Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Anti-Infield Fly Rule Update: The Joey Votto Streak

On October 2, 2009, Joel Hanrahan got Joey Votto to pop out to short on a 2-0 count. In the 758 at bats that have followed for Votto, he's hit 151 singles, 51 doubles, 4 triples, and 45 homers. Seemingly, the only thing he has not done is pop up again.

Batted ball location, as compiled by Baseball Info Solutions and published by, is available back to 2002. Since that time, Votto is the only player to have completed an entire season with 500 or more at bats without hitting an infield pop up. He did that in 2010 on the way to an NL MVP Award.

Only six other times has hitter completed a season with at least 350 plate appearances (about half a full season's worth) and no infield pop ups: Buster Posey and Jose Tabata in 2010, Edgar Gonzalez in 2008, Esteban German in 2007, Larry Bigbie in 2004 and Julio Franco in 2002. Of those, only Bigbie had enough at bats to qualify for a batting title and none hit even half the 37 homers Votto hit during his 2010 season.

Starting just over two weeks ago, Such Is Baseball began tracking the qualified batters who had yet to hit an infield flyball, which can be seen here: The Anti-Infield Fly Rule. Since then, David Wright, Elvis Andrus and Brandon Phillips have fallen off the list. The only players with a chance to complete the season without an infield pop out, ranked by number of at bats are:

  1. Michael Young, 225

  2. Yunel Escobar, 207

  3. Joey Votto, 204

  4. Jose Tabata, 179

  5. Howie Kendrick, 177

  6. Jack Cust, 163

  7. Gerardo Parra, 162

  8. Derrek Lee, 156

The list will continue to dwindle, but Votto's name has the best chance to remain on the list.

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