We’re gonna do this Joey Votto thing for as long as we are breathing. Peak Joey Votto perfectly coincided with the peak of blogging as a phenomenon in general and this here particular bloghole especially (the 20-teens were a time I never thought I’d be nostalgic for, but here we are).
Which season was Votto’s greatest? He won the MVP in 2010. He finished third in 2015 and second in 2017. He posted 7 bWAR or better in all three of those seasons. He led the league in OPS+ only once, in 2016, but he led in raw OPS in 2010 and 2017. He led the league in doubles in 2011 with 40, but his highest doubles total came in the next year, 2012, with 44.
He cracked those 44 doubles in just 475 PAs. That was the year he busted his knee and missed 50 games.
Those 44 doubles in 475 PAs doesn’t sound like anything terribly impressive at first glance, but let’s put it in context. The MLB record for doubles in a single season is 67 by Earl Webb with the 1931 Red Sox. Every player who has ever hit 60 or more in a single season did it in the decade between 1926 and 1936. Todd Helton hit 59 in 2000 and our very own Nick Castellanos hit 58 just last season. He rounds out the top ten. Those are the only two names on the list that you have ever seen play the game. The other fellas were likely dead before you were even born.
Had Votto stayed healthy, he was on pace to hit 66.66667 doubles in 720 PAs (he had 719 and 726 in the years fore and aft). He had a very real chance at posting the best doubles season in generations.
It’s natural to focus on the heartbreak of that season, given the large-looming disappointments. But damn there were so many incredible things that happened and Joey Votto, as has been the case for a long time, was the best of them.