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Joey Votto wants to lead the league in OPS and WAR

Aug 30, 2013, 7:45 PM EDT

Joey Votto Getty Getty Images

At FanGraphs, David Laurila polled a handful (12, to be specific) of Major Leaguers about with which offensive statistic they would like to lead the league. It’s quite fascinating, particularly that the most popular answer was not batting average, runs, or RBI, but OPS. Had you randomly polled 12 players five years ago, I would imagine nine or ten would have given you batting average or RBI. We’ve come a long way.

Reds first baseman had the best answer, landing on OPS, but saying that it would have been WAR if the question didn’t stipulate an offense-only stat.

“There’s no better thing you can do in baseball than hit home runs, so I’d like to lead in that. That said, I don’t know if there’s a correlation between home runs and general offensive dominance. I don’t know if there is one number that does that.

“I’ve always felt like the top guys in OPS are usually the best hitters in the league. I’m probably biased, because I led the league in it, but I think it’s a big stat. So I guess my answer is OPS, if you’re talking purely offensive stats. If you’re talking overall, I’ll say WAR.”

Votto did indeed lead the league in OPS in 2010, when he won the National League Most Valuable Player award. He has never led in WAR, though he came close in 2010, when his 6.8 FanGraphs WAR was just a hair behind the 7.0 of then-Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols.

Votto has been a bit of a lightning rod in the traditional stats vs. Sabermetrics debate, garnering criticism for not having many RBI (just 61) despite hitting over .300 with a .435 on-base percentage. Teammate Brandon Phillips, comparatively, has 95 RBI but trails Votto in almost all Sabermetric categories.

  1. dondada10 - Aug 30, 2013 at 7:53 PM

    If it means anything to you, Joey Votto, you lead the league in Canadian Awesomeness.

    • hollymchisolm - Aug 31, 2013 at 2:59 AM

      my best friend’s aunt makes $68 every hour on the laptop. She has been out of a job for seven months but last month her payment was $18417 just working on the laptop for a few hours. this…

  2. Aaron Saylor - Aug 30, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    I wish people would stop making it a Votto vs. Phillips thing. They are both good players and valuable to the team.

    • danrizzle - Aug 30, 2013 at 8:22 PM

      Aaaaand no one who compares Votto and Phillips is saying that Phillips isn’t good. He is, so there’s no reason to be offended when people comment on the fact that their stark difference in traditional / saber stats makes them an interesting case study in baseball value-awareness.

    • km9000 - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:42 PM

      Sabermetrics tries to evaluate and compare players using hard, cold numbers. And it’s funny how people who aren’t into that would rather just say everyone’s wonderful and gosh, why can’t we just focus on their positives?

  3. Aaron Saylor - Aug 30, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    The argument starts that way, but it often devolves into “all Phillips does this year is get RBIs and that’s a worthless stat.”

    • hammyofdoom - Aug 30, 2013 at 8:56 PM

      BUT people also need to stop pretending that Phillips is having a good year. The guy is having a sub-par year in every statistic minus RBI. Yes he is a good player, I have always found him to be overrated offensively but his defense is incredible. I just wish people would stop focusing on RBI… they aren’t useless, but they also aren’t a good indicator of how well you’re doing offensively in general.

    • jwbiii - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:29 PM

      Credit where it is due: Phillips is hitting like Ty Cobb with runners in scoring position (355/411/504).

  4. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 30, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    Adam Jones and Matt Wieters, you disappoint me yet again. RBI’s and Runs scored are OK team stats, but crappy individual stats.

    Nick Swisher. Ugh, I know (hope) you were trying to be funny here, but that answer makes you look like a douche.

    David DeJesus. I give you credit for being so honest. I’ve never been a power hitter myself, so I can totally relate. It just looks like fun.

  5. disgracedfury - Aug 30, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    Joey Votto got that contract from not OPS but 30 homeruns and 100+ rbi’s.And yet also not only did Votto had a high OPS but he had allot of homeruns and rbi’s.

    That’s why his team is losing because he takes too many walks. Have a lot of walks when your 40 years old makming $25 million and have no power.

    • hammyofdoom - Aug 30, 2013 at 8:57 PM

      I… ow. My head. So you’re saying that Votto should stop taking walks and instead go up hacking and LOOKING to hit home runs? Yeah, I’m sure that wouldn’t have a negative effect or anything

      • js20011041 - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:17 PM

        As mind numbing as this sentiment is, this is the mindset that 99.9% of ballplayers, coaches, and managers have. RBIs and BA are the true measures of offensive value. Pitchers need to know their roles. Closer mentality exists. You hit bat control guys 2nd in the lineup. And because the pool of potential coaches and managers is limited solely to those who have played professional baseball, this is not going to improve. Not in a long, long time, unfortunately. This is the baseball version of the evolution versus creation “debate.” There needs to be a culture change, but I’m just not sure how to make it happen.

    • cincinata - Aug 31, 2013 at 3:21 PM

      Taking the walk is not as bad as no one hitting behind him now that Brandon is hitting in #2 spot. Jay is too streaky although he does him H-R’s in bunches. Ludwig still has not hit his stride. So that is a big problem for the Reds. It is better for Votto to get on base than strike out trying to hit the long ball. It is not good however, that he does not have a chance to drive in 100 this year. I think that is the strategy of other teams, and it is working. If no one is on base when he come up, who is he going to drive in. Then when one or two are on, give him a free pass. So far, it is working for the opposition, if they intend to do it or not.

      • cincinata - Aug 31, 2013 at 7:16 PM

        Of course I meant to say Jay does (hit) H-R’s in bunches.

  6. tfbuckfutter - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    OPS and WAR don’t win games.

    RBIs win games.

    And that statement gives Brandon Phillips and Ruben Amaro awkward boners.

    • Glenn - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:57 PM

      I haven’t had an awkward boner since my eighth math teacher asked me to do a problem on the board at any particular moment. All the others, pretty much right on.

  7. papacrick - Aug 30, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    What’s his batting average with RISP? It must be terrible there’s no way he’s batting that well and only has 61 rbi’s

    • tfbuckfutter - Aug 30, 2013 at 10:13 PM

      Yeah, he’s only hitting .318 with RISP and an OBP of just under .500 (almost like pitchers don’t pitch to him with RISP)…

      In fact, interestingly, he has 14 intentional walks with RISP….and 153 total plate appearances.

      So almost 10% of the time he comes to bat with RISP, pitchers prefer to put him on base.

      So, you know….maybe that’s a factor in a guy like Brandon Phillips having a lot of RBIs while being a below average hitter.

      It’s weird how looking at a situation can present more perspective. You should try that instead of just asking “what’s his batting average with RISP” which can easily be looked up, and then if you dig just a little deeper you can attain the perspective I just provided you.

      Knowing is half the battle.

      • papacrick - Sep 1, 2013 at 2:38 AM

        That .500 obp is impressive. I didn’t feel like looking it up I honestly thought he had to have been choking in those situations it seemed impossible for him to have only 61 RBI. Makes it all the more baffling how Miggy continues to get hittable pitches and continues to drive in crazy amounts of runs. He also manages to drive many pitches that are way out of the strikes zone while Votto prefers to take the free pass. Both approaches seem to work since they’re both great players going about their business in different manners.

    • jwbiii - Aug 30, 2013 at 10:14 PM

      Votto bats with RISP the same as he usually bats (318/490/495) except with more IBBs.

  8. Walk - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    If I was a player I would still like to lead the league in rbi. I feel that if I lead the league in runs batted in not only would I be having a good year my team mates and my team would be having a good year. War and ops are very much a personal stat. As I have said before baseball I tend to think of baseball as a team sport that has a large number of individual awards.

  9. djpostl - Aug 31, 2013 at 2:13 AM

    “WAR and ops are very much a personal stat.”

    I see we have a late entry in the “dumbest fucking thing said this baseball season” award category.

    WAR. Wins. Above. Replacement. Yeah, that just screams “individual stat”

    Freakin dumb ass -_-

    • Walk - Aug 31, 2013 at 4:00 AM

      I see we have a late entry in the “dumbest fucking thing said this baseball season” award category.

      WAR. Wins. Above. Replacement. Yeah, that just screams “individual stat”

      War is an individual stat. It is calculated on a player basis not team. It calculates a player’s, note that is singular, total contributions to their team . If I were you I would read the link provided and educate yourself on a subject before attacking someone else.

  10. kathrynedwards643 - Aug 31, 2013 at 3:12 AM

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  11. junglerat524 - Aug 31, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    Old school stats vs. New school stats.

    Starting to remind me of the Mideast these days.

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