Joey Votto discusses admiration for Barry Bonds, desire to be 'unpitchable'


Joey Votto discusses admiration for Barry Bonds, desire to be 'unpitchable'

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:

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."


Madison Bumgarner not thinking about possible final days with Giants

Madison Bumgarner not thinking about possible final days with Giants

Madison Bumgarner has two or three more starts left this season.

Those could be Bumgarner's final starts in a Giants uniform.

With the playoffs out of sight for the Giants and free agency looming for Bumgarner, he is starting to field some of the same questions he got before the July 31 trade deadline.

Has Bumgarner started to think about the end of his time with the Giants?

"No, I hadn't," Bumgarner told reporters after the Giants' 4-2 loss to the Marlins. "I don't want that to come across the wrong way, but same deal, just take it one game at a time. Who knows what the future holds. Can't get caught up in that, so we had a ballgame to win today and I did my best to give us a chance to win and that's all I can really do."

Bumgarner was his vintage self on Saturday night. In seven strong innings, he allowed four hits and two earned runs. One pitch to Miami catcher Jorge Alfaro cost him.

Despite the two-run homer allowed to Alfaro, manager Bruce Bochy liked what he saw from his ace.

"I thought he was great tonight," Bochy told reporters. "Really good, effecient job. One pitch there left the ballpark, but overall, there he is, seven innings, two runs, that's pretty nice work. We're just struggling offensively, couple runners left on third with one out, that's not going to help out matters either."

[RELATED: Where Bumgarner projects among free agents]

Bumgarner will hit the free agent market for the first time this winter. With the Giants rebuilding, it's quite possible that president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi lets Bumgarner leave in free agency. Or Zaidi could bring back Bumgarner to anchor the rotation for a few more years.

As Bumgarner said himself on Saturday night, who knows what the future holds.

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner listed as fourth-best 2020 MLB free agent

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner listed as fourth-best 2020 MLB free agent

The 2019-20 MLB free agent class doesn't have the star power of last offseason's crop, but there are still several franchise-changing players that will be available.

Madison Bumgarner, who was not traded by the Giants prior to the July 31 MLB trade deadline, will test the free agent market for the first time in his career.

Coming off a contract that saw him earn $12 million in each of the last two seasons, this winter is Bumgarner's chance to cash in.

As the 2019 season winds down,'s Anthony Castrovince projected the top 20 free agents-to-be and has the Giants icon ranked No. 4 on the list.

"Despite an overall velocity decline since 2016 and a wealth of big league innings since debuting at age 19, Bumgarner has remained effective this season with increased curveball usage," Castrovince wrote. "Savvy teams might target ways to further tap into his potential as he enters his 30s, and, even in our increasingly analytical age, his pedigree is valued."

The players ranked ahead of Bumgarner are, in order, Astros ace Gerrit Cole, Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon and Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg.

After two injury-shortened seasons, Bumgarner stayed healthy this year and will make his 32nd start on Saturday night against the Marlins. If he makes his final two scheduled starts, he will match a career-high with 34.

In his 31 starts this season, Bumgarner has a 3.77 ERA with 184 strikeouts in 188 2/3 innings.

While those numbers are respectable, that ERA would be the worst of his career.

Still, Bumgarner holds tremendous value for any prospective team, including possibly with the Giants. Aside from freak injuries, he's a workhorse who takes the ball every fifth day without complaint.

Bumgarner has one of the most decorated postseason resumes, so perennial contenders like the Yankees and Braves would be perfect fits for the 2014 World Series MVP.

[RELATED: Bumgarner could lead NL in innings pitched]

It will be fascinating to watch the market for Bumgarner play out this offseason. Giants fans understand his value, but MLB teams might not fully appreciate what he brings to the table and undervalue him because he's 30 years old and has never won a Cy Young. But you're paying for the no-nonsense workhorse.

Our advice to interested teams? Back up the Brinks truck for Bumgarner.