Votto surges above .300 with 4-hit night

Reds first baseman repeating strong 2nd-half trend from last year

Votto surges above .300 with 4-hit night

MILWAUKEE -- For Joey Votto, any time he is batting below .300 might seem abnormal for a guy who is consistently above it season after season. When the Reds first baseman was hitting .213 on May 31, he may as well have been stuck in a hitter's abyss.

There's no doubt that Votto has climbed all the way out, and then some. With a 4-for-5 performance during Saturday's 11-5 Reds win over the Brewers, his average moved above .300 for the first time in 2016 -- to .301.

"It's taken a long time to get to this point. It's a long season," Votto said.

Since June 1, Votto is batting .377 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs. He leads the National League in overall on-base percentage at .428 -- nearly 100 points higher than the .330 it was at the end of May.

Votto has reached safely in 25 of 26 games since the All-Star break while batting .462 with a .562 OBP. It's the second year in a row he's gotten off to a slow start before taking his production up several notches.

"The first couple of months were really frustrating," said Votto, who has 18 homers and 59 RBIs. "I felt like I dug myself a pretty big hole. I still feel like I am coming out of it."

The sequel of Votto's summer rebound might be more impressive than the original because his struggles were more profound this season than in 2015.

"You can't keep a good man down," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "The thing is, he has a track record. That's something you can reflect upon. He's had great years, some start to finish, some a great second half like last year, and he's doing it again this year. I know it's frustrating for him to go through it and battle through it, but I know it was inevitable that he was going to break out. He's worked hard to get himself back on top of his game, and he's doing great."

Votto has shared his hitting knowledge with leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton, who has benefited. Hamilton hit a one-out triple in the third inning and scored the game's first run when Votto lofted a Zach Davies 2-0 pitch almost in the dirt for an RBI single to left field.

In the Reds' eight-run sixth inning, Votto had two hits -- a leadoff single that started the rally and an RBI double lined to right field that got past Hernan Perez in a poor play. In the eighth, he added a double to left field before exiting the game in a double-switch.

"It's the most impressive display I've ever got a chance to see in person," Reds pitcher Dan Straily said of Votto's season turnaround. "When you get around a talent like that ... you saw earlier in the year when he was struggling just how patient he was with himself. I feel like any ballplayer can learn from that. You just have to be patient and keep working at it. We're all in this room for a reason. He's obviously a great talent. Being able to watch him the last couple months has really been enjoyable to watch."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. 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.