Votto’s Reaching the Grass

While pulling some numbers last night about Joey Votto for my post on the Triple Crown* I stumbled across Joey Votto’s number of infield pop ups this season. It’s zero. According to BIS, Joey Votto has yet to hit a single fly ball that hasn’t at least reached the outfield grass.

*For what it’s worth, I think the edge goes to Votto over Pujols because I believe more in his high batting average than ZiPS does and I think his home field advantage in home runs and RBIs puts him in a better situation. However, it wasn’t a conclusion based on any exhaustive study of projections and I thought that was obvious since I didn’t back it up with anything. It was a single sentence reflecting a personal feeling only.

In case you were wondering, that is pretty impressive. The list of qualified hitters who have managed an infield fly per fly ball (IFFB%) rate under 1.0 since 2002:

2004 Larry Bigbie 0.0%
2009 Ryan Howard 0.6%
2009 Derek Jeter 0.8%
2006 Bobby Abreu 0.8%

Derek Jeter makes the list once and several times was amongst baseball’s best. He has perhaps best been consistent in avoiding hitting pop ups with 4.9% being his highest rate, which is still lower than the league average.

Larry Bigbie is an interesting case. 2004 was certainly the high mark of his short Major League career and he still ended up as a below average player with only a slightly above average bat. 2004 was the only season that Bigbie qualified for the batting title otherwise he would be all over this list. According to BIS, and Retrosheet’s markers have a similar interpretation, Larry Bigbie hit exactly one infield fly ball in his Major League career over 1,367 trips to the plate.

Like Jeter and Bigbie, Votto has never been one to hit into many pop ups. More impressively, he’s done it as a hitter not inclined to ground balls the way Jeter and Bigbie are or were. Votto’s career 42% ground ball rate is much lower than either Jeter’s 52% or Bigbie’s 56%. Votto doesn’t shy away from hitting fly balls, he just hits them with consistent power.




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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.


20 Responses to “Votto’s Reaching the Grass”

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  1. cpebbles says:

    You know that his high average is below Albert’s career mark, and that Albert has 4 more HRs and 2 more games to play?

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    • Saga says:

      I know everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion, but everyone here looks to look at numbers (I assume). Based on strikeouts numbers alone, Pujols is more likely to sustain his current batting average (let alone his career numbers which only further supports his case).

      Moving over to the homers, Votto has never shown this much power even in the minors. I do believe that his power is real, but it’s hard to see to him surpass Pujols in the power numbers (Votto is already trailing there, not to mention that Pujols has a superior record by far).

      RBI is a bit of a tossup but Pujols has to be considered the favorite. And yes he will also need Omar Infante to stop hitting (singles).

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  2. MX says:

    Jeter doesn’t hit into pop ups. He only hits ground ball to DP.

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  3. joe says:

    So when Votto fouls out, is that considered the outfield grass or just excluded?

    I think he’s had a few in foul territory that didn’t have OF depth.

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  4. Tyler says:

    I wrote this a while ago on rant sports’ fantasy blog. http://www.rantsports.com/fantasy/2010/08/13/joey-votto-is-a-man-but-hes-not-40/

    not spam at all. Just glad to see him finally getting some daps.

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  5. Craig Glaser says:

    I just watched the video of all of Votto’s balls in play which MLB labeled as Pop Ups. One of them was caught on the infield dirt. Still very, very impressive, though.

    It was against Ryan Rowland-Smith on 6/20 in the 1st inning. It was caught right on the border of the outfield grass, to be fair.

    I was just marveling at Votto’s year a few nights ago.

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  6. Eli says:

    Buster Posey also has 0 IFFB, though he isn’t qualified yet.

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  7. Htpp says:

    Joey Votto once hit a grand slam… with no men on base

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  8. cygar13 says:

    Matt,

    What do you believe are the 5 best “advanced statistics” to value a hitter. Strictly hitting, not fielding included.

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  9. Cody Vaughn says:

    As a Cardinals’ fan that lives in Reds’ television territory, I would say Votto has the better chance at the Triple Crown.

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  10. The Duder says:

    Dude, no offense, but as a FG writer you must know you can’t say stuff like

    “The edge has to go to Votto for the moment.”

    Without being corrected by people. But then follow it up with another statement like this trying to justify it…

    “*For what it’s worth, I think the edge goes to Votto over Pujols because I believe more in his high batting average than ZiPS does and I think his home field advantage in home runs and RBIs puts him in a better situation. However, it wasn’t a conclusion based on any exhaustive study of projections and I thought that was obvious since I didn’t back it up with anything. It was a single sentence reflecting a personal feeling only.”

    I think we’ve all come to expect a little bit more from FG. If you want to insert pure conjecture into your articles, that’s great. We’re not mind readers though, so just say when you making a completely baseless (other than your gut) claim or prediction so we know to stop paying attention.

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    • adohaj says:

      “. . .just say when you making a completely baseless (other than your gut) claim or prediction so we know to stop paying attention.”

      You don’t find opinions interesting?

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    • Saga says:

      I couldn’t agree more. Here’s the original quote in the article.

      “The edge has to go to Votto at the moment”.

      Don’t mean to nitpick (it’s a great topic), but this didn’t sound like a personal feeling. It’s tough for readers not to disagree when Pujols is a superior contact hitter (he strikes out half as much as Votto does).

      Not to mention, the home field advantage is not much of an explanation because it was there all along, and Pujols still had 2 hr/rbi lead at the time of the original article (now 3 up on each).

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  11. Doug Melvin says:

    ZiPS doesn’t “believe” in anything. There’s no nuance to it.

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    • Rich says:

      If you really think that, you don’t understand statistics at all.

      The model is nuanced and biased, like every model is.

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  12. CircleChange11 says:

    Wow, Matt is taking a beating today (Votto, Twins Bullpen)

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  13. blackout says:

    As Reds fan, I think Pujols is still clearly the more talented hitter (superior power and much tougher to strike out), but the divide is much narrower than I’d have expected even after last year’s excellent Votto campaign. And FWIW, most Cincinnatians I know are far more interested in the MVP race between the two as it will be considered a referendum on which team is better. As has been pointed out often in the last week or so, Infante stands a strong chance of spoiling the TC by winning the batting title.

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  14. Jim Lahey says:

    Too bad Posey won’t have enough PA’s to qualify for the BA title. I’d be much happier seeing him qualify at the last minute to win it than Infante..

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