CINCINNATI -- When a player has reached base safely via a hit or walk in all but one of his games this season, most wouldn't think he was struggling. Then again, most players aren't Reds first baseman Joey Votto. Votto, who struck out three times in Thursday's loss to the Giants, entered Friday with 22 strikeouts over 86 plate appearances in his 19 games. It took 34 games in 2011 for him to reach his 22nd strikeout.
"Strikeouts come in streaks, just like everything," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It seems like every time he's hitting now, he's got two strikes on him. It's hard to hit like that. You take a close pitch and every pitch is called a strike. Then he'll foul off a pitch. The next thing you know, you're 0-2." Votto entered with a .273 average, one home run and 10 RBIs but has reached in 18 of 19 games. He led the National League with 18 walks and was fourth with a .430 on-base percentage. "That's Barry Bonds type of stuff," Baker said. "When Barry was struggling, I'd see him go 0-for-the-week, and be like 0-for-12. One thing the walks do for you, you're seeing so many pitches that you're going to get your timing and vision. The more pitches you see, the better your timing gets." And for those worrying about Votto's high strikeout rate, take a stroll down memory lane to 2010. According to Reds TV statistician Joel Luckhaupt, Votto had 22 strikeouts and 13 walks in his first 86 plate appearances that season. He went on to win the NL Most Valuable Player Award. "He knows he's going to hit. We know he's going to hit. And you know he's going to hit," Baker said. "We're just not used to seeing him struggle like this. It's happened to everybody who has played this game."