Earlier today, Steve discussed Joey Votto’s MVP candidacy, and took a sweet little trip down memory lane. The votes have now been tabulated, and the winner announced.

Your 2017 National League Most Valuable player is Giancarlo Stanton.

Well, maybe he’s your MVP. My MVP is Joey Votto.

Votto finished just two points behind Stanton in a historically close race for the National League’s top honor:

In the closest MVP vote since 1979 and the fourth closest all-time, Votto and Stanton both received 10 first-place votes, with Votto falling two points short of Stanton’s 302 total. Goldschmidt had 239 points.

“Just so close,” Votto said after learning the outcome. “[I’m] really, really grateful for the support. I cannot believe how close it was. I just can’t believe coming up two points short. It’s so cool in a way coming up that short. Most of the time it’s a landslide or it’s clear. This wasn’t that. That was one of the entertaining aspects of it. Because Giancarlo and I did things so differently and because we’re both on losing clubs, it was for me a very interesting vote.”

For Votto, who won the MVP in 2010, this was the third time he has finished in the top three of MVP voting. A second award would have been a great line on his Hall of Fame resume, but Votto continues to build an excellent case on that front, regardless.

Cincinnati’s superstar first baseman posted 7.5 WAR in 2017, playing all 162 games and hitting .320/454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 134 walks (against 83 strikeouts). He led the league in walks, OBP, OPS, and OPS+, among other things. Over at FanGraphs, Travis Sawchik expertly listed the highlights of Votto’s season:

The runner-up, Votto, led baseball with an absurd .454 on-base percentage, leading 22nd-ranked Stanton (.376) by a significant margin. He led the NL in wRC+ (165), while Stanton finished second (156). Votto led the NL in wOBA (.428), too. Votto was the most efficient hitter in the NL.

As you might expect, Stanton held an edge in baserunning, though neither were standouts. Votto made remarkable strides defensively this year. After posting a -14 DRS mark last year, the first baseman improved to +11 this season. Stanton posted a +10 DRS mark in right field.

But Votto did separate himself in a couple of hidden areas.

Traditionally, Votto has made pitchers work a little more. He produces more stress on opposing arms, which has a positive effect not only for himself but for his teammates in the lineup. That doesn’t show up in WAR. And there is some evidence that he holds an edge there.

In total pitches seen, they ranked beside each other in 2017. Stanton placed 11th in the sport with 2,736 pitches seen; Votto, 12th (2,733).

Votto separated himself by some other measures of patience, however. By pitches seen when ahead in the count, Votto (981) ranked second only to Aaron Judge (1,000), while Stanton ranked in the top 10 (930). In two-strike performance, Votto held an overwhelming advantage. Here Votto led the sport with a .359 wOBA with two strikes while Stanton ranked 240th (.236). The league average was .241.

Sawchik has much, much more about Stanton and Votto, and I encourage you to go read the entire piece.

In his usual, humble fashion, Votto refused to be disappointed by the narrow loss:

“Giancarlo plays in a monster ballpark and hit all those home runs and I was cheering for him,” Votto said. “I played every day and I felt like I put together a nice, well-rounded season. We did it from the beginning to the end, we both stayed healthy and I think the fans appreciated it. Disappointed? Not really. Truly, more grateful.”

Well, I’m disappointed for you, Joey. But thanks for being classy and representing the Cincinnati Reds well, as always.

For the record, a Cincinnati player has finished second in MVP voting five other times in history. The last time it happened was in 1985, when Dave Parker finished second to St. Louis’ Willie McGee.

Before that, it was George Foster in 1976, one year before he actually won the MVP. 1976 was notable for the fact that Foster lost to his teammate, Joe Morgan, and five Reds in all were among the top 13 in voting: Pete Rose was fourth, Ken Griffey was eighth, and Rawly Eastwick was 13th.

The other Reds to finish second: Rose in 1968 (lost to Bob Gibson), Ted Kluszewski in 1954 (behind Willie Mays), and Ewell “The Whip” Blackwell, who finished second to Bob Elliott in 1947.

Here’s hoping the Reds stop wasting the Ted Williams of our generation. I look forward to Votto winning the MVP award next season after Cincinnati returns to the playoffs.

33 Responses

  1. Steve Mancuso

    Reds MVPs in 1970s:

    1970 – Johnny Bench
    1972 – Johnny Bench
    1973 – Pete Rose
    1975 – Joe Morgan
    1976 – Joe Morgan
    1977 – George Foster

    Four different players over eight seasons. Kinda like a big machine.

    • Bill Lack

      1970 – 3rd Perez 7th Rose 16th Tolan 21st Merritt 30th Grainger
      1971 – 12th May 24th Rose
      1972 – 4th Morgan 12th Rose 13th Carroll 20th Tolan
      1973 – 4th Morgan 7th Perez 10th Bench 23rd Billingham
      1974 – 4th Bench 8th Morgan 15 Concepcion 16 Billingham
      1975 – 4 Bench 5 Rose 15 Perez
      1976 – 2 Foster 4 Rose 8 Griffey 13 Eastwick 25 Geronimo
      1977 – 15 Rose 21 Bench
      1978 – 6 Foster 11 Rose
      1979 – 5 Knight 9 Concepcion 12 Foster 21 Seaver 23 Bench 27 Collins

  2. Caribred

    More evidence of the awesomeness of Joey Votto.

  3. Patrick Jeter

    I can’t get too worked up about it. Stanton should have been higher on some ballots and Votto should have been higher on some ballots.

    Votto had an edge in the box, while Stanton held an edge in the field and on the bases.

    Would have liked to see Votto win, of course, but ultimately, not a snub at all.

    I figured Goldy would win because he has better teammates. I’m just glad that didn’t happen. Score one for the good guys.

    • Brock

      I couldn’t agree more. Both are great players who had amazing seasons. And I am very glad Goldy didn’t win. A great player too, but he’s no Joey Votto and personally I felt his season didn’t match up to the other two (personally I had Goldy 5th behind Votto, Stanton, and the two Rockies).

  4. Eric The Red

    We are extremely lucky to have a player of the caliber of Joey Votto–as a player and as a representative of the team. Here’s a crazy thought: Votto’s Hall of Fame candidacy may well be a close call; but just three more points and he’d be a two-time MVP, and a probable shoo-in.

  5. cupofcoffee1955

    What a season by Votto! Also a great statement by him, very humble. We all know Joey is a little different but a heck of a ballplayer. When does Spring Training start?

  6. cfd3000

    I normally hate shared awards but how do you tell Stanton or Votto or Goldschmidt that they weren’t the MVP this year? All three played well enough to deserve it and you have to tip your cap to whoever topped the voting. Congrats to Stanton. Well earned. And congrats to Goldschmidt for an amazing season. And for Votto, another incredible year in an incredible career. Those two strike numbers are insane. Wow.

  7. greenmtred

    Great player and classy person.

  8. Kyle Farmer

    I’m disappointed and believed Votto deserved the award but the one I’m still hot about is the Silver Slugger. That was just ridiculous.

    Hard to overemphasize how much class he showed in the interviews after the announcement.

    • David

      Agreed. He should have won the Silver Slugger award. That was a little off. Because Goldschmidt played for a contending team that made it into the playoffs, and had some more RBI’s. Whatever.

  9. Scott Carter

    Hard to believe that Votto had such a great season and took home nothing. If he could have had someone batting in front of him all season that could get on base think how much better those number could have been. If he played on a team that had better pitching all year….. Just dreaming but a word to the FO and Brian Price “Quit wasting this generational hitter put some pieces with him so not only Joey will get recognition but also so we can win. NOW is the time, not 2024.

    • VaRedsFan

      I’m pretty sure Zack Cozart and his career year batted in front of Votto for most of the season

      • james garrett

        Probably referring to Billy and his stellar obp and when Zack was out we had Billy and Peraza hitting in front of him which points out the foolishness of Price and his lineups.

      • David

        Actually, I think Zach was at his “hottest” the first two months, when he was batting 6 and 7. He did fine in front of Votto, but it was Zach. He had a career year, that’s all.

  10. WVRedlegs

    I am disappointed for Votto, but all 3 deserved the award. Very impressing showing nonetheless. Many voters penalized Votto for being on a losing team. Shame on them.
    Well, Dick Williams can rectify this situation by improving this team this winter to position it more readily to compete in 2018.
    Dick Williams time to earn your stripes.

  11. scottya

    Votto is awesome. 302 to 300 ouch.

  12. Shchi Cossack

    The NL MVP turned out to be the coin flip it should have been between Stanton and Votto. Only 30 ballots?! That seems like a very low ballot total.

    The 3 also-rans were appropriate with Goldschmidt, Arenado and Blackmon grouped in a 34 vote spread and 60+ votes behind the top two, with the top 5 the only players listed on all 30 ballots.

    • Shchi Cossack

      Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I really question the legitimacy of any ballot that did not include Votto or Stanton among the top 3 and especially the ballots that had Votto 5th and Stanton 5th and 6th. Those ballots almost certainly had a personal agenda in play.

      • VaRedsFan

        Not really…if they went with the winning team theory, then Goldy, Blackmon, Arrenado, and Turner all met that criteria, and would have pushed the top 2 back to 5th/6th

      • Patrick Jeter

        Votto was 4th in the league in FG WAR. I think it would be defensible to have Votto 4th or 5th. But, the reasons those two voters gave were not based on anything concrete, unfortunately.

  13. JB WV

    Joey’s comments put it in perspective, as always. Love to see the respect players have for one another. And yes, how could he not win the Silver Slugger? That’s a crime.

  14. msanmoore

    Such a humble true baseball guy response. That close margin is one for the books. And Goldy wasn’t even close in the end.

  15. Old-school

    Votto has been the best hitter this decade. Stanton and Goldschmidt have matched him since they came on to the scene in full in 2013.

    This debate should continue for a few more years. I actually think it elevates Votto. Particularly when you start to comprehend the career trajectory of Stanton. Very well could be having the same argument next year. That’s good for baseball.

    • Old-school

      Bryce Harper will be back next year healthy.

      • WVRedlegs

        Which will be Harper’s last year in the NL. Those pinstripes will lure him away.

  16. Ethan L

    Joey for president 2020 or 2024…
    Wait a second; he’s from Canada. Nervermind

  17. DJ Norman

    Joey did end up winning an award for perhaps the most important thing he did all year. Best Fan-Player Interaction. As much as I wanted him to win MVP and Silver Slugger, this shows how good of a person he is as well.

    • TR

      If Joey runs for parliament he could eventually become the prime minister of Canada.