OAKLAND -- I remember watching the clip of Joey Votto on MLB Network. He was talking to Greg Amsinger and Eric Byrnes about hitting. It was during spring training, in a completely relaxed setting. It sounds simple enough, but when he speaks, you listen. And that's exactly what I did.
From that moment on, I was curious about Votto and what he did at the plate ... among other things, of course.
He mentioned Mike Trout being the best player in baseball during the MLB Network interview, and when he's asked about that, he admits he looks up to the two-time American League MVP -- well, kind of:
Me: "I know you look up to Mike Trout a lot."
Joey Votto: "I'm older than Mike Trout."
Me: "I mean, yeah ... but like ... "
Votto: "I respect Mike Trout."
Me: "Yeah that works."— Jessica Kleinschmidt (@KleinschmidtJD) May 8, 2019
But one guy Votto really looks up to is Barry Bonds. And while he admitted in the past he isn't in the same realm as Bonds, there's one thing he wishes he could replicate from the all-time home run leader.
"One skill that he possesses that I like is how easily he pulls fly balls -- it's a skill," Votto told NBC Sports California. "And I don't if it's because he's left-handed or he's a better athlete than nearly everybody, but he had that amazing ability to pull the ball and hit it in the air, but also hit balls that seem to go straight -- not just topspin or balls that turn."
I once read an article where Votto said his career goal was to be "unpitchable." A term the six-time All-Star told me is synonymous with Bonds.
"He's the definition of the word," Votto explained.
But it's also a word associated with the Reds' first baseman.
Now, we know Votto walks ... a lot. Which shows a great deal of plate discipline. And I was a lucky girl on Tuesday night to be in the presence of "The Athletic's" own Eno Sarris who knows numbers. He pointed out Votto's O-swing percentage. Yes, I'll explain it to you.
So, the O-swing percentage is "the percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone," according to FanGraphs -- and we trust FanGraphs.
Currently, Votto boasts a 19.8-percent O-swing percentage -- so there aren't many times he swings at pitches he shouldn't be swinging at.
But what does being unpitchable mean to him?
"If you don't throw a strike, it's a take -- and if you throw a strike, there are no comfortable strikes," Votto said. "So any strike that a pitcher throws, becomes an automatic hard-hit ball or at least you're threatening a really good swing. Not only that, when I see pitchable, there's no pitching style that would stand out whether it was a left-handed submariner or right-hander that throws 102, all styles, all shapes, and sizes -- everything."
Votto's asked Bonds some questions before, but they didn't cross over in terms of their careers, Votto explained.
"His last year was my first year -- you know, I don't know if I would have gleaned very much with him without playing with him," Votto said.
"I just watched him obsessively, and a few added players consistently, and I have a great deal of admiration for all of them."