The 2013 Cincinnati Reds boasted a few nice individual accomplishments, as well as some individual and team low points (esp. six-game losing streak at the end of the season). But, how DID this year’s team fare at each position? I get the first crack at handing out a grade – for First Base.
The 2010 MVP had a full season under his belt, after missing more than 50 games in 2012 with a knee injury. Votto looked a little tentative on the base paths at times early on, but it was clear that he was back and ready to go. He was consistent enough and had plenty of fan support to be voted the starting first baseman for the National League in the All-Star Game.
Offensively speaking, Votto had a good season where his slash line was .305/.435/.491, hitting 24 home runs and driving in 73 runs, while scoring 101 times. His 177 hits left him one shy of 1,000 for his career. Votto led Major League Baseball in Games Played (162), Plate Appearances (726) and Base on Balls (135). He led the National League in On Base Percentage (.435), Intentional Walks (19) and Runs Created (132). Offensive Grade: A
Without a doubt, on the defensive side, Votto had a down year. He posted a career-low fielding percentage of .990 and committed a career-high 14 errors. A Gold Glove winner two seasons ago, Votto will most likely finish in the mid to lower half of the eligible first basemen when the votes for GG is tallied later this month. Defensive Grade: C+
Reds and baseball fans’ criticism of Votto’s performance at the plate were generally concentrated around his inability to drive in runs, especially when it counted most. As a number three hitter, one of the primary tasks is to get runners ahead of you home. Shin-Soo Choo combined with Votto for some record-setting marks for getting on base and base on balls, but it was Brandon Phillips (batting clean-up for a good portion of the year) and Jay Bruce driving in the runs.
With a new manager coming in for next season and a strong chance that that manager will bring in some new coaches, including a batting coach, it remains to be seen if Votto’s hitting approach or spot in the batting order will remain the same.
We will have to wait and see how that unfolds as the weeks pass during this offseason. Below is my overall grade for the first base position in 2013. What grade would you give?
Overall Grade: A-