By Gary Schatz, Associated Press
GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — Joey Votto has spent the offseason trying to make sure he doesn’t have another subpar season.
The Cincinnati Reds star led the NL in on-base percentage last year but hit 12 homers, his fewest in a full season, and batted .284, his lowest since 2014. He had 67 RBIs.
“It was the first year where I had a poor offensive year,” Votto said. “It is hard to speak on this without sounding arrogant. I’ve always performed at a certain level. Last year was a bit of a shock. I didn’t perform anywhere near to what I’m used to.”
Votto, who turns 36 in September, was hit on the right knee by a pitch from Ryan Madson in August and went on the disabled list. His numbers were down even before the injury.
Votto hit 37 homers during his 2010 NL MVP season and had 36 with 100 RBIs in 2017. He spent this offseason refining his swing.
“I did things differently, so I hope it works,” Votto said. “Intuitively, I know why I wasn’t ready and came up short last year. I just made sure I didn’t do that again and learn from my mistakes. I feel very confident. I’m excited to work.”
Votto is owed $25 million annually through 2023, and the Reds have a $20 million option for 2024 with a $7 million buyout. He has spoken over the years about his desire to help the Reds become a winning team again.
Cincinnati overhauled its roster following its fourth straight season of 94 or more losses, adding starting pitchers Alex Wood, Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark along with outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp.
“We’ve added All-Stars,” Votto said. “We’ve added guys with long track records. They have a lot of things to gain by playing very well here. Hopefully, we carry that into a winning performance.”