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Joey Votto’s favorite pitchers

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Who has served him the finest meatballs?

That's one!
That's one!
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

It’s impossible to lay claim to a career batting line of .313/.425/.536 in over 5400 career plate appearances without having completely owned a lot of pitchers in that time. Yes, Joey Votto has punished many a pitcher in his day, his career 157 OPS+ a pretty solid indicator of what happens when a mistake pitch crosses some part of his plate.

For Red Reporter’s We Love Joey Votto Week, I thought I’d dive into Votto’s history against every pitcher he’s ever faced to find out which particular hurlers have felt his wrath in the greatest fashion. A celebration of the most eye-popping small samples, ones that some managers might even reference during half-hour postgame quotes about matchups and bullpen usage.

Here are just a few of the pitchers owned by Joey Votto.

Aaron Harang

It's funny to find Harang on this list for a pair of reasons. The first is that he generally had a solid career, compiling 23.5 career bWAR across 14 big league seasons and with a 4th place finish in Cy Young voting on his ledger. The second, of course, is that he was on the Reds for the bulk of his career, meaning that Joey Votto hardly had a chance to really face him, much less own him.

Let's just say Votto made up for lost time.

In 15 career PAs against Harang, Votto went 5 for 10 with 3 dingers, a double, and 5 walks, which adds up to a laugh-inducing .500/.667/1.500 line. His 2.167 OPS against Harang marks the best of his career opposite any pitcher against whom he had at least 11 plate appearances - and that's a pretty lengthy list.

Ross Ohlendorf

Keeping with the former Reds subplot, we find the Dorf featured prominently in Votto's career slugging stats. You probably noticed that I used a PA minimum of 11 in Harang's section to show that he's the pitcher Votto has owned the most in his career - an odd and seemingly arbitrary cutoff. Yes, that was on purpose, since if the minimum was dropped to 10 PA, it's Ohlendorf against whom Votto has done the most damage in his career.

Joey has stepped into the batter's box with Ohlendorf on the mound on exactly 10 occasions, in which time he's gone 5 for 8 with a dinger, a triple (!), a pair of doubles, and a pair of walks. That adds up to a .600/.725/1.500 line and a stupid good 2.200 OPS. Of course, I've used the present tense in describing their matchups since Ohlendorf hasn't retired from Major League Baseball just yet, but if he does return to the league - he's signed to play in Japan for the upcoming season - it probably won't come with a team that will face the Reds on a regular basis.

Brian Matusz

Matusz was the 4th overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft, and after becoming a full-time reliever posted an impressive 3.32 ERA and 122 ERA+ in 186 games frome 2013 through 2015. He's also a lefty who dominates lefties, holding them to a .635 OPS during his career that pales in comparison to the .862 OPS that righties have tagged him with, and it's that nugget in particular that makes his line against Votto stand out.

They've faced each other just 3 times in their careers, but that's probably enough to give Matusz the shivers. Votto is 3 for 3 with 2 dingers against him, the 1.000/1.000/3.000 worth actually typing just because it's so damn fun to look at.

Matusz is a free agent after having finished the 2016 season with the Chicago Cubs. I wouldn't hate it if the Cubs choose to bring him back to the NL Central for 2017.

Fernando Nieve

This is another small sample from a reliever, I know, but it's one funny enough to include even briefly.

In 5 PA against Nieve - who hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2010 - Votto went 3 for 5...with 3 dingers. I'm so sorry, Fernando.

Gio Gonzalez

Gonzalez is a two-time All Star who has 20+ bWAR to his credit in his career, and once even received MVP votes. He's also a lefty, and though his career splits aren't drastic by any means, that's because he's basically been equally as hellish against lefties (.671 OPS) as against righties (.684) since cracking the big leagues in 2008.

That hasn't stopped Votto from mauling his offerings, however. In 21 career PAs against Gio, Votto has gone 8 for 18 with 3 dingers, 3 triples, and 3 walks, adding up to a .444/.524/1.111 line. Yikes.

Zack Greinke

The most home runs Votto has hit against any individual pitcher is 3, a mark he's reached against 7 particular pitchers. We've already come across a few of those - Harang, Nieve, and Gonzalez - but you can add Zack Greinke to that list, as well.

There's a lot about Greinke's career that pretty well parallels Votto's, at least as pitcher/hitter comparisons go. Both are 33 and were born just over a month apart in late 1983. Greinke has a Cy Young Award and Rookie of the Year Award in his trophy case, while Votto owns an MVP Award (and should have won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2008). Both are multi-time All Stars, both have Gold Glove Awards to their name, and the 50.9 bWAR Greinke has been worth in his career just barely outpaces the 47.3 that Votto has logged to date.

Only one has won a Silver Slugger Award, however. That's Greinke, surprisingly, so perhaps it's jealous that is why Votto likes facing him so much.

In 34 career PAs against Greinke, Votto owns a .414/.500/.862 line, having gone 12 for 29 with those 3 dingers, 4 doubles, and an impressive 5 walks against just 2 strikeouts. As long as both stay healthy - and as long as Greinke doesn't have to face Votto 200 times a year - we may well see them side by side in a Hall of Fame ceremony down the road.

Kyle Hendricks

Many thought Hendricks should've won the 2016 NL Cy Young Award, though his MLB-best 188 ERA+ and 2.13 ERA only managed to land him 3rd in the voting. Joey Votto might well have been the difference maker in that regard, as he went 4 for 6 with 3 walks against Hendricks in 2016 alone.

In 17 career PAs against Hendricks, that's been par for the course for Votto, as he's gone an absurd 7 for 11 with 2 dingers and 6 walks (against just a pair of strikeouts). That's good for .636/.765/1.182, and oh hey now I'm lightheaded and need to sit down for a minute.


The top of the St. Louis Cardinals rotation for the last decade

As division rivals, obviously the Reds and Cardinals are tasked with facing each other over and over again, year after year after year. So, it should be no surprise that of the pitchers he's faced the most often in his career, many of the St. Louis stalwarts rank right near the top. In fact, each of Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Chris Carpenter, and Kyle Lohse are among the 6 pitchers against whom Votto has the most PAs, with even the relatively young Michael Wacha coming in tied for 17th on that list.

That's a lot of chances the best of the Cardinals' arms have had to get Votto out (and yes, I know that they all haven't pitched exclusively for St. Louis during their careers). About that...

.356/.440/.602. That's what Votto has done in 223 career PA against Garcia, Wainwright, Carpenter, Lohse, and Wacha. It hasn't even been dominance of one singular pitcher during that stretch that skews the compilation heavily, with Wainwright (.879 OPS in 49 PA) having been the "best" against Votto in that time.

Against Garcia? .386/.491/.636 in 53 PA. Lohse? .333/.372/.590 in 43 PA.

Wacha? .379/.441/.655 in 34 PA, which makes it easier to forget the Reds drafted Nick Travieso with him still available.

Carpenter? .417/.523/.639 in 44 PA.  I have no idea how he explains that to his son.

★★★

Yea, verily, Joey Votto has given nightmares to pitchers in both leagues since his debut nearly 10 years ago. I'll look forward to the updated chronicle after 7 more years of Joey with the Reds.