Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto is best player in NL

(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images) /

It is easy to take Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto for granted after a decade of excellence.

The Cincinnati Reds should all enjoy watching Joey Votto bat, just like the fans, before it is too late.  Votto is easily the best offensive player in the National League.  He has led the NL in OBP in six of the last eight seasons.

Last season was arguably his best as a professional, reaching base an MLB leading 321 times in 2017.  Because voters love home runs, however, Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins won the NL MVP award.  Charlie Blackmon may have deserved it more than either, leading the majors in runs, triples, and total bases.

Nonetheless, Votto is what a batter like outfielder Jesse Winker aspires to become someday.  In the current metric based era walks are valued as much as hits making that 321 a special number.  Votto is also an elite batter against lefties, albeit a step back from what he does against righties.

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Votto is a .313/.428/.541 hitter, which places him just short of Hall of Fame induction as he begins the 2018 season.  While Votto has succeeded as an individual, the Reds were run out of the playoffs quickly each time they made it with Votto as the leader.  That further diminishes his chances of making it to Cooperstown.

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Despite the unreliable play of the rest of the Cincinnati Reds, Joey Votto continues to excel offensively.

This spring Votto hit .167.  He is a .282 lifetime spring training batter, so that number doesn’t mean much.  Despite the low batting average, he still has a .362 OBP, which may just mean that the pitchers are not throwing strikes in spring training.

Votto also works on being a two-way player.  He won the 2011 Gold Glove at first, but slowly let his defense slide until 2016 when he was the worst full-time first baseman defensively in the NL.

Last year, he came back so strong that the he was a Gold Glove finalist.

This year, Votto will likely focus on making contact, in particular hitting more doubles if possible.  He is that type of player.  If he conceives of a weakness in his game, right now home run or walk, then he will work until he corrects the flaw.

Next: Jesse Winker graduates from prospect to major leaguer

There are not many times that a player such as Votto will spend so long in a city that isn’t in the chase for a World Series.  It is easy to forget how good he is day to day.  Perhaps the story of Votto is the story of the 2018 Cincinnati Reds, the W-L record may be ugly, but it will be a thing of beauty to watch.