Votto's exceptional run for Reds is putting him among MLB legends

BY Connor Kiesel • September 3, 2015

When it comes to the second half of the 2015 MLB season, it doesn't get much better than Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto.

Since the All-Star Game in Cincinnati, Votto has been the best position player in baseball.

Those numbers are not something at which to scoff.

His .399 post-All-Star break batting average is 20 points higher than the next-closest competitor (Michael Brantley at .378) whose played at least 40 games since then. Since July 17, Votto has raised his average for the season nearly 40 points from .277 to .316.

That's only the beginning.

Votto's on-base percentage since July 17 is a whopping .576, more than 120 points higher than anyone else in that span. As FOX Sports Ohio's Reds broadcast noted Wednesday, that puts him in the rarified air of Barry Bonds, Ted Williams and Babe Ruth.

Nice company, eh?

Opposing pitchers are continually learning you don't mess with Votto right now or you're going to pay. The Cubs did Wednesday afternoon.

"The expectation when he goes to the plate is something good's going to happen," Reds hitting coach Don Long said. "He's unbelievably consistent."

It's all a stark contrast from last season when Votto struggled with leg injuries and played only 62 games. Finishing with a .255 average, six homers and 23 RBI was not a trend, which Votto has proven in authoritative fashion this season.

More and more, we're seeing that 2014 was an outlier. In his six other seasons with the Reds, in which he played more than 100 games, Votto hit more than 20 home runs and over .300 five times.

He's on pace to do that again through 130 games this season. With 27 home runs, Votto is eyeing his career high of 37 in 2010, the year he won the National League MVP.

Votto was paid handsomely in 2012 when the Reds inked him to a 10-year, $225 million contract.

Some doubted that deal through the trying times, but Votto is back -- and he's proving why he will not only be a part of the Reds' future for a long time to come but be a true franchise player, too.