Big League Stew - MLB

It's difficult to get your head around, but the above headline is true: Joey Votto(notes) has not hit an infield popup all season.  

That little tidbit of hard-to-believe information comes via Knuckleballs and was further dissected by an equally flabbergasted Rob Neyer of ESPN on Thursday afternoon. 

Here's what Neyer wrote about the revelation that Votto has been completely averse to one type of hit :

[It] struck me as nearly impossible.

So I checked. [...] Votto still doesn't have an infield pop-up. He's got 558 plate appearances, 382 of which have resulted in a batted ball, and somehow not one of those 382 balls have been a fly ball caught within 140 feet of the plate (the definition of Infield Fly Ball by FanGraphs, and measured by Baseball Info Solutions).

It's really hard to believe, isn't it? I mean, it's one thing to know that Votto, the Cincinnati Reds' MVP candidate, is among the best at driving baseballs into the outfield.

It's quite another to learn that his bat has gone almost an entire year without missing the dips and curves of a pitch by a fraction of an inch here or a fraction of an inch there. That he hasn't slipped up once and sent a ball high above an infielder seems completely impossible.

But here's the thing, though: Neyer did some more research and found that while Votto really doesn't like popping up — he hit only two infield flyballs in 2009 and only five in 2008 — he also has some company. Derrek Lee(notes) of the Atlanta Braves has only hit two this season while Ryan Howard(notes) of the Philadelphia Phillies has hit only 15 over his entire career. 

Howard is the reigning king of infield fly rate over the past three seasons with one every 202 batted balls. Votto is second at one every 167 while St. Louis' Skip Schumaker(notes) is third with 109.

But it's not as if every big slugger can avoid hitting infield popups. A big trio of big sluggers lag way behind Howard and Votto — Albert Pujols(notes) (19), Prince Fielder(notes) (21) and Miguel Cabrera(notes) (25). So, yeah, infield flies happen to the best of them.

But just not to Joey Votto this season. 

Big BLS H/N: Redleg Nation

 

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