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Leaderboard watch: Votto tops in Hits, Walks

Joey Votto is pretty good at baseball.

Let's hear it for Joey.
Let's hear it for Joey.

Chris Jaffe over at The Hardball Times notes that Joey Votto is on track to become only the seventh player ever to lead his league in both Hits and Walks. You don't have to think long to see why it's so rare. Drawing walks necessarily takes away from the ability to amass hits. Leading the rate categories of AVG and OBP is one thing, but collecting more base hits than all of the free swingin' singles hitters is quite another.

Per Jaffe, here's the list:

Lenny Dykstra, 1994
Carl Yastrzemski, 1963
Richie Ashburn, 1958
Rogers Hornsby, 1924
Billy Hamilton, 1891
Ross Barnes, 1876

That's nice company. Four are Hall of Famers. Barnes was a great hitter by the rules of the day, though the league soon changed the rules. (He was master of the fair-foul hit, in which if the ball first landed fair, then it was fair even if it went foul before leaving the infield). Dykstra is the weird one, but even he had a nice career.

I wrote way back in 2009 that the Reds hadn't seen a 200-hit season since Pete Rose in 1977, easily the longest drought in the majors. You all resoundingly voted for Votto as most likely to break the streak (who's the wise guy who voted for Stubbs?). With 65 hits through 48 games, Votto's on pace for 219 for the season. I wouldn't have thought that was possible earlier this year when his walk rate soared around 30%. Now that he's at a merely excellent 18%, 200 hits seems very attainable so long he doesn't suffer any freak injuries this year.

All of this is just another way to show how terrific Votto has hit this year - through numbers completely incapable of manipulation. Votto has more Hits and more Walks than anyone else in the National League. How can he not be the league's best hitter? It would take a dim soul to conclude otherwise. Probably through a tortured calculation of the number of runs scored during Votto's at bats while ignoring opportunities.

Looking at the rest of the NL hitting leaderboard, it's no surprise to see Shin-Soo Choo's name all over the place. He's second to Votto in OBP and offensive WAR, among other things. He's also third in Runs and ninth in Homeruns. Jay Bruce still has the Doubles lead with 16 (and Ks with 63) and he's seventh in RBIs with 31. Brandon Phillips is tops in that category with 42. Phillips and Zack Cozart are in a three-way tie with Yonder Alonso in Sac Flies with 5.

No Reds are among the top ten in Stolen Bases, but they also don't appear among the GIDP leaders.