Joey Votto could pass Johnny Bench & become the Reds all-time leader in home runs

Joey Votto slugged his 350th career homer this week.
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto / Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Joey Votto's initial return to the Cincinnati Reds last month was met with a mixed bag of criticism, pessimism, and joy.

Some fans wanted to see Votto hang up his cleats, fearing he would "ruin the momentum". Others didn't want to see Votto, at 39 years old, embarrass himself because he "just didn't have it anymore." Still others were excited to see Votto return to that 2021-version that walloped 36 homers.

Votto has played in 24 games since returning to the Reds lineup, and has slugged eight home runs. While his batting average is subpar, the power numbers are there and Votto has an OPS near .900. Votto certainly has halted the Reds' momentum and has proven that he's got plenty left in the tank.

Could Joey Votto pass Johnny Bench & become the Reds all-time leader in home runs?

On Tuesday, Votto slugged the 350th home run of his career and now sits 39 home runs shy of Johnny Bench's all-time team record. The Hall of Famer mashed 389 career home runs during his time with the Cincinnati Reds. This power surge from Votto has some Reds fans wondering if Bench's record is in jeopardy.

With less than 70 games remaining in the 2023 season, we're not going to see Votto slug 40 home runs. But could he hit 15 more this season? Maybe even 20? Let's even go lower than that and say Votto hit a dozen more round trippers before the end of the season. That puts him within reach of surpassing Bench's record next season.

Whoa, wait a minute. Votto's not coming back to Cincinnati next season, right? Actually the former MVP does has a $20-million club-option for the 2024 season that includes a $7-million buyout.

While it's highly unlikely that the six-time All-Star returns in 2024 at that number, perhaps the two sides could work out a one-year deal that allows Votto to spend his age 40 season in the Queen City and a retire with the Reds.

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It's not that farfetched, as Votto has shown that he's still able to compete at a high-level, and would be over a year removed from shoulder surgery that kept him out until mid-June this season. Votto doesn't want to play for another team, and the Reds don't want to see Votto in another uniform to close out his career.

The Cincinnati Reds would be foolish to run Joey Votto out as the team's everyday first baseman in 2024, but the groundwork has been laid this season as to what the veteran's role could be next season. Votto could be a left-handed bat who's capable of fielding first base and also act as the team's DH.

This is all, of course, hypothetical. There are a lot of variables that need to be ironed out, but the possibility remains that Joey Votto could be crowned the Reds all-time home runs leader by the end of next season. If Votto cranks out 10-15 more bombs this season, he'd definitely be within striking distance of Johnny Bench.

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