In the early going Joey Votto has an ADP of 26.39, going late in the second round or early in the third round of fantasy drafts. That’s before fellow first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis and Justin Morneau. That’s before any starting pitcher outside of Tim Lincecum. That’s before Justin Upton. The question is, should he be targeted that early in drafts?
Just looking at my most recent first base rankings (click here to view), where Votto is ranked eleventh tells you my thoughts. There is no way that I would reach that far to take him, even with the impressive numbers he posted when on the field last season:
469 At Bats
.322 Batting Average (151 Hits)
25 Home Runs
4 Stolen Bases
.414 On Base Percentage
.567 Slugging Percentage
.373 Batting Average on Balls in Play
The numbers are elite, but the idea of him being able to maintain them would be far-fetched. First off, the average was buoyed by a BABIP that is almost impossible to repeat. While it’s not like he strikes out an outrageous amount (K% of 22.6%), his BABIP was the sixth best among players with at least 450 AB.
Those who had a better mark than him were David Wright (.400), Hanley Ramirez (.384), Ichiro Suzuki (.384), Joe Mauer (.377) and Shin-Soo Choo (.376). I wouldn’t expect any of them to maintain their marks either, but at least four of the five have of some semblance of speed. Votto just doesn’t possess the speed to maintain that type of luck.
The power is also a bit of a concern. Granted, he calls a hitters paradise home, which certainly would justify him maintaining his above average power, but he’s already at a HR/FB rate of 17.5% (he was at 18.5% in 2008). Unless he suddenly starts putting the ball in the air at a significantly higher rate, he appears to be a 30-32 HR hitter, max, and even that is no guarantee.
Of players who were eligible at first base last season, there were 12 players with at least 30 home runs. Of those players, there were six who posted a batting average of at least .292 (that excludes Kevin Youkilis, who hit .305 with 27 home runs). If we just look at MLB in general, there were 30 players with at least 30 home runs and ten of them hit at least .292 (plus Mauer and Kubel who were at 28 HR with an average above .300). When you look at it like that, you see that the numbers Votto brings, while impressive, are not an overly elite.
When analyzing Votto, you also have to look at the offense he plays in. Exactly what is there that makes you think he could be an elite player in runs or RBI? The Reds were 24th in the league in runs scored last season and what exactly have they done to improve that for 2010? Extend Scott Rolen? Resign Ramon Hernandez?
While a healthy Jay Bruce should help, they simply haven’t done anything to improve an otherwise stagnant offense. Drew Stubbs could provide a spark at the top, but does anyone have confidence that he’ll be put in the leadoff spot? You’ll have Bruce and Brandon Phillips in place to drive Votto in when he’s on. Unfortunately, with a fall in average likely coming, the pace of his runs scored is going to fall as well.
With all that said, let’s take a look at what I am projecting for him in 2010:
.300 (162-540), 29 HR, 100 RBI, 90 R, 6 SB, .332 BABIP, .385 OBP, .539 SLG
Those are very good numbers, but they aren’t potentially second round numbers in my eyes. I have him very similar to Youkilis, who is going nearly 10 picks after him, and a slight step below Morneau, who is going 18 picks after him.
How about Kendry Morales, who is going in round five? Without going into many details, I have him projected at .301, 29 HR, 95 RBI and 90 R. Needless to say, taking Votto there when I can get a very similar player three rounds later, is something I’m not going to do.
What are your thoughts? Should Votto be going as early as he is? Where would you target him on draft day?
Make sure to check out some more of our 2010 projections, including:
- Elvis Andrus
- Gordon Beckham
- Billy Butler
- Everth Cabrera
- Kevin Correia
- Alcides Escobar
- B.J. Upton
- Matt Wieters
Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.