Mar 8, 2015

2010 NL MVP- Italian / Canadian Player: Joey Votto (2007-2012)

Joseph Daniel Votto was born on September 10, 1983 in Toronto’s Little Italy section of Ontario Canada. He was a strange kid in Canada more into basketball & baseball then the local favorite sport, hockey.

He joked saying his parents broke laws by leaving him home alone as an 11 year old, after Joe Carter hit the HR winning the 1993 World Series for the hometown Blue Jays. They went downtown to celebrate with the other fans at Sky dome.

His high school didn’t even have a baseball team, but Votto who was originally a catcher, got signed as a second round pick by the Cincinnati Reds in 2002. In the minor leagues his career began slowly, struggling against left handed pitching. In 2005 he played in the World Baseball classic for Team Canada. He hit .333 with 5 HRs & 16 RBIs.

In 2006 he tore up the Southern League winning the MVP Award, The Reds Minor League Player of the Year Award & was names Baseball America’s #7 prospect. He was invited to Reds  Spring Training in 2007 but didn’t come North with the team, going to AAA Louisville and playing in the Futures Game.

After another great minor league season where he played in the IL All Star Game, he got the September call up, debuting against the New York Mets, and striking out against Guillermo Mota as a pinch hitter. The next day he hit his first career HR, coming off Mets pitcher; John Maine. In 24 games that year, Votto hit .321.

The next year (2008) he began sharing time with Scott Hattenberg at first base until Dusty Baker gave him a shot playing regularly. Votto excelled, and was the Reds regular first baseman by the end of April. He hit three HRs in a game against the Cubs in early May. Votto had a great rookie year, hitting .297 with 24 HRs 32 doubles & 84 RBIs. He made it to the Topps All Star Rookie Team & finished second in the Rookie of the Year Award. His 84 RBIs broke Frank Robinson’s Red’s Rookie RBI record.

In 2009 he played again in the World Baseball Classic for Team Canada. He hit a HR getting four hits against team USA in the first game. When he got back to Cincinnati in the Opening series against the Mets, he went 3-5 with a HR & three RBIs in the second game of the 2009 season.
The next day he hit another HR & drove in four runs, crushing Mets pitching.

Votto had some personal issues during the year, taking his father’s death very badly, putting him into a depression. He also suffered dizziness from an ear infection, and missed almost a month of action that summer.

He still finished the year  strong, winning the Player of the Week Award in late September. He out up  great '09 numbers; batting .322 (5th in the league) with 25 HRs 38 doubles & 84 RBIs 70 walks and a .414 on base percentage (4th in the league).

In 2010 Votto become one of the league’s best hitters, winning the National League MVP Award, leading the Reds to their first Divisional title in 15 years. He began hitting right out of the gate, and in early May had his first career grand slam. In the middle of August he was leading the league in batting, on base percentage, runs scored & slugging for his first place Reds.

He made his first All Star game thanks to winning the on line voting Final vote, he went 0-2 in the N.L victory. At the end of the game he refused to congradulate Marlon Byrd who had thrown out David Ortiz with a game saving play.

He said “"And I'm not going to pat anybody with a Cubs uniform on the back. We are Cincinnati Reds. We're taught to hate everything in the Central Division. That's just how it is."

He finished the year leading the NL in on base % (.424) with 37 HRs (3rd in the NL) 36 doubles (8th in the NL) 171 hits (6th in the NL) 91 walks (4th in the NL) & 113 RBIs (3rd in the NL). At first base he posted a .996 fielding % & led the league in assists (136). In the NLDS he was shut down going just 1-10 batting .100.
 
He began 2011, with a HR on Opening Day and scored the games winning run, after Jose Hernandez’s walk off HR against the Milwaukee Brewers. He had a great April, with six HRs 17 RBIs batting .372. He hit a pair of HRs & drove in five runs in an interleague game at Camden Yards against the Orioles in late May.

In a four game series against the New York Mets the next month, he hit HRs in three straight games. He drove in four runs, while gathering six hits, although the Mets swept the set from the Reds.

In late August he had an eight game hit streak in which he hit four HRs with RBIs. Entering September he was in the run for the batting title, but finished the year batting .309 (5th in the NL). He led the league in walks (110) on base % (.465) & doubles (40). He hit 29 HRs with 103 RBIs & came in 6th in the MVP voting & won the Hank Aaron Award. 


He was awarded the Gold Glove for his excellent defensive play at first base, posting a .996 fielding %, leading the league in put outs, assists & games played at the position.

That year he was given the longest contract in MLB history, a twelve year $251 million dollar deal. The contract included provisions for a Corporate Suite to be used by his charity at Great American Ball Park.

In 2012 he  began the year with a huge day on May 12th. He hit two solo HRs, & then doubled in the 8th scoring a run. He ended the game with a grand slam , two out walk off HR off Washington's Henry Rodriguez. The day finished with three HRs & six RBIs. In July he made his third straight All Star team.

He was on pace for another great season batting when on July 15th, he went down with a knee injry that shut him down until September.

He finished up leading the league in on base % (.474%) & walks (94). He hit .337 (5th in the NL) with 14 HRs 44 doubles & 56 RBIs for the NL Central Champion Reds. In the NLDS loss to the San Francisco Giants, he went 7-18 (.389) with no extra base hits or RBIs, but did score three runs.

Votto was voted the "Face of MLB" in a February 2013 Twitter contest & played for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic.

Charity works: In the off season he helped launch a foundation to help asiist veterans, but after one year the foundation folded up.

He  began the Year, getting the game winning, walk off hit in the second game of the season, a 5-4 win over the Anaheim Angels. By mid May he got hot, from May 18th through the 31st, he hit 5 HRs with ten RBIs raising his average to .340. In July he made it to his fourth straight All Star game. 

His consistency continued, especially his ability to be patient & draw walks. He drew walks in ten straight games in April, then again in July. During a four game stretch in early August he drew nine walks, which also came during a nine game hit streak.

Votto had one of his healthiest seasons in 2013 playing in 162 games, coming in 6th in the MVP voting, leading the league in on base % (.435) walks (135) intentional walks (19) & plate appearances (726). He hit 24 HRs with 30 doubles 73 RBIs & a .305 average.

In 2014 he had a dissapointing injury plagued season playing in just 62 games batting .255.

In his eight year career Votto is batting .310 with 1055 hits 243 doubles 12 triples 163 HRs 553 RBIs & a .417 on base % in 952 games.

In 2015 he made his return going 1-2 in his first Spring Training game. In his contract year he & the Reds are hoping for a great comeback year.

Quotes: Joey Votto "All of it was great. All of it was fine. I think we're just about done with these sort of questions. I'm so glad to be back and play with the team and just fit in and to focus on a winning 2015 season."

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