I was thinking this week about a great left-handed hitter.
This corner infielder was one of the best players in baseball history at getting on base with a career OBP of .415.
His critics said he didn’t hit enough homers or drive in enough runs, but here’s what he did do year after year after year:
He batted better than .300…finished with an on-base percentage better than .400 (he led the league six times in that category)…hit a lot of doubles…and drew a lot of walks.
The hitter that I just described is Hall of Famer Wade Boggs.
I bring that up because it dawned on me that Joey Votto is Wade Boggs with power.
Think about that combination — Wade Boggs with power — and then realize how fortunate we’ve been in Cincinnati to watch Joey swing a bat for the last 11 years with a contract that will keep him here for at least six more if he isn’t traded away.
Wade Boggs hit for a higher career average .328 to Joey’s .313, but in every other category Joey Votto is a better hitter than Wade Boggs.
Boggs ranks 24th in baseball history in OBP at .415.
Votto is 12th at .427
Boggs averaged 38 doubles over 162 games. Votto is averaging 39.
In slugging percentage it’s not close. Votto is at .542 for his career with 252 home runs and counting.
Boggs had a career slugging percentage of .443 (about 100 points lower than Votto) and finished with 134 fewer home runs than Votto has already.
Boggs entered the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2005 and received 92 percent of the vote. I think 2 things made him a no-brainer for the voters.
- He won five batting titles when batting average was still considered the most important stat for evaluating a hitter.
- He finished his career with 3,010 hits and is one of 31 members of the 3000 hit club.
Votto has never won a batting title, but he’s led the league in on-base percentage five times and this season could be his sixth — he’s currently leading major league baseball at .446. He’s also done something Boggs never did by winning an MVP award. Believe it or not, Boggs never even received a first place vote in any season of his career.
As for 3,000 hits, Joey is about half-way there with 1,535. In a typical healthy season, Joey gets about 175 hits. Boggs averaged more hits per season because he had a slightly better average, walked less frequently, and got more plate appearances by batting leadoff for a high-scoring team.
Joey would probably need to play about eight more years to get 3,000 hits. Since he turns 34 in September, that seems unlikely.
But with Joey Votto who knows?
At age 33, he’s arguably having the best season of his career.
When he won the MVP award in 2010, Joey hit .324 with a .424 OBP and a .600 slugging percentage. He hit 37 homers and drove in 113 runs.
This year his batting average is slightly lower at .316, but his on-base is higher (.446) and his slugging percentages is identical (.600). He is on a pace to hit 43 homers and drive in 115 runs.
On Sunday Joey went 0-3 to end his 17 game hitting streak, but he walked twice meaning he’s reached base at least two times in his last 18 games. The last person to reach base at least twice in 18 straight games was Barry Bonds. He did it in 20 straight 13 years ago.
Over the last 18 games, Votto is hitting .436…with an on-base percentage over .600 and a slugging percentage around .800.
With a contract that will play him $22 million dollars this season and $25 million next season, Joseph Daniel Votto is worth every penny.
He is – without question – one of the best hitters in major league baseball history.
He is Wade Boggs with power.
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