Let's start with the premise that Joey Votto is the best hitter in baseball. It's an easy case to make. Votto leads Major League Baseball in on-base percentage plus slugging percentage (OPS) by more than 50 points.

OPS measures a hitter's ability to get on base and his ability to produce total bases. Entering Saturday, Votto had gotten on base at a .468 clip, best in the majors. He was second in slugging at .621 to former Red Josh Hamilton's .643. But when you combine the two – getting on base and power – Votto is clearly superior. His OPS is 1.091. Hamilton is next at 1.025.

The story here is about how Votto got to that level.

The first step toward solving any problem is admitting there is one. Votto did that after last season.

By almost every measure, Votto had a terrific year. He hit .309 with 29 home runs and 103 RBI. He led the National League in doubles with 40 and walks with 110. He won his first Gold Glove.

But his OPS went from 1.024 in his MVP season of 2010 to .947. That is not a bad number. Pete Rose's career-high OPS was .940.

But it did not sit well with Votto, so he set about changing things.

"First of all, I changed my mindset," he said. "I went into the season last year thinking I was a home run hitter, trying to surpass what I did the previous year. That's not really how it works. The best way to succeed in this game – and in life too – is to take what's given to you.