By now you're keenly aware that Joey Votto is having a second half for the ages. Or, if not, you're probably aware that he just wrapped a 2015 season that, too, featured second half for the ages. While both have been monumental - he hit .362/.535/.617 after the break last year - his 2016 line of .404/.492/.657 has the sashay of a batting average that starts with the ever elusive 4. Yes, even after his 0 for 5 night against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, Votto still is on track to be the first big leaguer since 2004 to hit over .400 in the second half of the season, something future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki did in hitting .429 after the All Star break en route to smashing George Sisler's previous MLB record for hits in a single season.
Round numbers are easy to follow and remember, especially when they narrow the talking field considerably the way that .400 certainly does. CBSSports.com's Matt Snyder recently took a look at another exclusive round number grouping: players who have managed to slash .300/.400/.500 over the course of recent seasons. As the numbers sat when the article was published a few days ago, only two players in all of baseball sat comfortably as locks to finish the season sporting such lofty lines: Votto and Mike Trout, with DJ LeMahieu and David Ortiz forming a rather odd twosome that may well finish with such, too. And while it's a special mark to reach, to be sure, it's far from something new to Votto, seeing as this would be the sixth such season he's accomplished it in his fantastic career.
In fact, Snyder made specific note of that, too, when he included the entire list of players who can sport a career .300/.400/.500 mark with at least 5,000 career PA:
Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Tris Speaker, Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, Chipper Jones, Frank Thomas, Ted Williams, Manny Ramirez, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Todd Helton, Harry Heilmann, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, Hank Greenberg, Shoeless Joe Jackson and Joey Votto
For the record, that's 12 Hall of Famers, a lock to be a Hall of Famer as soon as he's eligible (Jones), a pair of Coors Field pariahs in Helton and Walker (the latter of whom should be a HoFer anyway), a pair of would-be Hall of Famers that'll likely get shunned forever due to scandal (Manny and Shoeless Joe), current Hall of Fame snub Martinez, and Joey Gawdang Votto.
That's not just quite a list. That's a list without Barry Bonds, Frank Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Tony Gwynn, Rickey Henderson, Ichiro, Joe Morgan, Derek Jeter, Ken Griffey, Jr., Albert Pujols, and every single other great player who has ever picked up a bat and made a decent career of it.
I like the company you keep, Mr. Votto.
In other news, The Enquirer's C. Trent Rosecrans looked at a managerial decision from Bryan Price that backfired once...only to help win a game when made again just days later.
Over at Redleg Nation, friend of the blog Jason Linden looked at the recent season posted by top hitting prospect Jesse Winker, putting it in good context both against his AAA peers and against what will be expected of him with the Reds when he finally, likely makes his big league debut in 2017.
Jeff Sullivan dove deeply, majestically into the stats behind the home run surge seen in MLB this season, and he did so on multiple occasions over at FanGraphs. His post from yesterday came on the heels of Jean Segura becoming the 104th player in the league to hit at least 20 dingers this season - an all time record - and attempted to figure out from where the surge was coming. He then followed it up today with a bit of an addendum, one that seems to highlight something the surface numbers suggest already: the dinger surge isn't happening because the most powerful dinger-smashers are having record years; in fact, it's happening because a pile of middling, non-power hitters are hitting many more home runs. Like, Zack Cozart and Eugenio Suarez have combined to hit 36 homers this year despite entering the season with career slugging percentages of .375 and .403, respectively, while it looks increasingly likely that only one player in all of baseball (Mark Trumbo) will hit more than 45 dingers this year. It's dang interesting, so read 'em.
Finally, the Cincinnati Reds will tangle with the Filthy Cardinals again tonight for the last time in the 2016 season. Not only is the season series on the line - the teams are 9 and 9 against each other this calendar year - but the Cards currently sit a full game out of the second NL Wild Card spot, meaning another loss to the Reds tonight would seriously dampen their chances of making the postseason altogether. I know many of you will likely opt to watch hand-egg played by the near-extinct tigers this evening, but there's still plenty worth watching on the baseball side of things during these final few days of the season, specifically tonight.