There comes a time in all of our lives when we have to buy a new car (well most of us; New Yorkers/San Franciscans excluded). We go around trying to find the best deal. We want the most reliable automobile.
You wouldn’t spend Bentley money for a Mercedes, would you? Then why would you spend Miguel Cabrera money for a Joey Votto? Buying a car is just like buying a baseball player: everyone wants to get their money’s worth.
Votto has remarkable credentials: a career .316 hitter, two seasons with 100+ RBI, and a career OPS of .968. Is anyone doubting his ability? No. Votto is as talented as they come. Nobody is saying Joey isn’t a good
car player, but when a player hasn’t reached 500 AB in two out of the past four seasons, it’s worth looking under the hood.
There are some durability issues, particularly with the 2009 and 2012 models. In ’09, Votto’s sophomore year, he missed 31 games in the middle of the season due to depression and anxiety (over the loss of his father), and he also battled the dreaded inner ear infection. It didn’t seem to matter, however; he still nearly replicated his rookie season with 25 HR and 84 RBI.
In 2010, he took the next step, winning the NL MVP while slugging 37 HR and knocking in 113 RBI.
His follow up campaign in 2011 wasn’t nearly as impressive, but his numbers were still usable, valuable; an upper echelon player.
But last year, Votto blew out a tire (torn meniscus in left knee, which required surgery), causing him to miss 51 games. Before the injury he was leading the NL in BB, H, OBP, and extra base hits. Once again, nobody was questioning his ability, but whispers of lemon could be heard throughout MLB halls, especially since he had just signed the longest and fourth richest contract in baseball.
Votto returned to action on September 5th, and went homer-less the rest of the season. In fact, Votto hasn’t hit a home run since June 24. That’s a drought of 45 games (including playoffs).
I’m not going to tell you to not draft Votto, because I would love to own him this year. But I would have to think long and hard about taking him in the first round. Right now he’s in the Troy Tulowitzki category: great talent when healthy. If you could guarantee Votto’s health (which you can’t), I would have him as a top-10 player without hesitation.
I’m just not that willing to swap my bag of money for a jalopy.