Slump or Dump? Player Profile: Joey Votto

May 15, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (19) during game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Reds defeated the Phillies, 9-4. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Hey everyone, now that baseball is back in full swing I’m going to begin writing more blogs about it as well as eventually some fantasy picks. I’m new to MLB DFS and am learning every day but still don’t necessarily feel prepared to be consistently writing about who you should play. Your wallets will thank you. For some excellent advice, listen to Quick Hits every weekday from Bubba. He gives excellent insight and has helped me with a ton of DFS and season long MLB this year.

This column is will highlight one player who is slumping and look at some of his advanced analytics to determine: Is it just a slump or should you dump him off your roster?

The first player in this column is the illustrious Joey Votto. He has been buried in Cincinnati for years and much of the public seems to miss out on his greatness. Votto is a former MVP, gold glover, and 5 time all star. He has a career batting average of .313, slugging of .538, and a whopping OBP of .427.

This season, he is hitting .236 while slugging .236 with an OBP of .283. Not good. Anyone can tell you he is due for positive regression. However, my goal here is to explain WHY that positive regression will occur.

The first statistic I look at to determine one’s bad (or good) luck is BABIP. This measures one’s batting average on balls in play. Votto’s current BABIP is .265. Keep in mind league average is approximately .300. Only one time since 2006 with a meaningful amount of games has Votto had a BABIP under .300. In 2014 he played in 62 games and had a .299 (of course it was this close). I like to believe history repeats itself. This appears to mean Votto is seeing some bad luck so far let’s dig in even further.

My next order of business was to look at his batted ball profile. Here we are looking at his ground ball (GB%), line drive (LD%), and fly ball (FB%) percentages. This allows us to look at what flight he is hitting the ball with. If you are an avid baseball fan, you often hear of launch angle. Players such as Ryan Zimmerman have revamped their career by beginning to put the ball in the air as opposed to hitting grounders.

This season Votto is posting his lowest GB% (36.2%) since 2007 where it was 27.5%. Which is good, right? Well he is also having a career low FB% of 27.7%. Only one time has he had a full season below 30% fly balls which was 2016 where he hit 29 dingers and drove in 97 with a .326 average. This also means he has an extreme LD% this year of 36.2% which puts him at the 4th highest in the league.

Votto’s career soft contact % is 11.3%, where this year he is at 10.6%. Good news! Well, his medium contact % is currently at 66% and his hard contact % is 23.4% (13.3% lower than his career). So he isn’t torching the ball, but he also isn’t hitting it soft. He’s just hitting it alright. Through his entire career, he has had a floor hard hit % of 32.9% and a ceiling of 40%. I expect him to completely bounce back from this and fit somewhere between those two.

Finally, let’s take a look at his ISO and BB%. ISO stands for isolated power. It is calculated by dividing extra base hits by hits. A league average ISO is around .135 and .200+ is outstanding. 2018 Joey Votto’s ISO? .000. That’s right. He has no extra base hits. If I can promise you one thing, he will get at least one extra base hit in 2018. This will turn around. He is also only walking 3.6% of the time where his career average is 16.1%. He is known for having an outstanding eye so seeing this number this low leaves a lot of room for positive regression

What does this all mean? Votto is way off his career average in many categories. He is still only 34 years old so I do not attribute this to age. I attribute this to the new season. He will take his walks, he will get extra base hits, and he will be the Joey Votto we know and love.

Verdict: This is just a SLUMP. He is a great buy low candidate. People may begin to get fed up with the fact he isn’t producing and that they “wasted’ a high draft pick on him. He is someone I am looking to target as his peripherals look to suggest he will return to his old self in due time.