Joey Votto, for some odd reason, has become the target of angst among some of the Cincinnati faithful.
The former NL MVP has yet to set foot on a major league field yet this season and based on the comments you read on social media, you'd think Votto is mired in an 0-for-22 slump with 16 strikeouts.
But Votto is actually working his way back from major surgery and is on a rehab stint with the Reds Triple-A affiliate. Why are some fans so upset at Joey Votto?
Why are some Reds fans so angry about Joey Votto's impending return?
For the first time in a long time, the city of Cincinnati is abuzz with chatter about the Reds. This squad, which is led by a bunch of hungry, young players, is fun to watch. They play a hard-nosed, gritty-style of baseball that fans in the city of Cincinnati appreciate.
But there seems to be this notion that Joey Votto, who's likely to return from his rehab assignment next week, is going to be killjoy and ruin all the fun. Seriously? Are we talking about the same Joey Votto?
While it's true that Votto's first attempt to return from the IL didn't go as planned, his latest stint with the Louisville Bats has seen a sharp improvement. Votto is hitting just .182, but is walking (12) more than he's striking out (9).
That 25.5-percent walk-rate has pushed his on-base percentage to .404. Votto also has a double, two home runs, and five RBIs in 10 games. He's slowly, but surely working his way back into form.
Don't expect MVP-level Joey Votto when he returns.
Now, for all those folks who are excited to see Joey Votto return to the Cincinnati Reds lineup, you should probably adjust your expectations accordingly. While Votto has six All-Star appearances under his belt, outside of a stretch during 2021, the Reds first baseman has not been the same player since what should have been his second MVP season in 2017.
However, he also hasn't been as bad as some fans throughout Reds Country would have you believe. Since 2018, Votto is hitting .256/.371/.444 with 85 home runs and 276 RBIs. That .815 OPS isn't going to rival the .969 OPS Votto posted previously during his career, but it's better than the majority of players currently on the Reds roster, including Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson.
I get it. For the first time since probably 2020, the Cincinnati faithful have visions of October baseball in the Queen City. The Reds fanbase sees the youth movement in full effect and there's a fear that Joey Votto's impending return will ruin the team's mojo. Am I right?
Votto has, outside of his rehab stints, been around this team. He's been in the clubhouse and on road trips. When he's finally ready to return to the field, it's not as if he's going to disrupt the chemistry of this team. He's part of the chemistry of this team.
Joey Votto is in, what will likely be, his final season in a Cincinnati Reds uniform. There was talk before the season about trading Votto to a contender so that he finally gets the opportunity to celebrate a championship. I don't know about you, but his best chance to be part of a contender this season is by staying put in Cincinnati.
There are several questions, of course. Where will Votto be slotted in the batting order? How often will he play first base? How will the Reds fit Christian Encarnacion-Strand into the equation? And on and on it goes.
Just remember, Reds fans. Before the season began, this team was picked to finish last in the division and projected to be the laughing stock of the National League alongside the Washington Nationals.
The rebuild has yielded results quicker than most fans expected; which is fantastic. So rather than having this idea that Joey Votto is going to come back and ruin everything, why not take a positive approach? The Cincinnati Reds actually have a chance to send Votto out as a winner. That would be a sight to see.