Reds Question 4: Will we see first-half or second-half Votto this year?

A good start is paramount for the young team
Posted at 7:56 AM, Feb 08, 2017

This is the fourth in a series of nine questions about the Reds as they head toward spring training.

CINCINNATI -- Will we see the first-half Joey Votto in 2017 or the second-half Joey Votto?

Votto was hitting .213 at the end of May, and he hit .409 for the second half of the season. Both numbers are surprising. Votto clearly thinks it was the struggles that were more shocking.

"I've had stretches where I've had success over and over and over for months on end," he said. "But I haven't a lot of stretches were I just fail pretty consistently. I didn't understand it, and it wouldn't stop."

Votto ended up hitting .326/.434/.550 for the year despite the awful start. His numbers in the second half -- .408/.490/.668 -- were among the best in baseball history. Votto was the first major leaguer to hit over .400 for the second half since Ichiro Suzuki hit .429 in 2004.

Votto's big second half in 2016 came after he hit .362/.535/.617 in the second half of '15.

The Reds need Votto to contribute more in the early months of 2017 to compete. A good start is paramount for a young team like the Reds, and it would be a lot easier with Votto hitting the way he did in the second half.

Votto, 33, was pleased with his season at the plate, but his defensive and base-running lapses ate at him. He ended up seventh in the MVP vote, despite leading the National League in OPS+ (on-base plus slugging adjusted for the player's home ballpark).

"I felt like I went a couple of months where I played some really inconsistent defense," he said. "You can't be in the conversation (for best player in the game) unless you do every aspect of the game. I love competing against the best. It's something I fell a little bit short on. Offensively, I felt like I could compete with anyone in baseball. Defensively, I feel like I have a way to go. It's exciting to have a challenge to overcome."

Question 6: With Homer Bailey out, who joins the rotation?
Question 5: Is Scott Schebler right for right field?
Question 3: Who closes? Storen? Iglesias? Cingrani?
Question 2: What should fans expect from Homer Bailey?
Question 1: Where does Price play top prospect Jose Peraza?