Joey Votto. Sounds like an insignificant character from Goodfellas. I can almost hear Ray Liota’s narration: “When I was a kid I used to get the wise guys’ beers during their card games down at Joey Votto’s. What a buncha gindaloons.” Joey Votto is no fringe mobster, but he is pretty gangster when it comes to hitting a baseball. So gangster, in fact, that you’ll find him in the top five of most experts’ preseason player rankings. I love stats, and there’s a lot to like about Votto’s. Whether it’s his career OPS of .955, BA of .313, or .237 ISO, he is as dominant a left-handed hitter as there is in the game. Stats like OPS, BA, and ISO are a great measure of a hitter’s true ability because unlike RBI or runs, they are absent any reliance upon others to be on base or drive them in. ISO treats a leadoff double the same as one with the bases loaded; it’s about pure power, fluky variables be damned.
Here’s a fun idea! Let’s compare Votto to the consensus No. 1-ranked player in fantasy baseball, the mighty Miguel Cabrera:
BB% K% BB/K AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BABIP GB/FB LD% GB% FB% HR/FB
Votto: 12.9 18.4 0.70 .313 .405 .550 .955 .237 .352 1.19 23.9 41.3 34.8 19.4
Cabrera: 11.1 17.5 0.64 .317 .395 .555 .950 .239 .347 1.13 21.3 41.7 37.0 18.3
Yes, Cabrera has been doing it about three times as long as Votto, but good luck finding two hitters who are more similar. Production may vary from year to year, but splits like these are going to keep a player in the 95/30/100/.310/? ballpark on tha yearly. If Votto does anything less than that in 2012, plus or minus 10 steals, I’ll eat my hat. I once wagered self hat consumption that my friend couldn’t make an elaborate HORSE basket. He made it and I welched on the bet. But, furthermore to Joey Votto, his 2010 MVP season may have seen him slightly out of his head in the HR department. That season his HR/FB was an unreal 25.0% while his FB% was at exactly his career rate of 34.8%. I’m not saying he’s incapable of hitting 37 bombs again, but 28-32 is probably more like it. I almost swallowed my plug of Red Man when I saw that in 2010, Joey had a IFFB% of 0.0. Nothing says MVP quite like “in 648 PA I did not hit a fly ball that traveled less than 140 feet from home plate,” which is the distance that FanGraphs uses as its benchmark for pop-ups. His career 1.6 IFFB% is a stat that warms my brain’s nerdy baseball nether regions.
Miggy and Pujols–take your pick– are going to go 1-2 in most drafts. You may be tempted to take Matt Kemp or Jose Bautista if you happen to be drafting third. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s to never underrate the value of a sure thing. The same rule that applied at house parties (heeyooo!) also applies to the early rounds of your fantasy draft. Ryan’s Projection: 100/31/110/.315/9.