Joey Votto is rapidly climbing his way up the ladder of the best home run hitters of all time. As he climbs higher and higher there are fewer and fewer people above him. The names he is passing get more famous with each rung on the ladder as well. Last night Votto hit the 170th home run of his career. The blast moves him into the top 400 home run hitters in baseball history. He is now tied at #400 with 5 former major league greats including one Hall of Famer and another guy who might get into the Hall one day. Joe Cronin, Bob Elliott, Jim Ray Hart, Kevin Millar and Tim Raines all ended their careers with 170 home runs. You can read more about them below.

Click this to watch the home run: [mlbvideo id=”92735183″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]

The home run travelled 389 feet to right-center field and came on a 76 mph curveball thrown by Milwaukee Brewer’s starter Kyle Lohse. It was the second time Joey has taken Lohse deep in his career. Votto has homered against 141 different pitchers. This was the 22nd long ball the Reds first baseman has hit against Brewers pitching, more than any other team (Cubs 2nd with 19). Votto has hit home runs against 25 of the 30 MLB teams and has gone deep in 22 different ballparks. 264 of Votto’s 569 career RBI have come on home runs.

Votto has homered twice against  numerous pitchers. The most he has hit against any pitcher is three, but he has done that against five pitchers: Zack Greinke, Kameron Loe, Mike Pelfrey, Fernando Nieve and Tony Sipp.

I will try my best to keep you up to date with his progress up the home run ladder as the season progresses. So far he has been hitting home runs frequently, which could make it difficult for me to keep up since these articles take a long time to research. Hopefully Joey will continue blasting dingers faster than I can write them up. There are a lot of interesting facts and trivia to learn about the players Joey is passing. He is going to be a Red for a long time to come, so I wonder how far he will climb this ladder before he retires. It should be a fun story to follow.

Joey began this season in 433rd place with 163 career home runs. He now has 170 home runs and is tied for 400th place with the following players:

Joe CroninJoe Cronin — His 20 year career spanned from 1926 to 1945 with the Pirates, Senators and Red Sox. He was not a true slugger, topping out at 24 home runs in 1940 — and that was the only year he reached even 20 longballs. He walked more than he struck out in his career. He finished with a .301 career batting average and an OPS+ of only 119, which is quite low for a player who would be elected to the Hall of Fame. Cronin became the player-manager of the Senators in 1933 and led the team to the World Series where they lost to the New York Giants. In 1935 Cronin was traded to the Red Sox and spent the next 11 years as the player-manager of that club. In 1946 he retired as a player but remained the Red Sox manager for two more years, including another World Series loss, this time to the Cardinals (boo). Cronin then spent the next 11 seasons as the General Manager of the Red Sox. He led them through a time of gradual decline as they fell out of contention. During his long tenure as General Manager he never signed or traded for a black player. In fact the Red Sox became the last major league team to sign a black player in 1959 — after Cronin was gone.  Cronin then spent the next 14 years as President of the American League. Cronin never won an MVP Award. The first year for the official baseball writers’ MVP Award was 1931, but he did win the Sporting News MVP Award in 1930. Cronin was born shortly after his family lost everything in the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.

Bob ElliottBob Elliott — Played 15 years from 1939 to 1953 with the Pirates, Boston Braves. NY Giants, Browns and White Sox. He was a seven time All Star and won the 1947 MVP Award in his first year with the Boston Braves. Like Cronin, Elliott also peaked at 24 home runs and walked a lot more than he struck out. He spent his first few years playing in Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, which was a very difficult place to hit home runs. In 8 years in Pittsburgh he averaged only 6 home runs per year, but during his 5 years in Boston he averaged 20 homers. Elliott was also a very good defensive player. He retired with the highest slugging percentage of any NL third baseman up to that point. Elliott was exempted from service in World War Two because he was drilled in the head with a batted ball in 1943.

Jim Ray HartJim Ray Hart — Played 12 years from 1963 to 1974, mostly for the Giants and the last couple years with the Yankees. The most home runs he hit in a year was 1966, when he hit 33 dingers and made his only All Star team. He was a third baseman and by all accounts was not a good one. He was such a poor defender that the team could not afford to keep his excellent bat in the lineup. Because of that he became a part-time player after his first 6 seasons. Hart averaged 27 homers per year when he was a starter, but only 6 per year after that.  He once hit for the cycle and had 6 RBI in one inning in the same game. Finished second to Dick Allen in the 1964 NL Rookie of the Year balloting.

Kevin MillarKevin Millar — Perhaps best known as the co-host of Intentional Talk on the MLB Network, Millar had a 12 year career with the Marlins, Red Sox, Orioles and Blue Jays from 1998 to 2009. After the 2002 season, the Marlins sold Millar to the Chunichi Dragons in Japan but the Red Sox broke an unwritten rule and claimed him on waivers. The most home runs he ever hit in a year was 25 in 2003, his first year in Boston. He was a solid player but never made an All Star team. During his career he was one of the few players who declined membership in the MLBPA players’ union. Millar holds the record for most MLB games played by a non-drafted player who began his career in the Independent Leagues.

Tim RainesTim Raines — The switch-hitting left-fielder had a very long 23 year career from 1979 to 2002 with 6 teams, most notably the Montreal Expos. He was not much of a home run hitter, topping out at 18 long balls in 1987. He was the prototypical leadoff hitter. He stole 808 bases, placing him 5th on the all-time list behind only Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock, the original Billy Hamilton and Ty Cobb. He is 53rd on the all-time Runs Scored list with 1571. Raines was a 6-time All Star and is often considered a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame. He received 55% of the Hall vote this year, falling short of the necessary 75%. His vote percentage has been steadily increasing each year. Raines hit .334 in 1986 and won the NL batting title. He was successful on the first 27 stolen base attempts of his career, a major league record. Finished second to Fernando Valenzuela for the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 1981. Early in his career he was a heavy cocaine user, even carrying a vial of the drug in his back pocket during games. He slid head first to avoid breaking the vial. He and his son Tim Raines  Jr. became the second father-son duo to play together on the same major league team with the Orioles in 2001. The first duo was Ken Griffey Junior and Senior.

Votto’s Victims:

With his 7 home runs, Joey Votto has passed 37 players this season, including 3 Hall of Famers and 3 former Reds:

170 Joe Cronin — Hall of Fame
170 Bob Elliott
170 Jim Ray Hart
170 Kevin Millar
170 Tim Raines

169 Ramon Hernandez (Reds 2009-11)
169 Lloyd Moseby
169 Pete O’Brien
169 Enos Slaughter — Hall of Fame
169 Justin Upton (Active player)
169 Ty Wigginton

168 Jose Hernandez

167 Casey Blake
167 J.J. Hardy (Active player)
167 Elston Howard
167 Charles Johnson
167 Gus Triandos

166 Tony Conigliaro
166 Larry Hisle
166 Dwayne Murphy
166 Alex Rios (Active player)
166 Bill Robinson
166 Paul Sorrento

165 Jose Cruz
165 Jacque Jones

164 Hank Bauer
164 Chick Hafey — Hall of Fame (Reds 1932-37)
164 Jim Lemon
164 Andy Seminick (Reds 1952-55)
164 Al Smith
164 Andy Van Slyke
164 Claudell Washington

163 Don Demeter
163 Damion Easley
163 Ken Keltner
163 Bill Madlock
163 Roy Smalley

21 Responses

  1. cfd3000

    This is fantastic Nick! I don’t know how to assess the weights of this piece as to humor versus seriousness, but I found this report strangely fascinating and extremely funny too. Thanks for this glimpse into the old school Baseball Encyclopedia days of stat tracking. Go Joey – top 375 here we come!

  2. bohdi87

    He’s on pace for 57 on the season! If he comes in at half that (28) that would put him under the 340 all time rank. He may also pass Bruce this season although I hope he doesn’t because Bruce heats up.

    Request: I would love a detailed article from Redlegnation breaking down what Votto needs to do through the rest of his career for the HOF.

    • tct

      He sitting at 36 WAR for his career right now. The borderline HOF guys are around 60. He is 31 years old and is under contract for eight more years. If he stays healthy, he should at least get to the 60 win Mark, which is usually considered the benchmark for hof consideration by the statistical community.

      The bigger problem for Joey is that he probably won’t get to many of the “milestone” numbers. He turned 25 in his rookie year, so he got a bit of a late start compared to many hall of farmers. He hits for a high average, but because he walks so much, he doesn’t get a ridiculous amount of hits. He has 1079 for his career, and has never had more than 185 in a season, so 3000 hits is out of the question and 2500 may be bridge too far. He may get to 300 homers, but it’s hard to see him going much past that.

      If Joey is gonna get in, it’s going to be on the strength of his rate stats. He is a career .310/418/535 guy with a 155 wRC+. If he ended his career with a 155 wRC+ that would be 19th all time! Better than Mays, Aaron, Robinson, and DiMaggio. His OBP would rank 21st all time, just ahead of Musial. Now, obviously, it will be hard for him to keep these rates up in his late thirties. But if he can end up above .300/400/.500, with a wRC+ over 145, above 60 WAR, 2000+ hits, and 300+ homers, then I think he’s got a shot. Another MVP would be helpful also.

      • bohdi87

        Thanks. Good stuff…. I knew, based on WAR and most other “advanced” metrics, he’s a shoe-in IF he stays relatively healthy. The biggest problem is, as you mention, the traditional milestone numbers that I worry the HOF voters will focus on too much. One would hope that voters recognize he’s putting up these numbers with a pretty terrible supporting cast. Think of the players “protecting” Votto in the lineup over the years and it’s no wonder his walks are astronomical and hits relatively low.

      • jdx19

        That’s a pretty good write-up there, TCT. Pretty spot on from my view. A lot of the voters, I feel, will also look for special moments a player was involved in. Someone liek David Ortiz will be a shoe-in given his perceived “clutchiness” and his home run totals (sitting at 470) even though he’ll end his career well short of 60 WAR (sitting at 43.5 currently).

        If Votto continues to be a great hitter on mediocre teams that don’t make noise in the playoffs the rest of his career, he’s certainly going to need another MVP or something weird to set him apart, like having a .500 OBP one year or something else. The strength of his OBP and wRC+ both being Top 20 ALL-TIME (if it holds) could be enough, but I tend to think even at 60 WAR he’ll need a bit more oomph.

        Look at Tony Perez. Votto is a much better hitter, and will have a shorter career, and Perez is memorable for the BRM.

      • jdx19

        Also interesting about Votto, he’s got the 4th highest BABIP of ALL-TIME (min 4000PAs). He is truly one of the best strikers of the ball that has ever played.

      • jdx19

        Also, as gruesome as it may sound, someone like Votto may just need to wait for the old-school (and physically older) writers to die off before the preponderance of the BBWAA is a younger, more SABR-inclined group. Because like you said, he’s got no chance of getting to 400 homers or 3000 hits.

        It would be interesting to see a times-on-base chart. Like, maybe some guys get 3000 hits but walk 300 times in their career, whereas Votto may get 2500 hits and walk 1200 times. One of those lines is better than the other. Just gotta get people to understand.

  3. charlottencredsfan

    Bob Elliott and Kevin Millar? You don’t say.

  4. IndyRedMan

    I know he didn’t like the criticism but Joey is more aggressive this year….pulling the ball more than I’ve ever seen him. To me the discussion about expanding the strike zone was stupid but I do think he got too comfortable trying to inside-out a 2-1 or 3-1 pitch for a single to left center….ala Pete Rose. The 2015 Joey is a beast!!

    • charlottencredsfan

      He is but in the strike zone, actually he is even swinging at less balls outside of it:
      2015: O-swing% = 15.8% best of his career, Z-swing% = 72.5% most since 2010
      2014: O = 21.8%, Z: 64.8%

      The best sign of all:
      2010: O: 29.9%

      If he can stay healthy, I can’t see why this wouldn’t be his greatest season to date.

  5. Tom Reed

    Votto has a different look with the shaved head and he’s put on a couple pounds. He’s also a little more aggressive at the plate. Looks like a MVP year in the making.

    • jdx19

      Votto, in fact, lost 3 lbs in the off-season, from the report I read. He’s wearing a smaller uniform size which makes him look more muscular, I believer.

  6. davisremy10

    Predictions for how many Votto will have in his career? I know that injuries might (probably will) return, so just your best estimate.

    • aceistheplace2

      350 would be around my guess.

    • jdx19

      I’d go 310. I think in his mid-30s he’ll like like a 15 homer guy and in his late 30s he’ll be a 10 homer guy.

  7. BK Smith

    Great article. Reds could use a duplicate in the lineup.

  8. Silence Dogood

    Votto has really been a remarkable player (and find) for the Reds. The 44th player taken in a pretty weak draft in 2002, he has surpassed all expectations. He developed a little later, likely due to growing up in a cold weather environment but other than a couple of injury riddled years, he has been among baseball’s best. You can tell from watching him that he takes his job very seriously and he doesn’t seem to take his career for granted. I love watching him play the game and am really glad he is going to be a Red for a long time. Though his contract is a point of criticism, the Reds got a steal in locking him up for the better part of his career. I think he’ll age well and be a productive hitter for a long time.

  9. jdx19

    With Nick’s fervor as inspiration, I did some checking to see how our boy Votto compares to the greats of the last 50 years. I wanted to see how good offensively he is and also how good in overall value he is (taking into account baserunning and defense, which aren’t his hallmarks).

    Sample: All players from 1965 to 2015 who have at least 1000 PAs. This is 1,930 players. A lot!

    Stat 1: FanGraphs ‘Off’ Per Game, basically, how good are you offensively without giving too much credit for guys with good longevity.

    1) Mike Trout
    2) Barry Bonds
    3) Albert Pujols
    4) Mark McGwire
    5) Frank Thomas
    6) Jeff Bagwell
    7) Manny Ramirez
    8) Joey Votto
    9) Frank Robinson
    10) Dick Allen
    11) Alex Rodriguez
    12) Miguel Cabrera

    It’s sad that fully half of this list has been implicated with PEDs.

    Stat 2: Games per FG WAR Accumulated, basically, how many games does it take you on average to accumulate 1.0 WAR.

    1) Mike Trout
    2) Barry Bonds
    3) Roberto Clemente
    4) Mike Schmidt
    5) Alex Rodriguez
    6) Albert Pujols
    7) Evan Longoria
    8) Chase Utley
    9) Willie Mays
    10) Buster Posey
    11) Josh Donaldson
    12) Andrew McCutchen
    13) Joe Morgan
    14) Jeff Bagwell
    15) Hank Aaron
    16) Yasiel Puig
    17) Joey Votto

    Of note with this caluculation is that 1B gets the largest negative defensive adjustment for WAR, followed by the corner outfield positions. The rest of the positions get positive adjustments, with catcher and shortstop receiving the most. Worded differently, a shortstop does not have to be as good offensively as a first baseman to accumulate 1.0 WAR.

    In conclusion, by these two measures, Joey Votto has been one of the 10 best offensive players in the last 50 years, and one of the 20 best overall players in the last 50 years.

    Not. Too. Shabby.