The Reds' Joey Votto is enjoying yet another MVP-caliber season. Presently, he's hitting .351/.475/.613, and he's on pace for 26 homers, 133 walks (!) and 69 doubles (!!). As well, Votto leads the majors with an OPS+ of 189.
But what's Votto's most impressive statistical bestowal? It might be this: according to batted-ball data at FanGraphs, Votto has hit exactly one infield pop-up since 2009. Once for more emphasis: In almost three seasons, he's tallied one solitary infield fly.
On July 10, 2009, Votto popped out to short against Fernando Nieve of the Mets. Nothing of the kind happened again until July 8, 2011 -- almost two full years later -- when Votto hit a pop-up to third base off Milwaukee's Zack Greinke. It hasn't happened since.
It should be noted that such data rely on the subjective judgments of stringers, and what looks like a pop-up to one stringer in one ballpark might look like something else to another stringer somewhere else. Nonetheless, it's astounding that, according to one dataset, Votto has but a single infield fly in a span of almost three years.
Back in September of 2010, our own Trent Rosecrans brought up the subject of Votto's uncommon immunity to the pop-up to Votto himself and some of his teammates. Pitcher Bronson Arroyo probably had the most illuminating take on it. "It probably means for one, he lets the ball get really deep. If he lets the ball get deep and he fouls it off, it goes behind him. If he gets out front, it'll go to the infield," Arroyo told Trent. "That means he stays back a lot, which means he's going to hit offspeed stuff and hit the fastball the opposite way. Which he does a decent bit. Other than that it's just having a good eye and square the ball up more than the average cat. You'd still think, I don't care who you are, Albert [Pujols] has to have a pop up to the infield this year. That's weird."
Weird is one word for it. "Incredible" would be another.
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