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Friday, November 15, 2013

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JOEY VOTTO 1B CINCINNATI REDS

                                                             Joey Votto

When it comes to the art of hitting a baseball, there are few who do it any better than Cincinnati Reds All Star 1B Joey Votto.  A career .314 hitter, Votto is an annual threat to win a batting title and pile up the runs and RBI due to his advanced approach at the dish.  Throw in some bonus and rare stolen bases at the position and Votto finds himself a first round pick in fantasy baseball drafts almost every season.  However have we reached the point now where Votto no longer merits such a spot?  Could it be that Votto is actually a bit overrated?  Let's check this out in order to find out.

As I already stated, Votto is as good a batting average help as you can get in fantasy baseball.  He is a lock to hit .300 and he will likely do more there in the .315 realm.  Votto has hit as high as .337 in 2012 and also has two .320-plus seasons under his belt.  So on that part of his game there is no debating Votto's extreme worth.  Moving on from there, Votto has scored over 100 runs in three of the last four seasons, with the one season in 2011 when he didn't being a fluke due to the fact Votto got only 374 at-bats due to a knee injury.  So projecting Votto around 100 runs once again is the easy call.  In fact the runs and batting average are pretty much the easiest part of Votto's game to forecast going forward.

As far as the rest of the package is concerned, RBI's have been somewhat volatile for Votto, especially last season when he sank to 73.  However that number is a bit of an outlier on a per game basis as Votto drove in 113 and 103 runs in his last two full seasons prior to 2013 and hitting third in a very good Reds lineup, it is likely he gets close to that number again.  Anyone who hits as well as Votto does will fall into 80 RBI easy and the other 20 should be attainable given good healthy. 

As far as the stolen bases are concerned, we have to chalk up the 16 Votto swiped in 2010 as a clear outlier as well since he has never hit double-digits in any of his other 5 seasons.  The last two seasons Votto has stolen only 5 and 6 bases and speed is always the first skill to go as a player ages.  So anything more than the 6 Votto took in 2013 will be a bonus.

Last but not least we get to the home runs which is where Votto carries his biggest question mark.  We all jumped through the roof when Votto hit 37 home runs in his crazy good 2010 seasons but upon further inspection, this peanut stand quickly saw this as a number to be dismissed.  The problem with the 37 homers Votto hit that season were that his fly ball rate was way out of proportion from what he had done his first three major league seasons.  Advanced stats are always a great tool for predicting the future and we cautioned heading into 2011 that we believed that fly ball rate would normalize and that Votto would be more of a 25 home run guy than a 37 one.  Well that is pretty much what has happened since as Votto has hit 29 home runs in 2011, 14 in his injury-marred 2012 that was on pace for 23, and than last season's 24.  Thus we are very comfortable in saying that votto should be judged in the 25 home run range and anything more will be a nice gift.

Putting it all together, the numbers certainly are worthy of late first round status.  However Votto's past as a former top five overall pick is not likely in play for 2014 as he has been passed by Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Davis, and maybe even Edwin Encarnacion in the first base hierarchy.  We still love what Votto brings to the table however and would have no issues making him our first pick from around the 9th spot to the end of Round 1 and later.

2014 PROJECTION:  .315 26 HR 104 RBI 101 R 6 SB

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