2010 Reds

How good was Joey Votto in 2010?

It won’t be announced until after the World Series (and I still think the Reds are going to make the World Series somehow), and most of the national pundits seem to have concluded that Joey Votto should win the National League Most Valuable Player award. I never tire of that conversation; a Red for MVP? Am I dreaming?

Anyway, I’ve understood for quite some time that what we saw from Votto this year was special. In other words, we really haven’t seen a season like this from one of our Reds in a long, long time. Yeah, Barry Larkin won an MVP (and I’m not denigrating Larkin, who is my favorite player of all time), and Dave Parker was awfully good for the Reds in the late-80s, but you probably have to go back to the Big Red Machine to find anything close to what we’ve seen from Votto this year.

How good has Votto been? Well, we’ll dig into the numbers in a moment, but first let’s acknowledge that Votto has been so good that many people consider him a lock for the MVP award. To wit, here’s Jayson Stark over at ESPN:

He used to be the best player in baseball that nobody outside of the Skyline Chili line had ever heard of. But it isn’t safe to say that anymore about Mr. Joseph D. Votto. From the moment the Reds nudged themselves into first place in May, Votto has been the single biggest reason. And that hasn’t changed, not even for 30 seconds, at any point since. Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki needed to carry the Rockies all the way to October if they were going to win this award, so they’re out. There’s an excellent case to be made for the great Adrian Gonzalez, but he’s a not-quite. And you could argue Albert Pujols’ MVP credentials every year. But sorry, this is Joey Votto’s year. He’s in the top three in his league in just about every offensive statistic I care about. And he’s first in six of the categories I care about most — on-base percentage, OPS, OPS-Plus, runs created, offensive winning percentage and Win Probability Added. But what really sells me on this guy is that the bigger the moment, the larger he’s loomed: .374 with men on base, .369 with runners in scoring position, .355 in the late innings of tight games, .357 from the seventh inning on, .336 since the All-Star break and 27 homers that have either tied games, put his team ahead, brought his team within a run or broken open a one-run game. But the big thing to remember is that he’s done all this for a team that hasn’t won a postseason game in 15 years. And there’s zero chance the Reds would be getting a shot to rewrite that sentence if Joey Votto hadn’t exploded into stardom when they needed him most.

Can’t argue with any of that. Since the season is now over, let’s take a look at Votto’s final numbers:

150 games
.324 batting average
.424 on-base percentage
.600 slugging percentage
1024 OPS
173 OPS+
36 doubles
37 homers
113 RBI
7.4 WAR
.439 wOBA

Very, very impressive, especially for a guy who was just 26 years old for most of the season.

How does all that rank against the rest of the league? Well, Votto was first in the NL in WAR, first in wOBA (by a healthy margin), first in OBP and SLG (and, obviously, first in OPS), first by a huge margin in WPA, first in OPS+, first in RC, first in OWP, 2nd in BA, third in HR, 3rd in RBI.* Those are absolutely staggering numbers, and I wish I could say that I predicted Votto would have such a breakout season. Heck, eighteen months ago, most of us would have said that Votto is likely to be a very nice player for many years, but who would have guessed that he’d develop into an MVP candidate by this point in his career?

*Sorry for all those ridiculous acronyms. Trust me, they all say Joey Votto is the wonder boy.

I know that the Reds need a LF, and I know they need a SS, and that GM Walt Jocketty is trying to find a stud pitcher. As far as I’m concerned, however, signing Joey Votto to a long-term contract should be the number one priority for the Cincinnati front office. Period.

It isn’t often that someone comes around who has all that talent, but Votto supplements that with the best work ethic anyone has seen. He is focused, he is driven, and he is the most indispensible player in this organization. Plus, Cincinnati is a perfect location for Votto, as he’s mentioned in the past. Cincinnati got more press this year than they’ve gotten in a couple of decades, but the Queen City is still a small market. That’s good news for Votto, who is clearly uncomfortable with the spotlight. This might be the perfect storm: an elite player who has no interest in the bright lights of New York or Boston.

I want to see Joey Votto wearing the red-and-white for many, many years. He’s the only untouchable player on the Cincinnati roster. I hope the Reds are getting serious about getting Votto’s name on a contract that will ensure he’s a Cincinnati hero for a long time.

28 thoughts on “How good was Joey Votto in 2010?

  1. You could probably tack on another 20 RBIs if OC and (slumping early in the season) Stubbs not been batting in front of him.
    So what seems reasonable? 6 years/$90 mil??

  2. I’m not taking anything away from the GREAT year that Joey had, but I was surprised to see (looking at the Reds season leaders on Baseball Reference) that this season isn’t higher on the Reds career list. It’s #4 in RC, #5 in OPB, #5 in OPS+.

    The hitters at age 26 they compare him to are Bagwell, Berkman, Casey, Holliday, Helton, Norm Cash, and Kal Daniels…those are some boys that could/can swing the stick.

  3. That list from Bill is interesting. As great as Votto is (and I love him), odds are–from a mere historical perspective-he’ll end up more like a Helton than a Gehrig. And good point from Sultan as well. Put a legit lead-off man in front of him and bat Bruce behind him, and would he have another chance at the Triple Crown next year?

  4. 6 for 90 is probably reasonable. I’d prefer something like 5 for 70 but I’m a cheap-skate and skeptical of human health.

  5. I’d like to see a more bonus ladened contract, like 7 yrs/$85m, plus bonus $ for .300+ ba, gold gloves, hitting title, mvp, ASG, nlds/lcs/ws mvp.

  6. Personally, I think Bruce is nearly untouchable, as well. I want to see us lock down both for a very, very, long time. It’s too bad Walt and Co. didn’t lock up Votto before his MVP season. Considering as such, I’d lock up Bruce ASAP, before he has a breakout season raising his stock dramatically.

    As for contracts, I think Votto needs 5-years guaranteed, with a club-option for a 6th season. I think 5 for $66 mil., with the 6th year at around $17 mil. sounds reasonable. If Votto wants to test FA earlier, then try 4-years ($50 mil.) with an option for the 5th ($15 mil.).

    As for Bruce, I’d like to see at least 5-years guaranteed, with an option for the 6th, as well. It would be very nice to have those two in Red for a very long time.

  7. @wanderinredsfan:

    Definitely agree on this one. Votto’s numbers put him in an elite class, for sure. And he and Bruce have that face-of-the-franchise quality that a wide variety of fans seem to identify with: work hard, put the team first, have fun. Bruce has grown up a lot this year, and seems to be giving Arroyo a run for his money as the go-to guy for positive, inspirational sound bytes.

  8. Not to go picking nits, but Larkin the season after his MVP and Rijo in ’93 were both absurd. Go look at those numbers. Still, Joey Votto is totally dreamy.

  9. @per14: Gehrigs don’t happen anymore because everyone in the league can play the game. Those guys back in the day were great and all, but expecting players to come along that are that standard throughout their careers is asking quite a bit. I’d be fine with a Todd Helton any day of the week.

  10. Looking to 2011, I think it is just as important to have some protection behind Joey as it is to have more men on base in front of him. It was painful and frustrating to see Joey being consistently pitched around even with a man (and oft times two men) on base in front of him during the last month of the season.

  11. @OhioJim: So true. Unfortunately, we all realize that Rolen should not be our clean-up hitter. We really need a RH bat in LF to fill that role. It would be nice if the Reds could expand their salary by $10 mil. or so to go out and get a legitimate bat, but I don’t think it’s likely to happen. I would love to see someone like Vernon Wells between Votto and Bruce.

  12. Nice summary by Chad and Stark, I didn’t even know that Joey lead the league in some of those categories, such as runs produced.

    Yes lock him up long term, and do it now. Lock up Bruce too. In 2011 Jay is going to put up awesome numbers, and would get a lot more expensive . These guys like to play in Cincy and they like to play together. Don’t even let them sniff free agency.

    About untouchables, we were just talking on another thread about how nobody’s literally untouchable, but then there’s untouchable in practice – i.e you’re not going to get an offer that’s good enough to let a certain player go. I’d put Joey, Jay, and Chapman in that category.

  13. @per14:
    Being skeptical of human health will always be proven correct, in the long run.

    Being truthful, what makes Votto appealing to me is his humanness. He has a fragile side that he seems content to let millions see, making him far more brave than most of us. I think he’s a person I can root for and be happy my children also root for. That, and he is a hellacious whacker of horsehide orbs.

  14. @vermilion red: Great comments!!! Votto’s definetely become one of my all-time favorite ballplayers, and mostly because of his character off the field.

  15. @vermilion red: ” … a hellacious whacker of horsehide orbs.” Wow !!! You’ve got to write a baseball book, history or fiction, whatever.

  16. Speaking of “untouchable,” can’t help but wonder how good the Reds would be if Krivsky had regarded Hamilton as untouchable. His rookie year with the Reds, considering the circumstances, put him in that category in the minds of some.

    Trading Hamilton might in the end be Krivsky’s legacy. I for one hope not. When he selected (with the help of the Cubs) Hamilton in the rule 5 draft, a lot of fans (at least among the callers to WLW) and pundits thought he was out of his mind, “trying to capture lightning in a bottle”.

    If Volquez can get his act together, pitching like he did in the first half of 2008 but with better command, I could still convince myself it wasn’t a terrible trade.

  17. After Hamilton’s 2nd HR tonite, the broadcasters (I believe the Rangers’) made a reference to The Natural. That’s what a lot of Reds fans called him in 2007, The Natural.

  18. I love Josh, and I remember feeling so proud of the Reds as they opened doors for his return to baseball against staggering odds.
    I devoured his book, and heartily recommend it to people whose lives are impacted by addiction.
    Do I wish he was still a Red?
    Does a bear (sleep) in the woods?

  19. I think the Reds would be a much better team if they still had Hamilton instead of Volquez, but whats done is done.

    Obviously Votto is untouchable. I’d add Bruce and Chapman to that list. The up-side to both of them is too great to take a chance of having to watch them reach their potential with someone other than the Reds.

  20. Hamilton makes hitting major league pitchers look so easy. I think he’s still injured.

  21. How good is Joey Votto ? Good enough to be the Sporting News All Star first baseman, as selected by the GMs, winning over Albert and Adrian Gonzales.

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