) of any Reds player.
May 2019: In a recent sit-down with MLB.com at Citi Field, Votto discussed a wide range of topics.
MLB.com: You talk about how this Reds team can be in the mix. Do you think it can challenge for the division title?
Votto: I think this team, come September, is going to be in the mix for a playoff spot and then, from there, who knows?
MLB.com: Talk about some of those young guys that are on the team. Who has impressed you?
Votto: We have lot of guys. We are watching Jesse Winker become a Major League player. We are watching Michael Lorenzen, who is an extremely versatile player. We are going to have some guys called up that will be able to show themselves. It’s an exciting time.
MLB.com: Mets manager Mickey Callaway said that Winker is possibly the Reds’ best hitter. Do you agree with that assessment, and why?
Votto: He has played very, very well this year. We are going to need him to perform excellently to be competitive this year.
MLB.com: Nick Senzel was called up. How excited are you to see another young buck come here and challenge?
Votto: Very exciting. I hope he plays well and helps our team win. It’s an important time to make sure we get back up to .500 and move on from there.
MLB.com: You have five more years left in your contract. How much do you have left in the tank?
Votto: I think as long as I feel I’m having a good time, as I feel that I’ve performed at a level that is acceptable and fun, I’ll keep playing for as long as I can. It’s kind of TBD.
MLB.com: You are off to a slow start. How do you think you are doing?
Votto: I’m leading off. It’s a bit of a challenge to have a lot of RBIs. But I’ve never been one to chase that. There is a lot of season to go.
MLB.com: What do you want to accomplish during the rest of your career? What’s ahead?
Votto: I would like to get to 2,000 games played. Maybe get up to 2,500 games played. I would like to enjoy myself for the rest of my career.
MLB.com: Are you enjoying yourself?
Votto: I have been. There have been stretches where it has been challenging, but I think every player has that. It has never taken away from my appreciation of having the opportunity to play, to be able to compete. Most importantly, during that next stretch of ball, I would really like us to be a competitive team. I would really like to finish my career by being part of a world championship team for the city of Cincinnati.
MLB.com: Have you enjoyed yourself overall in your career?
Votto: Very much so. I enjoy the combination of challenges, overcoming challenges. I enjoy playing and hanging out with guys and getting to know new people. I’ve learned Spanish. My career has been very rewarding in my life.
MLB.com: How proud are you that you speak Spanish?
Votto: I found it was a necessity to get to know my teammates.
MLB.com: What about the World Series?
Votto: I would like to win a championship or two before my career is done. There would be no better way to give back to a city that has been so good to me.
MLB.com: In 2012, you signed a long-term deal to remain in Cincinnati. What does the city mean to you?
Votto: It’s very close to my heart. I love everything about it. Every time we go home, I’m excited. It has been a very good city to me. I’m proud of the uniform I wear. You can’t get me to say a bad word about it.
MLB.com: What is it about Cincinnati that you love?
Votto: First of all, it’s the only thing I know. It feels like home. I love the fans. I love the city and how they respond to a winning club. They love baseball—first and foremost. I’m hopeful we are giving that back to them in the near future.
MLB.com: You were born in Canada. Did you ever think you would love a city like Cincinnati?
Votto: When I was drafted and signed by the Reds, the second I arrived in Sarasota, Florida, and started rookie ball, I felt at home. This is what I wanted to do. I’m very fortunate.
MLB.com: I want to talk about Canada. You have the Toronto Blue Jays. Do you think Canada will have another team?
Votto: It could. It depends if the market demands it. It’s really tough to open up in a new city with a new stadium and not have enough support. I don’t think MLB wants to do that. I, as a player, don’t think I want to go to a city and play somewhere that has limited support. I think … baseball does its very best to make sure that there is a long-term, lasting future in any city it selects. (B Ladson - MLB.com - May 7, 2019)
“My name is Joey, uh, Joey Votto, 6-2, Richview Collegiate High School in Toronto, Canada, third base.”
That’s how Joey Votto introduced himself in the opening seconds of a video featuring the future Reds superstar first baseman for a draft showcase event at Fort Myers, Fla., in 2001. Votto was not yet a can’t-miss prospect. In fact, there weren’t many teams following the Canadian teenager as he prepared himself for the 2002 MLB draft. The Yankees were one of the interested organizations, but the Reds ultimately selected Votto with their second-round pick, 44th overall.
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
It’s the World Wood Bat Association Championship in Jupiter, Fla., a showcase tournament that helps many get seen by professional scouts and college coaches. Played on the fields of the Marlins’ and Cardinals’ shared Spring Training complex, hundreds of scouts and players are there, including Votto.
Kasey McKeon, Reds scouting director (son of Jack McKeon, now with the Nationals): My nephew was playing in [the showcase]. I wanted to see him play a couple of games, so one morning, I went over to watch him play. I saw Joey playing third base for this team. I’m watching my nephew but at a game, you’re always watching everybody. I kept watching him each time he came up to bat. I said, "This is interesting."
Paul Pierson, Reds scouting assistant (now assistant scouting director): I was a very young scout at the time when I first saw him at the tournament. He had a very good feel to hit. For a young kid, he already knew the strike zone. What you see in the big leagues is almost how he hit as a youngster. That’s very rare in the young high school hitters we see.
McKeon, scouting director: Later that afternoon, I think they played again so I kind of snuck over to watch him for a couple of more at-bats. Then the next day, I went to see my nephew play again and I called [Reds national scout] John Castleberry. I said, "I want you to come see this kid with me." At that time, when we brought John in, he was doing a little bit of everything. He didn’t particularly have a national title. But he was a floater. We didn’t have a Canadian guy. I figured if anyone would have a chance to cross-check this guy, I’d let John do it.
John Castleberry, Reds national scout (now a Giants cross-checker): So I’m jogging down there as fast as I can get there. Joey gets up and just smokes a ball to right field. It was just a great swing. I’m looking at Kasey and Kasey stares back at me. He says, "Let’s go." I said, "Dude, I’ve got to stay and watch this guy for a little bit and get a feel." He looks at me and goes, "No, we’re going to get this kid." Obviously, he saw a couple of more swings than I did. I said, "Don’t you think I should see a couple of more swings from the kid since I’ve got Canada?" He says, "No, don’t worry about it. We’re on it." So, we turned around and walked away because he didn’t want to tip his hand to anybody that he was on this kid.
McKeon, scouting director: Nobody was there watching him. You never heard the kid’s name. So, I knew I’d take him. I just didn’t know where, when or how.
Joey Votto: I was never really a highly-touted prospect. I didn’t get to face enough [top] guys to get an idea of where I stood. I remember thinking I was probably going to somewhere in the 10th or 20th round a month or two weeks before the Draft [and thought], "OK, that’s pretty good." If they had offered me $100,000 or $150,000, I would have been in shock and would have accepted that for sure.
THE PROCESS GETS UNCONVENTIONAL
Most teams have a usual structure to how they go about scouting players. An area scout sees a player and relays it to a cros-checker, who covers a larger region. The cross-checker decides if the player is worth going to see, and if the player is worthy, they will tell the scouting director or another front office executive if they need to come see him. But in Votto’s case, the scouting director was the first among the Reds to get eyes on him. And McKeon wasn’t just worried about other teams getting wise to Votto. He was worried about his own team’s executives.
McKeon, scouting director: There had been rumors of people on the staff who had leaked stuff or at least told their buddies who eventually told someone else and someone else. In our industry, these guys get on airplanes and start talking, whether it’s on purpose or not. If they say, "Hey, I’m going to Toronto to see this kid." Then people start thinking, "Why are they going to Toronto?" I had our guys just kind of keep everything under the radar.
Castleberry, national scout: We didn’t have a lot of money [to spend on Draft bonuses]. And every time we had a name, the Milwaukee Brewers would be on the same guy. We had a guy in the administration who was tight with Milwaukee. He would give the names of who we were looking at, all the time. That guy is no longer in the game.
Pierson, scouting assistant: Kasey put me in charge of organizing—making sure we had medical information, psychological tests and the things we need to do on top of the evaluation. Being young, I didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t think my role was significant, but it was nice to get some communication with the players and actually see them, too.
Castleberry, national scout: I kept bringing up Votto’s name. "When do you want me to see Joey?" [McKeon] just kept telling me to wait. I got a little nervous. We’ve got to get him in. I’ve got Canada and need to see this guy.
McKeon, scouting director: Finally, in late April or early May, I decided we would have John [Castleberry] run up there and go see him in Canada. John went up and got rained out and maybe watched him hit in the cages and that was it and talked to him.
Castleberry, national scout: It rained that day and they had kind of a warehouse with two cages and just had the workout there. At the time, a lot of the guys there didn’t know me. I had Canada, but I didn’t know many of the Canadian scouts. As I get there, I’m kind of in the back and he’s hitting in the far cage. I’m standing in the back and watching him hit in the cage. I literally put my hand over my mouth and went, "Oh my God." There was so much anger and violence in the swing. I mean that in a good way, not a bad way. He was ripping the net, literally, off the wires. I was in awe and shock of how good the swing was and how hard it was and how the ball came off the bat. I had a great talk with him. I loved him. I thought he was a great kid. It still amazes me of how much history he knew about the game. It was mind-boggling to me how brilliant he was about the game.
I call Kasey and said, "I’m going to write a report on this and I’m just letting you know it’s off cage work, but it was unbelievable." Now as the year kind of progresses, we’re getting near the end and I said, "Kasey, we’ve got to see this guy in a game."
Votto: I didn’t think very much of me as a player. The idea of people even talking about me, let alone having some sort of secrecy to it, even now to this day I am pretty honored by that.
Jim Bowden, Reds general manager (now an analyst for The Athletic): There were not necessarily leaks in the front office that were a problem on specific issues like this. But certainly, the scouting industry was well known for sharing information while scouting amateur players with each other, even when working for different teams. So often times if a scout discovered a player, there was a "fraternity" of sharing the information. However, in a case like this, the scouts have to alert the front office of a player of Votto’s magnitude, so the player can be cross-checked properly against other first-round talents. So for an employee to go against club policy, it's definitely a fireable offense, as is sharing confidential information with other teams.
A SECRET TRIP TO TORONTO
High school baseball isn’t prevalent in Canada, as it is in the United States, so Votto played for a town club called the Etobicoke Rangers. It was run by Bob Smyth, whom Votto credits for being a big help on his path toward professional baseball.
As the Draft neared, Castleberry finally got his wish to get himself and McKeon’s most trusted Reds scouts—Johnny Almaraz, Jeff Barton and Bill Scherrer—to an Etobicoke game in Toronto. Still concerned about people getting a scent on Votto, both outside and inside the organization, McKeon hatched a plan as he and the others convened to scout the Mid-American Conference Tournament in Bowling Green, Ohio.
McKeon, scouting director: When we got there and watched [eventual No. 1 overall pick Bryan Bullington] in the morning, I already had John waiting in Toronto because I had already decided I was going to let these guys come with me to Toronto to watch Joey. They didn’t know anything at the time and all of a sudden, I said, "Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to Detroit and will jump on a plane. Castleberry has got a van and he’s waiting for us, and then we’ll go see this kid hit."
Castleberry, national scout: I grab a van and go to the Toronto airport, pick up the other yahoos and we go to watch him in a game.
Bill Scherrer, East Coast cross-checker: When we all walked into that ballpark, there was a guy named Ridley who worked for Toronto. He was full-time and smoked more than I did. The more he smoked, the more I laughed because he was behind a tree and must have been calling [his bosses].
Votto: It was a step above a house league or high school ball. And high school and local ball was very, very modest. Everyone was throwing from 70 mph and if you saw a guy throwing 78 mph, you’d think, "Aw man, he’s throwing really hard." I hit really well, but against really poor competition.
McKeon, scouting director: We got there, and I didn’t want us walking in at the same time, so we separated and walked in different directions. Somebody walked around right field, somebody came in from left field. I wanted to find out who was there seeing this guy. At the time, all we could figure out was one local guy from Toronto and that was it. We knew then it was kind of going to set some alarms off for some teams. We came to find out there were only a couple of teams that were even in on him.
Castleberry, national scout: You can imagine an area scout looking at [Votto] and nobody is on his level. He is on his phone throughout the game and pacing. He doesn’t know what to do. The Yankees' area scout was there. Before the game, this pitcher is warming up. [Reds scout] Jeff Barton goes, "We’ve got to decoy these guys somehow and act like we’re looking at a pitcher." Jeff asked me if I had my radar gun and I did. The guy was warming up and looked real loose with good arm work and was 6-foot-2 or 3, [Barton said], "Let’s act like we’re watching this pitcher." We act like we’re writing notes. We pull out the gun and the guy is throwing 77 mph. Jeff looks at me and I look at Jeff and we both start laughing. This isn’t going to work.
Scherrer, East Coast cross-checker: Thank God the gun registered. Sometimes it won’t register if you throw too slow. I’m sitting there watching this kid and see [Votto’s coach, Smyth], who is a very intelligent baseball guy, and he said, "So you think they’re going to buy that you’re watching that kid pitch?"
We thought Votto was going to be a catcher, but I can attest there were really a lot of limited things. There were a lot of guys who didn’t even have him on their Draft list. They had hard time putting paper on him. Let’s put it into perspective. He can’t run. He really isn’t a very good defensive player, a Canadian kid who plays with an aluminum bat. You’re taking a gamble on a one-dimensional guy in a cold-climate area with a lack of competition.
McKeon, scouting director: Almaraz was one of my most real good confidants at that point. I pulled Johnny off to the side and said, "Johnny, nobody is talking about this kid. Are we wrong here?" There’s a lot of smart people in our industry and I said, "He’s better than all of these guys." Johnny said, "Yup, he sure is. To me, he’s right up there with [Adam] Dunn," and Johnny signed Dunn. I got that reassurance. Then I really knew I was going to take him, but I started thinking, "I need to take him a little higher."
Scherrer, East Coast cross-checker: Nobody thought he was going to be this true power-power bat. There is no way you could have watched that guy in Toronto and let Castleberry or Kasey see him only twice to determine that he goes in the second round. It’s almost unfathomable. To be perfectly frank, if you asked me would I have taken him in the second round on what I saw? Absolutely not. I don’t have enough cigarettes and Budweiser to take that Draft [pick]. There’s no way.
VOTTO VISITS CINCY
McKeon and Castleberry wanted to have Votto come to Cincinnati a few weeks later to put him through a pre-Draft workout with other potential candidates. There were a couple of problems. Votto was going to Los Angeles to work out for the Angels and was scheduled to hit in front of the Yankees the day after McKeon wanted Reds executives to see him.
McKeon, scouting director: I was going to have a tough time drafting this kid if nobody had seen him. None of Bowden’s guys had seen this guy. So, I invited him down to the stadium. He said, "I can’t. New York is flying me to Columbus for a workout." I said, "When are you going?" He said, "Thursday." I said, "I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you just call them and tell them you’re coming in Wednesday and they can pick you up at our stadium?" And he did it. He made a flight into Cincinnati and we worked him out on that Wednesday.
Castleberry, national scout: We get him in. We’re in the stadium and Johnny Bench was there. Ken Griffey Jr. was there because he’s on the DL. Even though I was a national guy and you have a guy like this and it’s your territory, you really get nervous when they’re working out. Number one, you wonder if they’re not going to perform like they should. And number two, they might do something stupid. They’re kids.
Votto: Johnny Bench was there, and I was throwing to bases. He was very supportive and gave me tips. I think, pretty clearly, I wasn’t a catcher but I had an OK arm. I had a pretty accurate arm but was probably one of those guys you wouldn’t be excited about, long-term. It was an honor to meet him. I knew he was a great player but only now do I realize how special he was, historically.
Scherrer, East Coast cross-checker: When he went to the workout, he was destroying the ball. He was hitting bullets into the right-field seats and obviously got the attention of everybody.
McKeon, scouting director: Farm director Tim Naehring had some relievers, they were working out some staff fillers to send out [to play for our Minor League affiliates]. So we had a couple of guys come in and throw live BP to him. He put on a show, or at least several of us there thought he put on a show.
Bowden, general manager: Great scouting by the Reds' amateur scouts finding him, but if he hadn't been brought to the workout, he would have never been drafted by us. Because we didn't know him until that weekend before the Draft, which was a clear failure of the system by a rogue scout.
Castleberry, national scout: He’s taking BP and he’s hitting rocket after rocket after rocket. Ken Griffey Jr. is standing there, looking at him. Johnny Bench was there. He said, "Mr. Bench, it’s nice meeting you." Very, very polite and respectful. But in the middle of a swing, he says, "Hey Junior, who’s this?" And he imitates Junior with the bat. "How does this look?" It’s great, but I just think, "Oh my God, oh my God."
Votto: We were taking batting practice and I think I was pretty nervous. Sometimes when I get nervous, I’ll get a little show-boaty. [Griffey] was there and I’m like, "Oh my God, I’ve played his video game, he was a favorite player of mine." He’s obviously an iconic player in baseball with an iconic baseball stance and swing. He walked up and I did the Griffey sort of bat waggle and I tried to start hitting home runs like him just to let people know, "Hey, here’s how good I am. I can do what I want and when I want." I said, "Hey guys, who’s this?" or something along those lines. And the very first ball I hit was a ground ball. A scout says, "Well, he sure as [expletive] doesn’t do that!" Once you hit a ground ball, that’s over and you can’t keep it going. So, I started hitting regularly. I think Griffey may have laughed at me but in a friendly sort of way.
Castleberry, national scout: They bring in a Minor League guy who was released and trying to hook up. He threw one 90-91 and Votto smokes one. Paul [Pierson] says it was in the upper deck. I don’t remember it going to the upper deck. But it sounded different and came off the bat different.
Votto: Top draft prospect Chris Gruler threw. . . and a couple of other guys. And they were throwing 88-97 mph. I’m there hitting against these hard throwers. I remember walking against Chris Gruler. People thought, "Ooh, he’s got a good eye." But really, I couldn’t hit his fastball. I could not keep up with how fast he was throwing. He was throwing so hard and his breaking ball was so sharp. His changeup was good. He was showing off and I ended up getting a walk. There was a right-handed pitcher that came in and was pretty much throwing fastball-changeup, and he threw fastballs by me. Then he threw a changeup and I hit a ball into the second deck at Cinergy Field. And everything kind of went silent. I remember thinking to myself, "Yes, nice work! Wow, this is the best." Everyone else, maybe they were impressed. It was a nice, clean pull homer.
What’s funny was I hit the home run, but it was a byproduct of playing in local ball and only hitting 78 mph fastballs and not being able to keep up with a true Major League fastball. So, I tricked them. I didn’t intentionally trick them but my skill level at that time was not worthy. I feel pretty strongly that it gave me a pretty good chance of playing for the Reds. That was a big moment for me.
McKeon, scouting director: We had a meeting and people started asking Jim [Bowden], "Why we weren’t told about this guy? How come we didn’t see this guy?" That kind of led to my demise.
Bowden, general manager: He was by far the best bat we saw that day at the workout and looked like a first-round pick. I was upset because there was not a scouting report submitted on him as a top hitter. The scout who brought him into the stadium claimed that he was concerned our cross-checkers would leak to other teams how good he was or just their presence scouting him would bring too much attention.
With its first-round pick, No. 3 overall, Cincinnati took Gruler out of Liberty High School in Brentwood, Calif., even though McKeon wanted to take lefty pitcher Scott Kazmir, who fell to the Mets. He said he was overruled during the pre-draft meetings. Because of injuries, Gruler would never get above the Class A level and was out of baseball four years later. The Mets infamously traded Kazmir, who had a 12-year Major League career, to the Devil Rays for Victor Zambrano at the 2004 Trade Deadline.
With a supplemental first-round pick, Cincinnati took third baseman Mark Schramek out of the University of Texas. McKeon says he wanted to take future All-Star catcher Brian McCann with the second-round pick. Unlike most organizations, the Reds' baseball operations annual budgets weren’t separated between the big league club, player development and amateur scouting. If the Major League team spent money to acquire a player, funds were often taken from the draft budget. That's why McKeon got some news he didn’t want to hear ahead of the 2002 draft.
McKeon, scouting director: [Bowden] told us we were taking Gruler, which wasn’t exactly our No. 1 guy if we had a choice. Fine. Then he told us he’s taking $1 million out of the budget. All right, now we have to start working on some things. That’s when we decided we’re taking Joey and had to move him up. McCann was out and Votto was in because I knew I could move up and cut a better deal with him. At the time, nobody was talking about him. Nobody knew where he would go. I had to find a way to save some money, so I could pay anybody else in our draft.
Bowden, general manager: During my tenure with the Reds under both Marge Schott and later John Allen, the budgets were always a moving target based on revenues, ticket sales, MLB shares, etc. Often times, Draft budgets were changed right up to Draft day.
McKeon, scouting director: So, I get on the phone and call Joey and say, "There’s a chance we’re going to take you. Do you think we could get something done for this number here?" He said, "Yeah." Then we went from there. Joey called back and said the Yankees came calling and wanted to take him with the 71st pick. And they were going to give him X amount of dollars. I said, "If we come in there with the same number, you’ll get it done?" I could have held my ground. I said, "I’ll do that, that’s fair enough to you." We were already getting him for less than the value was. He knew that.
Votto: I thought there was a pretty strong chance I would get drafted by the Yankees. They were at almost all of my games and chatted with a lot of their scouts. I didn’t really have much interaction with the Reds' scouts aside from the pro day. Then the Reds kind of snuck up and drafted me in the second round.
[Editor’s note: The Yankees took Brandon Weeden with the 71st pick. He was traded a couple of times and peaked at Class A Advanced in 2006 with the Royals. He ended up going back to school to be the quarterback at Oklahoma State and was a first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2012. He would play in parts of five NFL seasons.]
Bowden, general manager: The strategy worked out because, like Adam Dunn, we got him in the second round despite him being a clear first-round bat talent.
With the second-round pick of Votto made, McKeon still wasn’t feeling 100 percent comfortable because the deal still had to be closed with a signed contract. He found out the Yankees scout was in Votto’s house waiting to sign him if he fell to that team. The Reds told the Votto family to show the scout the door. Votto didn’t have a ton of leverage, but he had an oral commitment to play for Coastal Carolina University. He also didn’t have an agent yet, but was being assisted by a family friend.
Votto: I had a modest upbringing. There was a massive difference between American and Canadian dollars. It would have made it very difficult for me to go to Coastal unless they give me nearly a 100 percent scholarship. They gave me about 99 percent of the money for a scholarship.
McKeon, scouting director: I took John [Castleberry] right after the Draft and sent him to Toronto because I knew if this agent showed up, it was going to ruin everything for us.
Castleberry, national scout: He says, "You’ve got to get up there, because once his name goes off, the agents start swarming." This guy was not projected to go anywhere in this range. He was predicted to go in the seventh round on the top end and maybe down to 12. Johnny [Almaraz] says, "You need to get up there and get him signed." I’ve never done it before. It’s the first time, even for me. I literally fly up that night, land, check in at the hotel and try to call the Vottos.
Kasey gives me $500,000 and says, "See if you can get him for $500,000." We drafted him higher than he would’ve gone. We’re still offering him more money than he would have gotten. So, I go in the house and use that approach.
Votto: When they drafted me, they offered $525,000 and it was probably about $300,000-400,000, below the slot. They informed me that they would have not picked me if they thought I wouldn’t sign for that number. And I held out a little bit. You can’t really wait for three hours and really call it a holdout, right? So I signed for $600,000 and got a little bit more school money, which was good. At the time, the Canadian dollar was at like 60 cents on the American dollar. So, I was a millionaire from my perspective. My family, we were middle class and that was an incredible amount of money at that time and an amazing amount to get as an 18-year-old. It was impossible for me to say no. I really, desperately wanted to play professional baseball. It felt right for me and what I always wanted to do.
Castleberry, national scout: After we agree, it was a relief and all kind of smiling. I had to write the contract up and that takes time. It’s about midnight and Joey is asleep on the couch. I’m talking to the parents and finishing the contract. We signed it around 1-1:30 in the morning. We have to wake Joey up. The parents sign the contract. They were all excited and happy. It was really cool.
After signing, Votto went to the Reds’ Gulf Coast League Rookie-level affiliate, where he slashed.269/.342/.531. He continued to rake at every level along the way. But some of the people responsible for drafting him would not be around before his first pro season ended.
McKeon, scouting director: I was re-assigned, or promoted, according to Jim [Bowden], back to being a pro guy or special assistant or whatever you want to call it. I obviously at the time reluctantly accepted it but over the course of the next month or so, I chose to employ myself somewhere else.
Castleberry, national scout: I got fired in July.
Bowden, general manager: We knew Votto could really hit, knew he had a chance to win a batting title someday. We didn't know he'd be an MVP, but I'll never forget calling our development people and Minor League manager and telling them to scrap his catching and let him play first base to just hit, because I said he'd get to the big leagues a lot quicker at first base. It was too much work to make him an adequate defensive catcher, and we couldn't waste his impact bat in the Majors. I got a lot of pushback at the time, a lot of thank-you's years later.
Votto lived up to expectations with the bat and surpassed them defensively at first base. I love Joey. I never thought when I left Cincinnati 16 years ago that he'd still be playing. Congrats to him on what has been a Hall of Fame-worthy consideration run.
Castleberry, national scout: You just don’t get a chance to sign many players like Joey. Kasey [McKeon] gets the majority of the credit. I hope I get part of the credit for getting him signed and being part of the process. But Kasey was the first guy to identify him and I guess work the whole system the way he needed to with that crew. It’s mind-boggling to look back on it how we did it.
Pierson, scouting assistant: That’s not normal practice to do it the way Kasey wanted to do it. But I think he felt that in order to get the player, it was the route he had to take. Unfortunately, he knew there was going to be some fallout. But I guess if you’re going to lose your job, but get Joey Votto, you’re going to feel OK.
Scherrer, East Coast cross-checker: At least it gives us good satisfaction that in the last Draft we all had together, we got Joey Votto.
McKeon, scouting director: I’m unbelievably proud of him. What can you not say about the guy? He stayed out of trouble. I think he’s represented the city unbelievably. He’ll end up in the Reds Hall of Fame. Hopefully he puts together a couple of more good years and gets to the big Hall of Fame. I’m tickled to death for what Joey has done and for what he means to the organization and the leadership there. (M Sheldon - MLB.com - June 11, 2019)
Sept 25, 2019: As the Brewers clinched a postseason berth in front of the Reds on Wednesday with a 9-2 victory at Great American Ball Park, it was a sad reminder for first baseman Joey Votto that he would be spending another October idle from baseball’s biggest and best time of the year. Votto didn’t mince words about his frustration with 2019, voicing his disappointment about a sixth consecutive losing season for the only club that he’s ever played for since he made his debut in ‘07.
“We absolutely have to be a better team for the city, for the fan base. We can't keep talking about next year, next year, next year,” Votto said before the game against the Brewers. “It's unacceptable.”
Votto saved his most pointed comments for himself, however, and assumed blame for his own shortcomings. He vowed to continue battling for improvement and hasn’t reached the point of considering walking away into retirement.
“This year is an awful year for me,” Votto said. “I have lots of moments where I think about making bold claims and bold decisions. I like a challenge. I always believe in myself. Personally, my performance this year, I really feel like it's just not good enough. I didn't help the team enough this year. There were long stretches where I was a liability in important parts of the season. ... for sure, the worst year of my career.”
“I don’t think I would have fun coming out and just collecting paychecks and facing favorable matchups and taking more days off. I just don’t think that would resonate with me. I’ve been speaking to some former superstar-caliber players that have finished their career and was just getting feedback from them and taking inspiration from them. I feel like they can relate a lot to my experience because in the heart of their careers, they had downturns and they made the adjustment and flourished at the end. They’re my inspiration, and from their perspective, they’re watching their careers firsthand and reliving their own experiences through me. It’s interesting.”
Votto also doesn’t want to do what many championship-starved players in all sports have done for generations by moving to a different team ready-made to contend for a World Series title. He has a full no-trade clause in the 10-year extension he signed before the 2012 season.
“Winning a World Series really isn’t as much of a priority for me in another uniform,” Votto said. “I don’t think it would be as satisfying. It wouldn’t be mine, if that makes sense, joining a club that is on the precipice of winning a World Series. It just wouldn’t feel like I was very much really a part of it. These six straight years, it’s almost like it’ll make winning a World Series in this uniform, in this city, that much more satisfying.
"I was driving to work today and drove through The Banks [downtown neighborhood] and I thought about winning a World Series. I thought about getting on the mic and telling everybody, ‘Drinks are on me. Everybody meet me at so-and-so.’ I don’t know. It’s the sort of thing that you can tell a story with.” (M Sheldon - MLB.com - Sept 25, 2019)
Jan. 3, 2020: Reds first baseman Joey Votto and Yankees lefthander James Paxton were named the Canadian hitter and pitcher of the decade by the Canadian Baseball Network.
Votto, of Toronto, batted .306 and recorded 1,532 hits in 1,411 games between 2010 and 2019. The slugger also hit 327 doubles, belted 231 home runs and scored 847 runs over the last 10 years while leading the National League in on-base percentage seven times.
(Spring 2020) At some point in 2019, José Iglesias got on Joey's routine. As far as routines go, it is not the easiest to adhere to. A known perfectionist, the Reds slugger has long held the reputation as one of baseball’s most tireless workers, famous for his marathon cage sessions and attention to detail.
“That’s where my attachment to him stemmed from,” Iglesias said in the Orioles clubhouse. “His preparation is sharp. The way he carries himself, the way he works out, the way he goes about the way he treats people. That’s what got me. How professional he is, how hungry and how loyal he is to his work.”
Joey is definitely different,” Iglesias said. “The things he taught me the most was how to be a leader, how to work hard, and you really respect how he stays so hungry. That definitely got me. When you are young, you don’t work as smart or with the same intensity. I understand things today that I didn’t when I was 20.”
“Being a leader on the field, it’s a big responsibility that I’m willing and excited to do,” Iglesias said in the 2019 offseason. “It’s my time now, and I’m excited about the challenge of making my new teammates better.”
That, in a nutshell, is what Iglesias says Votto taught him. Though the truth is, they “talked about everything,” from hitting to training to nutrition, the latter a hot topic in their text chain these days. Votto’s latest tip?
“Watermelons are better for hydration than bananas,” Iglesias said. “Watermelon is the key! He said if you hydrate, the ball will carry more. So I’ve been chugging water the last two days.”
Whether it was fruit, the friendly confines of Great American Ball Park or sharing a lineup with Votto, the ball carried for Iglesias in 2019 like never before. He had arguably his best offensive season in Cincinnati, hitting .288 with a .724 OPS and career highs in hits (145), homers (11), RBI (59) and total bases (205).
“Joey is always looking at research, looking at what’s next and how he can make himself better,” Iglesias said. “We were always talking about how when you play baseball, you don’t want to go home with anything left in the tank. I want to give everything we have each and every day, until the last day we get the chance to put on this uniform. I am not going to go home saying I didn’t give 100 percent to this game. That was the best lesson he gave me.” (Trezza - mlb.com - 2/24/2020)
Entering the 2020 season, Votto is the WAR leader for the Reds.
To date, he’s played in over 1,700 career games and stepped in the batter’s box over 7,300 times. And if you trust wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created +, a metric that judges a player’s offense against the rest of the league while adjusting for park), a grand total of 6 of those 1,265 players have been better offensively than Votto in that time.
Yup, 6 players across 28 seasons. That’s it.
Votto’s 151 wRC+ is tied with Seattle legend Edgar Martinez, just a fraction behind the 152 mark owned by both Frank Thomas and Aaron Judge. At 153 sits the inimitable Manny Ramirez. And Mike Trout (172), Mark McGwire (174), and Bonds (a ridiculous 188) sit atop that elite offensive leaderboard.
When you dive deep into conversations about Votto’s excellence, it’s this kind of breakdown that largely fuels those of his most ardent supporters. His detractors will look to his RBI totals, his lack of 40 dinger seasons, and his proclivity of taking walks. What Votto has done better than just 6 players in nearly 3 full decades, though, is both a) refuse to make outs in a game where outs determine games, not clocks, and b) turn the few opportunities he gets within the strike zone into some of the absolute most devastating offensive production of his era. (Wick Terrell - Apr. 1, 2020)
2020 Season: To say Votto has his detractors among a small but loud group in Reds Country is being kind. The handful within this bunch seemed to take bizarre pleasure when he was benched by manager David Bell last August. What those same detractors refuse to acknowledge is there is still some magic within Joseph Daniel Votto.
Joey Votto was the Reds best player after his benching last season.
Following his three-game sabbatical, Votto returned to the lineup on August 29. And he was easily the team’s best offensive player and was instrumental in leading the club to their first postseason appearance since the 2013 season.
Over the final 29 games of the season or nearly half of the abbreviated 60-game schedule, Votto’s eight home runs equaled Eugenio Suárez’s team-lead. However, the resurgence in power was just the harbinger of an excellent final month.
Additionally, the greatest first baseman in Reds history led the team in runs scored, slugging percentage, and tied Shogo Akiyama for top honors in fWAR. Next, his Off (Offensive Runs Above Average) mark of 6.2, according to FanGraphs, was the second-highest total in the NL Central over the final 29 games, only eclipsed by Pirates rookie Ke’Bryan Hayes.
Needless to say, this hardly appears to be a player at the end of his career. Those who wish to see Votto moved down in the order would be an incredible disservice to the Reds lineup. Votto is still well above the league average in reaching base.
His .354 OBP in 2020 easily outdistances the .325 NL average rate. Also, Votto’s .800 OPS dwarves the NL league average .746 mark. (Scott Boyken - Mar. 8, 2021)
April 16, 2021: When Joey sat in the chair for his media session following a 10-3 Reds win over Cleveland, he looked more like he came off the football field. After all, Votto was wearing a football jersey.
“This is Kyle Farmer’s high school jersey. He was a quarterback in high school. I’m proud to wear it and represent my teammate,” Votto said. “This is his high school jersey, same number, same everything. Shout out to Marist High School for sending me this and Kyle Farmer for letting me represent the glory days.” Farmer, the Reds’ utility player, was indeed the quarterback at Marist, in Atlanta.
“He was telling me he could throw a football through those mountains over there when we were in Arizona, so shout out to Kyle Farmer and Marist High School,” added Votto, who was 2-for-4 with a two-run home run and a double vs. Cleveland.
What Votto did not know was that Farmer was an extra in the 2009 film, “The Blind Side,” starring Sandra Bullock. In a pivotal scene, Farmer played a quarterback during a practice and needed to be protected by lineman Michael Oher.
“He was a quarterback? In a movie? OK, we’ll have to get another jersey,” Votto said after being told that tidbit. The Reds might be representing with other jerseys after victories in the future, Votto hinted.
“This is not my idea, but I think it’s more of a team thing,” he said. “We’ll see how things look in the future with other guys wearing jerseys.” (M Sheldon - MLB.com - April 17, 2021)
Aug 20, 2021: Votto’s turnaround could have a simpler explanation than initially thought.
While there are a number of data-driven reasons for Votto’s resurgence, one Twitter user came forward with a much better one. Abigail, 6, was in attendance when Votto was ejected in the first inning from the Reds’ June 19 game against the Padres in San Diego, which prompted her mother, Kristin Courtney, to post a photo of her daughter’s reaction. Word of Abigail’s devastation reached the Reds and Votto, who sent a few gifts to the family, including an apology (on a signed baseball) and tickets to the next night’s game, ahead of which Abigail got to meet her favorite player. That meeting appears to be statistically significant.
Abigails mom, Kristin tweeted: "Today was AMAZING!!! Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to Joey Votto & the @Reds for the wonderful tickets to today’s game & for taking the time to meet with Abigail. She is absolutely thrilled & couldn’t have had a better weekend! Thank you for making it so special!"
Through his first 41 games, Votto slashed just.234/.327/.441 with eight homers. In 52 games since meeting Abigail, he’s hit .316/.407/.674 with 19 home runs and 50 RBIs. And, at almost 38 years old, Votto has claimed a spot in the National League MVP conversation.
On this night against the Marlins, Votto added to the growing legacy by crushing a two-run homer 432 feet into the center-field bleachers at Great American Ball Park during the Reds' 5-3 victory. (SS Chepuru - MLB.com - Aug 20, 2021)
Sept 3, 2021: "Need more Joey and Miggy in MLB," said Tigers Manager AJ Hinch.
Hinch can appreciate greatness from both sides. He made that much clear before Friday’s series opener when he raved about Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto, the two first basemen on display at Great American Ball Park.
"Awesome matchup, great personalities,” Hinch said. “They showcase it. They are themselves through and through.
"From the other side, I love Joey Votto. I love how he interacts, engages with the fans. I love his rants on the umpires. I love his eloquent answers when he's interviewed. He's one of the few players around the league that when I see that there's been an interview with him, I will click on it and listen to it from start to finish. He’s super bright, passionate. He's obviously a folk hero here in Cincinnati and has had an incredible career in how he's gone about it.”
Hinch said Cabrera and Votto represent precisely what the sport could use more of. "They're just charismatic players, both of them, that quite honestly, I think we could use more of around the league to loosen up and enjoy being kids out here."
Eugenio Suárez has a special place in his heart for Cabrera, too. When Cabrera reached the historic milestone of 500 home runs last week, his fellow Venezuelan countryman took note and recalled their time together in the Tigers' organization when Cabrera was already a star and Suárez was working his way up in the Minors.
"I spent all my Minor League career watching Miggy, even when I was home in Venezuela,” Suárez said. “And I feel so proud that he has 500 home runs. “I learned so much how to respect the game, how to play this game in the right way. I've always got Miggy in my mind because we were always talking baseball. We were always talking about hitting." (M Petraglia - MLB.com - Sept 3, 2021)
Joey is in the midst of a career year in 2021, but he still has time to be one of the nicest guys in the game. In September 2021, while the Reds were playing at home, Votto invited Evan Roach, a 10-year-old fan battling cancer, out to Great American Ball Park for an experience he would never forget. Votto gave him the best seat in the house—right behind the Reds’ on-deck circle—and even asked for some advice before an at-bat. Roach also received a gift bag hand-selected by Votto that included autographed items from several members of the Reds. (Aguilera - mlb.com - 9/7/2021)
2021 Season: Votto's ISO (.297) was the 4th best in the game, behind only Shohei Ohtani, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Bryce Harper, two of whom will win MVP awards this year. His 36 dingers ranked 14th in the game (and he missed an entire month of the season). His slugging percentage (.563) ranked 6th, as did his wOBA (.391). He finished with a .938 OPS, second best on the Reds and 7th highest in all of baseball.
Votto hit.266 with 36 homers and 99 RBIs a year after batting a career-worst .226 during the shortened 2020 season.
Nov 24, 2021: The Reds Community Fund has been operating Cincinnati’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities -- or RBI program -- since 2007. But in 2021, the Reds’ RBI program achieved something it had never done by having both its senior baseball and softball teams reach the RBI World Series.
Both teams, and the Community Fund, remain thankful for having Reds first baseman Joey Votto in their corner all year. Votto, the club’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award this year, frequently visited the P&G MLB Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy and spent time coaching and speaking with the players.
“We’re thankful for the year we had on the heels of such a chaotic 2020,” Reds Community Fund executive director Charley Frank said. “We are beyond grateful for the role that Joey played this year and the way he played it.”
In May while on the injured list with a fractured left thumb, Votto made good use of the time he had when he wasn’t doing therapy or rehabilitation. He often visited the youth academy to coach kids from the RBI program. (M Sheldon - MLB.com - Nov 24, 2021)
June 2002: Joey signed with the Reds' scout John Castleberry after he was drafted in the second round, out of Richview Collegiate Institute (a high school) in Toronto. He got a bonus of $600,000.
January 17, 2011: Votto and the Reds agreed to a three-year, $38 million contract.
- April 2, 2012: Joey and the Reds signed a 10-year, $225 million contract extension. It includes the two years he had already is signed for. It was the fourth largest deal in MLB history.
|DOB:||9/10/1983||Agent:||MVP Sports Group|
|Birth City:||Toronto, Canada|
|Draft:||Reds #2-2002 - Out of high school (Toronto, Canada)|
Votto hits for average and for power to both alleys
Joey has a smooth, polished, compact, lefthanded stroke with pretty good bat speed, nice loft, and extension. He is short and quick to the ball. That enables him to have good power with home run numbers that should improve every year. His power is to all parts of the park, but especially to left-center field.
Votto can be almost too patient at bat, putting himself in a poor hitting count after taking too many borderline pitches. But he does draw a lot of walks, helping him to maintain a high on-base-percentage. He has good strike-zone discipline and understands that drawing a walk helps his team.
Joey has a real knack for laying off borderline pitches that are just off the plate. And he makes adjustments well, fixing his swing between games. Joey takes a lot of swings in the cage every day, keeping his stroke in tune.
Votto learned that opposing big league pitchers will designate one player on his team that they simply will not let beat them. As a result, by 2011, he began seeing fewer and fewer pitches to hit.
Joey makes solid contact vs. all kinds of pitches and pitchers—soft tossers, flame throwers, lefties, righties—Votto just barrels them all up!
He is really fun to watch, the way he approaches an at-bat. the pitches he fouls off to avoid strike three. He fouls off pitches no other hitter can hit foul. (Spring 2017)
Votto keeps his head still and there is not a lot of movement with his body when he hits. He is learning to wait for the pitch he wants: middle-in. He has enough bat speed and the quick hands to punish a pitcher if he tries to bust him inside. Joey drives the ball from left-center to right field, making him difficult to defend.
Votto can rack up strikeouts when he's going bad. But overall, he is a very disciplined hitter, complementing brute power with patience at the plate.
Joey anticipates so well. He just seems to know how the opposition will pitch to him—both the starters and their bullpen. He looks for all types of pitches throughout the count. He studies the location pitchers favor, which almost nobody else in the game does.
"I'm a firm believer that I can handle just about every pitch in every part of the zone as long as I can anticipate on them and execute them," Votto said.
As the count deepens, he chokes up on the bat a little; while he was thinking about driving a ball earlier in the count, now he's more focused on putting the ball in play, hard.
Votto never takes a play off. And he never gives away an at-bat. Close game, blowout game, he is very good at concentrating and focusing on what he's supposed to do.
Votto has been mentioned in the same breath with Larry Walker as a lethal offensive performer with roots in Canada.
Early in his career with the Reds, Votto was standing in the on-deck circle at Great American Ball Park while Pete Rose was watching from a box seat. The two men struck up a conversation, and the Hit King passed along a few pearls of wisdom that resonated.
"Pete kept an eye on me (early in my career),” Joey said, “and the one piece of advice he gave me was, ‘When you get the second hit, you get the third hit. And when you get the third hit, get the fourth hit. And when you get the fourth hit, you get the fifth hit.’
“That really stuck with me, because it’s a genuine challenge when you’re tired, or you’re sick, or the score is mismatched, or you’re facing a tough pitcher, or you’re not in a good mood that day. Whatever it is."
July 22, 2015: While going a combined 5-for-6 with four walks in the two games, Votto became the first player since Robinson Cano in 2010 to reach base nine times in one day.
October 2, 2015: It's not that Joey Votto wasn't cognizant of Reds history or Pete Rose's place in it, but tying one of his records wasn't something the first baseman wanted to relish. Votto reached safely for his 48th straight game, tying Rose's 1978 Reds record. Votto's streak is the longest in the Majors since Kevin Millar reached in 52 consecutive games during the 2007 season.
In 2015, Votto's 143 walks led the Major Leagues. And it was the fourth time in five season that he led the NL in walks.
2016 season: By batting .408 in the second half, Votto achieved something that hadn't been done in MLB for 12 years. The last to bat .400 after the All-Star break was Ichiro Suzuki for the Mariners in 2004.
Joey also became just the 10th player in MLB history to lead is league in on-base percentage at least 5 times—a list that includes Ted Williams (12 times), Babe Ruth (10), Barry Bonds (10), Rogers Hornsby (9), Ty Cobb (7), Wade Boggs (6), Lou Gehrig (5) and Carl Yastrzemski (5).
May 2, 2017: There was no doubt that Votto had a three-run homer, the only real highlight in the Reds' 12-3 loss to the Pirates. The monstrous drive, which came on a 94-mph, 0-1 fastball from Glasnow, left the bat at 103 mph and then struck the top of the batter's eye in center field. According to Statcast, it was a 449-foot shot.
That was the longest-measured homer Votto has hit since Statcast began tracking them in 2015. It surpassed his previous deepest shot, achieved on Sept. 19, 2015, vs. the Brewers and pitcher Taylor Jungmann.
August 15, 2017: Votto drew a walk in the first inning and walked again in the sixth inning against the Cubs. That marked the 20th consecutive game in which he had reached base twice, leaving him one shy of the modern era record Ted Williams set in 1948. The last hitter to reach base twice in 20 consecutive games was Barry Bonds in 2004.
August 17, 2017: A 69-year-old record streak held by Ted Williams remains Ted's alone. Joey's streak of reaching safely multiple times in a game ended at 20 games during a 7-6 loss to the Reds at Wrigley Field. Votto was 1-for-4 with a first-inning single—but did not get on base again.
April 12, 2018: A streak of 202 starts and games played, including all 162 games of 2017, came to an end when Votto was given a day off.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Votto's streak of starts was the longest games-started streak for the Reds since Pete Rose started 370 consecutive games from 1973-76. During his streak, Votto played 1,733 of the Reds' 1,782 innings in the field.
Votto has a high floor: elite plate discipline, his defining trait as a hitter. Votto has a unique control of the strike zone. That comes first, and it was as amazing as ever in 2018. Votto led the league in on-base percentage for the third year in a row.
April 16, 2019: Joey put the Reds on the board with a double in his second at-bat, plating Tyler Mahle to make it 4-1 in the third inning for his 900th career RBI.
May 10, 2019: When the Reds were no-hit by A’s starter Mike Fiers, Joey Votto came the closest to a hit and showed a glimmer of the kind of swings he wants to take. Votto’s sixth-inning drive to center field was caught at the fence by Ramon Laureano, possibly robbing him of a home run. It’s part of the 0-for-10 skid he took into the game vs. the Giants. He had an 0-for-14 stretch to start May and came in slashing a very uncharacteristic .210/.324/.339 line with three homers.
“I’m so annoyed with how I’ve performed from a statistical point of view,” Votto told MLB.com. “Every single part of my game needs to get better, for sure. But I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.”
Manager David Bell has had Votto batting either second or leadoff in all of his starts this season, leaving him fewer runners to drive in. But he hasn’t been able to get on base to set the table, either. This is all happening on the heels of a 2018 season that left Votto very disappointed with his personal results.
Votto did not feel hitting coach Turner Ward or assistant hitting coach Donnie Ecker have had any negative role with his hitting issues
Votto did not feel hitting coach Turner Ward or assistant hitting coach Donnie Ecker have had any negative role with his hitting issues.
“Nothing at all,” Votto said. “My strikeout rate has been too high. I’m not getting enough line drives.”
According to Statcast, Votto’s hard-hit rate is up from previous seasons, at 36.1 percent, while his strikeout rate has also jumped to 23.4 percent. He’s had a higher launch angle—16 degrees—than he’s ever had. But he hasn’t adopted the uppercut-swing approach many hitters around the league are using to get more lift for fly balls.
“He’s hit the ball hard. He really has,” Bell said. “There’s definitely been a lot of work that goes into it, but he’s been through that before. Just like always, he continues to work at it. He’s looking to make sure he’s not missing anything, any necessary adjustments. Just talking to him, it’s going to come back to what he’s always done. He’s a good frame of mind, for sure.”
Even when the results are lacking, Votto trusts his process.
“I really like how I’ve swung the bat in May, despite getting very few results,” he said. “Sometimes that’s how the luck goes. I felt I swung the bat very poorly at the very beginning of the year. I started transitioning to what I feel is an everyday, repeatable approach.” (M Sheldon - MLB.com - May 10, 2019)
July 23, 2019: When Votto hit his first home run since June 25 during the 14-6 win over the Brewers, there was something different happening. Votto wasn’t choking up on the bat when he pulled a first-pitch fastball from Brewers righthander Burch Smith to right field for his ninth homer of 2019. For most of his career, he would choke up with two strikes to shorten his swing and have more bat control. But Votto started choking up all the time the last few seasons. The last few games have seen Votto with his hands down by the knob of his bat.
Votto was hitting .235/.278/.373 since the All-Star break and .263/.349/.406 overall.
“He continues to make adjustments,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He's going to stick with it, he's going to keep doing what he believes is going to work. It's nice to see the results for him, and just trusting that and staying with what he's trying to do right now, because I see the same thing that you said. He looks to be in what looks to be a really good, strong position to hit.”
The exit velocity on Votto's homer was 103.3 mph, according to Statcast. In his first at-bat of the night, he lined a double to left field against starter Zach Davies. (M Sheldon - MLB.com - July 24, 2019)
September 20, 2020: Votto walked three times to tie and then pass Pete Rose as Cincinnati’s all-time bases on balls leader with 1,211.
Votto, 37, broke into the Major Leagues in 2007. He has led the league in walks five times and in on-base percentage seven times. On September 19, 2020, during a three-hit game, he passed Barry Larkin for fifth in club history with 962 RBI. (Sheldon - mlb.com)
Joey popped out on the infield twice during 2021's Opening Day loss. The last time that Votto hit two infield pop-outs in the same game was Sept. 22, 2008, his rookie season. According to FanGraphs, Votto hit four infield fly balls total in 2019, but prior to that, he had not hit more than two infield fly balls in any season since 2008, when he had five. (mlb.com - 4/1/2021)
April 12, 2021: Votto is always a point of fixation for this Reds offense. And in the season’s first week and a half, that point of fixation was a point of frustration. Votto entered this series with one of the lowest slugging percentages (.162) and OPS marks (.367) of any regular in the big leagues, despite his best Statcast-tracked hard-hit rate (39.4%) since 2016.
“I’m not where I want to be,” Votto said
“I’m not where I want to be,” Votto said. “The ball has to go over the fence, and I haven’t done that yet.”
Votto made an adjustment in his stance last year to hit the ball with more authority and sacrifice some of his elite discipline for power. But last season, pitchers threw him fastballs 61% of the time. This year, it has been just 49%. “Not only that, of those fastballs, most have been higher in the zone,” Votto said. “I have to burn the other options pitchers have, and I have to burn higher fastballs. And then at some point I’ll get quality pitches to hit. I just need to make that adjustment. That’ll come. If it doesn’t come, then I’m in the wrong league.” (A Castrovince - MLB.com - April 12, 2021)
April 30, 2021: Votto became the third player in Reds history to reach the 300-home run milestone. Votto, 37, ranks third all-time in homers for the franchise. Johnny Bench leads with 389 homers, followed by Frank Robinson with 324.
“I have a great deal of respect for both players, the late Frank Robinson and obviously Johnny,” Votto said. “I want to keep going. I want to keep playing well. That’s really what’s on my mind. That’s the first thing I thought about after hitting the home run.” (M Sheldon - MLB.com - May 1, 2021)
June 30, 2021: Votto homered to reach 1,000 career RBI. He is the fifth Reds player to reach that plateau since RBI became an official stat.
July 29, 2021: In the top of the second inning of the Reds’ 8-2 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field, Joey sent a 1-1 curveball from Zach Davies into the left-field bleachers. The blast also extended Votto's streak of games with a home run to five consecutive, which is the first time in his career he’s accomplished the feat. That ties the all-time franchise record, accomplished by eight other Reds hitters since 1901. (Herrera - mlb.com)
July 30, 2021: Joey's remarkable home run tour reached the biggest city of them all. He hit a homer in his seventh consecutive game to help power the Reds to a 6-2 victory over the Mets at Citi Field.
The record of eight consecutive games with a home run is shared by Ken Griffey Jr. (1993), Don Mattingly (1987) and Dale Long (1956).
Aug 2, 2021: Votto earned is his first NL Player of the Month Award in his 15 seasons as a big leaguer.
He homered in seven straight games from July 24-30 and came within inches of another on July 31 against the Mets, which would have tied the AL/NL record for consecutive games with a home run
He homered in seven straight games from July 24-30 and came within inches of another on July 31 against the Mets, which would have tied the AL/NL record for consecutive games with a home run. All told, Votto went deep 11 times in July and hit .319/.440/.734 with 19 walks and 25 RBIs in 26 games.
Aug 16, 2021: During his three-hit game in the Reds’ 14-5 victory over the Cubs at Great American Ball Park, Votto passed 2,000 career hits and became the fifth member of the franchise to reach that plateau.
"My teammates have been very supportive," said Joey
"My teammates have been very supportive," said Joey. "And the fans have been very supportive of that also. I have felt the love from them, truly."
- Votto moves fairly well at first base
- Votto has about average speed.
- In 2006, in the Southern League, Joey stole 24 bases in 31 attempts.
- In 2007, he stole 17 bases but was caught 10 times.
In 2010 spring training, Joey improved his ability to steal bases when he worked with former Red Eric Davis.
Before 2010, Votto would slide too early. And he worked on his leads and jumps, in addition to his sliding technique.
2007: Joey had trouble seeing the ball early in the season, so he was fitted with contact lenses.
During the winter before 2008 spring training, Votto had laser eye surgery to correct his vision.
May 30-June 23, 2009: Votto was on the D.L. because of stress-related issues. He had been bothered by dizziness brought on by an inner ear infection for over two weeks.
But Joey also had battled bouts of depression after his father died at age 52 on August 8, 2008. He spent a week on the bereavement list, but did not properly deal with his emotional issues stemming from his Dad's death. He was hospitalized two times while battling depression and anxiety attacks.
"It was my biggest hesitation coming out and letting people know, letting my teammates know (about the problems with anxiety and depression)," Votto said in 2009. "We're supposed to be known as mentally tough and able to withstand any type of adversity."
July 17-September 4, 2012: Votto underwent surgery to repair torn medial meniscus and cartilage in his left knee, leaving the Reds without their best hitter.
Votto hurt the knee while sliding into third base June 29 in San Francisco, but continued playing.
Then on August 10, Joey had a piece of loose cartilage removed from his surgically repaired knee.
May 16-June 10, 2014: Joey was on the D.L. with a left knee/thigh injury—a distal quad strain. Votto had already missed five games with a quadriceps strain in his left knee.
July 8-Sept 19, 2014: Votto went back on the D.L. with a distal left quadriceps strain—a nagging thigh injury. They injected platelet-rich plasma into the tendon.
"In the distal quad, all the muscles verge into the tendon," Reds trainer Paul Lessard explained. "The tendon is basically beat up. We did a strength test on him as well as an MRI. The strength was down quite a bit, compared to the other leg."
Joey could not fully use his left leg, his back leg while hitting, so his power was gone.
"Anytime you're loading the leg like he does, you're lengthening the muscle instead of shortening it," Lessard said. "Anytime you lengthen the muscle and contract it, there's more tension. Running doesn't bother him—slowing down does."
August 17, 2014: The Reds moved Votto from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day D.L. But the encouraging takeaway for the club is it is seeing progress with the distal strain of his left quadriceps near his knee. Votto has received two treatments of platelet-rich plasma injections to help speed his healing.
Aug 15-30, 2018: Votto was on the DL with right lower leg contusion.
Aug 18-27, 2019: Votto was on the IL with low back strain.
Aug 2, 2020: Joey was on the IL upon self-reporting symptoms of COVID-19, but tested negative the next day and was reactivated.
- March 10-April 1, 2021: Votto is out of action after testing positive for COVID-19 at spring training. The Reds put Votto on the injured list. And Votto gave the team permission to announce he was sidelined because he had tested positive for the virus.
May 6-June 8, 2021: Joey was on the IL. He was hit by a pitch against the White Sox. He initially remained in the game, but was pulled later on with what the Reds called a left thumb injury during the game.
“He did fracture his thumb on the hit by pitch,” manager David Bell said after the game. “It’s nothing that requires surgery – it’s as basic as breaks go, but it’s going to be 3-4 weeks before we have him back.”