Joey Votto swatted a vintage oppo-bomb against the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday in the GABP season finale, and proceeded to follow it up with a gargantuan 466 foot blast that nearly exited the stadium stage right. It was the latest in a year that Votto has never quite replicated in seasons prior, a combination of free-swinging and power that few humans anywhere can compare with, and it’s been truly magnificent to behold.
It’s all traced back to his late-August swing change during the 2020 season, a season unlike any other in history. Fanless stands, shortened seasons, semi-quarantined teams, and ample time for players to reflect on just about everything in their lives in ways not provided before, perhaps the perfect backdrop for a then 36 year old Votto to contemplate just what exactly he was doing here. A three-day benching and a complete swing overhaul that served as the storefront for a complete overhaul of his entire hitting theory later, and Votto emerged as something of a nearly 37 year old rookie again.
He had pedigree, to be sure, but this was an entirely new hitter. New swing, new sting, new bang methodology. And folks, it has fucking worked.
Votto has played in 154 games since that swing change, and has belted 43 dingers in that time. That’s the 9th most by any MLB player in that time, and you’ll recall that Votto missed an entire month with a broken thumb in that timeframe. Even Salvador Perez, the game’s most durable catcher and league-leader with 53 bombs in that time, has 16 more games and 73 more PA to his name since August 29th, 2020, the day New Votto emerged.
That means Votto has had to pack quality into those PAs in lieu of quantity. His .300 ISO in that time ranks 4th among all MLB players, behind only the inimitable Shohei Ohtani (.314), Fernando Tatis Jr. (also .314), and Jose Ramirez (.303). His .568 slugging percentage ranks 5th in the game in that span behind Bryce Harper, Tatis Jr., Ramirez, and Vlad Guerrero Jr., while his wOBA and wRC+ also rank in the top 8 in the game in that span alongside the who’s who of the game, too.
Joey Votto is 38 years old. Thirty-eight. He was 37 throughout most of that bashing. Thirty-seven. The players next to whom he is doing this elite bashing need folks of Votto’s age to babysit them growing up. And yet here are slow-ass Votto’s Statcast metrics, ones that show that there are barely a handful of sentient beings anywhere in the universe who can tackle 100 mph heaters with the proclivity he displays:
The Cincinnati Reds are lucky to have this man under contract for 2022 and beyond. Hell, considering the players that will likely be departing from the roster this winter and the injuries plaguing the rest of those likely to stick around, they’re going to once again be building their entire lineup around this man.
They’re lucky, folks.
We’re lucky. We get to watch him.