Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker does not get the most out of his team. He frequently misuses stud RP Aroldis Chapman. He bats SS Zack Cozart high in the lineup when he is a defense-first and low-OBP guy. The one things Baker cannot mismanage is 1B Joey Votto.
With a plus-glove — according to scouts and the defensive metrics — and a heralded walk rate, Votto is productive everywhere in the lineup. There is this rampant misconception that Votto needs power to be productive. All logic and statistics would beg to differ. Votto’s walk rate (18.4 percent career) and OBP (.418 career) make him an elite hitter.
Many old-school analysts evaluate hitters on RBIs and runs, but these are entirely team-dependent statistics. As an individual hitter, the only thing you can surely do to help your team is not make an out. The league average hitters does not reach base over 65 percent of the time. Votto’s contributions are potentially greater than any metric can account for.
It is nearly impossible to establish how hitters’ performances change based on other hitters’ tendencies in their same lineup, which is why Votto’s individual performance is so amazing and valuable. However, we can still consider the value that Votto adds.
Votto’s ability to reach base and put the ball in play may keep Baker from having 2B Brandon Phillips attempt a steal. Phillips is averaging 66 percent success rate on steals since 2010, and baseball experts believe that a runner must succeed about 70 percent of the time to warrant a steal attempt.
Though this is a minute observation, there are countless other potential values that Votto adds to the Reds.
Gabe Isaacson is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @gabeisaacson.