The argument is over. Once Joey Votto decides to hang up his cleats, the former Cincinnati Reds first baseman will eventually be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
On Tuesday, the Baseball Writers' Association of America made it official. Adrian Beltré, Joe Mauer, and Todd Helton were all elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and will be immortalized with a bust in Cooperstown later this year. Former Houston Astros' closer Billy Wagner fell just five votes short with one year remaining on the ballot.
There's been debate among Reds fans and the national media about whether or not Votto's résumé is good enough to be included among the best of all-time. After seeing Helton get in, the debate is over. And after seeing Mauer get in during his first year on the ballot, that only increases the chances that Votto will get in during his first year of eligibility.
With Todd Helton & Joe Mauer in, Joey Votto's Hall of Fame career is solidified
Throw out everything you thought you knew about the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ken Griffey came within three votes of being the first-ever player to receive 100-percent of the votes in 2016, and Mariano Rivera broke through with a unanimous selection three years later.
It's also no longer impossible for Hall of Fame-worthy players to get in on their first try. Mauer was a very good player during his time in the big leagues, but when you put his résumé up against fellow Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, there's no question who the better player was. But both catchers were elected to Cooperstown on the first ballot.
When you look at Mauer's résumé, the longtime Minnesota Twins catcher hit .306/.388/.439 with 143 home runs, 923, RBI and a career-OPS+ of 124. The backstop also won the AL MVP in 2009, finished among the Top 10 for the award on three other occasions, won three Gold Gloves, three AL batting titles, and is a six-time All-Star.
Flip over to Helton, who got into Cooperstown during his sixth try. Helton, who played the same position as Votto for 17 seasons in the big leagues, has a slash line of .316/.414/.539 with 369 round-trippers, 1,406 RBI, and an OPS+ of 133. Helton went to the Midsummer Classic five times, won three Gold Gloves, and finished among the Top 10 MVP vote-getters three times.
Former Reds first baseman Joey Votto's case for the Hall of Fame is rather simple
With that in mind, Votto's case for the Hall of Fame is now a fait accompli. Votto, who is currently a free agent after the Reds chose to decline his 2024 club-option, has hit .294/.409/.511 throughout his 17-year career.
Votto has 356 homers, 1,144 RBI, and an OPS+ of 144. Votto won the NL MVP in 2010, and should've won it again in 2017. Votto finished in the Top 10 for the NL MVP five times, led the league in on-base percentage seven times, went to six All-Star Games, and won a Gold Glove Award in 2011.
Votto's 64.4 bWAR is higher than both Helton (61.8) and Mauer (55.2). By the way, that elusive playoff success that Votto never attained evaded both Helton and Mauer as well. Votto's .563 OPS in the postseason is eerily similar to both Helton (.584 OPS) and Mauer (.641 OPS). And neither Helton nor Mauer were able to lead their respective teams to a World Series Championship.
The debate is over. Joey Votto's inclusion into the National Baseball Hall of Fame is inevitable. The question now becomes, is Votto a first-ballot Hall of Famer? But that's a debate for another day.