We've covered Joey Votto with heart-eyes for a decade now, which seems somewhat hard to believe after typing that out. Former fearless leader Joel Luckhaupt looked closer at Votto this time in 2009, just as Joey was the new 1B in town fresh off his first full season of MLB play. Back in 2013, Kerry Moss gave us a preview of what we could expect to see from Votto fresh off his initial knee injury - the one that ended his 2012 season while he was on-pace to break the all-time single-season doubles record. Last year, I marveled at the 2015 season he'd just completed, one that featured a single-season bWAR that was a career best.
Yeah, we've had a lot to say about Joey over the years, and some of that may sound rehashed again here. But c'mon, it's Joey Votto, and we're going to celebrate that he's still a Red for yet another season preview.
Joseph Daniel Votto was born on September 10th, 1983. He shares a birthday with Hall of Famer Randy Johnson (1963), film director Guy Ritchie (1968), second best National League 1B Paul Goldschmidt (1987), second best Cincinnati Reds 1B Ted Kluszewski (1924), and second best early '60s New York Yankees dinger-smasher Roger Maris (1934).
Votto stands 6'3" and weighs around 220 lbs. He was a quite accomplished career hitter whilst wearing loose-fitting pants, yet has morphed into an otherworldly maestro since opting to wear tighter pants a few seasons ago.
High socks :: Votto as Spinach :: Popeye.
Votto's career 157 OPS+ ranks tied for the 18th best mark in MLB history, tied with the likes of Albert Pujols and Tris Speaker (and just marginally ahead of Willie Mays (156), Hank Aaron (155), Joe DiMaggio (155), Mel Ott (155), and Miguel Cabrera (155)). Nothing like solid company, eh?
Only Mike Trout (170 OPS+) ranks ahead of him among active players.
If you don't know who Mike Trout is, he's that guy that MLB should be interviewing daily instead of Tim Tebow, but won't for some reason.
Votto's 47.3 career bWAR ranks 7th all-time in Reds history, as he passed Hall of Famer Tony Perez (45.6 bWAR) during the 2016 season. Another solid Vottonian season will see him pass the great Vada Pinson (47.7 bWAR) and perhaps even Hall of Famer Bid McPhee (52.4 bWAR).
Signed through 2023, 10 yrs/$225 million (14-23) & 2024 team option. Will make $22 million as 2017 salary.
Your choice, bub.
You know Joey looks at these kinds of numbers, don't you projection systems? And you know he knows he's always been better than these numbers, right?
I'm not saying you should go change your algorithms to say he'll be a .300/.400/.500 player again in 2017, I'm just saying he's one of 20 MLB players ever with a .300/.400/.500 line and has hit .320/.447/.546 over the last two seasons combined. That's all I'm saying.
I'd list these in similar fashion to the way I did last year, but considering these are fan aggregation numbers and they've fallen off a cliff in one year, I'll spare you the list and send you straight to the FanGraphs link, instead.
There, you'll see that his 2016 struggles on defense were either due to a one-year blip in performance and concentration, or - if you're one of the fans who submitted a scouting report - due to him now being tasked with playing defense blindfolded henceforth and forevermore.
He's not as bad on D as he was last year and has made it quite clear that improving in that arena was his prime mission this offseason. Therefore, I'm certain his defense will be fine, and certainly better than those numbers.
Pitch F/X hitter profile (career):
This particular chart shows how Votto has hit against pitches all over the zone in his career, and it gives pretty clear support for why he doesn't 'expand the zone' and swing at junk when that's exactly what a pitcher wants him to do.
For more on Joey's absurd hitting ability in chart form, check his player profile over at Brooks Baseball and marvel at his hitting prowess.
Those stories you grew up hearing about Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Pete Rose? You heard those because those were the greatest players on the teams the previous generation of Reds fans got to watch.
Well, in his final 70 games started of 2016, Votto hit an obscene .411/.494/.674, with 15 dingers, 55 ribbies, 47 walks, and just 31 strikeouts across 310 PA. That was just part of him hitting .408 after the All Star break - which was the fourth best mark after the break ever among those who have had at least 250 PA in that span.
Those are numbers indicative of an all-time great, of a player who just might be the single best our generation will ever see in a Cincinnati uniform.
No, he did not pick up 100 RsBI in 2016, his 97 falling just short of that number once again. How many of you are both a) mad about that, and b) also are aware that, say, George Brett only topped 100 in 4 of his 21 career seasons? Or that Robin Yount only had 100 in 3 of his 20 career seasons? Or that Paul Molitor only eclipsed 100 twice in his 21 year career?
Joey Votto will bust heads again in 2017, and he'll do so in his own unmistakable fashion. In a sport that requires teams to get their opposition out 27 times as a means to be victorious, Votto will again be the most difficult person in the sport to retire. He'll make opposing pitchers look silly. He'll exploit their exploitable parts. He'll hit some homers, smack ample doubles, and drive in more runners than most all of the other players in baseball. Most importantly, however, he'll leave the batter's box and end up on base at a better rate than every other player in the game.
And when he does that again in 2017, it'll be another few hundred opportunities for his playing career to be so seared into your memory that you'll be telling grandkids about him decades from now.
Soak it up.