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.

15 Responses

  1. Alex

    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.

    • Brock

      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).

      • Tom

        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.

  2. Brock

    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…

    • Jonathan Linn

      Yes and agree. His knee injury cost him roughly 10 WAR and an MVP

  3. Brock

    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.

  4. Ethan L

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

  5. cfd3000

    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.

  6. IndyRedMan

    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!

  7. cupofcoffee1955

    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.

  8. jazzmanbbfan

    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.

  9. Matt Esberger

    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?).

  10. Ernest Howerton

    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