Votto went 2-for-9 with a walk in the two playoff games, ending a season that saw him record the lowest batting average (.224) and on-base percentage (.354) of his career. Of course, it was a relatively small sample size. Votto played in 54 of the 60 games. It also marked the fourth straight season Votto’s have declined in those categories.
Votto is 37 now and entering the eighth year of the 10-year, $225 million contract he signed in 2012. He spent the offseason at home near Toronto and said he’s healthy and strong as spring training begins. He doesn’t have specific numbers in mind when it comes to his production this season but said he wants to be dangerous at the plate.
Votto has made adjustments he hopes pay off in his 15th season.
“When I first came to came to the league — and certainly in the minor leagues — I was a bit more aggressive,” Votto said. “When I was a younger player, I idolized Todd Helton and Barry Bonds and a few other modern players of the early 2000s, and I loved the great players of the past: the (Ted) Williams; and the (Babe) Ruths and the (Hank) Aarons and the (Willie) Mays. When I first played in the minor leagues, I was so dead set on cutting down my strikeouts because I wanted to be a well-rounded hitter. And eventually over the past maybe six, seven years, I started really making that adjustment and seeing that change.”
In the course of making those changes, Votto said he lost some of his earlier strengths: “hitting the ball hard; hitting the ball all over the field with power; and being difficult to defend.”
“I did that in exchange for command of the strike zone, putting the ball in play, being a tough at-bat,” Votto said, “And it zapped my power. In (2017), I played really really well because I had that nice combination of low strikeouts, tons of power, lots of walks. It was like the dream season for me. I stuck to that the last couple years. And in (2019) a little bit and especially last year, I had to let that go and get back to what got me to the league.”
Votto hit .320 with 36 home runs and 100 RBIs in 2017. Two years ago in baseball’s last full season, he hit .261 with 15 home runs and 47 RBIs.
Last season, the Reds benched Votto for three games in late August because he was slumping, and he responded by going 10-for-26 at the plate in the next seven games. He said the adjustments he made were natural. He stood up taller, the way he’s always hit the ball.
“I’m back to kind of a more comfortable place in terms of hitting,” Votto said. “It’s going to come with of course some more swings and misses and some strikeouts, but as long as I’m productive and as long as I’m dangerous at the plate, it’ll pay itself off.”