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Updating the Top 100: Part 5 of 5

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64. Joey Votto

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
2007-2010 1B 88 24 59
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 2010 2008, 2009, 2010
95% 5% 0%
Awards/Honors as a Red Leading the League On the Reds Leaderboard
Most Valuable Player – 2010
Hank Aaron Award – 2010
All Star – 2010
OPS+ – 2010
OPS – 2010
On Base Percentage – 2010
Slugging Percentage – 2010

-1st in career OPS+
-1st in career slugging percentage
-3rd in career on base percentage
-5th in career batting average
-30th in career home runs

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Bullet point notes for Joey Votto:

• Votto’s 2010 season marks—per Win Shares—the best individual campaign by a Red since Joe Morgan in 1976. WAR would suggest that six other seasons since that year have equaled or bettered Votto’s contributions.

• The Hank Aaron award has only been around for 12 years, so this isn’t that big a deal, but still: Votto’s the first ever Redleg to win it.

• No other position player in our top 100 list has as sharp a disparity between value added by the bat vs. by the glove. Adam Dunn is a close second.

• The top 100 list considers all Reds seasons from 1890 onward. Votto’s 174 OPS+ in 2010 ranks as 4th highest over that span (Morgan/1976: 186; Kevin Mitchell/1994: 185; Cy Seymour/1905: 181).

• As player comps go, I have a feeling Todd Helton may represent the best fit. Ignoring the raw data skewed by Coors Field, Helton also broke into the majors in his age-23 season for about a month, then posted the following OPS+ marks in his first three full seasons: 119, 122, 163. Votto’s been better (125, 156, 174), but not to the point where you can’t see a similarity. Helton also won the Hank Aaron Award and made his first All Star team in his age 26 season (but finished 5th in MVP voting). Whether the comp is legit or not, Helton played the next five seasons at OPS+ levels between 144 and 165. I suspect most of us would sign up for that right now, especially if not locked into the kind of decline that Helton has suffered since that elite stretch.

• Noted without comment: both Sean Casey and Kal Daniels appear on Votto’s top ten comps through age 26.

Regardless of where Votto’s 2010 season ranks and how his career progresses, this kind of year is rare and worth appreciating. Votto jumps from #151 on the all-time list to #64, and bumps pitcher Fred Toney out of the top 100. He also rises five spots on the list of best first basemen in team history, to #10.

The Top 15 First Basemen in Reds history

1 Tony Perez
2 Ted Kluszewski
3 Frank McCormick
4 Dan Driessen
5 Jake Beckley
6 Sean Casey
7 Lee May
8 Jake Daubert
9 Dick Hoblitzel
10 Joey Votto
11 Hal Morris
12 Rube Bressler
13 Gordy Coleman
14 Deron Johnson
15 Hal Chase