It’s the offseason, and because it’s the offseason, we get to hear silly Joey Votto trade rumors. To that end, I tweeted what I thought were a couple of fairly obvious and innocuous observations last week.

But, well, at least a few people decided to take issues. The primary point made was that ANYONE can play first. It’s the EASIEST defensive position. They could put Adam Duvall there, or Eugenio Suarez. One person even mentioned Alex Blandino.

In the most basic sense, this is true. First base is at the bottom of the defensive spectrum, so a great many players can handle it defensively without much problem. But that means in order to play there, you need to hit. And I mean really hit. An average first baseman, historically is about 15% better than league average (so a wRC+ or OPS+ of around 115). That number fluctuates from year to year, but you get the idea. Joey Votto had a wRC+ of 158 last year, meaning he was 58% better than the average MLB hitter. His career wRC+ is 157. Here is the complete list of big league first basemen who had a wRC+ higher than Joey Votto’s career average last year:

Joey Votto

Yes, that’s all.

Okay, what about all players?

  • Mike Trout
  • David Ortiz
  • Joey Votto

So, add to the list one of the greatest players ever and the rare player who actually CAN’T play first base.

img_8443Joey Votto is one of the best hitters in baseball and has been for his entire career. You can’t replace that by sliding Duvall or Suarez over.

Adam Duvall was 4% better than average last year. Joey Votto was 58% better than average last year. Those numbers are not the same. The offensive difference between Votto and Duvall is wider than the difference between Duvall and Ramon Cabrera. I am not messing with you on this. And Duvall had a pretty good year last year. This is how good Joey Votto is.

In the entire system, the only player I can imagine hitting well enough to play first and be significantly above average at the position is Nick Senzel. And he it still rather new.

BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT money contract arglebargle money money leader mvp losing team argle bargel, you say?

Fine. Where are you spending that money? The best free agent hitter on the market is probably who? Dexter Fowler? Fowler is a good player. He’s generated 8 WAR over the last 2 seasons. He’ll probably get something not too far off of Joey Votto money (though his contract won’t be as long). Joey Votto, by the way, generated 12.5 WAR over the last two years.

I am not speaking to everyone here, but there are lots and lots of people out there who still do not understand that, on the free agent market, an average player, right now, is going to cost you $12-15M. An All-Star is going cost $20-25M. Potential MVPs don’t hit the free agent market because teams lock them up early for something close to or maybe a little above all-star money.

Hey, the Reds had a guy like that a few years ago, didn’t they? Joey Votto, right? Did they lock him up?

Yes. Yes, they did.

And like it or not, there isn’t a better way to spend that money. $25M/year is not going to get you better than what Votto will give you. It’s true during the last few years, he’ll probably be overpaid (though, given salary inflation, it might not be by as much as you think), but that is how these deals work. The team gets a ton of surplus value up front and over pays a little on the back end.

And you should be glad because

  1. The Reds don’t have anyone who can hit enough to play first EXCEPT for Joey Votto.
  2. They cannot get better value for their money on the free agent market.
  3. Joey Votto is the best hitter to ever play for the Reds. Yes, the best. He hits for power AND average AND he gets on base.

Players like Votto don’t grow on trees. He’s been in Cincinnati for a long time now and so some fans have gotten used to him, but don’t forget how special he is. He is not easily replaced and if the Reds were to trade Votto, they would be acknowledging that they don’t plan to compete for several years (think 2020 at the earliest).

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at

Join the conversation! 72 Comments

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a post more than this one.

  2. True. The funny thing, though, is that Joey can’t actually PLAY first base anymore. It seems sometimes that he isn’t really concentrating on defense, which might resolve itself if the team were in contention.

    He has been very good at scooping throws, and is still good at that. He is well below average on ground balls, and he has always had a tendency to try to get grounders to his right that he ought to let the second baseman field.

    The defense is still a pretty tame wart to have to live with.

    • Also, defensive metrics need 3ish years to be reliable-ish, according to the “experts,” whoever they are…

      So, while I agree Votto’s defense is declining (as all player’s defense does as they age), I think he can still be slightly below-average-ish, rather than a train wreck! But, as you say, it’ll take a concerted effort by Votto to stem the tide.

      • I was encouraged by Votto’s comments about Trout motivating him to improve his overall game (defense, baserunning). Obviously he is not at a great point in his career to become great at those things, but it could go along way if he can manage to maintain or even improve.

        • He also says he’s not staying in Canada most of the offseason, but coming south to work on his defense and hitting. What a mench. Loved this article.

  3. My one and only problem with all this….money money money. 25% of Reds yearly payroll going to one player makes things real difficult for Dick Williams.And consequences are guys like Alfredo Simon….Kevin Gregg…..Ross Ohlendorf….JJ Hoover…Burke Badenhop…you get the idea.Seen this play out before with Griffey Jr and 9 consecutive under .500 seasons and it wasn’t pretty.Maybe this Front Office can do better getting together a team that can hold it’s own while paying Votto his salary.But it will have to be done thru the farm system…compared to other teams Reds have almost no financial wiggle room…

    • Tell me, specifically, what you are going to do with that $25 per year that is going to provide more value than Joey Votto.

      I’ll wait.

      Money isn’t an asset in baseball unless there are players available to give that money to.

      • Invest in Reds infrastructure…better coaches and scouts.If Red’s FO insist on signing FA’s for bullpen…better pitchers.Bring new talent into Org,start at bottom and start replacing talent Walt has traded away.And it’s not just this year….Reds have over $81,000,000 invested in Votto up to this point and miles more to go….and hoping everytime he steps onto field he doesn’t end up on DL.If Reds hadn’t signed JV when they did….all that could have been invested back into team.Fans like to ignore the financial side of this but IMHO it’s the screaming pink elephant in the room….and don’t get me started on Homer’s contract 🙂

        • I’m a fan and I don’t ignore the financial side.

          It’s like you are assuming investing in your idea of “infrastructure” is a no-risk situation. Maybe they’ll spend that money and hire the wrong “better” coaches and scouts. Maybe they fritter all that money away and get nothing at all in return.

          Also, I’m pretty sure the MLB payroll and scout salaries aren’t in the same bucket. If a good scout was available, the Reds could/would hire them without it changing the amount of money they spend on the payroll.

          So really, you can only compare MLB payroll to MLB payroll. If you take $25M per year of Votto’s deal and reallocate it to other major leaguers, can you get a better product on the field? Maybe. But it’s not a slam dunk like many Votto contract detractors seem to imply.

          With that said, the point of the article is talking about trading Votto. I think he should be traded if they got a good return. But, that would require the other team taking a hit, at least from our viewpoint. Unfortunately, its just unlikely the Reds would be able to get anything in return that would outproduce Votto, even taking the $$ into account.

          Homer got injured. It happens. You win some, you lose some.

        • I’m not exactly sure if I understand the argument–if you are advocating trading Votto or simply expressing remorse in having signed the deal in the first place.

          As far as buyer’s remorse goes, I was surprised the Reds extended Votto when he still had 3 more years under team control. I felt it was an overpay. Not a huge overpay, but an overpay. As things turned out, if the Reds had waited one more season (after he missed most of a season with his knee injury), they may have been able to extend Votto for less.

          That being said, I think that Votto is well-worth his contract, even for a small-market team. A team can operate fine if it overpays its superstars and Votto qualifies as such. Teams get hamstrung when they overpay good players who are not quite stars–Homer Bailey, Brandon Phillips, Eric Milton. The Phillips contract was a bad one as soon as it was signed and is made worse now that he has 10/5 rights to veto trades. If you want to argue about not committing too large a percentage of payroll to one players, he’s your candidate. Your argument about bullpen free agents is a bad example. I hope you understand that the reds were trying to lose as many games as possible last year (aka: “tanking”). The least conspicuous way to intentionally lose games is to assemble a terrible bullpen and that’s what they did. It had nothing to do with not being able to afford better players.

          Now, you advocate spending more money on Minor Leagues and development. The Reds have been doing that. They’ve invested in building their analytics department. Also, they completely blew up their international signing budget last summer. They came under criticism because they spend so far over the cap that they incurred the biggest penalty possible. So I don’t think there’s any evidence that the Joey Votto contract is preventing them from spending money on player development.

          The Reds don’t have a great track record with free agents–Ryan Ludwich, Skip Schumaker, Ryan Madson. Our best free agent signing of the last decade was…Ramon Hernandez? Francisco Cordero? That may have been a blessing, because we haven’t overpaid for aging players. But I’m still grumpy that we didn’t sign Carlos Beltran in 2012 when he went to the Cardinals for the affordable salary of 2 years for $26. But I digress. Joey Votto, although expensive, is worth his salary and is not able to be replaced by other free agent signings. And Dick Williams is spending plenty of money on player development.

  4. It is true that Votto’s defense has slipped in the last couple of years, but he had stated at the end of this past season that he was going to work hard on his defense this winter. I believe it. He was once a Catcher, so he as used those skills at 1st base. He had been one of the best 1st basemen at digging errant throws out of the dirt. He has saved many an error for Reds infielders.
    Joey Votto is devoted to being the best overall player he can be, not just as a hitter. He’ll work on his defense. So I think we’ll see a more polished defender going forward.
    It has been a joy and honor to watch Votto play. He is certainly the best Reds hitter of all time. I thank the heavens above that Joey Votto wants to be and stay a Red.
    Thank you Joey Votto for wanting to stay, and see things through.
    If only the Reds front office would surround you with a few quality hitters so as not to waste your prime years rebuilding.

  5. Here are Joey Votto’s career rankings in three fairly important offensive categories:
    OBP. 12th
    OPS. 18th
    OPS+ 18th
    That’s pretty good. What’s the list? Just every Major League Baseball player, EVER. He’s on those lists surrounded by names like Ted Williams and Stan Musial and Hank Aaron and Mike Schmidt and Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth. There are about 400 hitters on active rosters at any given time, and there are only three active players in the same stratosphere: Trout, Pujols, Cabrera. That’s it. Don’t be fooled because we watch Votto every day and see him strike out or make errors or pop up. Wait, scratch that last one, he doesn’t. Votto is way up on the list of best hitters to ever play. And one of the great pleasures of my baseball fan life is and will continue to be watching Votto hit. He’s not going any where and I’m hugely grateful that he happens to like wearing a Reds uniform.
    One other note though. #4 on the all time OBP list? That would be Billy Hamilton. No, not that Billy Hamilton, the one without a Reds bobble head. Still, motivation for Votto to move up the list?

    • Another fun one is BABIP… where he is 4th all-time among players with at least 4000 PA. (He’ll be 5th, perhaps, once Trout qualifies.)

      Votto is one of the 5 or so best strikers of the ball in history. The contact he makes is consistently amazing, more so than almost anyone ever. The guys in front of him, if memory serves, are Cobb, Carew, and Hornsby? Maybe that Hornsby one is wrong… don’t have time to look it up right this instant.

      • If you break at 4000 (or 5000) Votto is 4th all time behind Hornsby, Cobb and Harry Heilman, just ahead of Carew. If you drop to 3000 then Trout is 4th pushing Votto down a spot. Paul Goldschmidt is 7th on that same list. Another amazing Votto stat.

        And as for all the drop Votto voices here, his salary is not a dominant percentage of what the Reds could spend for total payroll, and in terms of cost for production he is actually a bargain. And though his numbers may slowly slip in coming years, cost per WAR only goes up so he’ll continue to be a good value.

        • I think I also maybe put some sort of year cutoff to get rid of Heilman. I don’t count dead-ball era people in any of my analysis because it was a completely different game, from a physics standpoint.

  6. Great article. I wish this would put an end to the “trade Votto” posts but unfortunately it won’t. Sure Votto is not the best defensive first baseman in baseball but I wonder what the wRC+ is for the best defensive first baseman and how much he is paid. I have no idea but I think Votto’s value is well worth it. Besides he is one of the few players the Reds have that I want to watch every AB.

  7. I know I am in the minority, but I love the fact that Joey won’t waive his no trade clause and wants to spend his entire career with the Reds and I’m glad Brandon Phillips wants to be in Cincinnati too. I hate seeing Jay Bruce in a Mets jersey or Frazier with the White Sox. I understand the Reds can’t keep everyone due to the current economic climate in baseball, but they have to keep someone. As a fan I get tired of always hearing about whose on the way. I want to root for someone and take my sons to the ballpark and have them know who we are going to see play. It won’t be long before we are reading about who the can get for Senzel or Winker or Stephenson

  8. Normally this is not an article I read, mainly just skip right over these lovefests. Well I was suckered in, here is my take: trade this sucker, as soon as possible. His contract is hindering the Reds from being competitive in the future. The Reds are, at best 3 years from competing at an elite level, with everything prospect achieving projection. Votto will be a washed up drain on this team. Trade him NOW.

    • Votto is not a player that relies primarily on power to be productive. Power one of the first things to go as you age. Skills like batting average and on base percentage generally take a lot longer to decline. Votto’s decline will not be that steep. 3 years from now, Votto will be 35.

      Let’s just say by then, Votto is 85% as effective compared to his career averages (5% decline a year). That would make him a .266/.361/.456/.817 hitter with a 133 WRC+, still very much productive. And like I said, power declines much quicker than average and OBP, so we can expect his OBP and AVG to likely be higher than that.

      Here’s another example. Let’s say he has just 60% of the power output (using ISO, not SLG for the calculation), but 95% of the average and OBP. That makes him a .297/.404/.431/.835 hitter. No matter which way you look at it, Votto will still likely be quite effective in 3 years, even if he does decline. By the final 2 years of his contract, yes, he probably will have declined to the point where some might consider him “washed up,” but that point is probably much further away than you make it sound. Bottom line: if the Reds anticipate contending by 2019-2021 or sooner, they should keep Votto.

      • Let us not slay Joey Votto before he dies of old age.

        Joey is a grinder, a work-a-holic at his sport. I would estimate that his power numbers might slip a little, but he will continue to post consistent offensive numbers unless he suffers a significant injury (like his knee in 2012 that lingered for a couple of years), to the end of his career.

        Mesoraco could also be a first baseman. Let’s plug everyone into this game. 🙂

        Mesoraco, Duvall, somebody else?? Seriously, Joey will need more days off in the coming years to stay sharp. And just using the eye test, his defense this last year was not as good as previous years. And he said so himself, also. He knows how well he is playing, and is his own strongest critic.
        Joey is a great player. Period. The people that want to trade him just don’t understand what is going on.

      • You’re wasting your breath! Scot has made up his mind on Votto, and as usual, people who want to get rid of his contract don’t offer any suggestions about how the Reds would re-allocate that money to get the 4 WAR Votto will likely average over the next few seasons.

        • To become a championship team, it’s not enough to have “good” players at every position. You have to have some exceptional, high WAR players on the field. I know the numbers exist somewhere, but I am sure that the guys on the Big Red Machine teams had some high WAR years (before that value was invented). Having a line-up of 2.5-3 WAR players and nothing more doesn’t cut it, unless you have EXCEPTIONAL pitching.

        • Reds had a healthy JV in 2015 and finished season 36 games back of Cubs….Reds had a healthy JV in 2016 and finished 35.5 games back of Cubs.Guess it depends on your reason you watch this team…if you’re happy to see Votto do his thing while rest of the team struggles behind him then this is what you have.But if you want to see Cincy put together a long term winning franchise,then you have to see that JV’s contract is an anchor around Reds neck…no matter how high his WAR or OPS is,he only bats once in batting order and the rest is left to the other 8 hitters..

        • Bob, your argument about one player not making a team makes sense, but no one has ever argued that one person does make a team.

          The argument is THIS… you can’t replace Votto’s production on the open market for $25M. You can’t do it. It’s not possible unless you get lucky. Dumping him would not make the Reds a better team, even if they spent every penny of that $25M… unless, of course, they got super lucky and got a great player for way below market value…but when’s the last time this team did that?

        • Obtaining established players for under market value won’t happen….but you can trade for talent now that is useful to you later.Which is along lines we’ve seen lately from Reds letting Bruce,Cueto,Frazier,Leake,etc go to stock Minor League system.In Cincy’s financial position,they can’t trade body blows with teams like Cubs,Dodgers,Yankees,Giants,etc …they will always end up with short straw.But what they can do is build their farm system,bring these guys along and then have them 6 years under club control.Heard this on WLW Sports Talk…build your team with Farm System and then plug holes with Free Agents,that always made sense to me.Paying one guy 25% of your yearly payroll is like living in a trailer park and driving a Ferrari….sure it looks good but you have better places to invest your money 🙂

        • Good points, Bob. The only thing I’ll bring up is the FO’s public stance that they want to compete in the 2018/2019 timeframe. Sending away Votto for low minor league upside guys is a play to have a 5+ year rebuild. Maybe that is how the FO should go, I don’t know, but I suppose time will tell.

          Also, Votto doesn’t have a ton (if any) of surplus value on his contract, which will make getting any great prospects impossible without the Reds eating some of his contract. Given the future implications of maybe Votto being the next Larkin (Career Red HOFer), I just can’t see any good reason to trade him unless someone brings a Dave Stewart-esque deal to Dick Williams.

    • That sounds great, except for the fact that’s completely wrong.

      Votto’s contract is not hindering the Reds from competing at all. As has been mentioned on here, there is nothing the front office would be able to do with the $20-25 million that could come close to what Votto is providing.

      His contract is a bargain. No way around it.

      • Of course there’s better ways to use $25,000,000…..if Reds hadn’t inked JV when they did,maybe Cueto or/or Leake or/or Chapman are still on this team.Or maybe Reds don’t have a historically poor bullpen in 2016….and it’s not just $25,000,000 it’s the $172,000,000 yet owed him.Here’s my idea….trade Votto and use money saved to drop beer prices at GABP 🙂 .Is it really logical to have an overly expensive player on a last place team?? Not as I see it…

        • The Reds could use the Votto money to add prospects, yes, or maybe to have kept a pitcher whom they traded, but at some point you have to stop shuffling and deal the cards. Votto is a great hitter on a team that hasn’t any others, and will likely still be a great hitter 2 or 3 years from now, given his intelligence and work ethic. Tes, he could get hurt, but so could the prospects or pitchers you got instead.

        • I understand why fans love the guy,this isn’t a slam on JV…he probably has the best eye at the plate in baseball. And if Reds were one of the better off financially teams in baseball this would make more sense to me.But devoting 25% of your payroll to one player (not even a pitcher) just seems like bad strategy to me….and if he has to go on DL,well then we just drive off the cliff…

    • Your crazy man!!! Votto will be able to hit through his entire career. What makes you even think the reds brass could even make a good deal for Votto if we dealt him? Chomp on that a lil while.

  9. Agreed, there is no way the Reds should trade Votto, because there simply is no way to put that money to better use. The only thing in this post that I have a bit of a problem with is the fact that you mentioned the Reds have no first basemen in their system. The fact of the matter is, if the Reds ever DID trade Votto, the chances are extremely high that a first baseman (prospect, young major leaguer or otherwise) would be part of the return. So, the fact that we don’t have a first baseman in the system should not be the reason to keep Votto, rather they should keep Votto because he’s simply the best player on the team, and one of the best in the league.

  10. Jason,

    I appreciate your passion for Joey Votto. He is a great player.

    I could make an effective case that, given the choice, the Reds would jump at the chance to get him off the books in 2017, even getting nothing in return. Here are just 2 points to that end:

    -Taking Votto’s 4 WAR away puts the Reds at a projected 69 wins in 2017. It’s not like removing him prevents the Reds from getting in the playoffs.

    -His talent and personality (lack of?) isn’t enough of a draw to overcome the team’s record. The Reds have never drawn 75% capacity to GABP in any of his seasons and drew less than 2 million total in 2016. The Reds get the same TV money whether anyone watches or not, and they weren’t watching this past season, despite Votto’s feats (down 22%).

    However, it is moot as Votto has indicated he will not waive his no-trade clause. So, developing a complete alternative case on what to do without him is pointless.

    • Certainly true, but any moving of Votto that doesn’t include a near-ish MLB ready prospect would be a direct contradiction to the what the FO has been saying… the Reds want to try to compete again in 2018/19. Votto, at that point, can still be a 3+ win player, assuming his defense comes back to mediocre levels. A 3 win player is already getting what Votto is making on the open market. By 2019, a 3 win player will cost a team 30 million per year.

      I don’t think there’s any situation that makes sense to try and move Votto for less than a great return unless the Reds want to go into a 5 year rebuild.

      • Patrick,

        I am not trying to argue with you, but presenting keeping Votto as TINA (there is {really} no alternative is dogmatic and not at all keeping with the variety of opinions often expressed here.

        There are always alternatives. Having financial flexibility maximizes the range of alternatives. If Votto was off the books, and Dick Williams couldn’t find a 3 WAR player to play 1B for $22.5 million a year (or less) by 2019, he shouldn’t have the job. The well-run small market teams frequently get players who perform for less than the going market rate.

        I was incorrect earlier. FanGraphs projects the Reds as having only 70 wins in 2017.

        I would hope we can agree that Williams has his work cut out for him to discover 20 wins in 2 years to get to 90 in 2019, without having to add the additional market rate of $200 million in payroll (20 wins x $10 million per WAR).

        • Who are these teams you speak of that “frequently” get players who perform for less than the going market rate? In terms of trades or FA acquisitions, I can’t think of any team that frequently does that. Maybe some scattered examples but that doesn’t appear to be anyone’s business model.

          Even the rich teams know you need to build a winner on young, cost-controlled talent through scouting, drafting, signing and development.

          So, the question is, could the Reds theoretically get top prospects (preferably major league ready or near ready) in a trade for Votto? I’m guessing not if that other team has to also take on Votto’s salary. See the predicament here?

        • I understand your point here, Sliotar, but I’m really not saying there is no alternative. I’m saying there’s probably not an easily cobbled together solution to make the Reds better unless some team wants to overpay for Votto in a trade. That certainly could happen, but it probably won’t. So, I usually take the opposite stance when people act like dumping Votto and freeing up that money is some easy road toward contention. Good ball players are hard to find. We have one. There’s no point giving him up. The Reds can always spend more money, they can’t always find another good ball player.

          Also, merely dumping his salary leads to the point where the Reds are hoping a decent FA is available that 1) wants to play in Cincy and 2) wants a below market contract (even next year, a 3 WAR player will be commanding over $25M/y in FA). And, generally, players who project to be 3 WAR or better are usually highly-sought, which inflates their initial asking price, somewhat.

          Just look at the Ian Desmond deal the Rockies just signed… he’s a player that, once stuck at 1st base, is a 1.5-2.0 WAR player at peak since his defense no longer is bringing the same value. And they gave him 5/70.

          And, there’s always the decent shot that Votto puts up 2-3 more years of 5-7 WAR baseball. He HAS been the 2nd best hitter in baseball over the last 800 days (Trout), and shows no signs of slowing down. If his defensive metrics had merely been average this year, he’d have had himself a 6ish WAR season, instead of 5ish.

          And in regards to one of your other comments, I am in no way trying to “keep with the variety of opinions often expressed here.” I have my own opinions, generally always informed by data, and they are not influenced by anyone else. It’s never my goal to present a argument that is cohesive with any other writer/representative of this site… and I’m sort of on semi-permanent hiatus anyways…so… I’m just a dude!

  11. As far as playing first base….from the Moneyball movie:

    Billy Beane: You don’t know how to play 1st base. Scott…

    Scott Hatteberg: That’s right.

    Billy Beane: It’s not that hard, Scott. Tell him Wash.

    Ron Washington: It’s incredibly hard.

    Billy Beane: Hey, anything worth doing is. And we’re gonna teach you.

    • Funny you bring up Scott Hatteberg… You know, the guy that got benched and later released in favor of some guy named Joseph Daniel Votto.

  12. Great article. Sure puts some perspective in play. Thank you!

  13. Bryce Harper will be staring down a $400 million dollar payday very soon. Joey’s contract will seem quaint by comparison.

    And for all the detractors who panned the Phillips deal, the Reds got roughly equal value there too.

    Given the massive salary inflation afoot, I would explore a 2-3 year extension for Cozart—hometown discount, doesn’t have to uproot the family, and with the understanding that he’d be a utility guy.

  14. Votto is one of the most criminally underrated players of all time, I would absolutely hate to see him in anything other than a reds uniform.

  15. Something else to consider… if Votto goes into the HOF (still a long-shot, I think, but a real shot, nonetheless) the Reds marketing team can capitalize and have a few big weekend events, plus ceremonies, re-released HOF-emblazoned jerseys, etc.

    It won’t earn back Votto’s contract, but it will be a future shot in the arm to the tune of a few million extra in revenue, I’d say. If he doesn’t retire a Red, a lot fewer people care, and the potential future pay down goes down.

    • Why a long-shot? I tend to overvalue Votto compared to most I talk to, but I’d put the odds at worst 50/50, with only injury standing in his way.

      • Agreed Chad. I was looking at Votto’s career stats earlier in the context of this post. His HOF case right now is not strong in terms of career numbers (by the measures of WAR and JAWS). But his best 7 year stretch for WAR is definitely HOF level. And it’s not hard at all to imagine him accumulating the WAR and JAWS totals to make him a strong candidate or even a lock. Most of the 1B ahead of him on those lists even now are in the Hall, and in two or three healthy years pretty much everyone ahead of him and many behind will be in the Hall. And there is no one ahead of him on the 1B list who less than his 10 seasons to date. Given his historically great OBP, OPS, OPS+ and BABIP numbers (thanks Patrick for that last one), I think his chances are good to very good if he stays healthy enough to compile the necessary counting stats, especially WAR and JAWS, but to a lesser extent hits, home runs, extra base hits, RBI and times on base. It all comes down to health in my opinion.

        • Well-stated, CFD.

          I tend to agree pretty much exactly, but unfortunately, we can probably expect injuries to play a part.

          I’m trying to logic through my “long shot” comment, so let’s see if I can get there…

          Let’s say if Votto stays completely healthy and produces as we’d expect, factoring in normal age-related decline, he’s got an 80% shot at getting in.

          Now, let’s assume there’s a 50% shot Votto gets hurt and misses enough time that his 80% shot becomes a 60% shot. (Net negative of 10%).

          In the same regard, let’s assume there is a 10% chance that Votto turns into late-career Griffey in terms of injuries, in which case his shot goes from 80% to 0%. (Net negative of 8%)

          Then, let’s assume there’s roughly a 40% chance he just doesn’t age well (i.e.-his power evaporates, his defense continues to suck) in which case his odds drop from like 80% to 10%. (Net negative of 28%)

          So, if we subtract 10, 8, and 28 from 80, we get a 34% chance of Votto making the HoF in this exercise.

          I guess you’re right… 34% is much more than a “long shot!”

  16. The question should be “Can anyone ELSE play first base?” (besides Votto)

  17. The Reds need to make Votto a captain of the team. Officially put the “C” on his uniform. The Reds haven’t had one since Larkin retired.

  18. Would be interesting if Reds started grooming someone like Chad Wallach to play 1st base, good plate discipline…worth a shot, it seems, if NO ONE in the system is being groomed for 1st. I have heard that Wallach is not considered to be that great defensively behind the plate.

  19. If Joey Votto and his contract were the Reds’ worst problem, this franchise would be in pretty good shape.

  20. The Colorado Rockies might be snooping around for a Votto trade. They do have a fairly loaded top-10 prospect system. A good system to pillage.
    What would Votto hit in Coors Field? A line of .375/.500/.575 might be attainable.

    • One question. Shouldn’t Votto’s ISO go up (or at least stay the same) in Colorado, not down? His career ISO is .223. Assuming he hit .375 in Coors, his SLG should be over .600.

  21. Hot Stove League on with Michael Lorenzen…..

  22. I love this post more than opening gifts on Christmas morning times two!

    • Joey will outperform this contract over the life of the contract easily (Cost of WAR in year of generation at going rate on open market) because of the time value of money (also he’s very, very good). As alluded to above, his annual WAR output will be trending down as the cost of WAR rises, so it is conceivable his 2 WAR five years from now will be the market rate for this contract (if 1 WAR is 12.5 million that year). If joey avoids career ending injury, his contract will calculate to an absolute steal by the end.

  23. From now on, Patrick is in charge of defending my posts. I want to chime in, but really, he’s said it all for me.

  24. I don’t know why Jason loves Votto so much. It’s really off-putting. I just can’t understand how someone could be such a fanboy of a single player like this.

    Give it up, Linden.

  25. So, why don’t people like Votto?

    – he doesn’t drive in enough runs
    – he doesn’t hit enough home runs
    – he has been a below average fielder and baserunner for the past 3 seasons
    – he got hurt in 2012 and 2014

    – his single-minded approach to his craft is off-putting
    – his sense of humor is hard to understand
    – he teases opposing fans, by golly he stomped on a paper airplane once!

    – since his salary is 25% of the payroll, he isn’t doing enough to help the Reds win (just like Junior’s salary, dagnabbit!)
    – In 2011, he refused to move to LF so that Yonder Alonzo could play 1B. Joey’s not a team player!
    – he’s Canadian
    – he walks too damn much. He’s not being paid to walk! I work hard to earn money to go to these ballgames and I want to see hitters hit!

    Ugh. Let me put this plainly. if you do not understand Votto’s worth to this team, you are a baseball Neanderthal. The Reds hit the jackpot when they acquired Votto. The team has NEVER had as good a batter (Sorry, Peter Edward Rose).

    Joey is a leader. Billy Hamilton attributes his improvement at the plate largely to learning from Votto’s approach to hitting.

    I wish Joey would field and run better, but he has pledged to work on it.

    Want his salary off the books? That’s understandable, but shouldn’t the Reds look to get Homer’s, Mez’s and BP’s salaries off the books first? They are FAR less valuable than Votto, and accounted for $40.33 MM of the payroll in 2016.

    Instead of boo-hooing about the 25% that is allocated to Votto, maybe the Reds and Reds fans ought to pay better attention to how to best use the other 75%. Because that’s still higher than several teams’ payrolls. Because the Reds paid Alfredo Simon $3 million last year to pitch like crap.

    Unhappy about the state of the Reds? I get it.

    Don’t blame Joey. Focus your blame and ire a bit higher up. Trading Votto solves nothing, and would make the Reds suck for much longer.

    • Don’t see anybody here upset with JV,he’s absolutely a great player.I’m 65…watched BRM at RiverFront…watched that terrible 1982 team…watched as Reds beat on Bash Brothers in 1990,was a fan thru all the Griffey Jr years and after all that I can tell you without a doubt…winning beats the Hell outta losing 🙂 ..and watching a losing team with one great player is like a consolation prize.If FO can build a good team around JV this this can work out in our favor.If not..expect more of the same..

  26. If I understand correctly, a certain segment of Reds fans believes they should trade Joey Votto, in the hopes that they could get a prospect with the potential to be Joey Votto within the next 3 years. Who will then, in turn, sign a much more inflated contract with the Reds, and inherit the title of “Facebook Commenter Reds Fan Whipping Boy of the Day.”

  27. I have no confidence in the Reds brass to be competent enough to get equal value for Votto if he was traded. Bailey, Phillips contracts are what are killing this team not Votto’s. Votto is the only true professional this team flipping has in my opinion! Votto gives the Reds great production in every metric measured. Sure his defense isn’t the best but he has 1 Gold glove and I expect a big improvement this year. What the hell is washed up Phillips (want to talk about some declining defense) giving you for the $ he is paid? Bailey signed if fat check for what a couple of no-no’s thrown big deal!! What else has this cat done but get injured? Why trade an MVP caliber player in hopes to maybe get a prospect to his level? You already have what everyone is chasing!!! Reds are small market but are more concerned with fan friendly activities than a quality product. I believe this subject has been touched on in the Nation before.

  28. Would I trade Votto? It would have to be a heck of a package to do it.

Comments are closed.

About Jason Linden

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at


Joey Votto is Perfect


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