Numbers aren't always the most enjoyable thing in the world to dig through. Sorry, Slyde. When those numbers are describing the kind of baseball that Joey Votto has been putting on display for the Cincinnati Reds, however, it's hard not to sort through them carrying a smile and a chuckle.
What Votto has been doing for the last calendar year, on the whole, has been stupefyingly absurd. And yes, that even includes his slow start to the 2016 season and the career worst 0-fer streak he suffered through mid-April. Votto's .303/.429/.514 line for the entire 2016 season is rather otherworldly in itself, but since he flushed that 0-fer streak down the Molina back on April 22nd, he's hit a stunning .326/.455/.564, a mark good enough to make one Deadspin writer clutch his jubblies in fear.
Drag the timeframe back to the previous 365 days of our lives, and you'll find Votto's name atop nearly every major statistical category with any relevance when compared against his National League peers. wRC+? 163, well ahead of the 152 mark from both Matt Carpenter and Yoenis Cespedes. wOBA? .418, head and shoulders above Ryan Braun's .400 mark as the next best in the league. His offensive runs above average stands at 50.6 ahead of the the likes of Kris Bryant (48.6) and fathoms beyond Daniel Murphy (39.7), and his .455 OBP in that time has lapped the NL field in Ledeckian fashion.
What we've witnessed over the last calendar year - and, really, for the entirety of Votto's healthy stints since being called up to the big leagues years ago - has been truly amazing. Roll in the American League players to the conversation, and Votto still ranks among the game's absolute elite, sitting second overall in wOBA to David Ortiz, and tied for third in wRC+ with Jose Altuve (with a 163 mark that sits on the very heels of Ortiz's 165 mark and Mike Trout's insane 166). Trout, on-base machine that he is, has the game's second best OBP in that time at .420, still a light year behind Votto's level all to his own.
So while the Reds continue to shed veteran players, stockpile youth, and shed most every major financial commitment that they can, keep in mind that having Votto on the roster isn't just having a large salary, it's having a large salary that's still a bargain for the production he provides.
For what it's worth, manager Bryan Price called what Votto has been doing at the plate "remarkable to watch" following yesterday's 2 for 4 performance against Milwaukee, according to MLB.com's recap of the action.
In other news, The Enquirer's B.A.R. tandem of C. Trent Rosecrans and Zach Buchanan took a look at the season Tucker Barnhart has had behind the plate, and how his eagerness to be defense-first (despite a solid offensive season) has been huge for the team's young pitching staff.
August Fagerstrom did some fantastic digging through exit velocity stats at the end of last week, and he did so with Billy Hamilton in mind. It's a great look at how different players thrive from different batted-ball results, and also serves to reiterate just how unique and valuable Hamilton can be for the Reds going forward. There's also video of Hamilton making defenders look stupid, which is always worth a click.
Speaking of Billy, CBSSports.com's Matt Snyder has noticed how scorching he's been with the bat of late, and wonders if Hamilton is finally maturing into the offensive threat we all hoped he'd be after his first few seasons in the minors.
Finally, Eno Sarris caught up with Bill "Spaceman" Lee for an interview about all manner of things recently, and the transcript of it was posted today at The Hardball Times. Lee, the former All Star pitcher who accumulated 21.4 bWAR in 14 big league seasons with the Red Sox and Expos, is one of the all-time greatest characters the game of baseball has produced, and the interview reflects that in spades along with emphasizing the great impact he had on the game during the players' fight for free agency. It's a great read, so check it out.