Joey Votto loves the MLB rule adjustments: Reds star talks baseball’s future and his own

There are gamers on this world who’re cautious of baseball’s edgy new rule adjustments.

There are gamers on this world who’re inquisitive about baseball’s edgy new rule adjustments.

There are gamers on this world who’re flat-out teed off about baseball’s edgy new rule adjustments.

And then there’s Joey Votto.

“I do suppose we’re about to method a extremely enjoyable model of our sport,” the Reds’ ever-thoughtful first-base thinker king mentioned at one level throughout his go to with Doug Glanville and me on the newest Starkville version of “The Athletic Baseball Show” podcast.

“I really like that there is going to be a pitch clock,” he mentioned at one other level.

“I really like the (bigger) base,” he mentioned at yet one more level. “I really like that they are altering the base. … Anything to make the recreation extra athletic.”

Joey Votto, man. Can we simply put him accountable for, properly, the whole lot?

For practically an hour, Doug and I had been a part of a dialog just about not like something we have ever had with any baseball participant ever. And I do not say stuff like that off the prime of my head.

We obtained to listen to Votto’s insightful takes on:

• How his torn bicep has made him mirror on how one main damage can have an effect on “your whole life” — and his future in the recreation.

• How Albert Pujols’ grand finale has made him suppose, “If Albert can do it, why cannot you do it?”

• Why all these gamers looking at their iPads in the dugout lately are making the large mistake of disconnecting from “the rhythm of the recreation” — full with a comparability to going to a dance membership!

And there was a lot extra. I extremely advocate you try the total dialog. It’s one thing.

But hey, it is these rule adjustments which can be the speak of baseball lately. So right here come some essential excerpts from this present, wherein Votto reminds us, with each thought he expresses, that no one’s mind in baseball spins fairly like his.

(Answers have been edited for readability and size.)


Votto on how the shift became his ‘trick mirror’

Statcast tells us that Votto was shifted on in 86 % of his plate appearances this season. So you’d suppose he could be one in all the many left-handed hitters celebrating the new rule that can pull the plug on the shift after this season, proper?

Haha. Wrong. This is Joey Votto we’re coping with. So after allafter I requested him about this, the reply wasn’t what I anticipated.

Earlier this season, he mentioned, he was locked in on the concept that pulling the ball onerous in the air was his path to a giant yr. That is not the way it labored out in any respect. He battled shoulder ache all yr and hit simply .205, with a .689 OPS. So now, he revealed, he has flipped on that recreation plan.

“I’m realizing that to achieve success as a hitter, I’ve to hit the ball the different means. I’m studying that by failure. Earlier in the season, I used to be attempting to tug the ball lots. I switched my one. I began utilizing an odd bat that a number of the hitters are utilizing lately. I attempted to observe all my work down the right-field line.

“I used to be principally going for 50 residence runs, as a result of I used to be, like, ‘All proper, I hit 36 ​​final yr in 129 video games. Well, if I simply pull just a few extra left-handed pitchers, if I time the left-handed fastball and I simply pull them, I ought to get to 50. This goes to be simple.’ But really it is like a trick mirror.”

So subsequent yr, he mentioned, we’ll see him concentrate on driving the ball the different means once more, very like David Ortiz did after altering his method late in his profession. (Not surprisingly, Votto revealed he has been studying all about that.)

“Anyways, lengthy story brief, I feel the shift is a real problem for sure hitters’ kinds. But, you understand, it is the kind of factor the place we get rewarded based mostly on relative competitors. They use the statistic Wins Over Replacement. (So) we’re competing utilizing weighted measurements. So it actually does not matter if I get just a few extra hits as a result of everyone else will get just a few extra hits.

“So it is like, does the shift matter? No, it does not matter in any respect. Because to me, it is my accountability to counter it as a result of all my competitors, my friends, the individuals I’m competing in opposition to for contracts or future jobs — they should counter it, too. So it does not matter. Actually, it made me a greater hitter, to be sincere with you.”

How Votto plans to crush the pitch clock

Statcast additionally tells us that Votto took 18.6 seconds between pitches with nobody on base this season. So possibly you are considering a 15-second pitch clock could be an issue for him.

Haha. Once once more, do not forget This is Joey Votto. So after I began to pose that premise, he did not let me even get by the query.

“I promise you I solely take what’s given to me. If you set a 10-second clock… it does not have an effect on me in any respect. I’ll stand there. I can stand in the field and hit, full swing, and then get again in the field. I do not want the time, that is all I’m saying.”

He then let me end my thought. So I went international on him, asking how onerous it could be for hitters round the recreation to take care of a clock. But as soon as once more, this was a person whose thoughts had already moved on to how simple this could be — and the large image, the solely image that issues.

“I feel (some gamers) in the brief time period, some in the long run, it will turn into second nature. So that is actually all that issues. You have to enhance the tempo of the recreation.”

He then informed a narrative about why he understands the true that means of bettering that tempo. He was a Toronto Raptors season-ticket holder, he mentioned. And when he went to these basketball video games, he knew at 7:30 pm, as these video games had been simply beginning, that the recreation could be over at 10 pm So he already knew – at 7:30 pm – what practice he may take residence after the recreation.

But as you (and he) have additionally seen, not in baseball — the place “you do not know if our video games are going to finish at 9:45 or 11:45.” On one hand, he mentioned, “there’s some appeal to that.” Just not each night time.

“We’re right here to serve our followers. We, as gamers, are right here to serve. I do get that you must respect the participant and his course of. You know, gamers want a tempo, however tempos could be adjusted. We (have the capacity to) make this adjustment and nonetheless carry out properly. And so I find it irresistible. I really like that there is going to be a pitch clock. …

“I feel it is great. I want that it had been instituted all through my profession, to be sincere with you, as a result of I really feel like I’ve performed an extra 50 video games, with how lengthy these video games have been.”

On how bigger bases will change the recreation

Usually on Starkville, Glanville and I are the ones who ask the questions and steer the dialog. But when it is Joey Votto on the different finish of that dialog, after all, he is means forward of us. So after allhe introduced up the new 18-inch-by-18-inch bases (up from 15-by-15) earlier than we even had an opportunity to ask.

“I really like that they are altering the base. And we have not touched on that. But something to make the recreation extra athletic. Seeing guys try stolen bases, or try first-to-thirds, I find it irresistible. Because I feel that these few inches, rapidly, you are selecting the sooner man versus the home-run man, (that) kind of factor. And so I really like the (bigger) base. I’ve used the base on a rehab (task). And I feel it is enjoyable. I feel they might have instituted it for security causes. But I feel it could make the recreation sooner.”

Votto sees a greater fashion of baseball to come back

It should not shock us {that a} man who’s the king of pitch recognition also needs to be the king of recognizing the future of baseball. And what Votto sees, as he friends into the future, is a method of baseball that may very well be far more enjoyable than what we’re watching.

Behind these rule adjustments, he sees hope for this sport to indicate off extra athleticism. And if that is the concept, he is all in.

But he additionally is aware of he has been in the center of the debate about what the recreation has turn into. The walks! The homers! The strikeouts! The emphasis on course of over motion. And whaddaya know, he is considered that lots.

“I used to be responsible of it for some time. I imply, most of my profession includes getting on base, and I had a number of detractors. And I feel with a long way, I get it. But to not make this query about me — however I’ll reply from my own expertise.

“I did it as a result of residence runs and hits are actually onerous to get. And so my greatest model was type of a hybrid: getting on base, getting some hits, making the greatest of each at-bat. So that labored for me. I feel that (what occurred was that that turned) a league-wide development. … I do not need to generalize, however the zeitgeist was: Take pitches, and walks and strikeouts include it, and homers.”

Yes, you simply heard a baseball participant use the phrase, “zeitgeist.” But we digress. Back to our program, the place Votto then contrasted that development with the evolution of basketball in his lifetime.

“I’m a basketball fan. And I’ve been a basketball participant since I used to be like 8 to 9 years outdated. I really like sports activities. My past love. It’s the very first thing I need to do as soon as I’m accomplished taking part in, is begin taking part in basketball once more. … And I keep in mind practising with my workforce as a highschool participant. If you took a 3 (when your workforce wanted a layup), it was: instant bench.

“And… after I first began taking part in baseball, it was: Why are you taking so many pitches? Why are you taking that fringe pitch on the edge? Take a swing. Put the ball in play. Don’t strike out trying. And I do not suppose it is both reply. But I do suppose we’re about to method a extremely enjoyable model of our sport, the place it is extra athletic, the place there’s extra balls in play, the place we get to see the athleticism of the infielders and outfielders.

“I feel now we have an awesome sport. And I feel we’re about to showcase it at its easiest, as a result of it is in all probability as athletic because it’s ever been. But when Ronald Acuña (Jr.) is in proper discipline, and the third baseman is standing proper in entrance of him, as a substitute of seeing a diving play from (Acuña), it is a one-hopper to the third baseman, who throws out Freddie Freeman on a 112 (mph) rocket. And the followers are like, ‘Ugh,’ as a substitute of some superior play from Acuña.”

Votto on his future, getting ‘slowed out’ of baseball

So if Votto loves these adjustments, if he loves how they’re going to promote athleticism, if he loves how these bigger bases may encourage extra base-swiping, how may we not ask: How will this have an effect on him?

I believed it could be enjoyable to counsel that between the bigger bases and the new rule limiting pickoffs/stepoffs by pitchers, he may steal 40 bases. But, after all Votto swatted down that concept like Pascal Siakam swatting down a lazy layup by a 6-foot-2 level guard.

“You know, little adjustments like this are the purpose why I’ve obtained possibly two, three years left. I’m gonna get slowed out of the recreation. So I’m blissful handy it off to the subsequent group.”

But these are simply the rule-change highlights of our dialog. So try the total Starkville episode, obtainable in every single place you get your podcasts.

Also see:

• Players and managers on MLB’s rule adjustments
• The Future of Baseball collection

(Photo: Jeff Dean/Associated Press)

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