How Have Previous Joey Vottos Aged?

Now that Joey Votto is signed with Cincinnati through his age 39 season, there’s a lot of talk about how long he can be expected to remain productive. The Reds are basically accepting that this deal will be an albatross at the end of the contract in order to secure premium years at reasonable prices in the first half of the deal. The discussion of the contract should not be whether Votto will be worth the money in 2021, 2022, or 2023 – he won’t be, in almost any scenario you can come up with – but by how much surplus value he’ll be able to create through 2020.

I have more thoughts on long term pricing valuations that I’ll share in the next day or two, but for now, I wanted to look at how productive other similar first baseman to Votto were in their age 28-39 seasons. To do this, I pulled every first baseman in history who had at least 2,000 plate appearances and a wRC+ between 142 to 161 from ages 24-27. Those are the ages that Votto has been a big leaguer for, and gives us a nice four year window leading up a player’s prime. Since Votto has a wRC+ of 152 and a WAR of 22.9 and all the players in the sample have a weighted average wRC+ of 150 and a WAR of 22.0, this group is almost identical in terms of recent performance to Votto at this point in his career.

Here’s the list of comparables, and their 24-27 performance:


Name PA BA OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ WAR
Hank Greenberg 2,147 0.327 0.429 0.658 0.475 161 27.1
Jim Thome 2,357 0.301 0.431 0.584 0.432 158 23.1
Fred McGriff 2,603 0.282 0.393 0.525 0.402 154 23.5
Jeff Bagwell 2,324 0.309 0.398 0.537 0.402 153 22.8
Will Clark 2,664 0.303 0.378 0.509 0.386 151 22.9
Eddie Murray 2,412 0.305 0.376 0.534 0.396 149 21.9
Harmon Killebrew 2,435 0.266 0.375 0.561 0.406 146 21.2
Prince Fielder 2,819 0.284 0.400 0.537 0.395 146 17
Don Mattingly 2,750 0.329 0.375 0.542 0.391 145 23.8
Miguel Cabrera 2,697 0.316 0.391 0.566 0.401 145 20
Harry Heilmann 2,395 0.346 0.401 0.527 0.425 142 20.4

Some pretty nice company there. Obviously, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder don’t really help us understand aging curves much since they’re still in a similar position to Votto throughout their careers, so they won’t be included in the next table, which is how these comparables performed from age 28-39.

Name PA BA OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ WAR
Hank Greenberg 2,783 0.299 0.409 0.591 0.450 157 30.5
Jim Thome 6,650 0.272 0.402 0.564 0.406 145 44
Fred McGriff 7,129 0.288 0.372 0.506 0.377 128 36.7
Jeff Bagwell 6,457 0.293 0.413 0.552 0.411 149 56.7
Will Clark 4,573 0.305 0.393 0.483 0.380 127 25.3
Eddie Murray 7,540 0.285 0.361 0.467 0.361 125 44.6
Harmon Killebrew 6,469 0.255 0.382 0.493 0.387 145 52.6
Don Mattingly 3,992 0.289 0.346 0.417 0.336 107 15
Harry Heilmann 4,884 0.364 0.437 0.564 0.452 155 48.7

The weighted average of the group’s wRC+ dropped from 150 to 137, still a fantastic total. These nine players compiled +354 WAR from 28-39 for a straight average of +39 WAR per player. A weighted average pushes the total up to +42 per player, but because guys who were unlikely to keep producing were dropped from the league before they could bring down their total numbers, a weighted average isn’t appropriate here.

You don’t need to do much analysis to realize that these guys were absolutely fantastic players over the bulk of their careers. Mattingly was the worst of the bunch, coming in at +15 WAR in 4,000 plate appearances, but the other eight ranged from All-Stars to Inner-Circle-Hall-Of-Famers for the duration of their careers.

If Votto racks up another +40 WAR before he retires, I’m fairly certain the Reds will look back on this contract with fondness, and they’ll be glad they kept a Hall-of-Fame player wearing a Cincinnati uniform for his entire career. Obviously, there’s a lot of risk involved with injury or unforeseen issues arising at some point, but Votto’s not all that high of a risk for near term performance collapse.

The reality is that there are a good number of positive comparisons for Votto, and any analysis that suggests that this deal is obviously not worth the money isn’t presenting the whole picture. This deal could go very wrong, but previous first baseman who have performed in a similar manner at the same ages as Votto have gone on to have highly productive careers even as they got older.

At some point in the next 12 years, Joey Votto will stop being worth $20 million per year. If he’s worth $30 million per year for a number of seasons up to that point, though, the Reds won’t care.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

102 Responses to “How Have Previous Joey Vottos Aged?”

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  1. Dave Cameron says:

    By the way, Dan Szymborski used ZIPS to project Votto out from 2014-2023 for ESPN Insider yesterday. His system suggested that Votto would earn +36 WAR over those 10 years, and that doesn’t count the next two, where Votto should be about a +6 win player. So, ZIPS is projecting something more like +45 to +50 WAR for Votto through the end of this contract.

    It’s a lot of money, but it’s a lot of money for the right kind of player.

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    • Oliver says:

      I agree that Votto’s the right kind of player for the money, but the question for me is, are the Reds the right kind of team to be dedicating 20% of their payroll to a single player?

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      • soupman says:

        this is more what i was getting at in the last thread. if this handcuffs their ability to build a winning team at any point, it’s going to create negative value beyond what we can measure with Votto’s individual stat line. likewise, much of the ‘value’ in the contract is likely tied up in what Votto brings to the team beyond his on-field performance, and what it signals to players around the league about the reds (for example). i’m not trying to criticize dave’s work by saying this, instead, i’m simply reiterating my concern over the amount of risk it assumes; it is heartening to see that great players tend to remain great players throughout their careers, but i’m more worried about the reds’ overall ability to continue to spend. i hope they can, because cincinati has a nice park, a great history, and good fans who deserve a championship-calibre team.

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      • Jake Albrecht says:

        If you’re investing that much money in a guy who actually brings elite level WAR than it’s worth it no matter what percentage of your payroll he eats up. The fact is the amount of spots on the field is fungible so if you have a 7 WAR player at 1st and 1 WAR player at SS that’s better than another team having 3.5 WAR players at each position. It’s better to have the elite player and then try to find ways to get 2-3 WAR players to surround him. Rather than a team of 3 WAR players who you’re constantly replacing. That’s just my opinion. I realize the majority thinks it’s better to spread risk out.

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      • soupman says:

        but isn’t the original a-rod mega-contract the exact reason that’s not necessarily true? all he did was dominate, but the Rangers ended up being hamstrung by that (and other stupid decisions they made).

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      • ek1987 says:

        That’s true. The reds just aren’t in a market where you can perdict their payroll to increase at a very high rate over the next decade. 8 years from now, Votto could prevent them from making moves to be competative in the next season. Though i’m sure quite a few accountants thought this out.

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      • WY says:

        “The fact is the amount of spots on the field is fungible…”

        That does not make any sense.

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    • Dave, why are you again treating this as a twelve year deal instead of a ten year deal attached to a two year deal. Shouldn’t you be looking at all the above players’ 30-39 seasons?

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    • Psst says:

      I am somewhat surprised to no see Helton on the comps list.

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      • Kyle K. says:

        The agreed-upon FanGraphs party line is that Helton’s contract was a bad one (even though that’s not true), but Dave wanted to make Votto’s contract sound like a good idea which prevented him from bringing up Helton. It’s how things tend to work around here.

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      • Kyle K. says:

        By which I mean most of the writers come up with the conclusion they want to draw first, then selectively pick and choose supporting facts/information which help their case while ignoring facts/information that hurts it. Just to be clear.

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      • jrogers says:

        That’s a pretty strong charge, Kyle. Maybe you can show some evidence of it elsewhere, but in this column Dave explicitly states the criteria (“every first baseman in history who had at least 2,000 plate appearances and a wRC+ between 142 to 161 from ages 24-27″).

        Weighting by plate appearances, it looks to me like Helton’s overall wRC+ for those four seasons was 140.

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  2. TK says:

    Great article. It seems to me that first basemen are the best bets for long term deals. Just look at the ability to stay on the field comparing first basemen and second basemen. A guy like Votto is a 90% chance to get 5000 PAs or more over the 10 year extension.

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  3. byron says:

    Quick, at work look: 5 of those 9 players spent the majority of their careers in the AL, though I honestly don’t know if a couple predate the DH. 3 more split it: McGriff bounced back and forth, Will Clark moved to the AL for his later, less agile years, and Eddie Murray went to the NL for the end. Bagwell was, at a glance, the only one without the DH available for his whole career.

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    • mcbrown says:

      Greenberg and Heilmann predated the DH entirely. Killebrew overlapped for the last 3 years of his career (age 37-39), but he only accumulated 0.7 WAR over that period, so essentially all of his post-28 production came without benefit of the DH.

      So it’s actually 4 of the 9 who are comparable in that sense. And, small sample size issues noted, the three top performers from the list (Bagwell, Killebrew and Heilmann) did not benefit materially from the DH.

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    • Psst says:

      There is a better than 25% chance the DH is implemented in the next 5 years IMO

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  4. Todd Helton is a good example in recent years of a first baseman who stayed on the field and produced starter level production. Reds fans would hope for more for sure, but there are a lot of 38 year olds who have aged much worse than Helton.

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  5. west says:

    How’s your Harry Heilmann?

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  6. Ameer says:

    I think the complaint about the contract is that it was unnecessary. Votto is not a free agent and there was no other competition yet. Why throw 12 years his way? From a fan’s standpoint, I have no problem seeing mlb teams putting money in players’ hands instead of owners’ pockets. But from the standpoint of the Reds organization, I don’t understand this deal at all.

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    • philosofool says:

      The problem with “putting money in players’ hands instead of owners’ pockets” from a fans perspective is that the owner will always get his share. It’s not like the budget for 2014 and beyond expands when you add a player like this, instead, you just spent a bunch of money in 2014 and beyond, some of which you don’t even have a budget for yet.

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    • adohaj says:

      I agree. How much would his price gone up had he posted another 6 win season? Probably not that much.

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      • joser says:

        And if we’re speculating about Votto being fit only to DH in 2020+ there are all sorts of possibilities. The Reds could trade him to an AL team (while eating some of the contract). Or the NL might have adopted the DH by then (since the undead robo-Selig will still be in charge, that may be the least of the changes at that point.)

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      • JayT says:

        If Votto put up another two 6 win seasons, the baseline for his next contract would have been Pujols’ contract, but with the way salaries are increasing, I wouldn’t be surprised if he weren’t able to get 10 years/$300 million.
        Basically, the Reds took on two years of risk to save$25-$75 million over the ten year span his next contract covers.

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      • Chris says:

        1. The Reds are in a good position to cut a deal with Votto. They’ve done everything they can to win. In November 2013, things may look different.

        2. The Reds, like everyone else, saw the Dodgers sale price the other day. The market is about to be flooded with cash. I would not have been surprised if LA offered Votto $235/8 or something.

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  7. Kyle says:

    How much will the extreme inflation in player contracts affect this I wonder

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  8. philosofool says:

    I still think that the contract is player friendly. It seems to me like the Reds should have been able to get him to sign to a shorter contract with similar annual payments, thereby taking on less risk and still getting him in his prime.

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  9. Rob says:

    Todd Helton just misses the mark, but I believe his 24-27 saw him hit .336/.419/.627 with a 140 wRC+, .435 wOBA and 22.9 WAR. His 28-39 has 2 years left and he is sitting at 38.8 WAR over the period.

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  10. “If Votto racks up another +40 WAR before he retires, I’m fairly certain the Reds will look back on this contract with fondness, and they’ll be glad they kept a Hall-of-Fame player wearing a Cincinnati uniform for his entire career.”

    Not if he racks up 15 of those wins in the next two years, when he was already under contract.

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    • nuflattop says:

      Agreed. They have added ten years of decline from a player coming off of a down year (for him)

      I love the sentiment of this deal and I love one-team guys, but 12 years is an insane investment in an athlete’s body.

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      • Angelsjunky says:

        This is just wrong – 2011 was not a “down year (for him)”. He had a 6.9 WAR, second best of his career after 2010′s 7.3. He hit .309/.416/.531 compared to his career line of .313/.405/.550. The only thing “down” about last year was that he hit a few less HR than the year before.

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  11. Ignorant Tool says:

    A 38 yr old Votto might be a shell of his former self but he may be closing in on some vaunted records at that point. In other words, sabremetrics be damned, soon-to-be HOFer Votto is filling the seats and as a result the Reds’ pockets.

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    • Kyle says:

      if only research didn’t indicate that one player has little to no effect on attendance. Ya ignorant tool!

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      • David says:

        But individual players DO have a dramatic impact on marketing and merchandise sales. If Votto is closing in on some sort of hallowed records, as Ignorant Tool suggests, that would still drive jersey sales and other merchandise, perhaps justifying the steep price tag.

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      • Benjamin says:

        but, what does that research indicate in the cases of bonds and mcgwire?

        i think ignorant tool (great name!) brings up an interesting point; not a scenario that the reds can really lean on, but it’s at least plausible. either way, it’d be interesting to see a data set isolated to record chasers vs. attendance…

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      • Caleb W says:

        And, IIRC, merchandise sales revenue is shared across the league.

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  12. Bob says:

    Excellent bit of research, Dave.

    I wonder one thing, though, that cannot be researched: Could the Reds have inked Votto for, say, $2M less per year?

    In that regard, it reminds me a little of Molina’s recent extension with the Cardinals; it just *feels* like a slightly smaller AAV would have been acceptable to the player & his agent…but that the club wanted to, well, flatter the face of the franchise with a rather “generous” contract, thereby generating goodwill.

    Am I crazy to think that way?

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    • Okra says:

      I agree with this 100%. Would Votto and his agent really have laughed at 10yrs-$200MM or 9yrs-$190MM? Yes, Votto could argue that the Dodgers will be ready to give him a Pujols deal, but Votto has to wait two years to hit free agency. Plus, by that time the Dodgers may have given Kershaw and a different FA (Greinke?) big contracts and not be able to afford Votto as well. Just seems like the Reds could have reasonably held their ground a little more and saved $25-35MM.

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      • JayT says:

        I think the question then becomes, do you want to risk insulting the player and losing any chance of coming to an agreement over $2.5 million per year?

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      • AA says:

        At this point, the Dodgers can now afford to spend like the Yankees, so I don’t see that being an issue.

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      • Chris says:

        I really don’t understand this assumption that a player “would have” signed for less. What’s it based on? Do you think the Reds really didn’t negotiate with him? Do you think Votto and his agent really wouldn’t have missed $25-35M over the life of the contract?

        By all accounts, Votto wanted to test the free agent waters. It stands to reason that it took a market or market-plus offer to change his mind.

        At the very least, this is the price that it took for Votto to sign TODAY. As in, before November 2012.

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  13. Terence says:

    Which firstbasemen have wRC+ of 162+ in ages 24-27? Pujols? Thomas?

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  14. Dan in Philly says:

    Given the size of this contract and the purchase price of the Dodgers, I think it’s far to speculate the owners know something we do not in terms of upcoming cash streams.

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    • Frankie says:

      Completely agree with this. And Reds beat guys are saying they’ve basically heard as much from the team.

      The deal can and should be evaluated with the financial knowledge we all currently have, but it’s also very possible that 5 years from now this deal looks a LOT different, regardless of how Votto performs.

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  15. Clutheran says:

    Does Greenburg’s time missed for WWII affect the calculations at all? He missed 1942-1944 completely and 97 total games between 1941 and 1945 (of which 78 were played in 1945 at a wRC+171 clip). He bookended the absence with a wRC+169 (’40) and wRC+167 (’46). Those lost years, more likely than not, would have produced some monster numbers.

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  16. Frank says:

    Using Hank Greenberg was a bit wonky considering how he lost a substantial amount of his productive playing career to World War 2. Considering that just makes the pool of players age that much more gracefully.

    I do have to agree that barring anything unfortunate the Reds will walk away from this deal happy.

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  17. Sandy Kazmir says:

    Here’s my take on a slightly optimistic view and the second shows a breakeven. Lot’s of assumptions here, but if he’s worth around 36 WAR then it’s pretty close to break even. Can he put up 36 WAR over 12 years? I think that’s pretty reasonable:

    http://i273.photobucket.com/albums/jj216/SayHeyRays/VottoContract.png

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    • The problem is that it is not a 12 year deal. He was already signed for the next two years. The deal that needs to be analyzed is the 10 year 225.5 million dollar extension. If, as in your 36 WAR scenario, 9.5 wins come int he first two years, before the extension even kicks in, then this new contract will be terrible for the Reds.

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      • Sandy Kazmir says:

        I read that the first three times you mentioned it, perhaps you should take up some other lame argument for everyone to ignore.

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      • Ha, it’s not a lame argument at all. I just don’t get way everyone is ignoring it int heir projections. When the Phillies extended Ryan Howard in 2010 for the 2012-2016 seasons no one called it a 7 year deal, because it wasn’t. It was a fiver year extension on a deal with two years left.

        This deal should be treated the same way. If I am missing something important, please explain what it is and WHY I am wrong instead of calling my thoughts lame for apparently no good reason.

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      • Joebrady says:

        It ruins the entire article if you need to examine only the extension. It’s like giving Longoria a one-year $50M extension, and saying it was a good deal because it is $90M over 6 years.

        Obviously, the second contract can only be evaluated on it’s own merits. Cameron is a really good writer, but I think he booted the ball on this one.

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      • jim says:

        boom, roasted

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      • What if Votto puts up 16 WAR over the next two years, though, then the Reds had to pay him $290 million for the following10 years.? The player was under contract for 2 years, now he’s under contract for 12 years. The decision has been made, to have him as a Red for 12 years. This article is about those 12 years. There were other articles about whether they should have extended him.

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      • Krog says:

        The article is not whether the Reds should have signed Votto to a 10 year deal with 2 years remaining on his current contract. The article is about whether Votto will be able to produce enough to justify the contract he is signed for. Therefore you look at all 12 years he is under contract.

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      • Uncle Remus says:

        What if they didnt extend him and waited for his free agency? If Votto plays 2 monster years chances are he signs for more money, say, if the team suddenly sucks, or maybe the Reds don’t get to keep him at all!

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  18. noseeum says:

    I think it’s pretty clear the owners think there’s some pretty significant inflation going on. The only rational reason for the Reds to do this is that they expected the cost to be significantly higher two years from now. And maybe they’re right.

    Interesting, considering the new labor agreement. Maybe we’ll see a lot more teams creeping closer to the cap than previously?

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    • JayT says:

      Well, now that teams can’t spend as much on the draft it would seem to follow that they will be putting more resources towards free agents. That will be the only way to use money to improve their teams.

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  19. Michael F says:

    I think it’s a fairly solid deal, considering the position the Reds were in.

    The Yankees are the only team in baseball that can afford to wait until expiration to look into extending people because they can always be the highest bidder if they so desire. Teams like the Reds (or Rockies, for a comparable) can’t do that.

    A lot of things are going to change by the time Votto is 39, but for now it seems like the Reds locked up the runaway top first baseman in the National League long term. It’s a huge positional advantage they’ve gained over their peers, even if it was costly.

    This can be a frowned upon practice, but magnitude makes it helpful here. You can replace the 3.5 WAR second baseman by revamping your bullpen and getting a cheapish new guy to play the spot, but it’s a lot harder to fine-tune the rest of your team to cover losing a 6.5 WAR Joey Votto, especially since first base WAR are beginning to come at a premium to National Leaguers. If you’re on an absolute shoe-string budget you can perhaps fix up the rest of your team to cover the wholes, but it greatly limits your ability to make those changes in the future, obviously; you can’t improve your bullpen or outfield to infinity.

    It was costly but I think worthwhile. Perhaps Votto has lingering depression issues, but the Reds are a terrific organization for helping people out with non-physical ailments and I don’t expect that to blow up his value as a result. Beyond that, he’s got a strong glove and an ideal body-type. It’s not like giving Prince Fielder boffo money.

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    • Joebrady says:

      Yes, it is exactly like giving him the Fielder contract. Fielder gets paid $23.8 per while Votto gets paid $22.5 per. Votto is in better shape, but his contract ends with Votto 2 years older. Assuming Votto is average at best at age 38-39, Fielder figures to out-produce over the course of the contract.

      A 9 year contract between ages 28-37 is a world of difference between a 10-year contract ages 29.5-39.5. Fielder’s contract probably captures 4 prime years and -0- donut years. Votto’s contract probably captures maybe 2 prime years and 2 donut years. You’re losing on both sides.

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      • JayT says:

        Votto is coming from a higher peak though. I don’t think anybody would disagree that Votto is the superior player.

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      • Ian says:

        Exactly. Tigers bought Prince’s 28-36 seasons for $11M total less than the Reds bought Votto’s 30-39 seasons. But somehow the Tigers’ deal was brutal, but the Reds deal was great?

        I’d prefer Votto over Fielder too right now – probably a 6.5 win player vs. a 5.5 win player, but don’t we expect Votto to be a 5.5 win player in two seasons? Don’t we expect that they’re starting at virtually the exact same WAR place when these huge deals kick in (Fielder now, Votto in 2014)? Even if Votto is 5.5 WAR v. 5 WAR for Prince (which Cameron used in his article on the Fielder deal), the Tigers still got the guy who is two years younger for $11M less, and for one fewer season.

        I don’t even like the Fielder contract as a Tigers fan, but am shocked at all the talk that this is some kind of reasonable contract for the Reds…to me, it looks identical to the one that the Tigers signed Fielder to, one which Cameron says the Tigers vastly overpaid for (“vastly overpay” was the quote in Cameron’s article).

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      • Jon L. says:

        Right or wrong, I think people are projecting Votto’s more athletic physique to age better than Fielder’s very heavy one. Right, I would think.

        Heck, Cecil Fielder (who was more productive in his age-26 season than Prince has been, in any season) was never really above average past age 28. I know that doesn’t prove anything, but it’s hard to come up with comparables for Prince’s body type. Babe Ruth wasn’t big like that until near the end of his career, and even Big Papi doesn’t seem to be quite so… broad.

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      • Ian says:

        But hasn’t Prince already clearly aged better than his father? Not to mention that he has a much better approach at the plate – ability to draw walks ages awfully well, and Prince has been much healthier than Votto over their careers thus far.

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      • Chris says:

        “Prince has been much healthier than Votto over their careers thus far.”

        Where do we get that? Votto’s games played: 151, 131, 150, 161.
        The one low point was the year he had depression after his dad’s death. That’s an event that’s unlikely to repeat.

        The Prince has been very durable – 157+ games every year. So yeah, he plays more. But “much healthier?” Votto misses about 5 games a year (excluding 2009). Fielder misses 2.

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    • Jon L. says:

      This is a really good point about teams needing to lock players up before they hit the open market. With star first basemen past and present getting huge multi-year contracts – Pujols and Fielder, A. Gonzales and Teixiera – the Reds would have put themselves in a really bad position if they let Votto get close to free agency, and then found themselves in a bidding war over their franchise player with teams from New York and L.A.

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  20. Joebrady says:

    Instead of looking at historical players, or WAR, or $/WAR, concern yourself with only one stat.

    How many of the top 50-60 wRC+ players are over 33? Not even over 35, just over 33? I think I counted 2 that were 34 as of 6/30/11, and maybe 3 that were 35.

    How many 1B? Konerko was 35, Pena 33, and everyone else quite a bit younger.

    Is there another conclusion that you can reach besides 33 is old for a hitter?

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    • bstar says:

      Yeah, that’s old for a hitter. What was your point beside that?

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    • Psst says:

      If you drop the arbitrary numbers to 400 PA and the Arbitrary age to 32 last year you have more than 1/4 of the top 100 hitters by wRC+

      Berkman
      Ortiz
      Beltran
      Konerko
      Beltre
      Aramis
      VMart
      Young
      Youk
      Arod
      Cuddyer
      Howard
      Helton
      Willingham
      Pena
      Utley
      Carlos Lee
      Scutaro
      Damon
      Hunter
      Derek Lee
      Rollins
      Jeter
      Abreu
      Carroll

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      • Joebrady says:

        But the idea is that older players play less often. I’m a RS fan. I love Youk. But Youk doesn’t play as often as some of the younger, healthier guys. The RS have had some bad luck irt injuries. But you can’t have an older squad and not expect more injuries. If you’re paying a guy to be the best in the league, he can’t be the best in the league over just 400 PAs.

        And dropping the age to 32 just slices the contract differently. You saying he has a good likelihood to be good for 2 years, and not so good for 7 years.

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  21. nuflattop says:

    … and Zito, Soriano and Helton slept easy that night, knowing that within a mere decade they would no longer be the historical standard for albatross contracts once Votto, A-Rod and Pujols come due.

    What world is this?!

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    • Psst says:

      Helton wasn’t even the worst contract the Rockie signed that Offseason, it was barely top 3.

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    • Paul says:

      Seriously Helton seems waaaay underrated by everyone

      If Votto puts up 40WAR in the next 10 years (which is what is hoped), then he would have basically just done what Helton already did

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  22. Tim says:

    you forget that FG=anything Tigers do is bad…..

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  23. Antonio Bananas says:

    All this dh talk might not be necessary. It’s somewhat likely that the NL could have the DH by the time he gets that old right?

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  24. NBH says:

    I don’t understand why Miggy and Prince are included in the sample table and Pujols is not. Pujols has the required 2000 PA and wRC+ during his 24-27 years.

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    • NBH says:

      Ah – I think it’s because his wRC+ was BETTER than the requirement (i.e. Pujols is not a good comp for Votto because he was much better during his 24-27 years).

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  25. votto's secret gay friend says:

    So you’re saying this deal is a bad one for the Reds?

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  26. miffleball says:

    at $5 million/win, 40 wins over the course of the contract would mean the contract is an overpay

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  27. fatguy34 says:

    Dave, are we using the highly scientific method of $5MM per win and .5 WAR decline per year for aging?????!!!!!

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  28. bSpittle says:

    I’d probably mention Don Mattingly’s injuries.
    I’d say he’s close to the best in that group, pre-injury

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    • Hal says:

      Mattingly’s back injury works both ways here. It reminds us that he would have produced better numbers as he aged, supporting Dave’s idea that Votto’s compares were quite productive in their 30s, yet it is also a reminder of how injuries can rob a player of his great skills and do so quickly.

      That’s the real danger when locking up a player for twelve years.

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  29. maqman says:

    Baseball team values and income streams are clearly increasing, owners get it. They also know draft picks will eat less than previous years. The number of elite level players can not be expected to increase proportionally. Therefore their cost levels will increase, as will WAR values (even in constant dollars, however inflation will have a significant impact over decade long time spans). Does anyone doubt that the first $300MM/10year contract is in the near future. The value attached now to team control of young players further confirms that elite free agent costs are expected to rise substantially in coming years.

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  30. eliasll says:

    Do you expect his performance to drop now that he has that contract? There are lots of negative rumors regarding his attitude…
    If not, I think talent-wise he is a potential HOF and worth the contract.
    In terms of present value the later years are not as important, many will understand this is not a $225million deal but a $125million investment.

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    • mdccclxix says:

      Votto should have the NL 1b All Star position to himself for a good number of years. Right now the competition is very thin – Morse, Lee, Sanchez, injured Howard, etc.

      Of course the ASG means nothing to folks here, and may mean less to HoF voters later, but I have to figure that the big contract and future ASG starting gigs will be helpful to Votto’s and the Reds’ marketing profile.

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    • gweedoh565 says:

      “There are lots of negative rumors regarding his attitude…”

      Care to elaborate?

      He’s introspective and somewhat introverted, and so can come off in the media as cold… I suppose that could be what you are referring to. I wouldn’t expect him to start slacking: his work habits are reportedly off-the-charts. Case in point: improving his defense from liability/DH level in the minors to earning a Gold Glove* (7.4 UZR) last year.

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  31. Hurtlockertwo says:

    I think this, and other very long term contracts, are more about staying healthy than if the player tanks. Votto should give the Reds some very good years unless he snaps his back and becomes Mattingly.

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  32. Mike Green says:

    There are a number of good points in the comments here. I would have used a tighter boundary (Greenberg and Heilmann don’t really add anything to the discussion for a variety of reasons). Killebrew is a bit awkward because he was mostly a left-fielder and third baseman up to age 28. Bagwell has some issues because his age 24 season was in 1992, and (in hindsight) one would probably not attach too much weight to it in projecting future performance. Clark, Murray and McGriff probably give you a good idea of what to anticipate with Clark being the reasonably probable low end of durability and Murray being the top end.

    If Votto performs as these three did after age 30, the contract will indeed be very poor for the Reds unless salaries inflate very significantly over the contract life. Predicting where salaries will be 8 years from now generally seems to me to be well nigh impossible.

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  33. mdccclxix says:

    I think Votto ends up a lot like McGriff, a dependable .290/.370/.475 guy at the end. Unless Votto raises his power profile, I don’t expect but one or two more 1.000 OPS seasons from him during his peak and I’m not sure he will even hit 40 hr in a season. Half his HR are opposite field and those typically get lofted in the first section, those are the one’s I’m figuring on disappearing by 34 years old. That said, I imagine him adjusting to his age/health/ability situation well and *making the most of things* late in his career as he always has (see: mega contract extension from small market team, 4/2/12).

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  34. Mike Green says:

    .290/.370/.475 for a first baseman means something different in the offensive environment of today from the late 90s/early 00s when McGriff was in his 30s. McGriff had two 4 WAR years after age 29 and his typical year was in the 1.5-2.5 range. Will Clark was similar, although less durable. Eddie Murray was also similar (with one very good year in 1990 at age 34). If you look at it that Votto is likely to have 2 4-5 WAR seasons from age 30 on and a bunch of 1.5-3 WAR seasons, you have a fair expectation.

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  35. Angelsjunky says:

    Votto reminds me most of Bagwell, although with a bit less power and a bit higher average. Bagwell did age rather young and quickly, at least for elite players who seem to be able to eek out strong value into their late 30s. Bagwell was done as a superstar at age 32 or 33, and declined rapidly after, with his last full season being at age 36 with a respectable 3.7 WAR. If Votto follows a similar pattern of aging then he’ll obviously man it out for a few more years to at least make it through the contract, but those last few years could get ugly, or at least not-pretty.

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  36. Tim says:

    Really interesting stuff here. I do disagree with the statement that it’s not possible to see a scenario where the contract is good in 2021-2023. It’s certainly not likely, but that is more likely to depend on what the baseball economy looks like 10 years from now, which is exceptionally hard to predict. In 1990, I think it’s fair to say that no one was anticipating that one player could get a $252 million contract — I mean, the highest paid player at the start of the 1990 calendar year was making $3.25 million (and it was Mark Davis — as good an argument against signing expensive free agents solely because they were expensive free agents as has ever existed). By the end of that season, it’d jumped nearly 50% to 4.7 million.

    The possibility of the contract being “worth it” in those years is going to depend far more on the direction the baseball economy goes ($/WAR) than on whether Canada’s health care system can work its Matt Stairs-ian magic on Joey Votto.

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  37. Monroe says:

    When 25% of the commitment is taken for granted as being a loss before it even starts, I’d say that’s a pretty awful deal … it would be one thing if the Reds front office showed any degree of competence, but their recent investments and decisions (extending Arroyo and Rolen, throwing 30 million at Chapman then promptly mismanaging him, keeping Dusty Baker, etc) suggest that their ability to build a lasting core around Votto is highly suspect.

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    • Chris says:

      Good point. They should’ve done something smart like sign Ryan Madson for $8M. Or trade some blocked players for Mat Latos. Or grab Sean Marshall for some B prospects.

      Those would be smart moves.

      (Nobody can defend the Arroyo extension, though).

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  38. Tex Pantego says:

    28 to 39 doesn’t really say all that much. It’s ages 32 to 39 where things tend to go off the rails for players. If you skip the ‘roods era, you’re basically talking about Gehrig and Mays as the only power hitters that kept their production going past 32 for any length of time.

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