Joey Votto (CIN): 4-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB.
Reds first baseman Joey Votto is enjoying a bounceback season after a number of disappointing seasons dating back to 2018. As he closes in on 2,000 career hits, Votto looks like the 6-time All-Star that Cincinnati has come to know and love. He ranks in the top 5% of the league in barrel rate, xSLG, xwOBA, and average exit velocity. But, the most drastic improvement Votto has made this season is in hard-hit rate. His hard-hit rate is up 16.9% from 35.7% in 2020 to 52.6% this year. All of this begs the question, what is Votto doing differently? To answer this, I will refer to an article written in September by Pitcher List’s Kyle Horton. In his piece, Votto Has Found His Swing (Again?), Horton breaks down adjustments Votto made in his batting stance and load that make him a better hitter.
As you can see in this gif (made by Horton), Votto has ditched the deep squat for an upright stance in which his hands are behind his ears rather than at his chest. In the slide on the left, Votto is choked up on the bat, whereas in the slide on the right his bottom hand is on the knob of the bat. Choking up gives more control of the bat, but sacrifices bat speed and power. The swing on the right also features a higher leg kick and more separation with the hands. All of these changes allow for a free, loose swing that generates a ton of power. Votto’s refound power was on display last night, going 4-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB to help bring Cincinnati back from a 5-0 deficit to tie the game. Unfortunately, the Reds did not have enough in the tank to finish the comeback, losing 8-6 in extra innings.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Wednesday
Miguel Cabrera (DET): 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
The future Hall of Famer moved one step closer to another career milestone last night. His fifth-inning home run off of Matt Harvey was number 499 for Cabrera, now just one long ball away from the 500 mark. Cabrera has been on a tear recently, batting .389 with four home runs and seven RBI in the last 14 days.
Anthony Santander (BAL): 3-4, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Santander’s eighth-inning blast was the only offense Baltimore could muster in its 5-2 loss to Detroit. Like Cabrera, Santander is red hot of late. He is currently working on an eight-game hitting streak in which he is slashing .465/.489/.906 with four home runs and seven RBI.
Xander Bogaerts (BOS): 2-4, 2B, HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, 2 BB.
Boston dropped a 20 piece McNugget on Tampa Bay last night, and boy did they need a win like that. Boagaerts was a key contributor, reaching base four times and driving in four runs. His eighth-inning home run was his seventeenth of the year, but just the second for Bogaerts since returning from the All-Star break.
Omar Narváez (MIL): 3-3, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB.
It was a laugher in Wrigley last night, as the Milwaukee Brewers routed the Chicago Cubs by a score of 10-0. Narváez was perfect at the dish, reaching base in all four of his plate appearances. He has been one of the best hitting catchers in the league this season, but his .290 batting average is much higher than his XBA of .248. This makes him a prime candidate for a regression next season.
J.D. Martinez (BOS): 4-4, 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB.
Martinez did some damage of his own in the blowout of the Rays. He reached base in each of his five plate appearances and drove in two runs. The DH didn’t skip a beat after missing two games on the Covid list, picking up four hits on the night. Red Sox fans are hoping this sets Martinez right, who was in the midst of an 8-55 slump in his last 14 games.
Aledmys Díaz (HOU): 3-3, 2B, 3 RBI, BB.
The utility man has been exceptional since returning from his fractured hand. In 13 games since July 27, Díaz is slashing .339/.362/.589 with three home runs and 14 RBI. His season average is up to .298, just two points shy of his career-high from his rookie year in 2016.
Hunter Renfroe (BOS): 3-5, 2 2B, 3 R, 4 RBI, BB.
With six Red Sox coming up with multi-hit games last night, any of them could have ended up in this column. Renfroe gets the nod here for his all-around efforts in the blowout win. His three hits included two doubles, but Renfroe drove in four and added a walk as well. It has been a good month for Renfroe so far, as he has hit four home runs and driven in 11 runs since August 1.
Bryan De La Cruz (MIA): 2-4, 2B, HR, R, RBI, BB.
The Marlins enjoyed a 7-0 rout of the Padres last night, and rookie call-up Bryan De La Cruz picked up two hits in the effort. His highlight of the night was a solo home run in the second inning, the first of his career. De La Cruz is batting .267 so far but has hit safely in seven of his last nine games.
Lewis Brinson (MIA): 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.
Brinson has been on fire since the calendar turned to August. Since the start of the month, Brinson is batting .390 with four home runs and 15 RBI. These numbers include last night’s three-hit performance that included two home runs. Brinson was the main piece in the deal that sent Christian Yelich to Milwaukee, and both Marlins fans and brass must be happy to see him having success.
In redraft 5×5 h2h, should I drop Adell for Santander, Renfroe or Brinson?