Not too many fans and analysts expected the Cincinnati Reds to make much noise in 2023. For example, in ESPN's preseason predictions, they projected the Reds to finish with a 70-92 record, giving them a three percent chance to make the postseason before the season began. But fast forward to the start of September, and here the Reds are, remaining right in the thick of the playoff hunt after improving to 69-66 following their latest victory over the San Francisco Giants.

And the Reds' surprising push for the postseason seems to have breathed new life into Joey Votto, the team's longest tenured player. In fact, Votto expressed just how happy the Reds' performance in 2023 has made him. Spoiler alert: the team has made its longtime servant very, very happy.

“This is the most fun I’ve ever had. I love playing with these guys,” Votto said, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Joey Votto credits the current Reds for just pouring their hearts out on the diamond. And as is the case in professional team sports, when players block out the noise and focus on performing as well as they could, excellent things tend to happen.

“To their credit, they are a team that really doesn’t believe in external projections. They don’t pay attention to expectations. They don’t care about the name on the back of their jerseys or the national reputation of the opposing team,” Votto added.

The joy the Reds give Joey Votto, however, extends beyond the team's ability to conjure up wins on the field. It's also in the manner with which the Reds carry themselves that gives Votto such a rush of energy. And in return, fans at the Great American Ballpark have responded to the team.

“I feel like it’s a dance. We’re going to give you a style of play that you’re entertained by, and you’re going to energize us. I feel like most fanbases don’t return so quickly, and they responded as well as you can possibly ask for,” Votto said.

At the moment, the Reds have an opportunity to make Joey Votto an even happier man, as they're only 1.5 games behind the Giants for the third and final NL Wild Card spot.