Joey Votto would probably admit that this season hasn’t gone the way he’d hoped, particularly on an individual level. Despite the pair of homers over the weekend, the Cincinnati Reds 1B’s power numbers have largely cratered from his past seasons, which is certainly something that would weigh on anyone upon waking up at age 35.
Thirty-five. Today, September 10th, is Votto’s 35th birthday, which now makes him the same age that Johnny Bench was at the time of his final game, and older than Adam Dunn ever was as a big leaguer. And while Votto hasn’t been the classic Joey Votto we’ve come to celebrate daily over the last decade, he’s still putting up numbers that make him absolutely a viable, above-average big leaguer - even if it’s a ‘slump’ or ‘decline’ for him.
A quick jump over to FanGraphs shows Votto currently sporting the 21st best wOBA in all of baseball, for instance. A number that’s perhaps just as important is where he ranks on the list of MLB players who are 32 years old and up this year and have had at least 300 PA, as he sits with the 3rd best wOBA among the 46 players in that category, trailing only Justin Turner and Matt Carpenter in that regard. The NL’s leader in OBP for the trillionth time, Votto has still found a way to carve out a vital, productive role in the Cincinnati offense despite his advanced age and forced evolution at the plate, and given how much money the Reds still have tied to him going forward, that’s a crucial thing to behold.
Happy Birthday, Joey, and here’s to finishing the season on a dinger binge to give us that much more blind optimism about the Reds chances in 2019.
In other news, Eugenio Suarez will be part of MLB’s contingent of players heading to Japan for an All Star tour in November, which is both awesome and quite an honor. He’ll join the likes of Yadier Molina, Christian Yelich, and others in a series of exhibitions in Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagoya against some of Japan’s finest players, extending a tradition that’s been around since 1908, as MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg relayed.
Over at The Athletic ($), C. Trent Rosecrans detailed the rough and tumble outing by Tyler Mahle on Sunday in his return to the Cincinnati rotation, and how Mahle’s control and walk numbers in his rookie season in the bigs haven’t quite lined up with his excellent minor league numbers in that regard. At least, they haven’t yet.
John Fay of The Enquirer noted over the weekend that lefty Amir Garrett is close to being activated, his sore foot seemingly having recovered enough after it was hit by a comebacker some time back. That got me thinking, again, about the litany of Reds who are set to be out-of-options after the 2018 season, how their roles have been laid out down the stretch of yet another awful season, and how that will impact what the team can - and is willing to - do with them going forward. Garrett, of course, is one of those guys, and it appears a given at this juncture that we won’t be seeing him as a starting pitcher again with this franchise. Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed are in similar boats with similarly uncertain futures, while Dilson Herrera continues to get almost no playing time in his final option year offensively. Who the hell knows what will become of that quartet at this point.
Scooter Gennett’s weekend of work left him with a .315 batting average to date, which now sits just behind Yelich’s .316 mark for the NL lead at the moment. His 166 hits rank 3rd in the NL behind Nick Markakis (172) and Freddie Freeman (169), with teammate Jose Peraza’s 163 checking in as the 4th most in the NL.
Over at RedsMinorLeagues.com, Doug Gray tabbed Tony Santillan as his Player of the Year among all Reds MiLB affiliates, which is certainly a deserved honor. We’ve seen a wave of the would-be ‘future’ of the Cincinnati rotation already come through with little to no true success stories of yet - several of whom I mentioned two notes ago - but behind them in the system there isn’t exactly a second wave set to emerge. At least, not a very clear one. Santillan, though, is the lone obvious arm on whom we can next dream, however, and will certainly find his name cracking various Top 100 overall prospect lists prior to next season thanks to a damn fine 2018 of work.
Finally, MLB Trade Rumors dove in on the current kerfluffle surrounding top prospects Vlad Guerrero, Jr. and Eloy Jimenez - specifically, each player’s lack of a September promotion based largely on their teams’ desires to suppress their respective service clocks and end up with a seventh year of team control over them. It’s an argument we’ve seen play out time and again over the years, most notably with Kris Bryant and the Chicago Cubs a few years back after his monster Cactus League performance. I bring it up again now, here, in part because it’ll again be relevant for Reds interests at the start of 2019 when Nick Senzel almost certainly will spend the first three weeks of April in AAA before the Reds call him up for the exact same reason - the Reds would easily sacrifice three weeks of April games for a six full years of team control beyond the 2019 season, especially with a player as highly regarded as Senzel. Of course, that’s assuming he’s still a part of the franchise by April and hasn’t been traded for, I dunno, Noah Syndergaard, or something.