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Joey Votto 2016 Preview

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A look at one of the two greatest left-handed hitters the Reds franchise has ever known.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Fast Facts:

Joseph Daniel Votto, 32, was born on September 10, 1983, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Earth, Milky Way.

He stands 6'2", weighs 220 lbs, and probably has a cooler shoe collection than you do.

He signed a 10 year, $225 million contract extension with the Cincinnati Reds in 2013 that will keep him under team control through 2023, though there's a $20 million team option for 2024 that includes a $7 million buyout.  Currently, there are 8 years and $199 million left on said contract.

No, that contract is not an albatross, nor is it "hamstringing" the Reds.  By AAV, he'd only be the third highest paid player on the Detroit Tigers, and there are more dollars in Major League Baseball at the moment than teams know what to do with.

Votto's career adjusted OPS+ of 156 is currently the second best among all active players, and ranks as the 19th best mark ever of all time ever, ever.  Ever.  His .423 career OBP is the best among all active players and stands as the 14th best mark in baseball history.

His 43.4 career bWAR is the 9th best in Reds franchise history, and another typical Votto season will see him pass Hall of Famer Tony Perez as well as the legendary Vada Pinson.  Said season will also see him cross the 200 career home run threshold as well as the 300 career doubles mark.

Joey Votto may well be the best Cincinnati Red you get to watch in your lifetime.  Don't waste your time being mad about what he isn't and enjoy watching him do what he does best while you can.

Organizational History:

  • June 4, 2002: Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2nd round of the 2002 amateur draft. Player signed June 5, 2002.

Career Stats:

Scouting:

You cannot break Joey Votto.  Joey Votto will end up on base.

2016 Projections:

PA HR R RBI SB AVG/OBP/SLG DEF WAR
Steamer 620 21 84 73 7 .283/.418/.479 -7.2 4.5
ZiPS 574 19 73 63 7 .286/.429/.486 -7.5 4.5

Joey Votto has never hit lower than .297 in any full season, and he's hit at least .305 in every full season since 2009.  Projection systems, however, tend to stick to the middle of the road when it comes to statistical ranges, which means they sometimes use very conservative inputs that trickle down to make final numbers a bit skewed.  In Votto's case, that's due to him having made a career of posting absurdly high BABIPs thanks, in large part, to how hard he hits the ball and how many line drives he smashes.  His career BABIP is a robust .357, yet both ZiPS (.345) and Steamer (.333) project a much lower mark than that.  For what it's worth, he's not had a single-season BABIP in a full year lower than .349 since 2009, and posted a remarkable .371 BABIP in 2015.

Don't know what BABIP is?  Read this, or at least read the URL.

Defense:

Fan Scouting Report Ratings via FanGraphs (career rating)

Instincts: (63)
First step: (55)
Speed: (49)
Hands: (60)
Release: (55)
Arm strength: (46)
Arm accuracy: (52
Overall: (54)

So Joey Votto isn't regarded as the greatest defender in the history of ever.  Lucky for us, we just have to watch him play 1B, not CF.

Pitch f/x Hitter Profile (2007-2015):

Those Red numbers?  Yeah, that's where Votto sees most of his pitches.  Low and outside, low and away.  Notice, if you will, that those aren't strikes, and not swinging at not strikes is the most surefire way to not make an out.  Since each team only gets 27 outs per game, not making an out is a pretty damn valuable thing to do.

If you'd like to play around more with how Votto is pitched to (and how he handles those pitches), check out the umpteen options available on his Player Card at BrooksBaseball.net.  There you'll find what a clinical swing scientist the Reds' 1B has been for years.

Outlook:

We had all hoped that Votto would see a resurgent 2015 season after knee and quad injuries had sapped his otherworldly talent in each of the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons in varying capacities.  Votto's 2015 wasn't just resurgent, however; in many ways, it was the single best season he's ever had.

Votto eschewed his balky leg and hit .314/.459/.541 in 695 PA in 2015, blasting 29 dingers along the way.  His 7.6 bWAR was a career best, but what may be even more promising is how his season progressed.  Rather than tiring towards the end of a grueling 31 year old season that saw his team going nowhere, Votto hit an insane .362/.535/.617 in the season's 2nd half that included a bonkers 86/65 BB/K ratio in those 73 games.  Much of those came after he was snubbed for the All Star Game that Cincinnati itself hosted, by the way.  Did you ever hear about that?

Votto's 2016 could be more trying, however.  Votto's notorious for his selectivity at the plate, and with Todd Frazier now gone, Jay Bruce on the way out, and Devin Mesoraco's hip still a question mark, I'm skeptical that teams will challenge Votto with meatballs very often.  He might become just the second player in baseball history to walk 200 times in a season (joining Barry Bonds), and he might sniff an absurd .500 OBP, both of which will land him firmly in the record books.

Would you enjoy it more if he swung at balls a foot outside, fouled two off, and struck out in an attempt to maybe, maybe poke a soft single into RF?  If you said yes, you probably would also A) be angry that Votto's end of year batting average was only .270, and B) be guilty of having yelled at Jay Bruce for swinging at those very same pitches in the first place.  You don't play Steph Curry at center just because he's the tallest guy on your pickup team...you let Steph Curry do what made him good in the first place, and the same holds true for Joey Votto.

Votto will be good this year, though the Reds will most likely struggle.  Hopefully, though, a few of the young guns in the system will take pointers from Jo-eh, since the health of the offense going forward would sure as heck get a boost from it.