The Hitter: Joey Votto
No surprise here. I used Joey Votto as last year’s opening series opposition roadblock. However, last year, I had more of an internal argument than this year. With one look at the Cincinnati roster, there is just not much there offensively. He has been a controversial topic as well because of his actions toward opposing fans around the league, including Philadelphia. Besides that, Votto has been one of the most consistent hitters in the majors for nearly a decade.
Last season, Votto cruised his way to another ho-hum offensive season. He slashed an impressive .326/.434/.550 with 29 homers and 97 RBI in the middle of a very average lineup. He also scored over 100 runs (101) for the fourth time in his career.
Votto boasts power to all fields and can hit against any pitcher. As a matter of fact, when teams tried to shift him in 2016, he hit an absurd .388 (93 hits). The lefty is known for his patience and willingness to take walks in any situation. Last season, he drew 108 walks in comparison to his 120 strikeouts.
In the six games the Phils faced the 33-year-old during the 2016 campaign, he was 2-22 with ten strikeouts. As a matter of fact, Jeremy Hellickson was able to send him back to the dugout on strikes three times last Opening Day. But tomorrow is undoubtedly not last season. And Votto has shown no signs of decline heading into the new league year.
If the Phils have any chance in this series, the pitching must not allow Votto to be the one to hurt them. He is one of their only consistent weapons.