Our main man Joey Votto has a decent shot at becoming the National League’s first Triple Crown winner since Ducky Medwick in 1937 – and the Reds’ first Triple Crown winner EVER – and here’s why:
Votto and the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez are neck and neck in batting average. Entering Monday, Gonzalez had a slight edge: .326 to Votto’s .325. But Gonzalez has been RAKING lately – 10 hits in his last 19 at-bats and he was just named National League Player of the Week. He hit .382 in July and he’s hitting .349 in August. He’s got to come back down to earth, right? He’s a young guy (though he’s actually only two years younger than Votto) but he hit .284 in 278 at-bats last season and .242 in 302 at-bats in 2008. I figure he can’t keep it up and the only other legit threat at the batting title (barring a HUGE September from Martin Prado) is Pujols, who entered Monday hitting .320.
Home runs? This category might be the toughest, as Votto trailed the mighty Pujols by 3 after Monday. (And former Red Adam Dunn of the Nationals is tied with Joey at 32.) Tough to say the same about Pujols that we just said about Gonzalez: that he’s bound to cool off, never done this before, etc. We’ve just got to hope Pujols’ final month of the season is more like his July, where he hit a modest .267 with 6 homers and 15 RBI as opposed to his colossal August, in which he’s hit .402 with 11 homers and 23 driven in. Votto has actually only hit five dingers in August after clubbing 8 in June and 9 in July, so a late-season power surge isn’t out of the question. The only thing that would really bother me is if Dunn ends up winning this category and Votto wins the other two. (I’ve never really liked Dunn since he said this. Though at least he helped beat up on the Cardinals for us last week … I do have to give him credit for that.)
In the RBI category, Pujols has 95 after 0 Monday night and Votto has 94 with another one Monday. It’s do-able, but again he’s got to have a nice month. Third place is the aforementioned Gonzalez with 90.
Pujols recently was quoted as saying he thinks Votto has a good chance to win the Triple Crown. So we’ve got that going for us. It would be even better if Pujols said he was rooting for Votto to win the Triple Crown, but we’ll take what we can get – a nice compliment from Pujols, far better than Aramis Ramirez saying the Reds ‘don’t have that good a ballclub.’ (Thanks for your opinion, there, Aramis Cowherd, but if the Reds are only decent, what does that make the Cubs, who are more than 20 games BELOW .500?)
So why isn’t Votto’s pursuit of the Triple Crown getting more attention? There are a couple of fairly obvious reasons on the surface. It’s been a while since the Reds have been 20 games above .500. It’s been a while since the Reds have had a 6-game lead in their division this late in the season. In other words, if the Reds weren’t in contention, it might be one of the only things we’d be paying attention to at this point, but that’s not the case.
Other reasons: Casual fans might not know how rare an achievement the Triple Crown is. It IS Pujols in front of him in two of the categories, and he’s tough to slow down. Oh, and one other reason is the National League’s manager in the All-Star Game, Charlie Manuel, didn’t even select Votto to be part of his bench for the Midsummer Classic. Remember that? Even though he was hitting .314 with 22 homers and 60 RBIs? (Thank goodness for the fan vote, of course, or people – other than Colin Cowherd, who had never heard of Votto up until a couple of weeks ago – STILL wouldn’t know who he is.) Way to go, Charlie, you failed to take a guy who ended up being an MVP candidate and Triple Crown threat. :)