“Joey Votto was robbed of the Silver Slugger Award once again!” – that’s the line that I saw rather quickly on social media when the 2021 winners were announced. The award went to Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman. Somehow, Joey Votto has never been awarded the nod as the top hitter as a first baseman.

With that said, there is probably an argument to be made that this year he didn’t actually deserve it, unlike several years in the past when he was clearly the best hitting first baseman in the National League.

I know what you’re thinking right now….. Joey Votto had a better OPS than Freddie Freeman. Votto had a better OPS+, 136 to 133, and his wRC+ was was on top, too, 140 to 135. The Reds first baseman had the edge in home runs, RBI, and slugging percentage, too. If those were the only stats we were looking at, there would be a very strong argument that Joey Votto deserved the nod over Freddie Freeman.

Where things begin to fall apart a little bit, though, is that while Joey Votto did indeed perform better in ballpark adjusted stats like OPS+ and wRC+ than Freddie Freeman – it was pretty close. Now, better is better, and Votto was indeed better.

But Freddie Freeman played in 159 games. Joey Votto played in 129 games. 30 extra games is a whole lot of value. That’s an entire month of additional value provided by Freeman that Votto didn’t have. It was no fault of Votto’s – the man got injured. But at the end of the day, those additional games, even at a slightly reduced value, probably more than make up the difference. Fangraphs offensive value agrees there, too, crediting Freeman with 34.4 runs and Votto at 27.8 runs. Both, however, trailed St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt here – though it was very close between he and Freeman.

18 Responses

  1. Alan Horn

    If anyone is a better first baseman than Votto , it would be Freeman. Both were awesome this past season.

  2. Kevin Patrick

    I’m glad Votto is on the team I root for. The end.

  3. Mark Moore

    If he had to lose to somebody, I’m glad it was Freeman. Absolutely loved his post-game bit after they won the WS. Just an all around great guy and a heckuva ballplayer.

  4. Douglas

    People have a issue with a successful hitter mr votto has my vote .

  5. DataDumpster

    Joey had a great year but really only for 2 blistering months or so. Then, the 30 games lost to injury. Freeman is has been very consistent for many years so he gets the edge just like some really good players get on the All Star team a few years more after their production goes down. Coaches and managers vote on this award so there could be bad blood against the Reds organization that may explain some bias. (Its hard to explain that we have had no SS awards since 2013 until Nick C. broke through). People have unconscious biases unlike robots.
    This is not to say that I am an advocate of robot umps however. Another bias of people is their overestimation of the ability to program the robots to not have a bias (or more accurately technical error).

  6. Magnum 44

    If he can heat up like that next year I will take it those 2 to 3 months was fun baseball.

  7. Old-school

    Votto had a remarkable bounce back year. If this Reds team had not collapsed and made the playoffs instead as a wildcard- you wonder if that would have made a difference. Freeman was the best hitter on a team that won the NL east (post season doesnt count) .

    Votto played for a 3rd place team

    Castellanos got rewarded and so will India

  8. CFD3000

    Disappointing, again. The idea that Joey Votto was not the best hitting first baseman in the NL in 2021 is indeed debatable, but some of these awards are getting ridiculous. Votto was an MVP, and runner up by a whisker to an outfielder, but has never won a silver slugger award. Ridiculous. Wasn’t there a recent gold glove given out to someone who literally didn’t play the position (or only played a handful of games)? Or am I remembering the same thing for a SS award? At least Votto will get the last laugh from Cooperstown in 8 or 10 years-ish.

    Happy for Castellanos, though my happiness is somewhat lower now that he’s officially not a Red. Not Trevor Bauer Cy Young lower, but definitely lower.

  9. 2020ball

    Individual awards essentially mean nothing to me anymore, there are so many cases where there’s no reason to quibble over whose season was better than the other that I’ve grown numb to them, and I’ve felt this way for years before I even realized it. Too much debate and hurt feelings every year to think they mean much, unlike something like a HOF nomination. Unfortunately these things are often used in those conversations.

    I’ll be more upset if India isnt ROY, but more upset of something I care nothing about is just more of nothing, so…..

  10. Brennan

    If I renew my season tickets this year it will only be to see more of Votto while I still can. (and maybe to say I saw the great Jonathan India way back when but I already have his rookie season in my memory book, ha)

    Which made me realize I can’t be the only one thinking that and, if the Reds marketing team has any sway, probably the reason Votto finishes his career in Cincinnati.

  11. SultanofSwaff

    I gotta agree with Doug about the 29 extra games. Being on the field matters. For that same reason I’ll NEVER concede the Cy Young to Kershaw over Johnny Cueto years ago. Cueto made 7 more starts—-that’s nearly a quarter of a season!

    • JayTheRed

      I’m with you Cueto should have been Cy Young that season. Wonder if Johnny would take a fair deal to come back to Cincy though he is getting pretty old for a player. Maybe an incentive laden deal?? Who knows if this front office is even smart.

      I have a feeling a lot players are going to be traded this winter and unfortunately I don’t feel like this front office is smart enough to get good returns.

  12. KDJ

    Freeman’s higher BA and OPB probably had a lot to do with it. Being an All-star and WS champion doesn’t hurt either. When I think of this year for Votto, it is the 7-game home run streak that comes to mind. That was a fun ride.

  13. Frogem

    Votto being overlooked year after year for the sham SS award gives me a similar gut feeling from when the Reds missed the playoffs in the ’81 strike season. Only, Votto actually outperforms his competitors each year. Oh wait, just noticed that Freeman had more walks than Votto this year. Okay then, give it to Freeman.