Just as the 2012 season began, the Cincinnati Reds and Joey Votto shocked the baseball world and signed a huge contract extension that would pay Votto $225 million over the course of the contract. It was the largest contract signed by the Reds in their long, long history.
There is no question that Joey Votto, the 2010 National League MVP, deserved the contract. I don’t have a beef with the size of the contract either. Given the contracts that other first basemen in the league were getting, it was logical for the Reds to pony up the dough to keep their best player. He averages 105 RBI, 31 homeruns and a .547 slugging percentage per year. In addition, he does have a career .312 batting average. He was a 2011 Gold Glove winner at first base with an impressive fielding percentage of .994. Like I said, he deserved the new, rich contract.
However, as Janet Jackson once famously sang, “What have you done for me lately?” We need to focus on whether that new contract is paying off in the 2012 season. So far the results are mixed. Joey Votto has only 1 homerun, a .291 batting average (26th in NL), 9 RBI (tied for 19th in NL) and a slugging percentage of .436. No one would argue that the early season results are not banner.
Fortunately for Joey Votto and Reds fans, he has shown signs of his old self in the last 7 games. During that time Votto has hit in 6 of those games, been on base in all 7 and has 5 of his 9 RBI during that stretch. So the signs are there that things are improving.
One of the problems Joey Votto has been having is that the two main batters behind him are not producing, so pitchers are pitching very carefully around him. He leads the league in walks with 16. Pitchers just are not scared of Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce right now. If they can get out of their slumps and be more consistent, Votto’s numbers will improve too. Jjust look at his number with RISP. He is up to a .417 batting average in those situations currently this season.
I have little concern that Joey Votto will continue the recent success at the plate for the Cincinnati Reds. I believe he will prove that the contract is money well spent. He will eventually have the 30+ homeruns and the 100+ RBI and this slow start will be forgotten.