Joey Votto’s quest to become a Hall of Famer will take a hit due to the shortened-season.
Is Joey Votto a Hall of Famer? Eh, that’s very debatable. I’m a big fan of Votto, and I have to squint really hard to envision the Cincinnati Reds first baseman as a Hall of Fame player at this moment. The delay to begin the 2020 season will only hurt Votto’s chances of making it to Cooperstown.
Again, I can’t stress enough how much I love and admire Joey Votto’s game. He’s a consummate professional who takes his craft very seriously. While Barry Bonds sheer intimidation in the batter’s box helped him lead the league in walks on 12 different occasions, Votto’s keen eye has helped the Toronto native do the same five times over his 12-year career.
Votto’s approach to the game has been very simple; get on base however you can. While many fans will bemoan the first baseman’s strategy, he sticks to his principles and will not swing at, what he feels, is a bad pitch. In addition to the five years in which Votto led the league in walks, he’s led the league in on-base percentage seven times.
Now, putting Joey Votto’s numbers aside, let’s take a look at his starts the past few seasons. Regarded as a slow starter, Votto hit just .253 through the first two months of the 2019 season. This year, fans could see as few as 50 games according to ESPN, so Votto cannot afford to be slow out of gate.
Let’s face it, the Hall of Fame is based on numbers. Yes, a player’s impact on the game is certainly taken into account, but by and large, the voters look at the one thing that can be measured and compared to others who’ve played; statistics.
Votto’s numbers, in terms of today’s generation of baseball are quite good. The left-handed hitter has a career on-base percentage of .421. That’s better than Mickey Mantle, Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell and Wade Boggs. All of whom are Hall of Famers.
However, Votto’s 284 career home runs are well off the pace of the big hitters who’ve been enshrined in Cooperstown. Rickey Henderson (297) and Craig Biggio (291), all Hall of Famers who weren’t necessarily known for their power, have more home runs than Votto. Active players like Justin Upton, Ryan Braun, and former Reds teammate Jay Bruce have more career round trippers.
Joey Votto is a solid fielder, but the 36-year-old has just one Gold Glove to his name. J.T. Snow, Derrek Lee and Eric Hosmer have each won multiple Gold Glove Awards while playing first base. It’s obviously not something that is required to enter the Hall of Fame, but a couple extra trophies in the case can’t hurt.
The one thing Votto has going in his favor in terms of hardware is the 2010 NL MVP. I’m also of the belief that Votto should’ve won the trophy once more in 2017, but that’s a discussion for a different day. Hall of Fame inductees Eddie Murray, Derek Jeter, Jim Thome and Mike Piazza cannot lay claim to an MVP trophy.
As of this moment, I’d have to say that Joey Votto is a fringe Hall of Famer and in no way will be elected to Cooperstown his first time on the ballot. The Cincinnati Reds first baseman certainly has time to add to résumé, but the upcoming season will offer very few games for him to do so.
The one thing that would really elevate Votto’s chances of being inducted in the Hall of Fame would be a deep postseason run. The Reds have been absent from the playoffs or the past seven seasons, but 2020 offers Cincinnati its best shot since 2012. In that regard, maybe the shortened-season will offer Votto an advantage.