MLB Network has steadily been releasing their Top 100 Players in MLB Right Now. On Tuesday, it was revealed that new Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Báez was ranked higher than Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto. Are you kidding me?!
Before I dive too deep into why this ranking is so horrific, let me give credit where credit's due. Like him or not, and I don't, Báez put up decent numbers last season. Somehow, the former Chicago Cubs shortstop was able to turn his mildly impressive 2021 season into a six-year/$140M contract. That's more than Nick Castellanos secured with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Good riddance, I say. The fact that the Cincinnati Reds faithful won't have to watch Báez swing-and-miss at a Luis Castillo changeup for strike three on a regular basis is a bit unfortunate, but I think we'll all be better off not having to watch the 29-year-old get into a screaming match with a former Reds relief pitcher. But, I digress.
Ranking Tigers SS Javier Báez ahead of Reds 1B Joey Votto is absurd.
Let's clarify what we're talking about here. MLB Network is ranking the Top 100 MLB players "right now". So everything that we know about Joey Votto from 2010 when he won the NL MVP or 2017 when he was robbed of a second NL MVP is meaningless, I guess.
So let's just look at the numbers from last season, shall we? Javier Báez, while playing for the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets, slashed .265/.319/.494 with 31 home runs and 87 RBIs. Baez had a wRC+ of 116 and was worth 3.6 fWAR. Regardless of how you feel about Báez, I think we can all agree that's a pretty good season.
But when you take a peek at Joey Votto's numbers from 2021, there's not a single area where he's outshined by Báez. Votto hit .266/.375/.563 with 36 round trippers and 99 runs batted in. Votto posted a wRC+ of 140 and was worth 3.6 fWAR.
Just to be clear, while both Votto and Báez were worth 3.6 fWAR, Votto had a higher batting average, was 56 points clear of Báez in on-base percentage, and 69 points bettter than the Tigers' infielder in slugging percentage. Votto's OPS was 125 points higher than Báez's. Votto had five more home runs and 12 more RBIs as well.
In case you weren't aware, only one of Javier Báez's stats even eclipsed what Cincinnati Reds rookie Jonathan India did last season. India was ranked 88th according to MLB Network despite the fact he bested Báez in every meaningful category except slugging percentage.
Over the past two seasons, Báez has slashed .246/.294/.453 with 33.1% strikeout-rate. Báez plays phenomenal defense, but aside from that, he's not much better than Aristides Aquino at the plate. It's either a home run, a swing-and-miss, or a very loud out. The fact that Javier Báez is ranked higher than Joey Votto is inexcusable. The fact MLB Network considers Báez a Top 100 player is laughable.