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Joey Votto loves the MLB rule modifications: Reds star talks baseball’s future and his personal

There are gamers on this world who’re cautious of baseball’s edgy new rule modifications.

There are gamers on this world who’re interested by baseball’s edgy new rule modifications.

There are gamers on this world who’re flat out teed off about baseball’s edgy new rule modifications.

After which there’s Joey Votto.

“I do suppose we’re about to method a extremely enjoyable model of our sport,” the Reds’ ever-thoughtful first-base thinker king mentioned at one level throughout his go to with Doug Glanville and me on the newest Starkville version of “The Athletic Baseball Present” podcast.

“I really like that there is going to be a pitch clock,” he mentioned at one other level.

“I really like the (bigger) base,” he mentioned at one more level. “I really like that they are altering the bottom. … Something to make the sport extra athletic.”

Joey Votto, man. Can we simply put him in control of, effectively, every little thing?

For almost an hour, Doug and I have been a part of a dialog just about in contrast to something we have ever had with any baseball participant ever. And I do not say stuff like that off the highest of my head.

We obtained to listen to Votto’s insightful takes on:

• How his torn bicep has made him mirror on how one main damage can have an effect on “your whole life” — and his future within the sport.

• How Albert Pujols’ grand finale has made him suppose, “If Albert can do it, why cannot you do it?”

• Why all these gamers observing their iPads within the dugout nowadays are making the massive mistake of disconnecting from “the rhythm of the sport” — full with a comparability to going to a dance membership!

And there was a lot extra. I extremely advocate you take a look at the whole dialog. It is one thing.

However hey, it is these rule modifications which might be the discuss of baseball nowadays. So right here come some essential excerpts from this present, wherein Votto reminds us, with each thought he expresses, that no one’s mind in baseball spins fairly like his.

(Solutions have been edited for readability and size.)


Votto on how the shift was his ‘trick mirror’

Statcast tells us that Votto was shifted on in 86 % of his plate appearances this season. So that you’d suppose he can be one of many many left-handed hitters celebrating the brand new rule that can pull the plug on the shift after this season, proper?

Haha. Improper. That is Joey Votto we’re coping with. SW in factafter I requested him about this, the reply wasn’t what I anticipated.

Earlier this season, he mentioned, he was locked in on the concept that pulling the ball onerous within the air was his path to a giant yr. That is not the way it labored out in any respect. He battled shoulder ache all yr and hit simply .205, with a .689 OPS. So now, he revealed, he has flipped on that sport plan.

“I am realizing that to achieve success as a hitter, I’ve to hit the ball the opposite method. I am studying that via failure. Earlier within the season, I used to be attempting to tug the ball so much. I switched my bat. I began utilizing an odd bat that a number of the hitters are utilizing nowadays. I attempted to observe all my work down the right-field line.

“I used to be principally going for 50 house runs, as a result of I used to be, like, ‘All proper, I hit 36 ​​final yr in 129 video games. Effectively, if I simply pull just a few extra left-handed pitchers, if I time the left-handed fastball and I simply pull them, I ought to get to 50. That is going to be simple.’ However really it is like a trick mirror.”

So subsequent yr, he mentioned, we’ll see him deal with driving the ball the opposite method once more, very like David Ortiz did after altering his method late in his profession. (Not surprisingly, Votto revealed he has been studying all about that.)

“Anyhow, lengthy story quick, I believe the shift is a real problem for sure hitters’ types. However, you already know, it is the kind of factor the place we get rewarded primarily based on relative competitors. They use the statistic Wins Over Substitute. (So) we’re competing utilizing weighted measurements. So it actually does not matter if I get just a few extra hits as a result of everyone else will get just a few extra hits.

“So it is like, does the shift matter? No, it does not matter in any respect. As a result of to me, it is my duty to counter it as a result of all my competitors, my friends, the folks I am competing in opposition to for contracts or future jobs — they should counter it, additionally. So it does not matter. Really, it made me a greater hitter, to be trustworthy with you.”

How Votto plans to crush the pitch clock

Statcast additionally tells us that Votto took 18.6 seconds between pitches with nobody on base this season. So perhaps you are considering a 15-second pitch clock is likely to be an issue for him.

Haha. As soon as once more, remember that is Joey Votto. So after I started to pose that premise, he did not let me even get via the query.

“I promise you I solely take what’s given to me. In case you set a 10-second clock … it does not have an effect on me in any respect. I’ll stand there. I can stand within the field and hit, full swing, after which get again within the field. I do not want the time, it is all I am saying.”

He then let me end my thought. So I went international on him, asking how onerous it might be for hitters across the sport to take care of a clock. However as soon as once more, this was a person whose thoughts had already moved on to how simple this could be — and the massive image, the one image that issues.

“I believe (some gamers) within the quick time period, some in the long run, it’s going to develop into second nature. In order that’s actually all that issues. It’s a must to enhance the tempo of the sport.”

He then instructed a narrative about why he understands the true which means of enhancing that tempo. He was once a Toronto Raptors season-ticket holder, he mentioned. And when he went to these basketball video games, he knew at 7:30 pm, as these video games have been simply beginning, that the sport can be over at 10 pm So he already knew – at 7:30 – what prepare he may take house after the sport.

However as you (and he) have additionally observed, not in baseball the place “you do not know if our video games are going to finish at 9:45 or 11:45.” On one hand, he mentioned, “there’s some appeal to that.” Simply not each night time.

“We’re right here to serve our followers. We, as gamers, are right here to serve. I do get that it’s a must to respect the participant and his technique of him. You recognize, gamers want a tempo, however tempos may be adjusted. We (have the power to) make this adjustment and nonetheless carry out effectively. And so I like it. I really like that there is going to be a pitch clock. …

“I believe it is fantastic. I want that it had been instituted all through my profession, to be trustworthy with you, as a result of I really feel like I’ve performed an extra 50 video games, with how lengthy these video games have been.”

On how bigger bases will change the sport

Often on Starkville, Glanville and I are those who ask the questions and steer the dialog. However when it is Joey Votto on the opposite finish of that dialog, in fact, he is method forward of us. SW in facthe introduced up the brand new 18-inch-by-18-inch bases (up from 15-by-15) earlier than we even had an opportunity to ask.

“I really like that they are altering the bottom. And we’ve not touched on that. However something to make the sport extra athletic. Seeing guys try stolen bases, or try first-to-thirds, I like it. As a result of I believe that these few inches, hastily, you are selecting the quicker man versus the home-run man, (that) kind of factor. And so I really like the (bigger) base. I’ve used the bottom on a rehab (project). And I believe it is enjoyable. I believe they could have instituted it for security causes. However I believe it might make the sport quicker.”

Votto sees a greater type of baseball to come back

It should not shock us {that a} man who’s the king of pitch recognition must also be the king of recognizing the way forward for baseball. And what Votto sees, as he friends into the longer term, is a mode of baseball that could possibly be far more enjoyable than what we’re watching.

Behind these rule modifications, he sees hope for this sport to indicate off extra athleticism. And if that is the thought, he is all in.

However he additionally is aware of he has been in the midst of the talk about what the sport has develop into. The walks! The homers! The strikeouts! The emphasis on course of over motion. And whaddaya know, he is thought of that so much.

“I used to be responsible of it for some time. I imply, most of my profession entails getting on base, and I had a number of detractors. And I believe with far, I get it. However to not make this query about me — however I will reply from my very own expertise.

“I did it as a result of house runs and hits are actually onerous to get. And so my greatest model was sort of a hybrid: getting on base, getting some hits, making one of the best of each at-bat. In order that labored for me. I believe that (what occurred was that turned) a league-wide pattern. … I do not wish to generalize, however the zeitgeist was: Take pitches, and walks and strikeouts include it, and homers.”

Sure, you simply heard a baseball participant use the phrase, “zeitgeist.” However we digress. Again to our program, the place Votto then contrasted that pattern with the evolution of basketball in his lifetime.

“I am a basketball fan. And I have been a basketball participant since I used to be like 8 to 9 years previous. I really like sports activities. My old flame. It is the very first thing I wish to do as soon as I am performed taking part in, is begin taking part in basketball once more. … And I bear in mind practising with my crew as a highschool participant. In case you took a 3 (when your crew wanted a layup), it was: speedy bench.

“And … after I first began taking part in baseball, it was: Why are you taking so many pitches? Why are you taking that fringe pitch on the sting? Take a swing. Put the ball in play. Do not strike out trying. And I do not suppose it is both reply. However I do suppose we’re about to method a extremely enjoyable model of our sport, the place it is extra athletic, the place there’s extra balls in play, the place we get to see the athleticism of the infielders and outfielders.

“I believe we now have an important sport. And I believe we’re about to showcase it at its absolute best, as a result of it is in all probability as athletic because it’s ever been. However when Ronald Acuña (Jr.) is in proper area, and the third baseman is standing proper in entrance of him, as an alternative of seeing a diving play from (Acuña), it is a one-hopper to the third baseman, who throws out Freddie Freeman on a 112 (mph) rocket. And the followers are like, ‘Ugh,’ as an alternative of some superior play from Acuña.”

Votto on his future, getting ‘slowed out’ of baseball

So if Votto loves these modifications, if he loves how they’re going to promote athleticism, if he loves how these bigger bases may encourage extra base-swiping, how may we not ask: How will this have an effect on him?

I assumed it might be enjoyable to counsel that between the bigger bases and the brand new rule limiting pickoffs/stepoffs by pitchers, he may steal 40 bases. However, course, Votto swatted down that concept like Pascal Siakam swatting down a lazy layup by a 6-foot-2 level guard.

“You recognize, little modifications like this are the explanation why I’ve obtained perhaps two, three years left. I am gonna get slowed out of the sport. So I am joyful at hand it off to the following group.”

However these are simply the rule-change highlights of our dialog. So take a look at the entire Starkville episode, accessible in every single place you get your podcasts.

Additionally see:

• Gamers and managers on MLB’s rule modifications
• The Way forward for Baseball sequence

(Picture: Jeff Dean/Related Press)

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