Joey Votto has been in the headlines lately, albeit for reasons that he may not want. The Cincinnati Reds longtime star has been vocal about his team’s performance to begin the season, calling their showing on the diamond “awful” and “embarrassing.”
That description could be used to describe Votto’s performance as well. Just a year after he seemed to have resurrected his career by selling out more for power, Votto is in the midst of one of the roughest patches of his career. He has begun the season with a .136/.305/.152 batting line in his 82 plate appearances, with a double as his only extra base hit thus far.
This may be the end of Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto
To his credit, Votto is still getting on base. His 12 walks entering Saturday are tenth in the National League. However, his 29.3% strikeout rate and his .214 batting average on balls in play are both the worst marks of his career.
Votto’s Statcast numbers back up that fall from grace. After being consistently in the top 20 percentile in virtually every mark, he is not even close to being that player this year. Votto is in the 21st percentile in average exit velocity, 13th percentile in barrel rate, and the eighth percentile in hard hit percentage. He is chasing more, walking less, and making worse contact when he is not swinging and missing.
It is possible that Votto is simply pressing at the plate. He knows that the Reds need him to produce if they are going to have a chance at winning this season. That could be why he is selling out for power more and chasing pitches out of the zone; he feels that he has to do everything possible to get the Reds back into the win column and end this disaster of a season.
At the same time, Votto is 38 years old. Players are typically looking at the end of their careers at that age. The skills have declined, the bat has slowed, and the ball does not leave the bat with the same force. This is where Votto is right now and it is difficult to see that he will find that fountain of youth once more.
Joey Votto has completely fallen off from his performance in 2021. It is possible that the Cincinnati Reds’ first baseman is staring at the end of his career.