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Joey Votto

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Joseph Daniel Votto

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[edit] Biographical Information

Votto in 2008

Joey Votto has won a major league MVP award, played for the Canadian national team and became the Cincinnati Reds' starting first baseman in 2008.

He was selected by the Reds in the second round of the 2002 amateur draft and signed by scout John Castleberry. A catcher at the time, his high school did not have a baseball team, yet he was still picked 44th overall and signed for a $600,000 bonus. He debuted professionally with the GCL Reds, hitting .269/.342/.531 in 50 games with 9 home runs. He played primarily DH and third base that year. Votto's 25 extra-base hits tied Rajai Davis for the Gulf Coast League lead.

In 2003, Votto led Reds farmhands with a .406 OBP. He hit .231/.348/.287 in 60 games for the Dayton Dragons then was demoted to the Billings Mustangs, where he smacked the ball to a .317/.452/.488 clip with 56 walks and 80 strikeouts in 70 games. Votto led the Pioneer League in both walks and OBP. Now ensconced at first base, he led the league's players at that position in putouts (517), assists (36), double plays (48) and fielding percentage (.979). He failed to make the league All-Star team, losing out to Brandon Bounds.

Baseball America rated Joey as the #5 prospect in the Reds system entering 2004. Votto continued to impress during that season, leading Reds minor leaguers in OBP once more (.413) and also having the most walks (90), hits (143), total bases (237) and RBI (93) of their minor leaguers. His batting line was .302/.419/.486 in 111 games with Dayton and .298/.385/.560 in 24 contests for the Potomac Cannons. One negative was 131 strikeouts overall. Votto finished fifth in the affiliated minor leagues in walks. He again failed to make a league All-Star team as Brian Dopirak was picked as the top first sacker in the Midwest League. Baseball America moved him up to the 4th on their list of Cincinnati prospects.

Votto had his first decline year in 2005, only managing a .256/.330/.425 line for the Sarasota Reds with a .196 average against southpaws. He hit 17 home runs, drove in 83 and drew 52 walks while fanning 122 times. His 9 sacrifice flies tied Scott Moore for the Florida State League lead.

In the 2005 Baseball World Cup, Votto showed that his regular season was not the whole story. He hit .333/.371/.833 with 5 home runs, 10 runs and 16 RBI for Team Canada. He had the most RBI in the round-robin and finished fourth in the tourney behind Michel Enriquez, Yulieski Gourriel and Sidney de Jong. Only Gourriel clubbed more home runs than the Canadian 1B-DH. He made the All-Tournament team at DH.

Joey then went to the Mesa Solar Sox and was 9 for 36 with two walks and two doubles, backing up Ryan Garko at first base.

In 2006, he hit .319/.408/.547 for the Chattanooga Lookouts. He tied for third in the minors with 70 extra-base hits and tied Seth Smith for the most doubles (46). He led Cincinnati minor leaguers in hits (162), total bases (278), doubles, home runs (22), walks (78) and extra-base hits (70). He stole 24 bases in 31 tries and scored 85 runs while driving in 77. He hit .351 against right-handers, .262 against lefties. He paced the Southern League in practically everything - hits, total bases, extra-base hits, doubles, walks, OBP, batting average and slugging on offense and on defense, he led first basemen in putouts (1,068), assists (127), errors (14) and double plays (99). He was second in the SL in home runs. He fell one double shy of breaking the league record. The honors fell in left and right - Southern League MVP, Reds Minor League Player of the Year (as per Baseball America), SL All-Star first base. Baseball America finally put him on one of their "top prospects in the league" list - 7th in the SL, right behind Ryan Braun. Baseball America ranked him as the best batting prospect and best defensive prospect in the league - among those they considered him a better hitting prospect than were Braun, Andy LaRoche, Matt Kemp and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, all top prospects as well. He tied Jon Knott for third in the affiliated minors in extra-base hits. He played in the 2006 Futures Game, hitting third for the World team and going 1 for 2 before leaving the game.

Votto hit .294 with 7 RBI and 4 steals in 11 games for the Escogido Lions that winter.

Votto played for the Louisville Bats in 2007. He hit .294/.381/.478, made the International League All-Star team at first base and was named the league's Rookie of the Year. He was again picked for the Futures Game. Votto batted cleanup and manned first base for the World Team, getting four at-bats and hitting a homer off of Clay Buchholz, who a couple months later threw a no-hitter for the Boston Red Sox. He finished 7th in the IL in OBP, 8th in slugging, 7th in OPS, 4th in home runs (22), second in RBI (92, trailing MVP Mike Hessman only) and tied with Gary Burnham for 4th in walks (70).

On September 4th, 2007, the Cincinnati Reds announced that Votto would be called up from the minors and would be in the starting lineup on September 5th against the New York Mets. Joey's reaction to being called up: "I'm just happy to be here. My goal is to never go back down."

Votto got his first MLB action on the 4th against New York. He pinch-hit for Gary Majewski against Guillermo Mota and struck out swinging. In his first start, he batted 8th but went 3 for 3 with 2 runs, a walk and a home run off John Maine to help fellow rookie Tom Shearn win his second game. Votto hit a solid .321/.360/.548 with 17 RBI in 84 AB and a 127 OPS+ in his September call-up for the 2007 Reds.

Joey had a OPS+ of 124 in 2008, hitting .297/.368/.506 with 32 doubles, 24 home runs and 84 RBI. On May 7, he hit three home runs in a game against the Cubs, becoming the 23rd player in Reds history to accomplish the feat and the first since Aaron Boone 5 years (minus a day) earlier. He led the 2008 Reds in doubles and RBI.

Votto played for Canada in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, hitting .556 with 1.711 OPS with a homer and two ribbies. He had another excellent year for the Reds in 2009, batting .322 - the 5th best average in the National League - with 38 doubles and 25 home runs. His OPS+ of 155 was 4th best in the league. During the season, he was placed on the disabled list in June and missed 21 games after suffering a bout of depression caused by the death of his father the previous August. He came back to finish strong however. In 2010, he took another step forward, being the key cog in a strong Reds' attack that led the team to a first division title in 15 years. He led the National League with a .424 on-base percentage and a .600 slugging percentage, while batting .324 with 37 home runs and 113 RBI. Even though he lost out to Albert Pujols in both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award votes, he beat him thoroughly in the MVP balloting, getting 31 of 32 first-place votes. He was the third Canadian to win MVP honors in the majors, following Larry Walker and Justin Morneau.

Votto also won the 2010 Tip O'Neill Award given by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, more than 80% of respondents in an internet and Facebook poll choosing Votto. And the winning continued for Votto in December, who won the 2010 Lou Marsh award for being Canada's athlete of the year; the award is voted on by a committee of sports editors, columnists and broadcasters.

Votto received more recognitions in 2011, winning the National League Gold Glove. He was the first Reds first baseman to win a Gold Glove. He also repeated as winner of the Tip O'Neill Award, this time sharing the honor with reliever John Axford of the Milwaukee Brewers. He finished the season with a .309 average in 161 games, coupled with a league-leading .416 OBP. His 40 doubles and 110 walks were also league bests, and he added 29 homers, 101 runs and 109 RBI for another outstanding all-around season. After the year, the Reds rewarded him with the longest guaranteed contract in major league history, a 12-year agreement worth $251.5 million. It was signed in the wake of huge free agent contracts to fellow first basemen Pujols and Prince Fielder, who had both moved to American League teams during the off-season and had set the market for players of his talent. The contract includes provisions for the Reds to set aside a corporate suite at Great American Ballpark for the use of Joey's charitable foundation for 10 games each year, and annual payments totalling 1% of the value of the contract to Cincinnati-based charities.

Votto had a tremendous day at the plate on May 13, 2012 against the Washington Nationals. He hit solo homers off Edwin Jackson in the 1st and 4th innings, then doubled off Sean Burnett in the 8th, coming in to score on Jay Bruce's two-out double that made the score 6-5 for Washington. He then ended the game with a two-out walk-off grand slam off Henry Rodriguez to give the Reds a 9-6 win, ending the day with 4 hits, 4 runs scored, 6 RBI and 14 total bases. That game was part of an outstanding first half, during which he hit .348/.471/.617 and was voted the starting first baseman in the 2012 All-Star Game while leading the Reds to first place in the NL Central. However, on July 16th, the Reds announced that Votto needed to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus muscle, putting him on the sidelines for a month at a key juncture of the season. He had injured the knee sliding into third base against the San Francisco Giants on June 29th. He only made it back to the Reds in early September, but the team had managed to stay in first place during his absence, plugging various players into the line-up to compensate for the hole left by his injury. He finished the year at .337/.474/.567 in 111 games, leading the National League in walks and OBP. He went 7 for 18 in the NLDS as the reds lost to the eventual World Champion San Francisco Giants. After the season, he was named the winner of the Tip O'Neill Award for the third straight season.

Votto impressed again in 2013: selected to his fourth consecutive All-Star Game, he hit over .300 for the fifth straight season and led the National League in walks and times on base, as well as in on-base percentage (.435), plate appearances (726), games played at first base (161) and assists by a first baseman (154). He also belted 24 home runs and tied for the NL lead in intentional walks (19). Off the field, he launched the Joey Votto Foundation to help military veterans and active service members in Cincinnati and Toronto deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. He won the Tip O'Neill Award for the fourth straight time in 2013 for his amazing year, becoming the first player to have done so. He was still well back of Larry Walker's 9 times winning the award.

Sources: 2005 Baseball World Cup site (seemingly defunct), 2003-2007 Baseball Almanacs, 2007 Reds Media Guide, MILB.com

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 2006 MVP Southern League Chattanooga Lookouts
  • 2008 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
  • 4-time NL All-Star (2010-2013)
  • NL MVP (2010)
  • NL Gold Glove Winner (2011)
  • 4-time NL On-Base Percentage Leader (2010-2013)
  • NL Slugging Percentage Leader (2010)
  • NL OPS Leader (2010)
  • NL Doubles Leader (2011)
  • 3-time NL Walks Leader (2011-2013)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 5 (2008-2011 & 2013)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2010)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (2010 & 2011)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 3 (2010, 2011 & 2013)


NL MVP
2009 2010 2011
Albert Pujols Joey Votto Ryan Braun

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