After Tuesday's 1 for 4 evening against the Los Angeles Angels, Joey Votto's 2016 OPS sat at a lofty .957. Not surprisingly, his career OPS sat at that same .957 mark, too, since anyone who's watched a healthy Votto since he broke into the league has seen nothing if not consistent mastery of opposing pitching day after day after day.
For his career, he has averaged 28 dingers, 93 runs batted in, 111 walks, 130 strikeouts, and 9 stolen bases per 162 games played. Based on his 2016 production so far, he's on pace to hit 27 dingers, drive in 97 runs, walk 117 times, strike out 136 times, and steal 10 bases this year. So yes, despite a career-worst hitless streak early this season and the kind of April/May slump we've never seen from him before, he's busted his butt enough to be the same dang offensive juggernaut this year that we've been fortunate enough to watch for 10 seasons now.
Not to be too absurdly hyperbolic, or anything, but most folks don't watch the Cincinnati Reds the way you, person reading a Cincinnati Reds blog, do. That's largely why it's encouraging to note when the national audience notices what Votto has been doing, something that happened over the weekend when CBSSports.com's Mike Axisa made the claim that Votto is the most underappreciated great hitter of this era. Axisa didn't merely make the claim as opinion, either, since he backed it up with things we call "facts" and "graphs" and "things that have actually happened in front of you," each of which suggest that Votto hasn't just been good, he's been criminally overlooked by a large portion of the national baseball audience in rather unfortunate fashion.
While it's true that he's not had any sort of postseason success to sear the back of his baseball card into the brains of the masses, the same can be said for the likes of Tony Gwynn, Jim Thome, Todd Helton, Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, and numerous other statistical superstars, and Votto has firmly put his career into similar context with those luminaries. Axisa is completely correct in his assertion that the Reds' slide in recent years coinciding with leg injuries that derailed what would've otherwise been productive years for Votto have combined to keep his performance on the backburner, but he's also completely correct when he says "Votto is one of the most productive players of his generation and one of the best offensive players of our lifetimes."
Yell about Walt Jocketty and the current rubble around Votto all you want, but at least try to remember that you're also seeing one of the game's greatest offensive forces continue to be just that each and every night.
In other news, the freak injury bug was out in full force on Monday in the world of the Reds, as Cody Reed left his AAA start early with a flare-up of back spasms, and Jose Peraza exited the big league game early after taking a throw-over to the noggin. Reed threw "a couple fastballs that I thought were changeups," according to Bats manager Delino DeShields, though as MLB.com's Cody Pace relayed, it appears there's nothing at all wrong with Reed's electric left arm.
As for Peraza, things fortunately don't appear to be too serious, either, as MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reported last night. I'd guess he'll get a day or two off to let the soreness die down, which is unfortunate timing since the Reds are in an AL park with the added advantage of having a DH. Given how much trouble Bryan Price has had trying to get PAs for the versatile Peraza, it was a near lock we would've otherwise seen him in the lineup for three consecutive days for one of the few times since he was called up.
The Enquirer's C. Trent Rosecrans caught up with Reds 1B coach Freddie Benavides to talk about Eugenio Suarez's development at the hot corner, and it's a great highlight of the evolution the 25 year old has rapidly undergone since joining the Reds less than two years ago.
Finally, Tim Tebow is hahahahahahahahhaahaholding a showcase today that some 20 MLB teams will be watching in person, the Reds reportedly among them according to an ESPN article from last week that has absolutely no idea how to spell DeSclafani. I just...no. Dear lord, no.