Why Hello There, Joey Votto

This happens a lot
Remember last year when Joey Votto won the National League MVP for his terrific season for the NL Central-champion Cincinnati Reds? Of course you do, it gave all our jingoistic tendencies a good workout as Jays fans everywhere pined for Votto to return to his spawning ground to lead the Jays to the promised land.

Votto posted a serious line of .324/.424/.600 with 35 home runs and 113 RBI in 2010. 16 stolen bases boosted his league best wRC+ (like OPS+ but with more guts) to 173. He received all the first place MVP votes save one. He was a beast.

In 2011, his slash line is a disappointing .325/.440/.555 and his wRC+ is all the way down to 169. Down year!

This isn’t to re-open another MVP debate. Goodness knows we will have enough of those around these parts in the coming months. This merely serves to pay tribute to Votto for putting together another incredible season.

Joey Votto is a great hitter so his numbers in any setting will reflect that. Put into high leverage situations, Joey Votto shines so brightly in late & close situations it makes me reconsider the entire “clutch isn’t’ a skill” belief I cling to tightly.

In his MVP season, Votto lead the National League with a .542 wOBA (.420/.540/.780) in high leverage situations. He clubbed five home runs and three doubles in those late games, much to the benefits of his playoff-bound Reds. In 2011, Votto stepped up his high leverage game even more.

After yesterday’s walkoff tater in the 14th inning, Votto now leads baseball in high-lev hitting, posting an awe-inspiring .604 wOBA! (.442/.600/.907.) Another five home runs and five doubles in 60 important plate appearances. Votto also leads baseball in Win Probability Added and clutch – (high leverage performance compared to leverage-neutral PAs.)

Votto now leads the National League in Fangraphs WAR for position players and sits third in bWAR. Since the beginning of 2010, Votto’s wOBA is just 4 points behind the exalted Jose Bautista (though he is 28 home runs behind.1)

Joey Votto is officially a perennial MVP candidate and one of the very best players in baseball. Votto might now be the Albert Pujols to Albert Pujol’s Barry Bonds, minus the insane gulf in production. Hopefully he doesn’t slip down a Edgar Martinez-sized crack because of where he plays and the relative lack of help he gets in Cincinnati.

1Holy crap.