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Well, his in zone % is basically constant his whole career (45-46%), so pitchers aren't throwing him fewer strikes.
Either the pitchers have gotten much better at throwing him "edge" strikes (seems unlikely to me) or Votto is taking pitches he used to swing at.
It's like 'come on buddy, your job is to hit the baseball,' not be a table setter - not to see as many pitches, but to do something with them.
Right, but the point is Votto was already an All-Star with a different approach, and then changed.
In 2009-10 Votto produced with a 12-13% BB-rate, and a ~.260 ISO. In 2012-13 he produced with a 19-20% BB-rate and a ~.215 ISO.
"Imagine how good Ichiro could be if he decided to use his batting practice power in games!" or "Robbie Cano is leaving 20 points of batting average on the table every year because he doesn't hustle!" or "Ted Williams would have been much better off if he'd have just gone the other way against the shift."
If in fact the supposition that Votto takes too many pitches to be an ideal RBI man, it's on the Reds to recognize this and bat him #2 in the order, not to demand he change the skillset that makes him an absurdly valuable player.
It's the broadcasters and one of the writers who are clamoring for a change in Votto's approach, not the org. Dusty made one comment early this year about all of the walks. That won't be an issue anymore.
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