Daily Reds Obsession

DRO: Will Joey Votto make the baseball Hall of Fame?


This week’s respondents are Nick Kirby, Chris Garber, Clay Marshall, Ashley Davis, and Steve Mancuso.


Our Daily Reds Obsession: Will Joey Votto make the baseball Hall of Fame?

Nick: Yes, duh! I believe that Votto could retire right now and still make the HOF. Votto is currently tied for the 10th highest OBP (.428) and the 10th highest wRC+ (158) in the MLB history. That in itself should get him in, and the baseball writers are getting smarter with voting in recent years.

Chris: If you had asked me on October 1, I would have said yes, absolutely. Votto’s ageless 2017, with power numbers unheard of in years, seemed to have finally pushed Votto into the consensus understanding of the game’s elite players. I only pause because of the ridiculous Silver Slugger award voting from last week. If “baseball men” can compare the 2017 hitting statistics of Joey Votto and Paul Goldschmidt and find the latter superior… well, anything could happen.

Clay: As long as the electorate doesn’t include the managers and coaches who voted on this year’s Silver Slugger awards! In all seriousness, though, I believe he will, although I don’t think it will be on his first attempt. While it seems the collective appreciation of Votto’s skills has grown in recent years, the fact that he’s still being overlooked for individual honors and such shows there’s still work to do. There’s no legitimate reason a player this good should be considered “overlooked,” which is a primary reason why I wish the Reds would do more to embrace and especially market him as the face of the franchise. Naming him captain would be a nice start.

Ashley: Maybe my bias is showing here, but Joey Votto will make the Baseball Hall of Fame. As a new group of HOF voters is ushered in, it will bring in a new era of those who won’t focus on just the “old stats” of AVG, HR, RBI. It’s already starting. Voters are putting more focus on OBP, OPS and WAR. According to Baseball Reference, the average HOF first baseman has a 66.8 career WAR. Votto currently has a 54.8 career WAR, and he still has at least six more years in the league. My only worry is that people will underrate him because Votto’s been underrated for much of his career. I mean, his numbers couldn’t even convince other managers and coaches that he is the best first baseman in the league this season (if evidenced by the Silver Slugger award).

Steve: Yes. And I’m not sure I would have said that prior to his 2017 season. Votto has already accumulated about 54 WAR, including his 7 WAR season in 2017. He’s been durable and his particular skill set shows no sign of decline. In fact, it got better at age 33-34. Votto could easily reach 75 WAR, which would be the 8th highest all-time for first base. If you look at a player’s seven-best seasons, Votto already ranks #11 among 1B all time, ahead of HOFs Frank Thomas and Willie McCovey. The HOF voting population is getting younger and more modern in the way they look at player value. If Votto plays to the end of his Reds contract, he wouldn’t be eligible for HOF voting until 2028. That’s plenty of time for significant further turnover in voting population.

39 thoughts on “DRO: Will Joey Votto make the baseball Hall of Fame?

  1. Look at Todd Helton in Col.
    If he makes it, Joey should, if not it will be hard.

    • Larry Walker didn’t make it and he was probably a better player than Helton. Not a coincidence that there are zero Rockies in the HOF.

      Back to Joey. It will depend on a few variables. 1) How long can Votto maintain his current level? 2) Will he ever provide playoff heroics? His playoff numbers are terrible. 3) Will voters 15 years from now value slash lines over bulk stats? Joey *might* get to 400 HR and possibly 2,000-2,300 hits. First basemen historically need more than that unless they played for the Big Red Machine.

      • Hi Alex. In terms of total bulk stats, Joey is actually on pace for around 2,500 hits. He just needs to average 160 hits a year for the next 6 years, well below his 162 game average of 180 hits. He is also on pace for 1,600 walks. The only players in history with 2,500 hits, 1,600 walks, and 375 HRs? Bonds, Ruth, Williams, Yastrzemski, Ott, Musial* (*1599 walks).

        • Votto is also on pace to reach base somewhere between 4,500 to 5,000 times. That’s top 20 all time on that stat. Combine that with a slash line over .300/.400/.500 and a career WAR above the average HoF first basemen and I can’t find a case for keeping him out of the HoF.

          Sadly, the biggest skeptic is the voice of the Reds.

      • Walker was a great Expo before he was with the Rockies. I’d happily have him on my team.

    • Helton and Votto have very similar stats, but a few differences bump Votto into a higher category in my opinion. Helton finished with just over 60 bWAR and just three top 10 MVP seasons. Joey already has 54 bWAR and should finish close to 70 by the end of his career. And Joey has 1 MVP and six top 10 MVP seasons, and will probably add one or two more top 10 seasons before he is done. A lot of voters tend to look at how often a player was in the MVP discussion to see if he was among the elite during his career.

      I live in Denver and was a huge Helton fan (HOF worthy in my book). But unfortunately Helton also has the Coors Field bias going against him.

  2. Unequivocally, YES !!!
    Four more years like this past couple of years in ’18, ’19, ’20, and ’21 and then two years of average playing in ’22 and ’23 and he is a lock.
    Votto has 3-4 years left in him at peak performance. As long as he doesn’t have another devastating injury he is in.
    It is a shame the Reds don’t see fit to naming him as the Captain of this team, though. That is very perplexing. RLN needs to have a petition drive for signatures on this topic and present it to the Reds front office. This wrong needs to be righted this winter.

    • Does anyone know whether Joey wants to be captain? The idea gets mentioned here frequently, but perhaps he’d rather not have the title.

      • I’ve wondered that too GREENMTRED. If it’s been offered and he’s declined, that’s fine. If not offered, the Reds need to do so before opening day in my opinion.

  3. I look at Edgar Martinez as a litmus test. Do we think he makes it? I think he will eventually (59% last year). If he does, it will be very difficult to not vote Votto in unless he has a precipitous drop-off.

    • I don’t think that’s an apt comparison. Martinez spent significant time as a DH. That is a knock against his HOF candidacy. Even when he was in the field, it was safe to say he was not a complete player.

      Votto doesn’t have those cons going against him.

    • Not sure how you can compare a guy who is a former Gold Glove First Baseman with a guy who was such a liability defensively that he played DH for nearly all of his career. Apples and oranges.

      • You are making my point. They aren’t comparable. Votto is better. So if Edgar makes it…..

        • Then a whole lot of other people make it? I don’t see Gar as the litmus test at all for Votto. If he doesn’t make it, and there’s a pretty decent chance he won’t, I don’t think that says anything about Votto’s chances.

  4. Joey Votto = 2017 National League MVP. #2 for him. That will be a nice boost and a better award than a Silver Slugger.

      • We’ll see if BBWAA value overall stats or HR’s more. Everyone was hitting more HR’s this past year, but not every player could do what Votto accomplished. Votto was in rare air. A juiced-ball influenced 59 HR’s is diminished by the fact that it was juiced.

        • I would assume that Votto will finish 3rd this year. Goldschmidt actually played on a playoff team while Votto labored on a dreadful, last place team. Even though Votto’s numbers would suggest he’s the better player, the case could be made that Goldy was more valuable to his team, a team that was actually contending for something. Plus, that didn’t stop award voters from giving him the nod over Votto in the SS or GG awards.

          Stanton will almost certainly get more votes too. People love the long ball and whether it was juiced or not, Stanton stood out and will get recognition for his season.

          I don’t like the fact that Votto gets overlooked, but he has for most of his career and it looks to be more of the same this year. But, at least he was considered as a finalist.

  5. Also…that 2012 season is the one I look back on and wonder about. Had Votto not gotten injured, he might have won MVP that year and a batting title. And challenged all-time record for doubles. Give him a second MVP (and perhaps a third some day), then hard to not induct him. Oh well. Injuries are part of the game.

    • Yeah, that 2012 season was probably the best of Votto’s career…until the injury. He wouldn’t have challenged the all-time record for doubles, he would have shattered the record and been a lock for his 2nd MVP. Injuries happen, but that injury effectvely cost Votto two cummulative seasons of peak performance during his prime years of productivity.

      With that said and baring any additional significant injuries during the next 4 seasons, Votto will exceed 75 WAR after the 2021 season with at least two additional top 5 NL MVP finishes.

  6. Absolutely.
    However, and this may not be a popular opinion in this forum, but I’m not a big fan of awards given by writers. I mean I know they are fun and in the case if the baseball HOF, it means a lot to a lot of people, including players, but I always take writer awards with a grain of salt. I put more weight in accolades received from players and coaches.

    • Until you see Votto get snubbed year after year for the Silver Slugger; particularly this year.

      I think players and coaches should have some say but their views can be somewhat insular and more consideration is merited for HOF distinction.

  7. Thank you Chad, one of my favorite baseball nerd topics. I love exploring Baseball Reference and looking at current players’ stats, awards, etc. and comparing them to players in the past. And adding Joey to the conversation? The ultimate cherry on top. I could read this stuff for hours.

    Although I probably shouldn’t get on Redleg Nation at work. Now I’m itching to spend the rest of my morning on Baseball Reference…

    • Looks like a few more 3-4 WAR seasons will place him solidly above those gentlemen. Cool graph.

  8. I sure hope so. Not having him the hall would be a serious injustice. He should. Will he? Who knows?

  9. If we assume “normal” aging curves (even though we all agree Votto won’t age normally because of his skill set), Votto would probably put up something like 10 more WAR, putting him around 65 WAR, which is borderline for a 1Bman, I think.

    Unfortunately, even in 2028, I think there will be enough HR/RBI/Hits voters that Votto can’t be a borderline stats guy if he wants to get in. 300 HR, 1000 RBI, and something like 3500 combined hits and walks will probably be the minimums he needs, IMO. If he stays mostly healthy, he’ll hit all those marks without too much trouble.

    As he ages, his all-time ranking in OBP and wRC+ which are currently his best calling card (good call, Nick) will probably drop back down to around 20th all-time rather than 10th. Still very impressive, but a little less so.

    We need to be correct about him aging more gracefully if he’s going to get in, and he needs to stay healthy for the next 3-4 seasons. The last 2 season of his career will likely be inconsequential in his HOF candidacy, as is for just about everyone who didn’t get in on the strength of just eeking out 500HR or 3000H.

    • I think these are good points, Patrick. Although I will say that 11 years is a long time in terms of the voting pool composition. A lot will change. In fact, I expect that there will be additional advanced metrics that players will be evaluated on by then. And I would expect that voters will be more comfortable and accustomed to looking at the big picture when evaluating HOF candidates.

      All of that is to say that the traditional counting stats will not count quite as much as they do now. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt if Votto could collect another MVP award and some of those elusive Silver Slugger awards to at least provide some contemporary recognition of his greatness.

      Finally, Votto’s relatively late start to his career and his untimely leg injury cost him what should have been very productive years. He will no doubt need to age gracefully to make it in. I think we all agree he has the skill set to make that a decent possibility. Assuming he can stay injury free, I would expect him to continue being an above average player through the end of his current contract. By then, he should surpass 65 WAR.

  10. He needs 2 more elite years to improve his counting stats. If he does that….he also will be the best NL hitter of the decade. But to be safe… A world series MVP in 2020 would help a lot as well….so I’ll go for that.

  11. Even if he gets hurt this offseason and never plays another game I think he’d deserve serious consideration. Assuming that he stays at least mostly healthy I think he’s a lock. Whether it’s rate stats, counting stats, overall skills (that one gold glove makes a big difference there), awards performance, or the comparisons to others already in the Hall, he’ll compare very favorably. He just led the league in times on base (and of course OBP) by more than 10%, ahead of the leadoff hitter for the Rockies. At age 34. And was 6th in slugging so led the league in OPS and WAR. If he comes anywhere close to that kind of performance for two or three more years then there’s no doubt. Joey Votto will be in the Hall of Fame.

  12. Yes…it may take a while but he’ll get in! You would think Marvin Harrison would’ve been a first ballot HOF’er in the NFL but he wasn’t. He only had the 2nd most catches in NFL history when he retired…plus a SB ring as well!

  13. Should JV be in the HoF? Yes. Will he get in? I think eventually he will. However unless he plays on a team that makes a serious run in the playoffs with him as a major contributor, he may have to wait on the veterans’ committee to put him in.

  14. I am interested to see if Joey can keep up the great hitting over the next couple of years. In 2018 he will be 34. After a number of great years, Cabrera fell off this year. He turned 34.

    We are Reds fans and are bias toward him. I’m not sure he can get 75% of the ballots cast. I agree with Mr. Walker above, he needs a serious run in the playoffs and as a major contributor. I would also like to see him back off needing to play 162 games.

    After he retires the writers will ask, was Joey the best first baseman of his time? He will be compared to Goldschmidt, Rizzo & others. Anyway, Votto is a Red and I am happy he is on our team.

    • I see Joey and Miggy being very different body types. I think Miggy was much more likely to drop off a cliff and do so earlier than Joey will be due to his fitness level. That may just be hope talking!

  15. If he can produce career norms in 2018 & maybe 2019 then the resume says yes but not a first ballot guy more akin to Jeff Bagwell & Jim Thome as far as waiting period. Thome had more power than Votto and doesn’t seem he will be in anytime soon though is very deserving. One drawback is there are many members of BBWAA that value WS Championships as a major criteria but I think that is wrong due to of the 4 major sports, baseball has the most variables and randomness when it comes to playoffs and sometimes it is a simple matter of being on the right team at the right time. Also have to factor in other 1st basemen/DH who will probably get in HOF that played at same time during his career (Pujols, Ortiz, Cabrera, Texeira?).

  16. Pretty good numbers,I don’t see why not barring injuries.Good power this yr,rbi.Just think if during his career he could have had more people on base in front of him.Still has good yrs. ahead of him

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