When it comes to hitters, the list of ones better than Joey Votto over the last decade can be counted on a single finger. Mike Trout is the only player that’s been a better hitter in that time, topping Votto’s 159 wRC+ of 159 with an incredible 172 mark. Over the last decade, the Cincinnati Reds first baseman has hit .312/.434/.532 with nearly as many walks as he’s had strikeouts. In short, he’s been an elite hitter.
But in the 2018 season he was a far cry from the guy that he has been. He hit under .300 for the first time since 2014 when he was playing on one leg. It was only the second time he was under .300 in his career – he hit .297 as a rookie in 2008. He still led the league in on-base percentage thanks to his 108 walks, giving him a .417 mark in the category. The big fall off in Joey Votto’s production was his slugging. It disappeared. The then 34-year-old had just 12 home runs – a massive drop off from the 36 that he hit in 2017. That led to a slugging percentage of just .419.
While his .837 OPS is a mark that is above-average for any position on the field, when it comes from a Hall of Fame caliber hitter like Joey Votto, who had a 1.006 OPS the previous three seasons, it’s not what you are expecting to see.
The ATC Projection system was released today, and Joey Votto is projected to rebound quite a bit in the 2019 season. They have the Canadian Heartthrob staring at a .294/.420/.491 line. That .911 OPS is easily the best projection on the Reds, and comes with 30 doubles, 2 triples, 23 homers, and 109 walks on the season.
If the system’s projections are close to accurate, the Cincinnati Reds offense is going to be pretty darn good. Getting back a high-end version of Joey Votto reshapes the lineup that’s already being reshaped with additions of Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Nick Senzel. The Reds went out and got plenty of pitching, and that side should be vastly improved – but the offense could certainly take a big step forward in 2019, too.
Reds add Rolando Valles to coaching staff
In addition to “getting the pitching”, the Reds have also been “getting the coaches”. On Thursday evening the team announced that they have added Rolando Valles as associate coach.
He played in the minor leagues with the Houston Astros from 1997-2001. Then he pitched independent league and winter league baseball through the 2007 season. The now 39-year-old joined the Milwaukee Brewers organization in the 2008 year, where he worked in various roles. One of those roles was as Latin Liason. In that role he helped prospects adjust to life in the United States. He’s served as a pitching coach in their minor league farm system, too. He was the pitching coach with their rookie-level team in Helena in 2017 and 2018. What his exact role as associate coach will be in 2019 is unclear to the public at this point.