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#pounditFriday, September 22, 2023

Joey Votto says he would rather quit baseball than play poorly


Long one of the most consistent hitters in baseball, Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto had a terrible April. He hit just .229 and slugged just .313, tallying just three extra base hits. His famed on base skills are still there, but Votto has not been getting hits.

It turns out that for Votto, April was so bad that he’d rather retire than allow that to become the norm.

“It’s not something I’m OK with,” Votto said Sunday of his April performance, via C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I’d rather quit and leave all the money on the table than play at a poor level. I’m here to play and be part of setting a standard. It’s something I’ve always taken pride in. I love to play at a really high level. So far this year, it’s not been that. I will not be a very satisfied, happy person if I don’t perform at the level that I expect.”

This is no small talk. Votto has eight years and $199 million remaining on his contract. He’s bound and determined to get himself right, though.

“In the frame of mind I’m in right now, I don’t know. I just… All I’ve known is playing at a certain level. The way I played in April is unacceptable and embarrassing to me,” Votto said. “It’s not something that I would look forward to coming to the ballpark, coming to spring training to do, year-in and year-out, it just would leave me too unhappy, too unsatisfied. I’m probably speaking in… I don’t know if (the word would) be abstract, hypotheticals, but I’d have a really hard time — and maybe I’m full of (it), but I just don’t feel I’m at that point in my career where I can accept mediocrity.”

There’s some precedent for players walking away from a big payday instead of just cashing in. It happened this spring, albeit with far less money on the table and under far different circumstances. Still, we’re betting Votto figures it out. It’s one bad month, not an entire poor season.


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