Deep Thoughts About Joey Votto

Joey Votto needs a moment to contemplate how good at baseball he is (via Chris Miller).

Joey Votto needs a moment to contemplate how good at baseball he is (via Chris Miller).

The randomness of life is truly something to behold, especially when you dig down to a granular level. I mean, it’s crazy enough that the universe formed the way it did, and that gravitational forces eventually molded our sun and our solar system, and that Earth was formed close enough to the Sun to provide heat and photosynthesis, but not so close that we all baked to death in greenhouse gasses.

But beyond that, every time a cell split, every time a migrating tribe took a right instead of a left, every chance meeting of every couple who ever procreated has given us jazz and Pulp Fiction and ancient Greece and Vonnegut and emoji and Prokofiev and Facebook and World War I and everybody’s grandpa and everybody’s dog. It has also given us baseball.

But there’s this other way to look at it, too–the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. It’s the theory that revolves around the idea that every decision every creature has ever made (or every random-chance act of nature, for that matter) has created a new and separate universe. If you were tasked with deciding between cereal and oatmeal for breakfast and chose oatmeal, a new universe was created where you instead chose cereal. It’s pretty much the same, but not quite.

There is also another universe in which I didn’t write this paragraph and people who hadn’t heard of many-worlds continued on with their fulfilling lives instead of struggling to wrap their brains around such grandiose ideas. There are worlds in which baseball doesn’t exist, or it does but there are only two outs an inning and Mike Trout doesn’t play it. There are also worlds in which Earth ended up a few million miles closer to the sun and mammals never came to be, but let’s just feel sorry for that world and move on.

This is where Joey Votto comes in. Joey Votto exists in our world, and he plays baseball, and we have the tools and intelligence to comprehend just how good Joey Votto is at baseball. And the best part, the BEST part, is that our Joey Votto also understands how good he is. He knows what his wRC+ is, and he knows that he maybe swung a little too much last season, and he knows of Tom Tango.

Votto is one of us. He enjoys and studies the game the same way we enjoy and study it. But he’s not a fringe reliever or bench player. He’s one of the very best in the game.

Votto has never won a triple crown. He’s never even led the league in any of those categories. He doesn’t make many flashy plays on the field, and he doesn’t steal bases. He hit 37 home runs in 2010, which will garner some attention, but he hasn’t really come close since. He doesn’t have a big endorsement deal. He’s not a favorite of beat writers. He’s Canadian. He simply just isn’t flashy. But the stats people, those who search for deeper understanding of the game, love Joey Votto. Why do we love Joey Votto?

hegetsonbase

That’s right, Jonah Hill. He gets on base. He also happens to do a lot of other things well. Since his first full season in 2008, Votto has averaged a 157 wRC+, behind only Trout and Miguel Cabrera. He also ranks third in wins above replacement over that stretch.

Votto may get the business from certain fans and media members over his “inability to drive in runs,” but we know what’s really going on here. Votto is very, very good at baseball. This is something we already knew. But for right now, I don’t want to talk about all the good things he does. I want to talk about a bad thing he did. It happened on Aug. 13, 2013, in the top of the fourth inning of a game against the Cubs.

vottopopup

This did not cost the Reds the game. It was not Votto’s worst play based on win probability added. It was, however, Votto’s first infield fly all season, and his third in four years. Votto is so good at baseball, he can’t even do bad things well.

This isn’t a new discovery. People have talked about the phenomenon before. But the number is still staggering, and the sample keeps growing to a point where it’s fairly clear this isn’t a fluke or an odd streak. If anything, Votto is getting better at not hitting infield flies.

If you discount 2008, his first full season (during which he had the audacity to hit five pop-ups), Votto has never hit more than two infield flies in a single season. In 2010, he hit zero. ZERO. His infield flyball percentage–the percentage of batted balls that never left the infield–was 0.7 percent over that last five seasons. A little over half a percent. His pop-ups per plate appearance over that stretch? 0.16 percent. That’s basically an anomaly, a rounding error. Here are some things that occurred more often between 2009 and 2013 than a Votto pop-up:

  • Perfect games pitched
  • Inside-the-park home runs
  • Triple plays
  • Home runs hit by pitchers
  • Pitching appearances by position players
  • Strikeouts in at-bats with position players pitching
  • Relief appearances where no strikes were thrown
  • Games in which seven errors were committed
  • Games that lasted 18 innings
  • Games that lasted 19 or more innings
  • Games in which a player recorded five strikeouts in five at-bats
  • Division titles won by a team from California
  • Triples hit by Lance Berkman
  • Doubles hit by Bronson Arroyo
  • Doubles hit by bunting

You get the idea. He almost hit one on Opening Day, but not even the great Adam Wainwright could keep him in the infield. But so what? He didn’t pop up much. Big deal. He didn’t hit many stand-up triples, either, but nobody is writing about that. Why does this matter so much? It has to do with what an infield fly is, or rather, what it’s close to. What happens after a pop-up? The batter is out. No runners advance.

When you think about it, it’s not too dissimilar from a strikeout. The strikeout shows a little more prowess from the pitcher’s side, but for the batter, the results are the same. So, if a pop out is basically as counterproductive as a strikeout, how does Votto compare when the two are added together?

Votto isn’t quite at the level of those “three true outcome” players, but his strikeout rate befits his batting profile. He gets on base a ton, but guys who hit for a lot of power are destined to strike out some. It’s the way of the world — this world, anyway.

In 2013, Votto struck out in 19 percent of his plate appearances. That’s good for 49th highest among qualified batters. That’s actually quite good given the prowess of his bat when he does make contact. It’s not at a Ted Williams or Joe DiMaggio level, but when compared to the current era, it’s fairly impressive.

What if we count a pop-up as a strikeout, just for fun? If you add infield flies to the strikeout totals and divide by plate appearances, Votto’s combo rate jumps by one tenth of one percent, to 19.1 percent. On that list, he drops to 73rd among qualified batters. That’s 24 spots jumped by adding infield flies to the equation, transitioning him to the bottom half of the list.

In some other world, Joey Votto pops up all the time, and that me from that other world is writing, has written, or will write about how frustrating that all is. There’s also a world in which infield flies are considered good things, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In our world, our Joey Votto respects us. He gets what we’re trying to do, or at least why we like what other people are trying to do. There’s a line from Randy Newman’s “Political Science”:

No one likes us, I don’t know why
We may not be perfect, but Heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let’s drop the big one and see what happens

I’m certainly not advocating blasting the stats critics with nuclear weapons, and, in fact, we don’t need to. We have Joey Votto. He is our big one. He’s already been dropped. There are only so many “mom’s basement” and “games are played on the field, not in a spreadsheet” cliches that people can hurl. Joey Votto will smash them all. Actually, he’ll probably watch them go by and take his base, which carries less gravitas, but we’re okay with that.

Let the RBI crowd jeer. Let the “will to win” lobby try to soil the consciousness of America. We will stand tall with our champion, our beacon for what’s right in this world. Joey Votto might not be the hero we need, and he may not be the one we deserve. But he’s the hero we’ll take, because he’s the best candidate by far.

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Comments

      • Jimmer said...

        The amount of AL catchers who have won a batting title is one…Mauer…and he’s done it three times. He’s also the only catcher to lead his league in BA/OBP/SLG and, when he did it, it was the first time any player had done it in the AL since Brett in 1980. He’s also the only catcher to ever lead all of MLB in BA in a single season. A talent like him doesn’t come along every 3-4 years…

    • Rob said...

      Has Mauer embraced Sabermetrics openly? Could you link me to any articles in which he does? If there are any, I might have a new third-most favourite player (behind Votto, Trout).

      • Jimmer said...

        I’m talking about his approach to batting…OBP machine…and he’s hit like 2 IF fly outs since from 2011 till now. Mauer isn’t a very open book, so as far as embracing advanced stats, I wouldn’t know that.

  1. Rob said...

    Great article. Everything not written by RBI-Fanatics about Joey Votto is heart-warming and makes me feel great that I get to see that guy even after 2020.

  2. Michael said...

    Leave it to Sabermetrics to hang its hat on Votto. However, if you ask Reds management if they would rather have a repeat of Votto’s stats in 2012 & 2013, or a repeat of the stats in 2010 and 2011 in which he won an MVP for a reason, they will tell you the latter, especially given the fact that where he sits in the line up he is supposed to be a guy that knocks runs in and not leave that up to others. They paid him his $20 million a year through 2023 based off his 2010 & 2011, which he is still clearly capable of doing, but choosing not to do. Top of the line up guys that get on base, that walk, bunt, steal, and hit singles, can be had for much cheaper.

    MLB on the offensive side is about unique production, (R+RBI)-HR. In 2013, average unique production for a full time player that is eligible for the batting crown was 125, (73+71)-18 = 126, with 51 walks. Joey Votto? (101+73) – 24 = 150 with 135 walks. So only 24 more in terms of production with 84 extra walks? Driving in a run is worth more than any walk. There are only two times a walk is worth as much as a hit. 1) when you lead off an inning with no outs and no one on and score a run, 2) when the bases are loaded, no matter the outs.

    Reds management has to be ticked that Votto is clearly capable of putting up 30+ HRs and 100+ RBIs, with more extra base hits, yet choosing NOT to do so while paying him to drive them in. There are plenty of other guys in MLB I would rather have on my fantasy team that hit for more power, have more extra bases, and have more production, yet have rate stats of 70 points less in BA and OBP.

    I guess the real question is how many hits and their production = 84 extra walks and their production, given a batters spot in the lineup, and do you think at a .314 lifetime batting average clip of Votto and the production that results from that outweighs all those extra walks? You obviously have to make the average player production adjustment to the batting crown, given that those 140 players with at least 502 plate appearances in 2013 batted .273 and not Votto’s .316. At a .316 clip, that is 27 more hits on 84 plate appearances that were walks. Given that 2008-2011, 40% of Votto’s hits were extra bases, that is 11 extra base hits out of the 27 hits in lieu of 84 walks. What’s the value on that mix of hits versus the 84 extra walks and 43 pts higher in average batting average? If greater production, then Votto’s rate stats are ringing hollow and Sabermetric’s hung its hat on the wrong poster child as runs don’t score all by themselves.

    When there are very few players capable of being clutch run producers and Votto is actively choosing not to when fully capable, I can see how it would be frustrating to Reds management.

      • Michael said...

        I understand the article just fine thank you very much. Have you ever looked into how they calculate WAR? I am a statistician by trade and I could poke holes into its methodology so much.
        The formulas that go into it and make up its parts are so flawed, especially on the fielding side.

    • LeeTrocinski said...

      @Michael

      Last year was just an extremely unclutch year for Votto, costing almost 2.5 wins compared to his wOBA. This was after a 4-year stretch of providing 5 extra wins due to clutch. Also, he might not be the same player after his knee injury in 2012, seemingly not able to get as much lift on the ball. Also, he swung more often last year than 2012, and so far this year, he’s even higher, and he’s not doing better.

      Your run expectancies of walks vs. RBIs is not completely true. A sac fly with no outs is usually less valuable than a walk. Instead of your Runs Produced, use RE24 or even WPA, as those show how individual players effect scoring better than runs and RBIs, the ability of your teammates to get on in front of you and drive you in.

      Your thought that he chooses not to swing with RISP is crazy. With runners on base, only 35% of pitches he saw were in the strike zone. He swung at 2/3rds of pitches in the zone last year, comparable to many hitters. Miggy swung at more, but he also chased more and is able to hit bad balls harder than Votto. That’s part of the appeal of Votto; he’s not the most naturally gifted athlete and has learned how to maximize his ability.

      • Michael said...

        Last year? It wasn’t last year only, it was both 2012 and 2013. I will grant you in 2012 he was injured a bit but he only had 59 RBIs. He is a great lead off hitter that is getting paid like a cleanup or number 5 hole hitter, its bull.

        As for, “A sac fly with no outs is usually less valuable than a walk.” NO IT ISNT. A run is always worth more than an OUT always. Besides the nature of a sac fly is that you trade an out for a run. Ridiculous.

        Your thought that he chooses not to swing with RISP is crazy. No its NOT. What is CRAZY is the fact that Votto had 177 hits and 135 walks that require seeing at least four pitches, and in 212 times on base he only had 73 RBIs. I am sorry but that is pathetic. And while we are at it, Fangraphs had an article on its site where Joey Votto’s comment was that after 2012 and 2013 he thinks “he needs to swing less” and Reds management itself said they plan to talk to him and try to change his mind in that regard because they themselves value production more.

      • LeeTrocinski said...

        Players are not paid to fill a role; they are paid to add as much value as possible. Hitting in the 3 spot, Votto has legitimate hitters behind him, so run expectancy tables work fairly well. With a guy on 3rd with no outs last year, teams on average scored 1.28 more runs that inning.

        If a sac fly is hit, the team gets the one run plus the expected value of nobody on and 1 out, .25 runs, resulting in 1.25 runs. The sac fly is actually a slightly below-average result in that situation. If the batter walks, it is now 1st and 3rd with no outs, a run expectancy of 1.64 runs. The walk is .4 runs more valuable on average. This is the biggest difference between a walk and sac fly of any situation, but it turns out that a walk actually helps more than a sac fly at all base-out states. You might think a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but unless you’re facing elite pitching or the score dictates the one run being absolutely necessary, I’ll take the walk.

        Regarding the score factor, Votto was 11th in the NL in WPA last year, a down year for him. This was after being 1st (2012), 2nd, 1st, and 4th the previous 4 seasons, so despite the walks, he does add runs. He was 6th in RE24 last year, after being in the top 5 the previous 4 seasons. Runs and RBI are quite dependent on teammates’ abilities, which is why I’m hesitant to use those in individual analysis.

        I don’t understand why times on base per RBI is of any importance here. Assuming equal base distribution for runners on base, something like PA w/runners on base per RBI could be helpful. You would have to take out IBB, as no one has a chance to drive in runs in that case. Things like HBP and sac bunts should probably also be thrown out. The problem is that we don’t know how many of his walks included a pitch that was hittable.

        Votto’s comments on swinging less were due to his inability to hit quality pitches hard. His success comes from waiting for mistakes and hitting them hard. The more he swings in the zone, the more likely the extra pitches will be closer to corners, which is not his strength. However, he did swing more often at strikes last year compared to 2012, and so far this year he’s even higher.

      • Michael said...

        To DAVE:

        OK. Here’s simply one of my beefs with wRC. I will prove to you that production matters more than rate stats. Don’t get me wrong, rate stats are nice, but only if they have sheer volume behind them. The sheer volume numbers are the “counting stats.” The things Sabermetricians say are archaic, don’t show the whole picture, and just slam in general.

        Not only will I prove to you that production matters most, I will do it using Sabermetric posterboy Joey Votto, by comparing his 2010 and 2011 to 2012 and 2013, I’ll even pro rate his stats out in 2012 to make the each set of two years comparable due to injury in 2012.

        “Joey Votto in his super awesome, MVP “unique production” 2010-11 seasons: 164 wRC+, 3rd best in baseball. Joey Votto in his pathetic, waste-of-talent, not-nearly-as-valuable, plenty-of-other-guys-I’d-rather-have 2012-13 seasons: 165 wRC+, 3rd best in baseball.”

        You have made my point for me in this quote. What difference does 1 pt of wRC+ make? NOTHING.
        Its like other rate stats, for example batting average. You can have a wide variety of batting average differences, 40-70 pts difference and same amount or more of production. Votto’s 2010 and 2011, 207 Runs + 216 RBI = 423, net out his 66 HRs, yields 357 on 1,367 PA. Votto’s 2012 and 2013, 160 Runs + 129 RBI = 289, net out his 38 HRs, yields 251 on 1,201 PA. The difference in PA is 166 so I have to bump up his stats accordingly for 2012 and 2013. Baseball Ref, 162 game averages is 690 PA 96R 96 RBI and 28 HR, since 166 is 24% of that, add in 23 Runs and RBI apiece and back out 7 HRs, Making 2012 and 2013 stats, 183 Runs + 152 RBI = 335 – 45 HRs = 290 on 1,367 PA. 357 in 2010 and 2011 minus 290 in 2012 and 2013 = +67 for the years 2010 & 2011. Hence why he was MVP in 2010 and NOT an MVP in 2012 or 2013. wRC+ can soak its head. Even comparing Votto to Votto, the posterboy for errant Sabermetrics, I would prefer the 2010 and 2011 version of Votto compared to the recent one in 2012 and 2013.

        Look, Votto’s a great player, and he is NOT going away anytime soon with the skills he has, but he is NOT top 3 in what matters most. He is clearly within the top 30 of 2013, somewhere around 27th or 28th, but in no way does he touch Miggy or Trout with a 10 foot BASEBALL BAT (rather than a pole).

      • Michael said...

        “Your runs produced stat has at least one major flaw. If a runner is on base, you move him up with getting him in, and you get on base but never score, you get no credit for your successful PA. This is why I think WPA and RE24 are better “actual” production metrics. I’m in the process of working on a wOBA that accounts for leverage, which I believe will be a great mix of WPA and RE24. The quality of teammates also skew individual performance, as having better teammates will result in more R + RBI with no change in talent level.”

        I have an idea that encompasses everything offensively, every version of a hit (single, double, triple, HR), SB, errors that allow runners on, walks, Sac flys, sac bunts, even ground balls that move runners over, etc, coupled with production, and mathematically parsed out in event sequence, but I cannot find the data the way I need it, so I can prove my idea. But I believe I am completely right, and if so would be a boon to offensive evaluation. Maybe we could help each other. Or maybe you could point me in the right direction for the type of data I need.

      • Lee Trocinski said...

        @ Michael

        Instead of taking over this thread more than we already have, you can e-mail me at LeeTro1525 (at) gmail. I will be more than happy to discuss this further.

  3. ben said...

    Read it up ’til:
    “But the stats people, those who search for deeper understanding of the game, love Joey Votto. ”

    That was enough.

    • Michael said...

      Exactly. As I said before its about unique production, (R+RBI)-HR. When you calculate it out, Votto had a production of 150, 24 higher than MLB average, than all those players eligible for the batting crown in 2013.

      Here are the 27 players AT LEAST as valuable as Votto last year.

      Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Freddie Freeman, Andrew McCutchen, Matt Carpenter, Adrian Beltre, Allan Craig, Robinson Cano, David Ortiz, Torii Hunter, Paul Goldschmidt, Dustin Pedroia, Josh Donaldson, Chris Davis, Matt Holliday, Dale Murphy, Adam Jones, Jeff Kipnis, Hunter Pence, Prince Fielder, Edwin Encarnacion, Elvis Andrus, Alex Gordon, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Alfonso Soriano, Mark Trumbo.

      Some of these guys had a BA as low as .234, and Cabrera was highest at .348, while Votto batted .314. So much for the rate stat of batting average. Votto had 135 walks last year. This group averaged 66 walks, with a low of 25, and the next highest to Votto was Trout with 110. So much for the rate stat of OBP. The K/BB rate of the group was 1.8 to 1, Votto sat at 1 to 1, with 138 SO to 135 walks. So much for the rate stat of K/BB. Votto could stand to cut back on BOTH his strikeouts, in favor of swinging at more pitches to try and get more hits, AND walks to swing at more pitches and try and get more hits. HITS are always more valuable than walks or strikeouts.

      I can see three times when a walk is as good as a hit 1) no one out, no one on, draw a walk, its as good as a single in that instance, 2) bases loaded, no matter the outs and you draw a walk, its only SOMETIMES as a good as a single, there are lots of times a single drives in two from 2nd and 3rd, scoring position, and 3) guy already on first base, don’t care how, a walk or single and Votto comes up and gets a walk, he pushes the guy on first to second, getting him in scoring position.

      Votto doesn’t steal bases to get into scoring position, NOR does he play a defensively valuable position, its the least valuable actually, 1B. So all the guys above are AT LEAST as good as Votto in 2013 and most play a more valuable defensive position.

      As for the quote “Since his first full season in 2008, Votto has averaged a 157 wRC+, behind only Trout and Miguel Cabrera. He also ranks third in wins above replacement over that stretch.” you are including 2010 and 2011, which were his best years when he had awesome UNIQUE PRODUCTION and received an MVP. He hasn’t done that the last two years. As he is now, 2012, 2013, he is not that valuable. There are other players I would rather have!

      And Sabermetrics hitches its caboose to this guys train? What a joke. You get rid of pitchers batting and their are 637 hitters in MLB last year. Only 140 of which are eligible for the batting crown with 502 PA. He is the only one that acts like this. A power hitter capable of 30+ HR and 100+ RBI that chooses NOT TO drive in the runs, when that is what got him the MVP. He is still one of the best players in MLB, but he is way further down the list than top 3 in last 2 years. He lost out on 50 hits or so last year between his lack of contact on strikeouts, and his UNvaluable ability to WORK A WALK, while only trying to swing at pitches down the middle or close to the middle of the plate. Pitches in the strike zone on the corners, can get you extra base hits if you spray to all fields like he claims. No need to be greedy take what the pitcher gives you.

      So much for RATE STATS which Fangraphs falls all over themselves with. That and their hideous models with R squared in the 50-56% range, which statistically is horrible by the way. You know the adage, “Statistics lie, and liars use statistics.” The true axiom over at fangraphs is not that statistics lie, its that PEOPLE misuse or don’t know how to calculate the methodology properly behind generating the statistics.

      Believe or not, I am not anti-Sabermetrics. The best and correctly applied new age sabermetric out there is DIPS by Voros McCracken, because his calcs and methods, does stats right.

      • Dave said...

        Joey Votto in his super awesome, MVP “unique production” 2010-11 seasons: 164 wRC+, 3rd best in baseball.
        Joey Votto in his pathetic, waste-of-talent, not-nearly-as-valuable, plenty-of-other-guys-I’d-rather-have 2012-13 seasons: 165 wRC+, 3rd best in baseball.

      • Dave said...

        @Michael

        I guess I just don’t understand why you insist on using this unique production stat. Runs and RBI are two of the most team dependent offensive stats in baseball. The only way to guarantee you score a run and get an RBI is to hit a home run, but home runs are excluded in this stat? I guess I just don’t get it, and in my opinion using a more complete offensive stat like wOBA or wRC+ is more useful in determining overall offensive production. I understand every stat has its flaws, and no stat is the “end all be all”. I’m not trying to dispute that. But I’d rather look at stats that are more well known for their predictive value than situational, team-based stats. I also don’t know what your problem is with rate stats. I mean, I get it that having a high wOBA won’t guarantee team success, but it sure helps, and it tells you a lot more about a player than their RBI and run totals.

        “You have made my point for me in this quote. What difference does 1 pt of wRC+ make? NOTHING.”

        I think you missed my point. I wasn’t trying to prove that he was better in 2012-13 than he was in 2010-11. I fully understand that 1 point of wRC+ doesn’t mean anything. You were the one talking about how much better he was in 2010-11 because he won an MVP and had more RBI, I just wanted to show in a different way that in the grand scheme of things he wasn’t any different offensively in 2012-13 than he was in 2010-11. The fact this his wRC+ was 1 point higher was not at all the focus.

        “Some of these guys had a BA as low as .234, and Cabrera was highest at .348, while Votto batted .314. So much for the rate stat of batting average. Votto had 135 walks last year. This group averaged 66 walks, with a low of 25, and the next highest to Votto was Trout with 110. So much for the rate stat of OBP.”

        I think this might prove more than anything that your Unique Production stat is flawed. How can two people have a different OBP by 120 points and have similar “offensive production”?
        Look at these lines:
        .285/.318/.493/.811
        .323/.432/.557/.988
        The top slash line is Adam Jones, and the bottom slash line is Mike Trout. Adam Jones has a unique production of (100+108)-33=175. Mike Trout’s unique production is (109+97)-27=179. Trout also had 27 more PA to help accumulate these counting stats. Please, Please tell me you don’t think Adam Jones is more or less equally as good as Mike Trout.

        “At the plate, its about production. Does he hit for as many extra bases anymore? No. Does he have more power than he did in 2010-2011? No. In the field, its about gold glove quality play. Did he have a gold glove season in 2012-2013? No. Did he have one in 2010-2011? Yes. What about MVP in 2012-2013? No. In 2010-2011? Yes. ”

        He may not hit for as much power, but he’s led the NL in OBP the last four seasons, and a .474 OBP in 2012 is nothing to scoff at. That’s the highest OBP we’ve seen since a man named Barry Bonds was tearing the league into pieces. I understand that different situations may call for different objectives, but the main objective for a hitter in baseball is to not make an out. Outs are sacred, you only get three of them in an inning. If a player goes up to the plate and finds a way to not create an out, regardless of the situation I believe it to be a success. The league average OBP was .318 last year. That means 68.2% of plate appearances end in an out. It’s not easy to hit a baseball. If a player can manage to not add to the more than 2/3 of plate appearances that end in an out, I feel he’s done his job.
        As for Gold Gloves and MVPs, I would rather not use those as a barometer for success. Defensive metrics are definitely untrustworthy, but according to both Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs, he’s never had an above average season in the field, so he probably didn’t deserve the Gold Glove he won in 2011. Rafael Palmeiro won a gold glove in 1999 playing first base for 28 games. He was the DH for 128 games that year, and won the Gold Glove as a 1st baseman. And how many MVP awards does Mike Trout have? Whether or not we all want to openly admit it, I think everybody knows Trout has been the premier player in baseball the last two seasons, and he doesn’t have an MVP or a Gold Glove to show for it.

        I like your passion, and I definitely like that you look deep into numbers and do your best to make sense of what’s given. In the end we’re clearly both true baseball fans, and statistics are one of the wonderful things baseball provides.

  4. JW said...

    I live in Cincy and I cannot tell you how few fans understand how good Votto is. They compare him to Hal Morris and Sean Casey. This used to be a baseball town…it used to be beautiful.

    • Greg said...

      I also live in Cincy and I think it’s maybe just that you are just hanging around a bad group of friends

    • Michael said...

      I love how both Dave and Lee Trocinski don’t allow me to reply to their comments. I also love how Dave can quote ONE STAT, wRC as if its the end all be all. Look at the full picture first. At the plate, its about production. Does he hit for as many extra bases anymore? No. Does he have more power than he did in 2010-2011? No. In the field, its about gold glove quality play. Did he have a gold glove season in 2012-2013? No. Did he have one in 2010-2011? Yes. What about MVP in 2012-2013? No. In 2010-2011? Yes. Putting Votto in the same category as Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout is an insult to Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. Once again, the stats you quote are rate stats. Look, Votto will not be out of the league anytime soon. He is a great player, just not top three at anything other than rate stats.

      WAR and wRC are stats that while the ideas behind them are great, and I am not knocking the concept, the methodology and calculation of which are severely flawed statistically.

      • Lee Trocinski said...

        You can’t directly reply to my response because this site doesn’t allow that many levels of replies. You just have to reply to my first response.

        Your runs produced stat has at least one major flaw. If a runner is on base, you move him up with getting him in, and you get on base but never score, you get no credit for your successful PA. This is why I think WPA and RE24 are better “actual” production metrics. I’m in the process of working on a wOBA that accounts for leverage, which I believe will be a great mix of WPA and RE24. The quality of teammates also skew individual performance, as having better teammates will result in more R + RBI with no change in talent level.

  5. Barrett said...

    I think everyone would be much happier if the Reds would slot him in as their leadoff man. He’s absolutely perfect for the role and he’d likely relish the opportunity. Votto-Phillips-Frazier-Bruce makes a whole lot more sense than keeping Votto in the 3 hole and letting Billy Hamilton figure out the whole “hitting advanced pitching” thing at the top of the order.

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