I don’t know why some people don’t think Joey Votto is great. I don’t know how many fans have an issue with him. It’s hard to say if it’s a tiny segment that is very loud on social media or a more sizable chunk of the fanbase. It probably doesn’t help that a certain crotchety broadcaster airs his grievances against Votto like every night is Festivus.
But something happened recently, and if you weren’t looking for it, you probably missed it entirely. As of yesterday, Joey Votto has passed Heine Groh for 10th in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in franchise history. The full list, for your edification:
- Pete Rose – 77.7
- Johnny Bench – 75.0
- Barry Larkin – 70.2
- Frank Robinson – 63.8
- Joe Morgan – 57.8
- Bid McPhee – 52.4
- Vada Pinson – 47.7
- Noodles Hahn – 45.9
- Tony Perez – 45.6
- Joey Votto – 40.7
What this means is that it is now reasonable to say that Joey Votto is one of the 10 best players in franchise history. And he is likely to climb that list in the future. Given that Votto is just about to wrap-up his age-31 season, he still has time to add to his totals. He will likely pass Perez, Hahn, and maybe even Pinson next year. By the time his contract his up, he’s almost a lock to be in the 60’s, which would put him in Frank Robinson territory. If he ages in a normal fashion and avoids any more major injuries, he’ll put himself up with Larkin. He’s unlikely to pass Bench and Rose, of course, but that we’re even talking about it tells you something.
But maybe you don’t like WAR. Maybe you think these new-fangled stats are for the birds. Fine. Let’s see where he fits in franchise history in other numbers. We’ll start with rate stats:
Batting Average – Currently 9th (.310)
On-Base Percentage – Currently 1st (.419)
Slugging Percentage – Currently 2nd (.532)
OPS – Currently 1st (.951)
Adjusted OPS+ – 1st (155)
Yes, Joey Votto has the highest OPS in franchise history, even if Marty Brennaman thinks he isn’t elite. Of course, rate stats, unlike counting stats tend to fall as a player ages and his skill deteriorate. Still, with the exception of batting average, it’s very unlikely Votto falls out of the top-10 in any of the numbers listed above. Also note that for OBP, SLG, and OPS, Votto’s only real competition is Frank Robinson, who, infamously, was traded to the Orioles when he was younger than Votto is right now. I included Adjusted OPS+ because it adjusts for era.
Counting stats are where it gets fun, because Votto is going to end up at or near the top in lots of them. Note as I start this, that the earliest Votto can enter the top-10 in games played in franchise history is the beginning of 2018. Okay, let’s look:
*Brandon Phillips is currently 10th. Phillips is likely to pass Robinson for 9th before Votto passes Phillips. I have listed Robinson’s total.
**Brandon Phillips is currently 10th, I have listed his current total. When Votto passes him depends on how both perform, but odds are it will be late this year or very early next year. For context, Votto has 21 doubles this year, Phillips has 11.
We can maybe argue over these numbers a little bit, but you get the idea. I hope. By the end of his career, Votto is going to be up with the three great Reds who spent (nearly, in Rose’s case) their entire career with the Franchise: Larkin, Rose, and Bench. Barring serious injury, Votto will be in the top-5 in every offensive category that doesn’t depend on speed. He will enter the top-ten in most all of these categories over the course of the next three seasons.
Votto, with his current great season, has reached the point where he must be part of the discussion about the greatest hitter in Reds franchise history. And by the time his career is over, there’s at least a chance it will no longer be up for discussion at all.