After being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds straight out of high school in 2002, it took Joey Votto almost five years to make his Major League Baseball debut, however it took the first baseman 1,592 games to do what he did Wednesday late afternoon against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Votto, 35, swung at a 3-1 pitch from Dodgers pitcher Pedro Baez in the eighth inning, at which point he popped up to Cody Bellinger in foul territory near first base for a routine out. While for most professional baseball players that’s really no big deal, it led to perhaps the most unbelievable stat of the day. After 1,592 games, 6,828 plate appearances and 27,918 pitches, Votto popped out to first base for the first time in his career and one of MLB’s longest, yet quietest, streaks came to an end. To better put that into context, there were 2,206 pop-outs to first base in the majors last season. During his 13-year career, Votto has grounded out 341 times and lined out to the first baseman a total of just 15 times. Not to mention, he’s only flied out eight times since the 2010 season.
It was pretty telling of Votto’s day however, as the leadoff hitter went 0-3 with a walk and two strikeouts as the Reds lost their fourth straight and fell further into the cellar.
For more than a decade, Votto has prided himself on his discipline at the plate, with a batter’s eye that is among baseball’s best ever and it’s helped him earn a slew of awards during his career, including the National League’s Most Valuable Player and the Hank Aaron Award in 2010. The six-time All-Star is also a career .310 hitter, with an on-base percentage of .426, which is No. 11 on the all-time list behind names like Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Plus, on Monday night he knocked in the 900th RBI of his career.
Even though he’s played on some abysmal Reds teams, it shouldn’t be overlooked just how good of a professional hitter Votto has been throughout his career. He’s making a strong case for a trip to Cooperstown when he’s finished – and astonishing statistics like his first pop-out to first base prove it.