Like me, you may have already decided Reds first baseman Joey Votto is a lock for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. However, before this season, Votto’s Cooperstown status apparently was more questionable than Reds fans might have thought. His statistics are impressive, but when compared to an average Hall of Fame first baseman, they are on the low end of the measuring stick.

In 15 total seasons, Votto has six All-Star appearances, one MVP award, and one near-MVP award. Votto’s career slash line is currently .303/.417/.519 and his career OPS sits at .936. He’s been in the top 10 for on-base percentage and OPS in nine different seasons and the top 10 for batting average and slugging percentage in eight different seasons. This means that in over half of his entire career, he’s been in the top 10 of players in four different categories.

Votto already reached the 300 home run and 1,000 RBI milestones this season. He’s now chasing 2000 hits, of which he currently has 1,986. Three hundred home runs, 1000 RBI and 2000 hits is not an automatic berth to Cooperstown, but those numbers combined with Votto’s impressive on-base numbers should help his case tremendously when he eventually lands on the ballot.

More and more writers are voting with advanced statistics in mind, rather than just the basic statistics of batting average, home runs, and RBI. This includes OPS, OBP, and WAR. It’s both helping and hurting Votto’s case.

Votto’s career WAR currently sits at 62.5. It’s a little low, when compared to the average career WAR of 66.9 for 21 Hall of Fame first basemen. But it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Votto could reach that mark with the number of years he still has left to play, barring injury. While his career WAR is low, Votto is one of the best at getting on base. He has over 1,200 career walks. He’s also one of six players who has led the National League in on-base percentage seven times. Four of those players are in the Hall of Fame. The fifth is Barry Bonds, who should be in the Hall of Fame.

If we judge Votto’s body of work by just the basic statistics, he is on par with other Hall of Fame players. Most players have only reached one or two benchmarks (300 HR, 1000 RBI, 2000 hits), rather than all three; however, of the milestones they have reached, they’ve far exceeded that milestone. For example, Ty Cobb only hit 117 home runs in his career, but he did have 4,189 hits and 1,944 RBI.

A more recent player would be Barry Larkin. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012, Larkin hit only 198 home runs and drove in a career 960 runs, but he had 2,340 hits. Tim Raines, inducted in his last year on the ballot in 2017, only hit 170 home runs in his career and just missed 1,000 RBI. However, he had over 2,500 hits and was a stolen base machine with 808. Raines also walked over 1,300 times, similar to Votto. Not all players inducted are excellent in every area of baseball. Even if a player is stronger at one area over another, if they were really good, they’re likely in the Hall of Fame. Votto may not have one area in which he is definitively stronger, but his on-base numbers make up for that.

The shortened season last year definitely hurt Votto. He didn’t get a full 162-game season to add to his stats, but after a slow start in April, he’s more than made up for it. With his impressive season in which he’s reached a number of milestone accomplishments and the fact that he should play for at least another three years, it’s becoming more and more likely he will be giving a speech in Cooperstown one day. Votto is a future Hall of Famer, simply because of the longevity of his career (he played his 1800th career game at first base on Wednesday) and the combination of his plate discipline and his ability to hit the baseball.

 

Statistics courtesy of baseball-reference.com and Fangraphs.com.

50 Responses

  1. RedBB

    60 WAR guy that won an MVP and was robbed of a second gets in.

  2. Arthur

    Biggest injustice done to Votto was not getting Rookie of the Year.

    • Mick

      Lost 2017 MVP by 1 vote to Stanton. Stanton was no where near Votto in any category except that he hit more home runs. Votto’s 2017 season was the best I’ve ever seen.

    • chad

      Joey Votto is a Hall of famer. His career stats this far were the benchmarks prior to the steroid era. Also, he has been the best at his position for years despite missing games with injuries. Doesn’t get the PR but he’s in.

  3. Fanman

    Didn’t think he was quite there when this season began. Now, he should be enshrined. Especially, if he keeps putting up decent numbers for next couple of seasons.

  4. SultanofSwaff

    It seems the greats in general have a late career resurgence that beef up their counting stats. I think a reasonable career arc would mirror Jim Thome. Thome after the age of 37 put up another 6 WAR as mostly a platoon DH. Votto has more athleticism which should keep him on the field to collect more at-bats. If what we’re seeing this year can be replicated once or maybe twice more he’s a lock. What I’m curious to see is whether he’ll be willing to accept a platoon role with an eye on the HOF. In the past he’s said that wouldn’t interest him but I wonder if his newfound joy for the game has softened that stance.

    • Jim Walker

      Not to mention almost certainly having DH opportunities after this year.

  5. CFD3000

    If Votto stays healthy and continues to hit anything like his last two months, he’s a lock. He leads the Reds in RBI and home runs (tied) despite having missed a month, and those results will pad his counting stats to bolster his advanced numbers. This late resurgence is also huge for HOF consideration. If his career had essentially ended after 2017 you could argue he wasn’t good enough for long enough. But this rebirth changes that narrative in a big way. Also, on the MVP front, wasn’t Votto also 3rd in the voting to go along with his 2010 win and 2017 2nd but should have won? He may not end up a first ballot guy, but I’d say he’s in right now, and an absolute lock if he puts up 2+ more solid years. Go Joey, Go Reds!

  6. Brennan

    I think it’s a mistake to focus only on Votto’s career averages. If a guy like Kirby Pickett gets in for his short decade of work, then Votto’s prime decade (2008-2018) should be HOF-worthy, regardless of later “off” years.

    • Brennan

      Oh boy. Kirby “Pickett”? What a typo.

      That feels unintentionally disrespectful Haha.

      • Jim Walker

        Happens to us all between auto spellers, auto editors, brain cramps, and fat fingers. There are times, I’d swear a comment looked good as I read over it a final time but something goofy shows up when it posts. 😉

    • Indy Red Man

      Shouldn’t the post season matter though? Puckett had 2 rings and I don’t think Joey has ever hit a postseason hr. Hopefully that can change? I’d take Will Clark in the clutch all day too. I’m not going to sugar coat my guy just because he plays for my team.

      I love what Peyton Manning did for the Colts. He saved them really, but he did choke in several playoff games.

      • Hotto4Votto

        No, post season shouldn’t matter. Getting to the post season is a team/organizational accomplishment. Mike Trout has over 75 career bWAR but only 3 playoff game appearances. The Reds, off the top of my head, have played in 11 post season games since Votto’s been with them. (3 vs PHI, 5 vs SF, 1 vs PIT, 2 vs ATL). So you’re really going to hold it against Votto that he hasn’t delivered big time over the sample size of 11 games? The Reds squandered a good amount of Votto’s prime by rebuilding, that’s not on him.

  7. JR

    Felt is was 60-40 admittance before this season started. It’s going north in a fast way. And yes, Votto should have been Rookie of the Year in 2008 and should have two MVP awards but it is what it is. He’ll make it.

  8. Jim Walker

    Fair or not JV is probably going to suffer from playing on so many truly rotten teams in a midsized noncoastal market area through the middle of his career. Hopefully his resurgence this year will continue; and, his WAR level will carry the day for him. It certainly is going to help him if the team becomes more high profile and that he is getting up into the stratosphere with so many Reds National HoF players on the franchise leadership boards.

  9. Tod Held

    My comment is that Joey Votto is earning it every day, every plyay. Especially in the area of what have you done for me lately.
    Amazingly he as helped Reds formulate winning team identity thats rare in any sport.

  10. James Muzzini

    votto should get in.. blast from the past, vada pinson. 286 avg 256 hrs, 305 sb, 1170 rbi, 1371 runs, 2757 hits, 485 doubles, 131 triples, gold glove, at one time only willie mays and pinson had over 250 hrs, 300 sb, and 2500 hits in their careers.

  11. Jason

    What I look at is Joey Votto is 34th all time in MVP shares. Basically, only 33 other players in baseball history have received more MVP votes than Joey and the same writers who voted for MVP are the ones voting for the HOF. I feel this is a big indicator he’ll get elected eventually.

    • CFD3000

      And that number will likely bump up a little after the 2021 votes are tabulated. He’s not the MVP. He may not even be the Reds MVP. But I’ll be really surprised if he continues to “do damage” and isn’t top 10 in the NL MVP voting.

  12. old-school

    There is a website- baseballegg- that looks at rankings of HOF players based on cumulative index of career WAR, War 3- best 3 seasons, WAR 5- best 5 consecutive seasons, WAR 7- best 7 seasons- and CH WAR- WAR during pennant winning seasons.

    All of those were added to give a final score and rank.

    Votto was barely behind Thome and McCovey and will pass them.
    Pujols/Bagwell/Thomas/and Cabrera were the only modern 1b who he won’t catch.
    He was already ahead of Harmon Killebrew, Eddie Murray, and Tony Perez as well eclipsing the statistical “average” HOF first baseman in those metrics.

    He is in as the best NL hitter of the 2010-19 decade ,his career counting numbers and his OPS/WAR. This performance in 2021 is the icing on that HOF cake.

    • Indy Red Man

      Thome hit 612 hrs. 17 hrs in the playoffs and a .862 total ops in 2 WS

      Joey has to win a WS mvp and do what hes doing now for 3 more years to catch Thome imo. I think he’ll make it, but this ops stuff gets out of control sometimes imo.

      • Indy Red Man

        What I’m trying to say is I think Joey will make the HOF, but being better then Thome is another story.

  13. CFD3000

    I was just looking at some of the HOF assessment stats on Baseball Reference. Votto looks really good there. His total WAR relative to the average HOF 1st baseman is 62.4 vs. 66.9. A bit low, but that’s a counting stat and based on recent results he should exceed that average if he stays healthy. But on the peak and rate versions he’s already ahead of the average of HOF 1st basemen. 7 year peak 46.9 vs. 42.7 – 10% ahead, WAR per 162 games 5.5 vs. 5.0, also 10% better. And on the straight JAWS number he’s right there 54.7 vs. 54.8 and he’ll likely pass that 54.8 number before this year is up.

    So if the minimum bar is you’d better be better than the worst player in the Hall at your position he’s long since a lock. If more realistically it’s you’d better be as good as the average Hall of Famer at your position then he’s really solid and hard to keep out. And if it’s the Kirby Puckett how good we’re you at your best (for at least many years) then again he’s a lock. I think statistically he should have been in even prior to 2021. But emotionally this stretch has likely changed a lot of mindsets on his longevity and value over his full career. He’s an obvious Reds Hall of Famer, the Reds will retire his number, and Cooperstown will almost certainly be calling him to prepare a speech.

  14. Don HOWLAND

    The fact that he won a Gold Glove and played solid defense his entire career will also help his cause.

    But I think the high esteem in which Votto is held by the wider baseball world translates into Cooperstown admission. I watch all Reds games with the opponents’ network feed, mainly because the announcers are a LOT quieter and superior in general but also to hear what people outside the organization have to say about my team. Votto’s performance this year and the steady excellence he has exhibited since 2008 is not lost on out-of-market media. I have heard he case made for his Hall of Fame inclusion made on a regular basis this year by opponents’ announcers.

    And Arthur’s post re. Rookie of the Year is dead-on. I remember being pissed back when it happened but a refresher on the stats just now – Votto led NL rookies in average, HRs and slugging – was a fresh slap in the face. Votto batted .12 higher than Giovanni Soto in fact but Soto got 31 of 32 votes?! That is a case where the small media market translated into a blatant rip-off.

    • Charles Boisseau

      Great take. Any assessment of a player has to consider defense. It’s half the game. Nothing mentioned in the story. Just in general, imagine a story about the careers of Ozzie Smith or Yodier Molina — or for that matter Kevin Kiermaier — without a mention of their defensive prowess. Come on man.

      And I too dislike our play-by-play TV cheerleader/announcer. Tone it down and limit the hype, man. The call should be informative but almost like background music. I prefer out-of-town announcers. I learn more.

  15. Tom Mitsoff

    Ashley, great topic. It’s one I have been thinking about during the Votto hot streak. Specifically, the question I ask myself is, who is Votto’s comp in the Hall of Fame? You cited Larkin and Raines, but it is my guess that HOF voters will compare Votto to first basemen.

    On the Dan Patrick Show, they had a segment recently (maybe just earlier this week) in which two panelists argued the merits of Votto and Bryce Harper as HOF candidates. And they were trying to argue, who has the better chance? Harper is not a future Hall of Famer in my mind, but of course his future play could change that. But what struck me were the arguments against Votto.

    I love the Reds and I love Votto, but I don’t think he is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. He doesn’t have any of those automatic entry statistics (500 homers, 3,000 hits, 2,000 RBI). The fact that he’s 25th all-time in on-base percentage is a compelling argument. The real question is when will the analytic statistics such as WAR, OPS and OPS+ become the ones voters focus on more than the traditional ones.

    Bottom line — I hope Votto makes it, but it is by no means a sure thing, in my opinion.

    • CFD3000

      I was looking at that OPs list Tom, and I counted 8 of the 24 guys ahead of him that I’d either never heard of or only had a vague idea of who they were. All pre-modern era guys. So that top 25 is even more impressive. On the other hand, unlike his counting stats that’s not likely to go up. But I think being one of the all time greats at not getting out will be a more impressive claim for voters in eight years than it’s ever been. And the names on the list along side Votto of “most times leading the league in OBP” are very strong company.

  16. RedsFan11

    No one wants to bring up the ugly fact that really hurts Votto the most… postseason… May not all be his fault but check out the history of the HOFs he is compared to the most:

    Jim Thome : 10yrs, 17 series, 4 A/NLCS, 2 WS
    Albert Pujols : 8yrs, 16 series, 5 NLCS, 3 WS
    Miguel Cabrera : 5yrs, 11 series, 4 A/NLCS, 2WS
    Jeff Bagwell : 6yrs, 9 series, 2 NLCS, 1WS
    Frank Thomas : 3yrs, 4 series, 2 ALCS, 0 WS

    Joseph Votto : 4yrs, 4 series , 0 NLCS, 0 WS
    (2 of the ‘series’ were wild card that the Reds would not have made before playoff expansion. No of the other comparable players had the expanded opportunity)

    Frank Thomas is only one close and has 10+ more WAR with 500+ HRs and 1,700 RBI.

    A post season run would go a long way for Votto’s case IMO

    • Hotto4Votto

      Mike Trout has 3 career playoff games (1 series). Guess that’ll hurt his case too.

  17. RedsGettingBetter

    Could The recent streak of 7 games homering help Votto’s HOF case ? and just thinking it was only inches away from being 8 games in a row… Another thing I don’t know if it hurts Votto’s HOF case is that he’s has no played in a World Series unless do it this season, hopefully.. lol…

    • Woodrow

      Yes! The baseball writers as a voting group are in a transition – as Votto becomes eligible I think the “youth movement” will recall this run. I’d also assume the voters of that future time will be more open to whatever we all want to call advanced metrics, numbers beyond HR, RBI, AVG…

  18. Rednat

    great topic AShley.
    I am an old guy and i don’t understand WAR AND advanced metrics at all.

    when i think of the hall of fame I think of players that have super powers beyond the average major leaguer. the 3 major super powers that can get you there are 1. speed
    2. power 3. amazing glove. Willie Mays is considered by many the greatest player of all time because he had all 3 super powers. there are some hall of famers with 2 super powers and many with only one. but you have to have at least one.

    what is Joey’s super power? getting on base. that would work if he was a speed guy but after his injury, let’s face it, Joey has become a really bad base runner.

    so i guess the question is how valuable were all those walks he accumulated to the team. Again, i don’t really have the knowledge of the advanced stats to answer that question.

    • Michael A Smith

      Rednat I would say his super powers are these below.

      OBP: 25th.
      Slugging 69th (not bad considering it is out of over 18,000)
      OPS: 34th.

      So the real question is how do you think all he did that brought value was walking.

      I love Tony Perez but he doesnt hold a candle to Votto, did not hit for nearly as much power (slugging % doesnt lie), did not get on base nearly as much. Tony was a great player but if you switch the roles the Reds are still winning multiple series in the 70s and doing nothing during the 2010’s.

      • Da bear

        Before you denigrate Tony Perez….Perez played in an era of bigger parks and deader balls. Normalize slugging percentage for the era they played in. If TP played in this era of juiced balls and smaller parks his slugging percentage HR totals and most importantly his RBIs would be jacked even higher.

        Joey Votto is a great individual player. He probably makes the HoF. But Votto doesn’t come close to Tony Perez in terms of helping a team win games, in terms of driving in runs to win games and doing so when it matters.

      • Doug Gray

        Joey Votto has significantly better clutch numbers than Tony Perez does.

        Joey Votto’s park adjusted numbers like wRC+ or OPS+ are also significantly better.

        This isn’t a knock on Tony Perez. Joey Votto is simply better.

      • Doug Gray

        And since I know someone will ask, here’s the data:
        RISP: Perez hit .284/.364/.470 | Votto has hit .325/.474/.564 – it’s not even remotely close.
        Men on: Perez hit .295/.360/.487 | Votto has hit .315/.448/.542 – it’s not even remotely close.
        Late and close: Perez hit .300/.370/.490 | Votto has hit .276/.421/.454 – Advantage Perez.
        Tie Game: Perez hit .276/.341/.456 | Votto has hit .308/.417/.515 – it’s not even remotely close.
        High leverage situations (read the definition here): Perez hit .300/.359/.491 | Votto has hit .319/.445/.565 – it’s not even remotely close.

      • Michael Smith

        Da Bear I stated that Perez doesn’t hold a candle to Votto as a hitter, doug brought that stats. That is not denigrating a player I love. It is a statement of fact.

        The orginal post responded too wanted to know his super power and being in the top 69 or better for slugging, ob base and ops is a super power. That is well with in the top 1% all time yet we have fans of the reds wondering outloud if he does more than get on base

  19. MK

    Really off comparing Votto to Larkin. Really no where close to apples and apples. A shortstop and first baseman really?

    I would argue over the last two seasons he just completed his only Hall of Fame month.

    He will have to wait until the analytic nuts are in charge of the voting to get in. In my mind you can’t walk into the Hall of Fame.

    • Alan Horn

      We need to all wait until the fat lady sings before making a call. Hopefully, Votto has a lot more baseball left(especially with the DH looming).

    • CFD3000

      Seriously MK? This is the first month when you’d say he played Hall of Fame caliber baseball? I find that an astonishing statement. In 2016 he hit .413, .394 and .389 for July, August and September. So he basically hit .400 for 3 months straight. And in that same year, from June through September his LOWEST OPS was 1.015 (June) and the other three months he was never below 1.107. That’s insanely good for four months in a row, and that’s a year when he wasn’t even the MVP (or 2nd by a whisker). There have been 2 players with a better career OPS than that. 2. Ruth. Williams. What do you think Hall of Famers do?

      • Da bear

        MK said ‘over the last two seasons….’

        In 2016 JV was mediocre or bad the first half of the season and the Reds were out of the race by end of June. Joey banged that year and 2017 when the seasons were already over.

        Why does anyone care about OPS…because it is easy to calculate by adding two percentages?

        Before OPS is meaningful you have to STRIP OUT the correlation between OBP and Slugging Percentage or you are double counting some stuff….basic stats 101.

        What matters is efficiency – total bases advanced out of total bases advanced possible….they don’t keep track of that stat probably because it is too involved, not easy to keep track of.

        Joey’s had some amazing streaks. Rarely have they mattered. I’d say from a team perspective his last month has been his best month of his career for the Reds. Hope it leads to the playoffs and even a series..,.which can happen if Castillo, Mahle, Gray and Miley get on a roll in September/October

  20. DataDumpster

    The end of last year, no. Now, moving to likely with another year close to this one. Joey is among the best pure hitters of the last generation but his position needs very big numbers because defense and baserunning prowess are a moot point there. An opportunity to shine in the playoffs was really not in the cards for him.

    Regardless, he is showing he can achieve this milestone and I really hope he does. I’ve had the pleasure of being in his company 3 or 4 times in a retail environment and was very impressed with the man even though we never talked about baseball in those interactions.

  21. Ahimsa

    Been wondering if Joey has been thinking about the HOF with his upright batting stance, trying to hit more HR’s.

  22. docmike

    I can’t believe some on here are trying to hold Votto’s lack of playoff appearances against him. My goodness people, baseball is a team sport, and you win and lose as a team. The Reds front office chose to surround Joey with a roster that was not playoff-worthy for most of his career, but you can’t blame that on #19. One man can’t simply will his team into the playoff no matter how good he is playing. Just look at Mike Trout’s career for more proof.

    I see this argument in other sports too, that winning a championship ring matters when determining Hall worthiness. Remember folks, Dan Marino never got a Super Bowl ring, but the immortal Trent Dilfer did.

    TEAM sports.

    • Da bear

      Which is why the team (Reds) should not have overpaid for one individual. Especially a low revenue team. The model should be the Oakland A’s and the Tampa Bay Rays. Not the Angels….which have spent plenty of money inefficiently wasted on overvaluing everyday players like Pujols and now Trout.

      Not Joey’s fault of course. He only accepted an offer that should not have been extended to him.