Hal McCoy: Votto could go down as Reds best player — ever

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy knows a thing or two about our nation’s pastime. Tap into that knowledge with an email to halmccoy1@hotmail.com.

Q: If a player hits a home run while the lights are on during the solar eclipse will he be credited with a daytime home run or a nighttime home run? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek.

A: That isn’t going to happen because there are nine games scheduled for Monday, the day of the eclipse. Eight are at night and one, in Chicago (Twins-Sox), starts at 5:15, three hours after the eclipse ends. If there was a game during the eclipse, the outfielders would have to wear those special glasses and they wouldn’t be able to see anything but the eclipse. For some teams that might be an improvement.

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Q: Who plays first base on your all-time Reds team, Tony Perez or Joey Votto? — JOE, Kettering.

A: You forgot Ted Kluszewski, Frank McCormick, Sean Casey, Hal Morris, Todd Benzinger, Dan Driessen, Scott Hatteberg (the poster boy for the book Moneyball) and, yes, Jake Beckley (late 1800s). But, yes, you’ve hit the top two. While Tony Perez has a complete body of work that landed him in the Hall of Fame, Votto is on his way to not only being the best first baseman in Reds history, but maybe the best player, period.

Q: Joey Votto is on base so often with walks I wonder how great is his batting eye or is it more of not seeing strikes because of little support behind him? — ALAN, Plano, Tex.

A: If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Ted Williams donated his eyes to Joey Votto. How good is Votto’s eye? This year he has swung at pitches outside the strike zone only 5.6 percent of the time, by far the best in baseball. That’s why he walks so much. And teams don’t necessarily pitch around him because Adam Duvall and Eugenio Suarez, batting behind him, are driving in runs by the ton, mostly because Votto (if he doesn’t homer) seems to be always on base for them. Some people believe Votto walks too much, but if he swings at bad pitches he won’t be on base at his incredible rate. Ted Williams would be proud of him.

Q: Since the Cleveland Indians have acquired Jay Bruce, will they beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series? — JAY, Beavercreek.

A: As an Indians fan, I like your certainty. I don’t share it. First, the Tribe has to win the American League Central or snag a wild card. Houston, Boston, New York, Kansas City and Tampa Bay stand in their way of even making the playoffs. And the Dodgers? Look out for Washington and the Chicago Cubs. Jay Bruce helps any team for which he plays, on and off the field. And, yes, IF they make it, the Indians can beat the Dodgers, or any other National League representative.

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Q: I thought George Grande had retired but I see he is still calling games. Does he have a limited contract with the Reds or ie he asked to fill in? — VICKI, Dayton.

A: George Grande and I both announced our retirements after the 2008 season. And here it is nine years later and we’re both still working on a limited basis. I announced it because I thought I didn’t have a job, but a couple of entities popped up, including the Dayton Daily News. George was ready to spend time with his family but remains ready to step in when asked. In George’s case, that’s a great thing because if there is a nicer man on the face of the earth I have yet to meet him.

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Q: Does Reds closer Raisel Iglesias remind you of former Orioles closer Don Stanhouse, whom manager Earl Weaver called “Full Pack” for his habit of filling the bases and then wriggling out of it (and because of how many cigarettes Weaver would smoke while the erratic reliever was on the mound)? — JERRY, Middletown.

A: You don’t have to go back that far. Just a few years ago the Reds had closer Coco Cordero and it seemed he couldn’t pitch unless the bases were loaded. Every time manager Dusty Baker put him in, my mother-in-law, Lucille, would call me and yell, “What is he putting him in?” I wouldn’t put Iglesias in that category yet, but he has had some recent scary moments. Coco, though, would drive you cuckoo.

Q: Was it this bad in the Mario Soto era, because I was busy, uh, studying at Miami University? — RICHARD, Sacramento, Calif.

A: As bad as the Reds have been the last three years, they haven’t lost 101 games. And they won’t lose that many this year. Soto may have had the best year of any pitcher, any time, in 1982 when the Reds lost a franchise record 101 games. Soto was 14-13 with a 2.79 ERA and, incredibly, 13 complete games. He threw two shutouts, pitched 257 innings, struck out 274 and kept his sanity.

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Q: This says a lot about the Reds season if you notice stupid things, but why does Jose Peraza shave his face completely, then let it grow to a full beard, then start the process all over? — ROB, Beavercreek.

A: Are you a barber or do you just have too much time on your hands? How about Joey Votto? He seems to be able to grow a beard overnight. From day to day you see Bearded Joey and Clean-Shaven Joey. As for Peraza, perhaps he feels what’s good for Joey Votto has to be good for Jose Peraza. Remember the House of David basketball teams — full beards on every player? Maybe the entire team should grow full beards. They wouldn’t be recognized in public.


Q: Sal Romano and Luis Castillo are both hard-throwing young pitchers. Why is Castillo, so far, having more success? — JEFF, Troy.

A: So far it is a small sampling, but the difference between Romano and Castillo is extremely wide. Castillo has a swing-and-miss change-up and Romano is still working on one and seldom throws it. Castillo has much better command and control. He doesn’t walk people and isn’t constantly behind in the count. Luis Castillo has the confidence and demeanor of Luis Tiant. Sometimes Romano looks as if every batter he faces looks like Babe Ruth to him. Castillo almost looks like a finished product while Romano is a work in progress, with a lot of work to do.

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