Joey Votto - A Hall of Famer or Not?

As long as one has known about the Cincinnati Reds in the modern era, they’re more than likely familiar with Joey Votto. Votto has been the one true staple of the modern-day Redlegs. Yet, within his 14-year career (without 2021), he has only had the opportunity to attend 4 Playoff berths, never making it past the NLDS. Although he lacks a ring, he has led the league in various stats across a vast array of seasons. With a great understanding of Baseball and the impact of getting on base, Votto has left his mark on the game. But with no World Series Trophies and a relatively short career, the question of his Hall of Fame status lingers. Hence, this article you’re reading this very minute. Is Joey Votto a Hall of Famer? This question will be looked at through the evaluation of accolades, rankings, and various sabermetrics.


While Votto’s accolades list is not very long, he has earned a fair share of the league’s honors. In 2010, he won the NL Most Valuable Player award with a 99% vote for First Place. That year, he hit .324/.424/.600 with 37 Homeruns and 113 RBIs. His performance helped the Reds to a 91-71 record, winning the Central and a playoff appearance. On top of an MVP, he has made a total of 6 All-Star appearances (‘10, ‘11, ‘12, ‘13, ‘17, ‘18). This has demonstrated his ability to show continued dominance for most of his career. Votto has also taken home the NL Gold Glove award and the NL Hank Aaron Award, which were both given to him in 2010. While there are several awards he has earned, the number of accolades might act as the difference between the “Hall of Very Good” and the Hall Of Fame. With a relatively low amount of All-Stars and other awards, many writers may see this as an excuse to ignore him. But according to Baseball-Reference, the average Hall of Famer was selected to 6 All-Star games (discounting those who did not have the opportunity to play in one). With Joey having that exact amount, one of his potential detriments is enough for the Hall of Fame. Yet to that very point, many of these awards are based on the subjectivity of fans or other third-parties. For example, All-Star appearances are voted on directly by the fans, with clubs nominating given players if they are not represented. Much of this voting is not based on performance, but personal team bias as to get their “Hometown Heroes” into the game. So while these accolades are important to consider, they fail to tell the complete story of a player’s accomplishments. Therefore, to thoroughly evaluate Votto, or any given player for that matter, other ways of comparison need to be considered.

In this part of the evaluation, I examine Votto's rankings in comparison to past and current players. As I mentioned earlier, one of his most notable and valuable qualities has been his ability to continue getting on base, even in his older age. This skill, at least in my personal opinion, is one of the main reasons Joey might be Hall of Fame worthy. He has led the National League in walks five times, with his career totals ranking 2nd among active players and 57th all-time. His OBP is also 1st among active players, having the 18th highest throughout Baseball History. On top of that, he also carries the 5th most hits among active players with 1,908. Although, those hits currently stand in the 337th spot all-time. Rankings such as the All-Time hit list among other more tangible stats is why this topic has continued to be debated. Accounting for historic stats, he ranks 155th in Homeruns, 230th in Total Bases, as well as 327th in RBIs. Given that there are 263 total Hall of Famers that previously played Major League Baseball, the stats listed in the prior sentence do not help his case. But does Joey Votto’s ability to get on base outweigh his somewhat small hitting production in his potential validity for this spot? To truly answer that question, more aspects of his game need to be considered. Hence, we head to the more intangible numbers - sabermetrics.


While sabermetrics may seem complicated and unnecessary to the average fan, they allow statisticians and other baseball historians the ability to truly compare the value of two different players. With such a vast difference in playing eras between the past and the present, these metrics are necessary to truly judge Joey’s worthiness. One sabermetric that I am truly fond of in evaluating this very question is JAWS (Jaffe Wins Above Replacement Score). The main focus of JAWS is to condense a player’s value into one number, like WAR, but evaluate their worthiness for the Hall of Fame in the process. Given how this metric is widely accepted among the Baseball community, we can correctly compare him to past players. Votto currently has a 54.5 JAWS, ranking 14th among all first basemen. He is ahead of such names as Harmon Killebrew (49.3), Tony Perez (45.3), and Joe Torre (47.4), all of which are Hall of Fame members. If that stat is considered to not be enough, there are many other sabermetrics that shows similar findings. Votto has a 62.1 Career WAR (Wins Above Replacement), ranking 111th all-time. He holds a 149 Career OPS+ (Adjusted On-Base Plus Slugging), ranking 37th all-time. He has also maintained a 150 Career wRC+ (Adjusted Weighted Runs Created), ranking 29th among all players. All of these sabermetrics aforementioned are widely used in evaluating the value of a player. With Votto ranking highly among these metrics, he has shown true value.


In the end, we go back to the original question… Is Joey Votto a Hall of Famer? This was looked at through the lens of his physical awards, with Votto carrying an MVP and many All-Star games which equaled the average Hall of Famer. The leaderboards were also examined, showing that his on-base stats ranked much higher than his offensive production numbers. And lastly, his sabermetrics were evaluated, with some of the most important metrics ranking him very highly among all players. Given all of these factors, I can conclude that Joey Votto is worthy of the Hall of Fame. With many of his sabermetrics rankings so high even in a shorter window, as well as being one of the most valuable players of all-time in putting his team in a position to score, Votto deserves to be elected into this special club.


Sources:


Fangraphs.com

Baseball-reference.com

Baseball-almanac.com

Mlb.com

baseballhall.org