Amid tough season, Votto putting up big numbers

First baseman launched 25th home run in win over Brewers

Amid tough season, Votto putting up big numbers

MILWAUKEE -- As the Reds' season spiraled far out of orbit in the second half, first baseman Joey Votto has quietly been one of baseball's best hitters. It was Votto who hit his 25th home run of the season in the ninth inning in Cincinnati's 12-9 come-from-behind win over the Brewers.

"I have to do my job to the best of my abilities," Votto said on Sunday morning. "Whether we're winning or losing and no matter the score, my objective is to do everything I can in any situation available. I'm hopeful I get to do that for the next five weeks or so."

Entering the day, Votto had a slash line of .385/.568/.715 since the All-Star break, with 10 homers. In the second half, he's leading the Majors in hitting, on-base percentage, walks and with his 1.283 OPS. He reached safely in 18-straight games.

Votto has more homers than in his last full season, when he had 24 in 2013 while playing all 162 games. Last season, he was limited to 62 games because of a distal strain in his left quadriceps.

Overall, Votto was batting .309/.450/.552 with a 6.1 wins-above-replacement mark. Is this what he expected coming off of last year's injury-marred season?

"I try to be careful with expectations because I find they can create a floor or a ceiling," Votto replied. "I do everything I can to prepare and I like to think I'm evolving as a player. I'd like to think I'm learning from my past mistakes and hopefully making adjustments I can apply to my game in the future.

"I had no idea what I was going to come in with this year. I had no idea how I was going to look a month ago or two months ago. I'm always trying to stay on my toes out there and trying to take advantage of every single opportunity that's out there. [Saturday] night was an example."

The long season brings wear and tear on every player, but Votto has been getting more productive as it nears the end.

"In baseball ways, I've noticed parts of my game have gotten better and more refined," Votto said. "I'm happy about that."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.