Cincinnati Reds in Review: 1B Joey Votto

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This will be our first installment of individual Cincinnati Reds’ players season in review. We will cover everything that happened to that member of the Redlegs during the year, showcasing their final stats to saying where they need to improve.

As a wondrous element, there will be no rhyme or reason as to who goes first, or second, or third. Stay tuned to the site, as we will be doing two reviews per day; one in the morning, and one in the evening.

Your comprehensive review of each member of the 2014 Cincinnati Reds begins now:

Joey Votto – First Baseman

 

Oh, Joey. The highest paid Canadian baseball that has ever lived inherits first base for the Cincinnati Reds for nearly the next decade. It has been commonplace to believe that if the Reds can snag at least one, maybe two, World Championship banners under Votto, he will be deserving of every cent of that $240 million contract. Now, comes actually winning one.

Joey Votto is the Reds best player. He is THE face of the franchise. For a while there, he may have been the best hitter in the National League. So why is it that after one injury torn season, Votto has been relegated to the scrap heap? It’s almost as if his 2013 campaign where he played in all 162 games and had the most plate appearances of any batter in baseball was washed away. (That’s not to mention he led the league in walks and on-base percentage.)

This past season snapped Votto’s four-year streak of leading the National League in on-base percentage—and regardless of your opinion on the RBI—Votto has shown that when healthy, he could be the best pure hitter in the game.

Votto’s 2014 stat line:

.255/.390/.409, 220 AB’s, 16 2B, 6 HR, 23 RBI, 47 BB-49 K

Top Joey Votto Moment:

 

Harken back to May 10. The air was still oozing with optimism that the Redlegs could turn this thing around. Aroldis Chapman and Mat Latos were on the comeback trail, and there was no way the offense could continue to be that anemic (hint: it did).

In the top half of the ninth of a game against the Colorado Rockies at Great American Ball Park on that Friday evening, Jonathan Broxton allowed both his first run of the season and blew his first save simultaneously on an RBI double from Justin Morneau.

But leading off the bottom of the ninth inning was Joey Votto; have no fear.

Sitting down now and watching the replay of the at-bat, it is blatantly apparent that Votto is extremely uncomfortable. In typical Votto fashion, he gets ahead of Rockies left-hander Boone Logan 3-0 in the count, but rather than follow his scouting report of watching a 3-0 fastball go by, Votto unloads. Thom Brennaman doesn’t think it has the distance initially, and neither do I on replay. But good luck telling that to the folks behind home plate who instantly shot up as if their chairs were on fire; and one look at Votto as he takes a skip just a few strides out of the box, tells you he knew it was gone. And you also could see how hurt Votto was.

Low-Point of Season for Joey Votto:

 

Through the front 16 games, Votto would homer four times. He’d add two more on May 10 and 11, cementing his home run total at six. Continuing to play in 26 more games, Votto would never go deep again, and while the last statistic Joey should be judged on is home runs, his lack of power was the cover story for a deeper issue.

What goes on inside the body and mind of Joey Votto is anybody’s guess. He is as a cerebral athlete as Cincinnati has ever seen—one who gives the media and the fans just enough to wonder, but not so much it creates a story. The best comparison that comes to mind is Derek Jeter.

And there is a very real possibility that one day, Votto may wind up meaning to Cincinnati what Jeter means to New York.

There is one concrete guarantee in this entire scenario: Joey Votto will be a member of the Cincinnati Reds until the conclusion of the 2023 season. Barring an Alex Rodriguez-like suspension (something tells me that has a 0% chance of happening), or the apocalypse, Votto will be stitching up his number 19 and trotting out to first base if for no other reason than his contract demands it.

If you’re still nutty enough to believe that Votto isn’t still one of the game’s premier players despite his recent rash of injuries, you’ll have to learn to come to terms with the fact that he’s not going anywhere. Really, he can’t leave. In 2015, he will be making a measly $14 million; that sum is measly in comparison, because beginning in 2018, and running until 2023, Votto will cost the Redlegs $25 million a season. Not even the New York Yankees would take on that chunk of change.

It was July 5 at home against Milwaukee that Votto played his final game of the season. An unmemorable 0-for-4 performance ended a season that was mired in disappointment for the Reds’ cornerstone performer. His average would spiral down to .255 that afternoon—his lowest on the year, and the lowest he has ever batted in a Major League season.

Final Grade: C

Despite constant questioning of his toughness, Votto will be ready for baseball come Opening Day 2015. The first part of his legacy in the Queen City has been being the best player on the team that brought relevance back to baseball in Cincinnati. The second part now must be, being the best player on the team that brings a championship back to Cincinnati.