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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Votto, Posey, Tabata in a class of their own

Joey Votto, named the National League’s Most Valuable Player on Monday, received some admiration earlier this season for his lack of infield fly balls.

Well, I checked today and Votto still doesn’t have an infield pop-up. He’s got 558 plate appearances, 382 of which have resulted in a batted ball, and somehow not one of those 382 balls have been a fly ball caught within 140 feet of the plate (the definition of Infield Fly Ball by FanGraphs, and measured by Baseball Info Solutions).

Votto continued this trend through the remainder of the season, finishing with zero infield fly balls in 648 plate appearances. At some point, I noticed that a Pirates player was having a similar season. After digging a bit deeper, I found three players with 400+ plate appearances and zero infield fly balls (per the Baseball Info Solutions criteria) in 2010.

Player PA IFFB
Joey Votto 648 0
Buster Posey 443 0
Jose Tabata 441 0

Posey and Tabata each had far fewer opportunities to hit a pop-up, as each came to the plate more than 200 fewer times than Votto. And Votto has a longer track record of avoiding pop-ups at the major league level, as is discussed in the Rob Neyer post linked above. But it is still an interesting accomplishment for the two rookies.

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