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AAAA Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds

Updated: 2017-11-17T11:00:07-05:00


Joey Votto is the most valuable player of my heart anyway


In which this humble bloghole scribe is unexpectedly not furious Yesterday, in the run-up to the announcement of the Most Valuable Player awards, my friend and I hope yours Wick Terrell rolled his eyes and discretely gave the whole thing a middle finger. I think we all kinda expected that our man Joey Votto wasn’t going to win the thing, which he didn’t, and so Wick was all whatever about it. I was much more sanguine than him. And to be clear, I’m normally just as nonplussed about these things as he was yesterday. But after seeing perfectly decent human being and pretty good ballplayer Paul Goldschmidt once again beat out my man for both the Gold Glove and the Silver Slugger (as voted on by players and managers and not the BBWAA), I was tasting blood. I figured 50-foot monster Giancarlo Stanton would win it, but it sure seemed likely to me that Goldschmidt would finish a respectable second while my man would come in at a modest third. Here’s the thing about Paul Goldschmidt: He is the Phish of baseball players. He’s okay, I guess. I mean, he doesn’t offend the senses. If you are a Paul Goldschmidt fan, good for you. Not really my thing, you see, because there is clearly an alternative that is objectively better in every conceivable way. But there is the huge mass of people who apparently think Paul Goldschmidt is the best thing going. Like, for them, it’s easy to see that he is the coolest and best and it’s like you don’t even know man because he’s kinda underground and you gotta really search him out in order to see him and when you do it changes your life because he is just the best man. Four people voted him as the NL MVP this year. They aren’t an overwhelming majority of people, but there’s enough of them that I have to wonder what exactly the fuck is going on in your brain. Joey Votto is better than Paul Goldschmidt at everything that makes Paul Goldschmidt a good baseball player. And yet there are people out there who insist that isn’t true. I have nothing against Paul Goldschmidt himself, you see, but his fans are completely unrelatable. But I don’t need to write all that. I’m not really upset by last night’s results. In fact, I’m actually pleasantly surprised. Joey Votto fell just two points short of Giancarlo Stanton’s total, and so Stanton is the MVP this year. Goldschmidt ran well behind the both of them. And I think we all need to appreciate just how big of a deal this is. Take a look back at the 2004 AL MVP voting. That year, Vladimir Guerrero ran away with it, earning 21 first-place votes. He had a good year, as you might imagine, slugging 39 home runs and driving in 126. Of course, the Angels won the NL West that season. Down the list, you find sluggers on postseason clubs: Gary Sheffield, Manny Ramirez, and David Ortiz. Again, they all had good years. But it’s clear that the unifying theme here is “home runs and RBIs and contending teams.” Down in seventh on the list is Ichiro. The Mariners were awful that year, losing 99 games. He had eight home runs and 60 RBIs. But he was second in the league in OBP and his incredible defense helped him compile 9.1 bWAR, pacing the league by a wide margin. Oh, and he set the record for hits in a season with 262. Right behind him in eighth is Michael Young, who had just 1.8 bWAR. He was average. And to the MVP voters that year, he was pretty much the same as Ichiro. Imagine that. And that’s how far we have come in that relatively short amount of time. Votto was not in the top five in either home runs or RBIs this season and the Reds were out of postseason contention by the middle of February. And that stuff just doesn’t matter like it used to. When determining the Most Valuable Player, the BBWAA voters are now much more concerned with stuff like OBP and WAR and wRC+ and, you know, the measures that actually reflect valuable stuff. That is a big deal. And yeah, there are still guys like Bob Nightengale and that other guy who apparently docked Votto for playing for a crummy Reds’ team and listed him fifth, [...]

Joey Votto falls short in National League MVP voting by 2 votes



The first baseman fell to Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins in the 4th-closest NL MVP vote of all time.

Joey Votto was close. He was oh, so close. In arguably his best season as a Cincinnati Red, the first baseman was just 2 votes shy of notching his second Most Valuable Player award, barely losing out to Marlins’ outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. This is the third time that Votto has finished in the top 3 in MVP voting in his career, winning the award in 2010 and getting third in 2015.

While both players had outstanding seasons, and Stanton was certainly deserving of the award, it is hard not to feel a little frustrated as Reds fans. Votto led the league in walks (134), OBP (.454), OPS (1.032), and OPS+ (168), had more doubles than Stanton, had a higher batting average, and struck out nearly half as many times as Stanton. While Stanton’s league-leading 59 dingers and .631 SLG were also impressive, Votto was consistently the better hitter all season. To make matters worse, two voters had Votto 5th on their ballot.

While this is a disappointment for Votto and the rest of the Reds’ fan base, it doesn’t take away from the incredible season that he had. The good news is that March is only a few months away, and we get to watch Joey do this all over again.

The MVP will be given the Joey Votto Award tonight



Yay popularity contests yayyyyyy.

Jose Altuve or Aaron Judge will win the American League MVP tonight, which is fine. The seasons produced by each had ample highlights, mind-bending statistical excellence, and each even got play for a ‘winner’ under the playoff lights.

Over in the National League, though, the outcome of the senior circuit MVP is a little murkier. One of Giancarlo Stanton, Paul Goldschmidt, or Joey Votto will get a plaque, two fanbases (or more) yelling at them, and some nifty black-type on their Baseball Reference page, yet none of the three appears to have run away with purported voting to date.

Awards season is easily my least favorite part of the baseball zeitgeist. I think, in part, that’s a byproduct of my age and the era of baseball that I watched during my formative years. I watched Roger Clemens win six thousand Cy Young Awards, more than anyone else in history. I watched Barry Bonds win a jillion MVP Awards, too - also more than anyon else who has ever played. I’ve also watched as the same organization that doted those awards on those two players has chose to not award them entrance into baseball’s Hall of Fame, which is as clear an admission that awards themselves are silly as there can possibly be.

For me, arbitrary awards no longer tell the story, nice and shiny as they may look on trophy cases. The numbers tell the stories, the whens, the hows, the whys, the wheres of what actually went down in the games played. And while Stanton mashing 59 dingers in a season in which dingers were mauled at a record-breaking rate is something still special in its own right, when I see numbers put into context in this way, they’re the kind I’ll remember long after I forget who actually won the 2017 NL MVP award.

This season, Votto was the only player in the Major Leagues to hit at least 26 homers and record 100 RBIs while hitting at least .300/.400/.500. And besides Babe Ruth and Williams, he is the only player in Major League history to produce at least 179 hits, 36 homers, 134 walks and 83 or fewer strikeouts in a single season.

Three players, including two of the three greatest left-handed hitters who have ever played the game - and Joey Votto. Not to mention, Votto didn’t exactly accomplish those feats in an era when walk rates are skyrocketing while strikeout rates plummet.

Would I love to see Votto win another award? Of course, since he’s deserving of it. I’m not going to lose a wink of sleep over it if he doesn’t, though, since whichever player who gets interviewed on MLB Network tonight while holding a nice plaque won’t change one iota about the remarkable season that Joey had.

(Ruth, for the record, somehow only won one MVP award, too.)

The AL and NL MVP Awards will be announced on MLB Network tonight, with coverage and lots of talking heads blabbing on endlessly beginning at 6 PM ET. Heck, you might even be able to watch it on, though I’ve not looked anything up to verify that.

We might be seriously overlooking Scott Schebler


Was that the quietest 30 dinger season in Reds history? When you think about the current iteration of the Cincinnati Reds, you think of Joey Votto. You think of Billy Hamilton’s speed and defense, Zack Cozart’s breakout, donkey, and free agency, and Scooter Gennett’s 4-dinger game. Adam Duvall’s name comes to mind, what with the unexpected All Star appearance and mammoth first halves of seasons. Eugenio Suarez, similarly, picked up a larger fan following thanks to a breakout 2017, and Tucker Barnhart just signed a contract extension and took home a Gold Glove for excellent defense at catcher. Hell, Nick Senzel and Jesse Winker are names that most will rattle off, seeing as they’re touted prospects we hope can change the course of the franchise. Prospects of a similar caliber to what Devin Mesoraco once was, another former All Star who somehow is already entering the final season of the contract he signed after his big breakout year. That’s now ten names we’ve sifted through, ten position players who shouldered the bulk of the load in 2017 and/or who will be counted on tremendously in 2018, barring a major shake-up. Ten names, none of which is Scott Schebler, who is apparently fresh off the single most anonymous 30 homer season in Cincinnati Reds history. The 30 dingers aside, being overlooked is a common theme in Schebler’s baseball career. He wasn’t drafted out of high school, and didn’t attend a big-name baseball university. He was later plucked out of an Iowa community college by the Los Angeles Dodgers, albeit not until the 26th round of the 2010 MLB Draft. From there he was thrust into one of the more OF rich systems in recent memory, sitting somewhere around 9th on the pecking order of potential big leaguers for a franchise that had more lefty-swingers who could play there than they knew what to do with, only to be traded as a secondary piece to the Reds in the three-team Todd Frazier deal. Even then, Schebler was somewhat stuck, blocked in corner spots by both Jay Bruce and Duvall, and when he finally had the chance to play most everyday this season, his best tool - towering dinger power - managed to get overshadowed by the most dingerriffic league-wide season in the history of the game. There are parts of Schebler’s game that look ho-hum to almost every type of baseball fan. His .233 batting average and mere 67 ribbies look rather pedestrian on the traditional stat scale. His rough .307 OBP last year did enough to derail his otherwise solid power numbers, sinking his season OPS+ to 103, or just a hair over a league-average output. Pair all of that with a below-average arm and negative defensive metrics, and the argument for Schebler being any higher than the 10th or 11th most intriguing player on Cincinnati’s roster at the moment does appear to carry solid weight, especially given that he’s already 27 years old. There are, however, a couple of aspects to Schebler’s game that suggest that maybe, just maybe, we could see a lot more out of next season. The easy one to begin with was the shoulder injury he suffered while diving for a ball against the Atlanta Braves on June 3rd. He sat out a pair of games, got some treatment and some all-important anti-inflammatory injections, and seemingly jumped right back into crushing the ball by going 10 for 29 with a pair of homers over his next eight games. However, as Schebler told The Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans after finally landing on the 10-day DL at the end of July, it’s how the shoulder felt after he was weaned from those anti-inflammatories that became the larger issue. Playing through pain and with nothing to numb him to it, his production completely cratered, and after he finished the month of July on a horrid 2 for 45 (.051/.178/.154) skid, he finally spoke up about the shoulder issue and hit the DL for nearly three weeks. And, after returning, he looked similar to the Schebler who’d posted an .858 OPS in 51 games prior to the June 3rd inj[...]

Billy Hamilton Trade Rumors: San Francisco Giants interested in Cincinnati’s CF


The Giants need OF defense in the worst of ways. The San Francisco Giants are fresh off one of the more disappointing seasons in recent memory, and I’m saying that as a daily, recalcitrant fan of the Cincinnati Reds. The Giants have claimed a trio of World Series titles within the last eight seasons and have a payroll pushing a jillion bucks, yet finished with a record that tied the Detroit Tigers for the worst in all of baseball in 2017. One of the single most glaring problems they faced in 2017? Outfield defense, specifically with Denard Span being tasked with manning CF with their cavernous home park and the large parks of the National League West. Span’s -5.7 DRS and -8.7 UZR/150 were reminiscent of strapping a glove and a blindfold to a butterfly and hoping for the best, which makes it zero surprise that the Giants have interest in improving their CF defense in a big, big way heading into 2018. As FOX’s Jon Morosi relayed on Monday evening, that interest extends to Cincinnati’s speedy CF Billy Hamilton, too. Sources: #SFGiants have shown interest in #Reds CF Billy Hamilton on trade market. Bobby Evans looking for ways to improve outfield defense; Jackie Bradley Jr. is another option, as previously reported. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 13, 2017 Senzel, 22, is fresh off clubbing 40 doubles in just 119 games in 2017, a season in which he hit a stellar .321/.391/.514 in 507 PA between A+ Daytona and AA Pensacola. A 3B exclusively during his two seasons as a professional, we heard earlier this week that Senzel will get time at 2B this upcoming spring training, which is a position he played quite often while at the University of Tennessee. It seems obvious that his potent right-handed bat will be in Cincinnati’s big league lineup somewhere at some point during the 2018 season, which makes both his top-tier ranking and ETA things to make you salivate. As for Greene, the player with the highest draft signing bonus in history still rates as a can’t miss prospect despite limited action and so-so performance in our first glimpse of him as a professional. Having just turned 18 years old in August, he’s got years before he’ll make an impact at the big league level, but his 102 mph fastball and picturesque delivery are enough to suggest his talent level is as rare as there is in the game today, and 4.1 rough innings pitched with Rookie League Billings in 2017 wasn’t about to change that perception. Rounding out the list: 3) OF Taylor Trammell, 4) RHP Tyler Mahle, 5) OF Jesse Winker, 6) RHP Tony Santillan, 7) OF Jose Siri, 8) IF Shed Long, 9) RHP Vlad Gutierrez, and 10) C Tyler Stephenson. [...]

Updating the Top 100: Joey Votto


Joey Votto’s place on the all-time list At the end of the 1974 season, Tony Perez had finished his age-32 season and had played in 1,452 games in his career to that point, splitting his defensive time at 3B and 1B. This career had spanned parts of eleven seasons and Perez had been on some very good teams, reaching the postseason three times (but with no championships). In addition, Perez had been included as part of five all-star teams and finished in the top 10 of NL MVP voting four different times. At the end of the 2017 season, Joey Votto has just finished his age-33 season and has played in 1,430 games in his career to this point, playing exclusively at 1B. His career has spanned parts of eleven seasons and Votto has been on some very good teams, reaching the postseason three times (but with no championships). In addition, Votto has been included as part of five all-star teams and has finished in the top 10 of NL MVP voting six different times. While there’s some curious similarities there, the two players are not truly similar at all: Perez had the reputation as a clutch player, but the only statistical advantages he had (has) over Votto are that he played 3B for five seasons and his RBI totals, which were clearly influenced the quality of his teammates. Three of these seasons, he had Rose, Morgan, and Bench hitting in front of him… Regardless, he was an excellent hitter who carries no shame for not being as good a hitter as Joey Votto. The point of bringing up Perez into this conversation is two-fold. First, for what it’s worth, I’m moving Votto into the rank of greatest first basemen in franchise history, slotting ahead of Perez. For some, this is probably an overdue recognition, but I try to look at this from a hit-by-a-bus-tomorrow standpoint. I think Votto is there now, as compares specifically to Perez. The other interesting exercise is in thinking about Votto as a potential Hall of Fame inductee many years from now, and Perez creates one of the more natural comparison points given their shared Cincinnati heritage. What makes this a problematic comparison, however, is that Perez had fewer career bWAR than Votto holds today and yet Votto doesn’t seem to profile as a hit-by-a-bus-tomorrow Hall of Famer. Because Perez is objectively one of the weaker first basemen in the Hall, he holds very little value as an in/out threshold. Moreover, Perez’s qualitative value is heavily influenced by what happened the two subsequent seasons after data in the above table. In 1975 and 1976, Perez had typical good hitting seasons, but they weren’t notably great (OPS+ marks of 124 and 118, respectively). What he did have was: three home runs in one of the most iconic World Series contests in baseball history and then a middle-of-the-order presence in one of the most dominant teams ever. He was famous more than he was a legitimate Hall of Famer. The point is not to litigate Perez’s case. I think it’s great that he’s in. Rather, I think the interesting question is how much more does Votto need to do to get in. And I think the target is somewhere around Jeff Bagwell, who took seven ballots to get in. Bagwell played for one team, won one MVP award, was never part of a championship team, had a career 149 OPS+, and totaled 79.6 career bWAR. Votto needs 25 more WAR to get there, with six seasons to do it. He’ll need health and probably one or two more monster seasons to make it happen, but it’s looking more and more like a good possibility over an exercise in wishful thinking. Votto seems to do something every year, numerically, that jumps off the page as an interruption to any preceding trend lines. This season, per Votto’s vows, his defense bounced back to the category of “solidly good first baseman”, as he posted the best advanced metrics of his career. What’s next for Votto? He’s too well-rounded a hit[...]