Pete Rose. Joe Morgan. Johnny Bench. Frank Robinson. Barry Larkin. Eric Davis. Jose Rijo. Ted Kluszewski. These are the names one hears when in conversation about the greatest Reds players in team history, and rightfully so. These men are historic players, Hall of Famers and even all-time record breakers. Pete Rose is the Hit-King and Johnny Bench is the greatest catcher ever. Frank Robinson is 10th on the all-time home run list with 586. Barry Larkin is the best shortstop in Reds history and Eric Davis is arguably one of the most athletic players in the history of the game. These guys all have something in common as they are all former players, currently retired. An emerging candidate on this list is current Reds first basemen Joey Votto. Let’s dive into the numbers.
Votto is on his way to possibly become the greatest Reds player to ever put on the uniform. What a bold claim, right? Sure, he won the 2010 NL MVP award, but Votto has yet to even escape the first round of the playoffs in his career. How could he possibly be considered one of the best? The answer is quite simple: look at the man’s stats. So far this season, through 402 at bats, Votto is clipping a .316 batting average. Votto is even on pace to set a career-high for home runs as he sits at 31 as of today. Votto’s career high is 37 in his 2010 MVP campaign. Votto also has 83 RBIs, on pace for over 100. He even has almost twice the number of walks as he does strikeouts, showing 58K’s to 91 BB’s.
The thing about Votto is, those numbers are not new or surprising, as he does this year in and year out. The soon-to-be 34-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down either. Most fans would normally worry about a player approaching his mid-30’s, as the Reds did with Brandon Phillips, but Joey Votto is a special human being. His work ethic and conditioning are second to none. He has been relatively healthy his whole career, excluding the 2012 and 2014 season where he only played in 111 and 62 games respectively, thanks to knee and quad injuries.
Votto also has a 52.7 career WAR (Wins above replacement) and a 5.3 for this season. This currently places Votto at 6th all-time in Reds WAR leaders behind Rose, Bench, Larkin, Robinson, and Morgan. Votto has also hit 252 home runs in his career so far, placing him fifth in team history. Johnny Bench hit 386 and Robinson hit 324. If Votto can keep up this level of play for just a few more seasons, we will likely see him enter first in WAR and home runs for the Reds team history. He may even pass Frank Robinson for the most all-time in slugging percentage where Frank has a .554 while Votto has a .542, and already has for the lead in team OPS and OBP. Votto will also likely pass Pete Rose on the Reds all-time walk list.
However, offense isn’t everything after all! Votto is also one hell of a defender at first base. On top of winning the 2010 NL MVP and Hank Aaron Award, Votto won the 2011 NL Gold Glove at first base too. He has a career fielding percentage of .993 and has only made 78 errors throughout his 11-year career. He also had the luxury of playing with Brandon Phillips, who is arguably the greatest defender in team history. Together the pair made up one of the best defensive duos ever witnessed.
Is Joey Votto the greatest Reds player ever? The answer is a matter of opinion. If he can continue doing what he’s been doing for several more years, then he will without a doubt in minds of many be the greatest. As far as being a Hall of Famer, that is almost a certainty, especially according to Pete Rose (look up Pete Rose on Joey Votto on Google). Votto is surely the greatest pure hitter witnessed in a long while for Cincinnati, even without a World Series title. One player cannot do that alone. Votto’s career becomes even more impressive considering the Cincinnati teams he has been a part of are nowhere near the level of the Big Red Machine teams. When all is said and done, Votto’s stats are certainly worthy of being on display in Cooperstown and no one can argue that.
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