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Joey Votto and the Big Donkey

Imagine splitting a brick of beers and talking shop with those two, eh?

2007 was a weird time to be a fan of the Cincinnati Reds, if those of you who can recall shall recall.

They hadn’t won anything in forever - a feeling that certainly still resonates to fans who weren’t yet fans at that point. The Ken Griffey, Jr. Era was crawling to a close, GABP had opened its doors and begun to prove it was far too small, Josh Hamilton was a flash in the Reds pan, and the pitching staff consisted of Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang, and 11 jugs machines set to 84 mph.

The future at that time, however, finally looked to be incredibly bright, something that couldn’t have been said for this franchise with any sort of legitimacy for years. Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey were neck and neck for the top damn prospect in all of baseball, and they’d unearthed a hopeful gem on the mound in a young Johnny Cueto. Hamilton had turned back the clock to his uberprospect days, while Brandon Phillips had gone from washout prospect to 30/30 stud. And over at 1B, a young Joey Votto was due for a September call-up after mashing his way through AAA Louisville.

On September 5th of that year, young Votto smashed a John Maine meatball over the CF wall in GABP, a solo job after an Edwin Encarnacion pop-out that marked the first hit - and first run - of his career.

Votto made a habit of socking dingers and scoring runs, as you well know. In the process, he conveniently turned his 2021 season into a milestone turnstile, as he crossed the 300 dinger, 1,000 ribbie, and 2,000 hit thresholds all within this calendar year. As it turns out, he’s got another milestone firmly in his sights, one that he’ll hopefully bonk out in the weekend series in GABP against the Detroit Tigers that’s next up on the Reds schedule.

As it stands today, he has scored 1,097 runs in his career, with 1,100 a mere three-dinger game away on Friday from being met. And while that round number isn’t nearly as round as his other milestone accomplishments from this year, it’s more about who he’ll pass in the process than it is said roundness.

Also with 1,097 career runs scored on his ledger is one Adam Dunn, also a teammate of Votto’s on that dinger-happy 2007 Reds club. Dunner would stick around Cincinnati for another 32 runs (and 58 runs scored) during the 2008 season before being flipped to the Arizona Diamondbacks, jettisoned from the Reds before the modern game would evolve to mimic his three-true-outcomes approach.

So, Votto’s next run scored will see him pass the Big Donkey on the career leaderboards, but to get to 1,100 he’ll have to pass another teammate that once looked like he’d be part of that 2007ish core, too - Encarnacion, who was just 24 on that team and went on to smash a then career-high 26 dingers as a Red in 2008. The Reds sold off his gloveless talent to acquire Scott Rolen for the 2010 NL Central title, however, and he went on to sock dingers and score runs all over the place for the rest of his career. His 1,099 career runs scored also stand within shouting distance of Votto as this weekend’s slate of games looms.

(Conveniently enough, tied with Encarnacion with 1,099 career runs scored is Hall of Famer Edd Roush, who led the 1919 Reds to the World Series title.)

On 9 different occasions this year, Votto has scored twice in a game, though he’s not yet scored a trio of runs in any single game this year. That’s kind of what happens when you hit cleanup instead of 2nd, I suppose. So, it’s unlikely he rounds the 1,100 corner tomorrow night, though it certainly wouldn’t require his greatest single-game scoring output to do so.

And any time you’re hanging out in the statistical record books with Roush, E5, and Dunner, you know you’re in good company.

Spring Training - Florida Marlins v Cincinnati Reds Photo by: Diamond Images/Getty Images