Votto blamed his subpar 2019 on mechanics and process, trying to chase his 2017 results in part because he didn't get the desired results in 2018, Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati Enquirer (via a segment on MLB Network with Brian Kenny) reports. Votto said that the drop in homers from 36 in 2017 to 12 in 2018 disturbed his approach at the plate, but it shouldn't have. "In '19, I was really bent out of shape going from hitting 36 home runs to 12 home runs (in 2018). I viewed the year as a failure. But looking at my Statcast data, it was an unlucky season. I was a really productive hitter using relatively predictive data." Watch the full segment with Votto and Kenny -- it's really enlightening.
Votto had a single in his final at-bat Monday against the Dodgers, making him 1-for-9 for the spring season, albeit with six walks, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. "I didn't even know that," manager David Bell said. "I do know how many walks he's gotten. It seems like he's been on base the whole spring. Those might be the best spring training at-bats you can have, walks. You're seeing more pitches and getting a better feel for the zone and all that. With Votto coming off of his worst season, he's under extra scrutiny this spring to see if he's showing any signs of correcting what held him back in 2019. The Reds' batters are playing every other day right now, but that activity should pick up following Tuesday's off-day.
Votto is extremely likely to continue batting second during the regular season, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. "His profile might fit as much as anyone who has ever played the game as far as his ability to get on base," manager David Bell said on Friday. Bell hasn't outlined most of his lineup decisions yet, but he's emphasizing on-base skills toward the top. Talking about what type of hitters he wants batting leadoff ahead of Votto, Bell said: "I have a profile in mind, and we have guys that fit that for sure that are going to be regulars on our team. The big thing is getting on base. You look at our team last year, and the middle of our order and the damage that the middle of the order did last year and the potential of what they can do even more so this year, it's going to be important to get on base in front of those guys. The top of the order, on-base is really the No. 1 thing I look at. If guys can run, that's great, too, it's important."
Votto is not in the lineup for Friday's game at Pittsburgh. Votto started the last eight contests but will head to the bench after going 0-for-10 with five strikeouts in the last two games. Alex Blandino receives the start at first base in the series opener.
Votto has abandoned choking up on the bat and has been more upright in the batter's box over the last month of the season, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. He's batted .321 with three homers over the last 24 games. This is some minor tinkering for Votto, who isn't yet ready to overhaul everything yet. "I really think I need to step away and just take as much time away from the game as possible, just kind of recharge," Votto said. "This is a taxing six months for me, personally. As a team, six straight losing seasons is very frustrating. After a while, looking across the field, you see teams playing meaningful games, it's very frustrating being the team on the other side trying to interrupt those strong finishes."