Joey Votto’s bid for historyby Chris Jaffe
May 25, 2013
There’s this guy on the Reds named Joey Votto. Maybe you’ve heard of him. He’s pretty good.
That’s a rather blatant understatement. He’s led the league in OBP three times in a row. He’s led the league in walks each of the last two years while hitting over .300. He has some power, so he once led the league in slugging percentage. No wonder he’s already won an MVP.
But so far, this might be the most impressive season he’s had. Currently, he leads the league in walks drawn and hits. That’s tough to do. In fact, it’s been done only once in the last half-century, four times since 1900, and six times ever.
Here is a list of everyone who ever led the league in walks and hits in the same year:
Lenny Dykstra, 1994
Carl Yastrzemski, 1963
Richie Ashburn, 1958
Rogers Hornsby, 1924
Billy Hamilton, 1891
Ross Barnes, 1876
That’s nice company. Four are Hall of Famers. Barnes was a great hitter by the rules of the day, though the league soon changed the rules. (He was master of the fair-foul hit, in which if the ball first landed fair, then it was fair even if it went foul before leaving the infield). Dykstra is the weird one, but even he had a nice career.
Will Votto keep it up? It’s tough to do, but if he stays healthy and keeps hitting .361, you've got to like his odds.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.