Reds first baseman Joey Votto is no doubt one of the most successful position players in the history of baseball. The 36-year-old is a six-time All-Star and a onetime National League Most Valuable Player who, since he made his major league debut in 2007, has amassed 56.2 fWAR and batted .307/.421/.519 in 7,372 plate appearances. Votto ranks 27th all-time in wRC+ (151), placing him within striking distance of such luminaries as Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron and Joe DiMaggio, and an even better 17th overall in on-base percentage (.421, the same number as Mickey Mantle).
If you’ve somewhat slept on Votto’s career to this point because he doesn’t play in a huge market or hasn’t been a part of frequent postseason teams, you’re probably not alone. Votto may already be a Hall of Famer, though, and with four guaranteed seasons left on the franchise-record 10-year, $225MM contract he signed with the Reds 2012, plenty of time remains for him to keep making his Cooperstown case. However, for that to happen, Votto may have to perform far better than he did last year.
The 2019 season was stunningly subpar for Votto, who was nearly a replacement-level player (0.7 fWAR) over 608 trips to the plate. Votto’s 101 wRC+ represented a 50-point drop-off from his lifetime figure and tied him for 91st among 135 qualified hitters. As always, Votto got on base more than the average player, putting up a .357 OBP, but that’s an unimpressive number compared to how he typically fares. Votto has walked in 16.0 percent of plate appearances in the majors, but he only did so at a 12.5 percent clip a year ago. At the same time, he struck out 20.2 percent of the time (up about 2.5 percent relative to his career), posted a career-worst .261 batting average and managed his second-lowest slugging percentage ever (.411).
Sometimes underwhelming production can be a symptom of bad luck. Unfortunately, that wasn’t really the case for Votto last season. If you look at his Statcast page, he was regularly near the apex of the league in one important category after another from 2015-18. But he fell off to a notable degree in all aspects in 2019. For instance, his .343 expected weighted on-base average was superior to most players, and it did outdo his .332 real wOBA, but it paled in comparison to preceding years in which he hovered around the .400 mark.
There are valid reasons to believe that we’ve seen the last of the all-world version of Votto, but the Reds can only hope that’s not the case. Not only do they owe Votto $82MM over the next few years (including a $7MM buyout for 2024), but it could be a necessity for him to bounce back if they’re going to earn their first playoff berth since 2013 this season. For his part, Votto knows he needs to rebound in 2020.
Regarding his output last year, Votto told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com: “It’s the worst season I’ve had in my career, pretty clearly. I don’t think it’s close. Everything went the wrong way.”
A lesser player wouldn’t necessary deserve the benefit of the doubt. However, considering the brilliance Votto has usually displayed, it may be unwise to bet against a renaissance.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Never bet against Joey Votto, but it’s at the point where we can’t rely on him to be great. If he can put up numbers similar to 2018 that’d be huge with a OBP over .400 and wRC+ above 120. Very reasonable and hopefully attainable
He has one of the best eyes in baseball ever. With 3 more years to go he has a great chance of going to the HOF. The Reds owe him at least one more playoff run.
Bat speed goes away, a great eye doesn’t.
Unfortunately he’s left handed so he will be hitting ahead of runners with a slower bat. Hopefully he can poke it over the infield.
Votto is one of the biggest overthinkers in MLB, I would bet $100 his last season was the result of being mentally out of sorts. The long layoff will probably do him good, I would also bet $100 he has at least one big season left in him, and probably 2-3 more.
Seems like a great way to make 0 dollars
I’ll take you on
I had heard from a local sports show that Votto admitted that he has been out of sorts since his father passed away. Not sure if this time off will help him in his coping along with time, but if that was the main culprit I expect a bounceback of some sorts.
His dad passed in 2009.
I get that, I’m not positive when he died, but you probably are right. All of us grieve in different ways. That is what I heard the sports talking heads say. That they had heard from Joey that it really hit him during spring training before last season. It could hold water? None of us who aren’t in Joey’s circle know for sure.
Ah yes. He overthought his way to a HOF career. Silly guy!
How dumb are you?
Being an overthinker isnt necessarily a bad thing, you smooth brained imbecile.
Moron of the day award goes to you, sunshine!!!
Definitely out of our league as you’re the biggest non-thinkers on MLBTR. If you have $100 to your name be ready to lose it.
You sure are dumb as rocks. You honestly are too dumb to reply to me. I hearby ban you from replying to my advanced level, intellectual posts.
So far so good. Not banned. Not yet anyway. You’ll need a ladder or a working elevator to reach any level kid.
Tea time? Earl Grey, please.
While his age works against him, he’s got a number of factors working in his favor:
* He’s healthy
* He’s in great shape
* Great eye, as previously mentioned
* Huge student of the game
* Gym rat mentality. No one will outwork him.
He’s got some more magic in that bat.
His metrics decline matched up with my limited looks. By my eye test, I his power is waning and his empty swings with 2 strikes were un Votto like. I wish him well but I am not optimistic he can improve on last season.
Easy HoF’er if he retired today.
I would expect a modest bounce back to maybe 275 with 20 homers but not really more. The power was declining for a few years in a row and unless there was an injury situation that is fixed now I don’t see that coming back, it is probably just age related physical decline.
He could still get a bit better but not much. I could see him pulling the ball a bit more to sell out for power but even then it is probably not more than low to mid 20s homers and an even lower average. Can’t beat time unless you are nelson cruz (who of course has a history of helping nature a little…).
His power is declining but it has not helped that he has lingering back issues, I think he’s more than capable of another 30 HR year depending on his approach considering he got more aggressive about a few years ago and 35-36 HRs or so? He’s had multiple 30+ HR years but he really hasn’t been known for being a being an all around slugger more of a doubles and walks machine as opposed to a guy you expect 35+ HRs year in and year out.
Unfortunately not everyone can be a Nelson Cruz in the power department but I expected and still expect Votto’s game to age well until he retires. His approach has been up and down the past 2 years because the other unfortunate fact that his bat speed has slown and he’s just configuring a good approach. I’m also fine platoning him at some point to keep him fresh l.
There was also a huge drop in 2018 production so last year was nothing new. I read somewhere that his exit velocity was around 200th in baseball back in 2018. Not a good sign at all. He’s basically a healthy version of Miguel Cabrera, contractually speaking.
Care to elaborate?
No, I would rather not elaborate. Care to stop posting and have some diarrhea?
36 isn’t a good age to be hoping for a bounce-back. I wish him the best, but expect less.
As a Canadian I hope he has 4 more years of above average play……but this ain’t 1999……36 is 36, and no half days playing dh…….just hope he doesn’t get to the Pujols point where he’s a irrefutable insurmountable anchor on the team.
Easy to root for good guys like Votto. Hope he has a bounce back 2020. However, in the history of MLB, Father Time is still undefeated. If Votto can hit .300 with 20 HR and an OBP of .380 or higher, he’ll justify his spot in the lineup each day. Those numbers collectively are better than his ’18 or ’19 numbers, but I think Votto can do it.
He changed his swing to try to combat declining bat speed. He choked up a ton, tried to slash balls through the infield. That approach didn’t work so he switched back to his usual mechanics the latter part of the season. If they can give him rest against LHP I think 2018 Votto results are probable
Look at the improved lineup he will be in this year. That alone should pop that BA up into the .285 range with 20 dingers. I would be more than happy with that!
JV has been a great contributor at the plate until the past two seasons. He was awful on D and a slow baserunner nearly all of his career. Last year he became a good defender – he really improved. He was so off at the plate his base running did not matter. All of that begs the question, why would he be hitting second in the order? They’ve got to play him with that contract and his D is good now. Move him back to 6th or 7th and nobody will care if he has another season at the plate like last season.
Bell didn’t have the stones to move him out of the 2 hole, even when it was clear to everyone and my grandmother it needed to happen. Up to this point all decisions regarding JV have been based on the name on the back of the jersey, not the front. Now the Reds are making the Hail Mary and trying to buy a trip to the playoffs before Votto is finished, fair enough but at the expense of properly developing players like, Senzel, Van Meter, Aquino etc. who are under control and should be the youth the team builds around. In a couple years the window for the kids will be winding down, big names will be gone, Bell will finally be replaced and they’ll have no choice but to do a proper rebuild “for real” next time. Not the faux one people say happened . That was always duct tape. Hopefully ownership either sells or wakes up to the fact that they need to hire proven winners at the very top. End the Nepotism. Dick Williams might be good with hedge funds but he has no business running an MLB franchise (no prior experience and 5 straight losing seasons, anywhere else he’d be gone) and Nick Krall, equally unqualified, is there so they have someone to throw under the bus when the losing continues and fans start shouting. The Reds will be lucky to finish .500 this year. And the can gets kicked down the road.
I’m gonna say this is his bounce back year with the hopefully powerhouse reds.
Idk if there will be a MLB season at this point, but if there is I would say the Reds season will rely on Votto having a rebound.