Votto's Scorching Second Half

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Bill Baer
In Thursday's Daily Dose, Bill Baer details Joey Votto's red-hot second half and more
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Reds first baseman Joey Votto continued to swing a hot stick on Wednesday, going 2-for-5 with a three-run home run. The blast, which came in the ninth inning off of Cubs closer Hector Rondon, broke a 4-4 tie and sent the Reds to a 7-4 win. Votto also homered on Tuesday in a 2-for-3 performance, and now has 27 home runs with 70 RBI and 81 runs scored.

Thus continues a torrid second half for Votto, batting .399/.576/.748 with 12 home runs and 28 RBI in 203 plate appearances since the All-Star break. His overall 1.025 OPS is third-best in baseball behind Bryce Harper (1.086) and Miguel Cabrera (1.045) and sits ahead of rival National League first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (1.000). He leads the league in walks with 116 and is a hair off the major league lead in on-base percentage at .457, behind Cabrera and Harper tied at .460.

Votto has been something of a lightning rod for controversy in Cincinnati as the first baseman is in the second year of a 10-year, $225 million contract, and hasn’t driven in 100 runs since 2011. However, his RBI total doesn’t factor in that Votto has hit second or third throughout the year and hasn’t had hitters with high on-base percentages ahead of him. Billy Hamilton and Brandon Phillips have most frequently hit in front of Votto and have respective OBPs of .272 and .322. It’s no surprise that Todd Frazier, batting behind Votto, leads the team in RBI with 77.

Not much has gone right for the Reds, particularly after wrapping up an 8-21 August that sent them into the NL Central cellar, but Votto is the least of their problems with the season he’s having. Harper is the clear front-runner for the National League Most Valuable Player award, but a late-season power outage for Paul Goldschmidt means that Votto is arguably Harper’s fiercest competition for the award.

Pujols hits HR No. 35/555


Angels first baseman Albert Pujols golfed out his 35th home run of the season, a two-run job to left-center in the second inning off of Athletics starter Sonny Gray. The Angels would go on to win 9-4 in Wednesday’s matinee. The home run was also the 555th of Pujols’ 15-year career, moving him into a tie with Manny Ramirez for 14th on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard. He has an outside shot at tying Reggie Jackson for 13th at 563 by season’s end. A 25-homer season in 2016 would likely be enough to move him past Frank Robinson’s 586 for ninth place.

Pujols is batting .249/.309/.495 with 80 RBI along with his 35 home runs, which is solid for most other hitters, but still pales in comparison to the numbers he put up as recently as 2012. The slugger carried an .830 OPS through the first week of August, but he slumped in the time since. Since August 9, he has a meager .193 average and a .361 slugging percentage in 91 plate appearances.

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Iglesias Generating Whiffs


Reds starter Raisel Iglesias struck out another 10 batters in Wednesday’s win against the Cubs, allowing just two runs over his seven innings of work. It’s the third consecutive start in which he’s racked up double-digit strikeouts. He’s currently sitting on a 3.81 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP and a 97/26 K/BB ratio over 87 1/3 innings.

The right-hander, signed to a seven-year, $27 million contract by the Reds out of Cuba in June last season, struggled to a 5.11 ERA over his first four starts and two relief appearances prior to a demotion to Triple-A Louisville. It may have been just what he needed. Since the Reds recalled him on July 11, Iglesias has posted a 3.30 ERA with a 72/17 K/BB ratio in 62 2/3 innings.

The National League has a surfeit of elite starting pitching, and the Reds have sunk to the NL Central cellar with a 55-77 record, so it’s easy to see why Iglesias has flown under the radar. But if there’s one thing he’s shown Reds fans, it’s that the team will be able to thrive in the future even after trading ace Johnny Cueto to the Royals at the end of July.

National League Quick Hits: Mets infielder Daniel Murphy left Wednesday’s game against the Phillies with left quad discomfort … The Nationals will recall Tanner Roark to start in place of Stephen Strasburg (back) on Friday … Braves third baseman Hector Olivera got his first major league hit and RBIs in Wednesday’s loss to the Marlins … Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria left Wednesday’s game against the Braves with a left hamstring injury … Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown exited Wednesday’s game against the Mets due to concussion concerns after flipping over a short outfield wall in foul territory at Citi Field … Lance Lynn (ankle) won’t start for the Cardinals this weekend, but should be healthy enough to start next week … Pirates third baseman Aramis Ramirez plated four runs in a loss to the Brewers on Wednesday … Cubs rookie third baseman Kris Bryant hammered his 22nd home run of the year in Wednesday’s loss to the Reds … Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy extended his hitting streak to 10 games in Wednesday’s victory over the Pirates … Reds starter Raisel Iglesias struck out 10 and allowed two runs in a win against the Cubs on Wednesday … Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw held the Giants to one run and struck out 15 in a complete game win on Wednesday … The Giants released infielder Everth Cabrera on Wednesday … Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt left the team on Wednesday to attend the birth of his first child … The Padres designated reliever Chris Rearick for assignment on Wednesday … Rockies manager Walt Weiss said first baseman Justin Morneau (concussion) is “definitely close” to returning to the lineup.

American League Quick Hits: Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson had three hits and three RBI in Wednesday’s win versus the Indians … Yankees second baseman Stephen Drew went 3-for-4 with a home run to help beat the Red Sox on Wednesday … Rays starter Matt Moore will rejoin the Rays’ rotation on Saturday to face the Yankees … Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy (groin) took batting practice and fielded grounders on Tuesday, and remains on track to return on September 8 … Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts homered in a loss to the Yankees on Wednesday … Royals reliever Ryan Madson (arm) will throw a bullpen session on Thursday and hopes to be available this weekend … Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks (hamstring) will return from the disabled list on Friday … Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis had two hits in Wednesday’s loss to the Blue Jays, pushing his average up to .317 … White Sox starter Carlos Rodon allowed one run in six innings versus the Twins on Wednesday … Tigers starter Randy Wolf was hammered for eight runs in 3 2/3 innings in a loss to the Royals on Wednesday … The Astros recalled outfielder Preston Tucker from Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday … The Rangers called 3B/OF Joey Gallo from Triple-A Round Rock on Wednesday … Angels first baseman Albert Pujols slugged his 35th home run of the season in Wednesday’s win against the Athletics … Mariners starter James Paxton (finger) left Wednesday’s minor league rehab start with a blister … Athletics reliever Evan Scribner was diagnosed with a torn right lat muscle and will be shut down for the remainder of the season.