The Cincinnati Reds have had a season they will soon want to forget, given their 63-90 record. Unfortunately for great players, playing on a poor team has their talent pushed under the rug and out of the minds of baseball fans. Joey Votto is certainly a player that falls into this category. The 2010 NL MVP is putting together a 2016 campaign that most players aim to reach.
Joey Votto: Canada’s Greatest Export
Canada‘s greatest exports may include maple syrup, hockey, and beer, but with the star-studded talent that hails from north of the border present throughout the league, baseball is quickly becoming another ‘Canadian’ sport. The Toronto Blue Jays are Canada’s team, and with Michael Saunders and Russell Martin playing for Toronto, they have Canadian content on the roster as well. Joey Votto, however, has been the best baseball player out of Canada this decade.
This season, he is batting .319 with 25 home runs and 87 RBI. It is not often that one finds a power hitter who also has an average over .300. Most managers would gladly give up a few average points for home runs any day. Votto though does both. Over his career, he is a .312 batter with 217 home runs and 720 RBI in 1259 games played. That averages out to a home run every six games and an RBI every other.
Born September 10, 1983, Votto was drafted 44th overall by the Cincinnati Reds in 2002. He made his MLB debut in September of 2007, just a short week before his 24th birthday. It did not take long for him to show that he was deserving of the high pick the Reds spent on him. In his third full season with the team, he took home MVP honors. In that 2010 season, he hit 37 homers, drove in 113, and hit 36 doubles, all while maintaining a .324 average.
Votto was a consistent representative for the NL All-Star team to start the decade, making four straight rosters from 2010-2013. He also lead the NL in on base percentage over that four-year span, averaging an OBP of .437.
What may get overlooked with Votto is his ability with his glove, not just hit bat. We all know he can mash the long ball and drive in runs, but in 1231 games played at first base, he has recorded a mere 76 errors. That’s less than one every 16 games. In 2011, he won a Gold Glove after making only six errors that season while converting 127 double plays. Scoring the runs is great, but saving the runs can be even more detrimental to a team’s success.
Votto signed one of the biggest contracts in MLB history back in 2014, at 10 years, $225 million. He will make $22 million next season and $25 million between 2018-2023. The last year of his contract is for $20 million, but if he plays the whole contract out, he would be 41 years old. He does have a full no-trade clause, but would likely lift it if a contender, maybe Toronto, were interested in his services.
Baseball Canada is alive and well, and a player like Joey Votto does not come around everyday. The Reds are a struggling team, but with a player like Votto at first base, they have a cornerstone to build success around. The 33-year-old certainly shows no signs of slowing down and the 2017 season will likely see him reach the 250 homer and 800 RBI career milestones.