Last year, I did something I hadn’t done before, I made it a point to discuss and project every position for the Reds. When I reviewed it at the end of the year, I think I’d done pretty well. So why not take another crack at it?

One change I’m making is that rather than predict overall output for each position – which includes the starters and bench players – I’m going to project the starter at each slot and then do the bench as a whole. You’ll see one of these every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until the season starts.

This year’s Reds team is the most stable in recent memory. Only a handful of marginal positions are up for grabs, and so I’m able to structure this in a more conventional way. We’ll start today with first base and Joey Votto and then we’ll move around the field. I’ll finish with catcher because I’m curious about the situation with Devin Mesoraco and I want to give that time to develop. After that, we’ll move on to the pitching staff.

If you want a sneak peak at what my numbers are going to look like (and counting stat projections), you can get a hold of the preseason guide some of us put together here. What you’ll get from these previews that isn’t there, is my in depth ramblings on each individual player. Okay, let’s get started.

Joey Votto
2012 Slash Line: .337/.474/.567
2013 Projection: .320/.450/.540

2012 WAR: 5.9
2013 Best Guess WAR: 7.5
Projected Difference: 2.6 WAR
2013 Floor: 5.0
2013 Ceiling: 10.0

Joey Votto. Ahhhh. Joey Votto. Let’s just all take a moment to think wistfully about the joy having Joey Votto on our favorite baseball team brings.

Done? Good. That was nice, wasn’t it? Now, what should we expect from J. Daniel? Well, if we want to start out being encouraged, we can note that the FanGraphs fans projection has him as the second best player in baseball, behind only Mike Trout, and one of only two players projected to get to 8.0 WAR. How do the other projection systems feel? Pretty much the same. They vary in how much they tend to regress a player to the mean, but everything I can find expects Votto to put up an MVP-caliber season this year. I don’t know about you, but I’m okay with that.

On the extreme upper end, we may want to remember that before he got hurt, Votto was on pace for the best season by a Red since Joe Morgan. That puts his potential in the rarefied 9-10 WAR threshold.

Of course, there’s the knee. We don’t know about the knee yet. In general, the projection systems don’t believe it will hold him back. Votto himself has generally seemed to agree, but it’s hard not to be a little skeptical given the power outage we saw when he came back last year. So I don’t see as much power as some of the projection systems, but I still think he puts up an excellent year, especially where OBA is concerned.

In the end, I think this may well be the best year Votto has had if he stays healthy and plays a full season. In fact, I’ll go ahead and say that I think he’ll win the MVP if he’s healthy.

I feel like I should have more to say about Votto, but I don’t. He’s probably the best hitter in baseball (him or Cabrera, at least). He might be the best player overall. Pitchers should fear him, and we should feel happy every time he comes to bat. When Joey Votto is on your team, every day has the potential to be a banner day.

Redleg Nation Season Preview Schedule

Joey Votto – 2/27
Brandon Phillips – 3/1
Todd Frazier – 3/4
Zack Cozart – 3/6
Ryan Ludwick – 3/8
Shin-Soo Choo – 3/11
Jay Bruce – 3/13
Ryan Hanigan & Catcher #2 – 3/15
Bench – 3/18
Johnny Cueto & Mat Latos – 3/20
Aroldis Chapman & Mike Leake – 3/22
Homer Bailey & Bronson Arroyo – 3/25
Bullpen – 3/27
Updates & Preview Wrap-Up – 3/29