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What does Joey Votto think about the 2023 MLB rule changes?

In a recent interview, the Reds’ first baseman spoke on why he believes MLB’s proposed rule changes could be the thing beaseball needs.

What does Joey Votto think about the 2023 MLB rule changes?
Jamie SabauGetty Images

With the baseball world up in arms about the recent rule changes, there is no shoasdratage of opinion on how they will ultimately ‘ruin’ or ‘improve’ the game. Yet, there is one Reds player who has a slightly different take.

Joey Votto loves MLB’s rule changes

Speaking in a recent interview, Votto was actually refreshingly positive about the incoming changes to the game that will being in 2023. “I do think we’re about to approach a really fun version of our sport,” Votto said before going on to give his thoughts on the three major points of contention: the pitch clock, bigger bases and shift restrictions. With that said, why not take a look just below to make sure you’re up to speed on exactly what MLB has done in terms of rule changes.

Joey Votto’s thoughts on the shift

Given that he himself was shifted on for 86% of his plate appearances, you would think that Votto would be celebrating the new move, however, the Reds star actually sees MLB’s move as an opportunity for growth. “I’m realizing that to be successful as a hitter, I have to hit the ball the other way. I’m learning that through failure. Earlier in the season, I was trying to pull the ball a lot. I switched my bat. I started using an odd bat that a lot of the hitters are using these days. I tried to practice all my work down the right-field line. I was basically going for 50 home runs, because I was, like, ‘All right, I hit 36 last year in 129 games. Well, if I just pull a few more left-handed pitchers, if I time the left-handed fastball and I just pull them, I should get to 50. This is going to be easy.’ But actually, it’s like a trick mirror.

Indeed, Votto went on to reference David Ortiz who changed approach as well, something he said he’d been studying. “Anyways, long story short, I think the shift is a genuine challenge for certain hitters’ styles. But, you know, it’s the sort of thing where we get rewarded based on relative competition. They use the statistic Wins Over Replacement. (So) we’re competing using weighted measurements. So, it really doesn’t matter if I get a few more hits because everybody else will get a few more hits. So, it’s like, does the shift matter? No, it doesn’t matter at all. Because to me, it’s my responsibility to counter it because all my competition, my peers, the people I’m competing against for contracts or future jobs - they have to counter it, also. So, it doesn’t matter. Actually, it made me a better hitter, to be honest with you.

Here’s what Joey Votto thinks about the pitch clock

What was interesting here, is that Votto expressed the idea that he takes what he’s given, which is to say he can change his timing accordingly. “I promise you I only take what’s given to me. If you set a 10-second doesn’t affect me at all. I will stand there. I can stand in the box and hit, full swing, and then get back in the box. I don’t need the time, is all I’m saying.” Of course, he did acknowledge that there will be a learning curve for some, but doesn’t that come with the territory? “I think (some players) in the short term, some in the long term, it’ll become second nature. So that’s really all that matters. You have to improve the pace of the game.”

Votto would go on to make yet another intriguing point, which is the unpredictable nature of how long baseball games can last, which is to say quite some time. “We’re here to serve our fans. We, as players, are here to serve. I do get that you have to respect the player and his process. You know, players need a tempo, but tempos can be adjusted. We (have the ability to) make this adjustment and still perform well. And so, I love it. I love that there’s going to be a pitch clock. ...I think it’s wonderful. I wish that it had been instituted throughout my career, to be honest with you, because I feel like I’ve played an additional 50 games, with how long these games have been.”

What about those bigger bases? Joey Votto isn’t bothered

In case you didn’t know, MLB bases are 15-by-15 inches and with MLB’s proposed change will be bumped up to 18-by-18. A significant increase no doubt, but one that Votto is all about. “I love that they’re changing the base. And we haven’t touched on that. But anything to make the game more athletic. Seeing guys attempt stolen bases, or attempt first-to-thirds, I love it. Because I think that those few inches, all of a sudden, you’re choosing the faster guy as opposed to the home-run guy, (that) sort of thing. And so, I love the (larger) base. I’ve used the base on a rehab (assignment). And I think it’s fun. I think they may have instituted it for safety reasons. But I think it may make the game faster.”

Joey Votto believes better days are coming to baseball

In all what Votto sees as the positive to come from the rule changes is an increase in the fun factor. Indeed, Votto was open in his expression of the belief, that the changes being implemented will increase athleticism, which is something he wants to see. “I was guilty of it for a while. I mean, most of my career involves getting on base, and I had a lot of detractors. And I think with some distance, I get it. But not to make this question about me - but I’ll answer from my own experience. I did it because home runs and hits are really hard to get. And so, my best version was kind of a hybrid: getting on base, getting some hits, making the best of every at-bat. So that worked for me. I think that (what happened was that that became) a league-wide trend. ...I don’t want to generalize, but the zeitgeist was: Take pitches, and walks and strikeouts come with it, and homers.”

I think we have a great sport. And I think we’re about to showcase it at its very best, because it’s probably as athletic as it’s ever been. But when Ronald Acuña (Jr.) is in right field, and the third baseman is standing right in front of him, instead of seeing a diving play from (Acuña), it’s a one-hopper to the third baseman, who throws out Freddie Freeman on a 112 (mph) rocket. And the fans are like, ‘Ugh,’ instead of some awesome play from Acuña.” Is Votto right? Time will tell, but if one thing is clear it’s that he’s certainly given this a lot of thought.


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