HomeMLBCan Joey Votto return to MVP form? Kyle Sullender May 20, 2013 MLB 2 Comments Is Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto steadily working his way back into his 2012 MVP form? Batting .349, the left-handed hitter has hit in eight straight games. This includes a game on Saturday against the hosting Phillies where he successfully reached base six times. Votto was 4-for-4 with two singles, a double, and a two run homer in the top of the ninth to cap things off. He walked twice amidst the excitement. The Reds won the game 10-0 as a result of his efforts. Without missing a beat, Votto stayed hot going 2-for-4 in Sunday’s series finale in Philadelphia. Over the span of his eight game hitting streak, Votto’s numbers are building momentum after a rough start. In his last eight outings, Votto has hit .515, scoring nine runs and driving in an additional seven. “I’m trying to see the ball as long as possible and direct it where I want it,” he told ESPN after Saturday’s game. The Reds, now two and a half games out of the NL Central are relying on Joey Votto to bring them back to the top of the standings. There are two problems with adding Votto to the MVP conversation. Votto will have to bump his numbers in both the RBIs and HRs categories. Having an on-base percentage of over .450 is impressive, but doesn’t contribute the way the Reds need right now. The three-time All-star is on pace for a respectable 70 RBIs which pale in comparison to the 113 that he generated in 2010. His swing only has him on track for 20 HRs, not the 37 he hit on his way to becoming the NL MVP. Before Saturday’s homer in the ninth, Votto hadn’t knocked one out in eighteen games. The worry is that the missing power from Votto’s game could be a result of something worse than just a long ball slump. It is possible that an underlying injury is keeping him from driving the ball the way he is expected to? With Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce behind him, scoring still shouldn’t be an issue for this club. The only difference is that Votto will be coming across the plate more as a direct result of someone else’s actions instead of his own. “Would you rather have 95 percent of Joey Votto as long as he’s not in pain or would you rather not have Joey Votto at all? He’s a force — even when he’s not doing anything — in the lineup,” Reds manager Dusty Baker told CBS Sports. “He makes a pitcher throw out of the stretch, with his on-base percentage. He’s going to get key hits and he’s going to hit the tough pitches, something that Joey Votto can do unlike anybody else. This guy can hit.” Right now MVP may be a bit of a stretch for the Reds first baseman. RBI and home run contribution is worshipped in this league. But he is certainly taking a leisurely walk into his fourth straight All-Star game, and the Reds are getting plenty to continue their push into the postseason.