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Updating the Top 100: Joey Votto

In which gallows humor is employed.

Andy Lyons

13. Joey Votto

Played as Red Primary Position Career Rank Peak Rank Prime Rank
2007-2014 1B 17 9 6
Percent Breakdown of Value Best Season Best player on Reds
Hit Field Pitch 2010 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
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, 2011, 2012, 2013
Gold Glove - 2011
OPS+ – 2010
OPS – 2010
On Base Percentage – 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Slugging Percentage – 2010
Doubles - 2011
Walks - 2011, 2012, 2013

-1st in career OPS+
-1st in career on base percentage
-2nd in career slugging percentage
-9th in career batting average
-14th in career home runs

There's a certain redundancy inherent in writing about this team, especially when viewed in the order that I have chosen.  Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, and Joey Votto, back-to-back-to-back?  Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V.

On the other hand, each player holds a very different subtext underlying his particular injury-shortened and disappointing season.  Here's my one word stream of consciousness review of each player.  Bruce: flailing.  Phillips: inevitable.  Votto: depressing.

Why is Votto's campaign depressing where the others aren't?  I think for me it boils down to the fact that I could previously conceptualize a bad year for nearly any other player on the team, but not for Votto.  Even when hurt, we pondered the notion that he could still somehow squeeze out an OBP of .450 or so.  His 2014, clearly marred by injury, is forever stained by the scent of ordinary.  A .255 batting average and an OPS under 800.  Gawd.

There was a chance, albeit remote, that Votto walked away from the game as the second best player in franchise history.  This is no longer conceivable.

There was a chance, albeit remote, that Votto walked away from the game as a legitimate Hall of Famer.  Bzzzzt.

Hey, wanna feel old and depressed?  We are entering Year +5 of the Votto/MVP season.

All right, let's dial back the downers.  We do know that Votto was legitimately hurt this year, playing in just 62 games.  We'll take it on faith that his health is recoverable and likely.  We also know that, hey, for a bad year, an OPS+ of 127 is not the worst thing in the world.  It strikes me that Votto's upcoming 2015 season will be the most important individual season we've witnessed in our lifetimes.  Either 2014 was a complete anomaly and things get back to normal, in which Votto replicates Jeff Bagwell's career, or this is BAD, real bad.  Normally, a first baseman scheduled to earn another $200M+ who cannot hit homers or doubles is not a positive asset.

For the record, I'm predicting a serious bounceback.  There are no other options.

Let's do some more depressing shit:

  • After leading the league in intentional walks for two straight years, Votto received just two IBB's in 2014.
  • Oh, his fielding percentage was below .990 for the first time ever, too.
  • Even if he played in a full 162 games, Votto was on pace for just 60 RBI.
  • The best one: he still finished third on the team in offensive WAR.

Get well soon, mister.  Or we're going to have to learn to really like soccer around here.

With just a shade over 4,000 plate appearances with the Reds, Joey Votto has 243 doubles, 163 dingers, 553 RBI, and 611 walks.  His batting line of .310/.417/.533 is good for an OPS+ of 154.  Votto rises one notch on the all-time list to #13 and remains steady as the 2nd best first baseman in team history.

Top 15 1st Basemen in Reds history


Tony Perez


Joey Votto


Ted Kluszewski


Frank McCormick


Dan Driessen


Jack Beckley


Sean Casey


Lee May


Jake Daubert


Dick Hoblitzel


Hal Morris


Rube Bressler


Gordy Coleman


Deron Johnson


Hal Chase