Watching Joey Votto go to work in the batter’s box, it’s a thing of beauty. Some poor, unfortunate soul has been tasked with trying to retire the Cincinnati Reds 1B, yet we all know that’s just not going to happen. In all likelihood, Votto hasn’t just studied the pitch arsenal of said soul into memorization, he knows the kid’s high school, the methods that kid’s high school coach used to teach him him how to pitch, his middle name, the linguistic root of said middle name, what kind of car he drives, whether he’s a ‘let it get all the way down to empty before filling it up’ or ‘top it off when it reaches a quarter of a tank’ kind of guy, and whether the signature on his 1986 Topps Dan Quisenberry card is real or forged.
Votto is a tremendous student of the game, and while that requires ample scouting of his opposition, his true success is also bent on his knowledge of the physics of what he’s paid to do so well. How to hit, and not just while judging it as a results-oriented task; rather, the precise process of hitting the ball so perfectly that it gives him the greatest chance of balls in play resulting in hits, if you will. A focus on means instead of just ends.
Of course, it’s quite rare that we actually get to see him spill his guts about it. Fortunately for us all, Votto spoke to the gang at MLB Tonight while in Goodyear, AZ yesterday, and provided the exact kind of insight we all know floats around in his brain for us to view and hear, and it was every bit as awesome as you’d imagine.
When Votto’s playing days are over, the idea that he could be a hitting coach is an easy conclusion. He could be a manager, a GM if he so chooses. He also might be the kind of guy who buys his own island, throws his phone in the ocean, sleeps in a hammock, and teaches himself how to catch dinner every day. What’s clear, though, is that his knowledge of his craft is the kind so rare that you barely know how to react when you see it - the kind you bet your entire franchise on with a contract damn near into perpetuity.
Joey Votto is the best, man.