Joey Votto is an MVP candidate. His numbers versus the National League competition are stunning and some people, at least, have noticed. He probably won’t win, but he’ll get some votes for sure. And why? Well, he lead the league in walks, OBP, OPS, OPS+, and wRC+. He was fifth in homers and sixth in SLG. He was, in effect, the best hitter in the NL. He ends up 4th in WAR on FanGraphs and 2nd on BBRef.

His 1.032 OPS was the 46th highest total ever for a player his age or older.

I could go on and on and on, but  perhaps the most impressive number is Votto’s 1.61 BB/K ratio. This was 0.56 better than second place Justin Turner, which was also as big as the gap between Turner and 65th place.

Add to that his influence on Eugenio Suarez and Zack Cozart and I honestly have a hard time imaging any other player who provided more Value (that’s the word we always argue about, right?) to his team this year.

But the tales of his excellence go even farther. A while ago I wrote an article about his status in Reds history, let’s take a moment to revisit that.

Here are the best 10-season stretches in Reds history by WAR:

  1. Johnny Bench – 59.9
  2. Frank Robinson – 59.7
  3. Joe Morgan – 57.2*
  4. Pete Rose – 56.8
  5. Joey Votto – 53.5
  6. Barry Larkin – 50.5

*In only 8 seasons.

Votto has only played 10 seasons and his rookie year was one of his worst, so don’t be surprised if he passes Rose at some point.

With the season concluded, Joey Votto officially has 3 of the top 10 OPS seasons in Reds history.

He has 5 of the top 10 OBP seasons in Reds history.

In Reds history, Joey Votto currently ranks –

1st in OBP and OPS

2nd in SLG and BB

5th in BA, 2B, and HR

6th in WAR according to Baseball-Reference

7th in WAR according to FanGraphs (or 6th if you remove Bid McPhee)

7th in XBH and Times on Base

9th in total bases

11th in R, H, and RBI


Now, remember, Votto has been besting his career averages for three seasons now. If he has two more seasons where he performs merely at his career averages, his Reds rankings will be –

1st in BB

3rd in XBH, HR, and 2B

4th in Total Bases and Times on Base

4th in bWAR and fWAR

5th in R

6th in RBI

7th in H

It is certainly conceivable that, by the end of his career Votto and Pete Rose will be the only players to lead the Reds in significant offensive counting stats (though Johnny Bench might also have a say in there).


And we haven’t even touched on baseball as a whole yet.

Joey Votto currently has the 9th highest OBP in the modern era. He is behind only Ted Williams and Barry Bonds since WWII.

He has the 35th best SLG in MLB history.

He has the 15th best OPS in MLB history.

He just lead the league in OBP for the sixth time. Here is the list of players to do that:

  1. Ty Cobb
  2. Rogers Honsby
  3. Babe Ruth
  4. Ted Williams
  5. Stan Musial
  6. Wade Boggs
  7. Barry Bonds
  8. Joey Votto

In the last five years, there have been seven instances of a player reaching base 300 times in a season. Three of those are Joey Votto.

In the last three years, Joey Votto has reached base 936 times. Paul Goldschmidt is second at 859.

Over the last three seasons, only Mike Trout (1.013) has a higher OPS than Joey Votto (1.006).

According to Baseball-Reference, the average Hall of Fame first baseman generates 42.7 WAR from his seven best seasons. Joey Votto has generated 45.6 WAR.

19 Responses

  1. David

    So, what are you trying to say here? This Votto guy is pretty good? 🙂

    And yet, people keep trying to talk about trading him somewhere, for something.

    This guy will be a Hall of Famer, and is the best Red player in a generation, at least.

    Quick, somebody e-mail this to Marty Brennamen and Paul Daugherty for their reaction. Honestly, Marty says nice things about Joey, but I think his expectations are that Joey should swing more with men on base to try and drive them in, I understand that, and Marty’s frustration with the Reds losing (he honestly loves the team), but I think this is a fundamental disagreement on what baseball players should be trying to do.
    The underlying thing about Joey is that he is very smart, and actually understands what he is trying to do at each at bat, and he works terribly hard at being as good as he is.

    He fails sometimes, because this baseball thing is pretty hard to do, when facing guys that throw as hard as they do now, and can deal up some wicked breaking pitches.

    Jason, thank you for working on this and putting Joey’s statistics and achievements in perspective.

  2. David

    And Steve, this again emphasizes how well Joey plays the game from the neck up. He is very aware of what he is trying to do at each at bat.

  3. Jason Linden

    Agree. He just needs a non-disastrous rest of his career. If he delays aging long enough, he could put up some mind-boggling numbers.

  4. PDunc

    So what this is saying is that Votto is being penalized not because he is a lesser player, but because the “replacement” at 1B is better than that at RF, 3B, or CF?

    • Hanawi

      Yes, which is why I don’t even bother with WAR. wRC+ is the best measure for me and also the one Votto himself says he cares about the most.

  5. sultanofswaff

    The penalty compared to 3B shouldn’t be so severe, in fact the two positions are a wash in my eyes. I mean, a first baseman fields nearly as many balls as a third baseman, plus he has the added responsibility of catching bad throws and holding runners on.

  6. Scott Carter

    I understand that WAR means that Player A gives that many more Wins to a team than a replacement (or league average) player. But would Joey’s WAR actually go up if he had more men on base in front of him and a better or more dangerous hitter behind him?

  7. joshtrum

    Since Votto has entered the league he has been my favorite Red. He is the first player I really followed through their career and as my love of baseball has grown over the last 10 years, so too has Votto matured into the player he is. I hope he stays a Redleg until the end of his career, and am thankful I got to witness a future hall of famer play the game, in person, and on TV.

  8. Broseph

    +1000 on Votto’s shortened, injury plagued seasons. 2012 was going to be one of his best years. Injuries happen and will play a role in his selection if he falls off the next few seasons, but man what his numbers could be if healthy in 12 and 14

  9. Derek B.

    I have to ask do you people cheer for Votto over the reds? Not me I am a reds fan through and through. Also I will never believe a walk is better than a hit.

  10. Mark

    What has Votto’s numbers this year given the reds? They would have been in last place with or without him. Do people prefer Votto to the team? I am a reds fan and cheer for their success. I just will never believe that a walk is better than a hit.

  11. Matt

    Votto is far from perfect. Reds would be in last place with him or without him. Only thing is that they would have won like 55 games.

  12. Still a Red

    Joey’s 10 years seems like such a long time, yet one would hope he’s around for at least another 10. I hope he has the staying power of Pete Rose and some of those other greats that have put in 20+ years. Its seems much harder these days (altho I’ve not looked at the data).

  13. kmartin

    Patrick, my big worry is that HoF voters will place too much emphasis on RBIs. At age 34 Votto is still well below 1000. He has been hurt by two things. First, in his prime at 30 he had a severe leg injury and drove in only 23 runs. Second, he has been handicapped by lead-off hitters with an OBP consistently below 300. I think Votto is a much better hitter than Perez was, but Perez had 1652 RBIs because he had so many outstanding hitters in front of him. I fear this my hurt his chances.

    • da bear

      Run production is what counts. Either you drive them in (RBIs) or you score them (Runs). With Joey compare his runs scored with Pete Rose’s, while discounting Rose leading off versus Joey batting third.

      Given Joey’s proclivity to walk, he probably should bat second in the lineup. Stating the obvious….he should not bat leadoff because the future hall of famer is currently slow and a poor baserunner.

  14. Sandman

    It’ll be a crying shame if Votto don’t win the mvp…and all bcuz he doesn’t play on a winning/playoff team (probably). That’s at least part of the reason.

  15. cfd3000

    Votto’ statistics are amazing, but the most amazing thing to me is the same thing that makes him so extraordinary – the combination of discipline and focus. Obviously hand eye coordination, strength and conditioning are all critical to his success. Without them the work ethic and focus at the plate are useless. But what really separates Votto is his plate discipline combined with his commitment to every at bat and every pitch. He is must see TV when he comes to bat. It’s amazing to see him admonish himself when he misses a pitch he knows he should drive, or swings at a pitch out of the zone. And so cool to see a pitch coming in that looks like it’s in his zone, followed by a rocket off the sweet spot. We are lucky to be able to watch him play and it makes me wish we could have had similar access to Larkin, Davis, Morgan, Bench, Rose and Robinson. Thank you modern technology and thank you Joey Votto.

  16. TR

    Yes, Stanton will probably take the MVP award because homeruns usually get top billing, but increasingly baseball is cognizant of the stardom of Joey Votto.