I’ve Lied To You for A Couple Years Now…Joey Votto On His 2018 Approach
The Josh Donaldson interview last year was awesome, but I think THIS interview with Joey Votto may be better. It doesn't have the same let-the-beast-out-of-cage feeling that Donaldson contributed, but I feel Votto gives us more of a glimpse into the true art of hitting. What Votto shares confirms what my hitters have been working on this past off season…line drive barrel control. Precision.
Look, I love teaching my hitters the process of how to increase Ball Exit Speeds and to get the ball off the ground (optimal Line Drive Launch Angles), but as Joey Votto says, it's not the whole story. And this is where I've been lying to you for a couple years. Actually, not lying, just not sharing the whole story. 😉
Let me explain…
My friend and professional golf instructor Lee Comeaux knows golf, and brought this idea of “precision” to my attention a few years back. He understands springy fascia and the spinal engine, which is a PLUS. Also, over the past few years he's mentored his teenage daughter to hit .600 in Texas fast-pitch softball leagues. But most importantly, he comes from a sport where precision is king. Ask any golfer if they're as obsessed about Ball Exit Speeds and Launch Angles like we are, and they'll look at you as if a third eye grew in the middle of your forehead overnight.
What good is Ball Exit Speed if the ball is not going towards the hole? And Launch Angles matter depending on the distance to the target. And by the way, the angled club face kind of takes care of Launch Angles for golfers anyway.
Put yourself in a golf mindset for a moment. Imagine thinking about hitting, like you would golf? Precision. In the above interview, Joey Votto mentions the best hitters can hit the ball where they want, when they want. This may not be 100% true in games, but during Batting Practice most surely. How many of your hitters can do that? Not many of mine, but we're working on it.
Precision. This is not being talked about or taught in today's baseball and softball circles. How to control the line drive. The height AND width of it. Why are we so obsessed with the vertical aspect of the field and not the horizontal? So many coaches out there believe a hitter can't have power without sacrificing swing quality. An increase in power doesn't have to dampen Batting Average and/or increase a hitter's Strikeouts.
Precision. How to control the line drive. It's not easy, but it CAN be done. Hitters CAN have a high Batting Average (even though BA isn't a good indicator of value anymore, according to Sabermetrics), power numbers, and low strikeout totals. And I think Joey Votto touched on what I feel is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are the few key things to look out for in the above interview:
- This idea of Precision. Controlling the line drive.
- Setting hitting goals and reverse engineering purpose of the swing.
- The idea of using a batted ball as feedback to make adjustments (not new for golfers btw).
Without further adieu, here are…
My Joey Votto Interview Notes on his 2018 Hitting Approach
- About 0:20 second mark, Votto believes talking Launch Angles isn't telling the whole story, how complete you are as a hitter, rebuts Josh Donaldson's “ignore coach if he tells you to hit a ground-ball” comment, all fly-balls are not good fly-balls,
- About 1:30 minute mark, Votto talks about how hitters like Donaldson, et al. can hit a ball with any trajectory to any part of the ballpark, he uses golfer with a bag of clubs metaphor, doing anything you want at anytime is the story we're not telling, best hitters can do everything – he brings up Mike Trout (diverse array of skills),
- About 3:00 minute mark, Eric Byrnes asked Votto how his approach has changed since coming into league in 2007, give away less pitches, anytime he takes a swing there's intent or purpose to each swing (not being reckless), since he's aging as a player, Votto isn't able to make up for swing inefficiencies he could with a young athletic swing,
- About 4:30 minute mark, Byrnes asks Votto how he is super-human with his walk to strikeout ratio when the league really doesn't care about inflated K quantities, making a conscious effort to cut down on K's, goals – looked to Sabermetrics to see how he could hit .340 or .350 last year and math said he had to strikeout a bit less, mentioned a few years prior his goal was to get on base half the time (OBP would = .500), chokes up, the “con” was it led to softer contact at times, ability to foul off tough pitches, buys a better pitch later in the AB, spreading out, seeing ball a little deeper,
- About 6:50 minute mark, Votto was asked about how he has the highest batting average in his first AB, how important is starting game off with good momentum, separated each AB like it's their own thing, focusing on one AB at a time, every single game over an entire season, sticking with plan in the long run, Jay Bruce “to hit homer, you have to miss homers”, focus on process,
- About 8:40 minute mark, Byrnes asked Votto, “I have a 6yo boy at home, what's the #1 thing you'd teach him about hitting?” Let the ball be your feedback. Spending too much time on mechanics, ball is going straight in the air, ground-ball, in the air, is the ball coming off 4-seam, on a line with backspin, story about watching Albert Pujols with Cardinals on a line with backspin.