Joey Votto is one of the most accomplished hitters in MLB, and he put his skill on full display Monday night.
The Cubs were beating Votto’s Cincinnati Reds 7-2 when the All-Star first baseman came to bat against Jose Quintana in the top of the fifth inning. Despite his club’s big lead, Chicago skipper Joe Maddon decided to combat Votto’s tendency to fly the ball to left field, moving third baseman Kris Bryant to the outfield and leaving shortstop Javier Baez to defend the left side of the infield by himself.
That’s when Votto managed one of the most memorable hitting feats of the month. The Canadian ripped a screaming double down the right field line, overmatching the Chicago defenders who were in position specifically to deny him of a hit.
Check out the big moment below:
As the broadcaster said, the Cubs couldn’t have stopped that ball from going for a hit if they had seven outfielders. Baseball’s sabermetric revolution has led to more efficient defences, but nothing can account for balls like that one.
While this was Maddon’s first time employing that particular shift with the Cubs, he said it worked for him many times during his tenure with the Tampa Bay Rays. He also said that Votto’s prowess at the plate may have limited the shift’s effectiveness.
“Joey Votto right now is ungodly,” Maddon said, according to ESPN. “Whatever you do, you’re taking chances anyhow. It’s almost like Tony Gwynn when he was good.”
Votto is batting a magnificent .317/.447/.603 this season, blasting 31 home runs and leading the league in both walks and OPS+. While Votto’s spray chart suggests that Maddon had the right idea in going with four outfielders, the 2010 National League MVP changed his approach ever so slightly, and the result was a ball that the Cubs had no shot at.
But while Votto’s hit was impressive, he couldn’t ignite a comeback — the Cubs scored eight more runs and wound up winning 15-5. They will continue their series against the Reds on Tuesday.
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