The Curious Case of Joey Votto

When building a team you are always looking for player whose card gives you “good value.” Good value is of course completely subjective and could mean different things depending on the stadium and specific meta you are building to.

But one player that caught my eye is Joey Votto. His Series One card has 15 OB for under 475 salary points. This makes him the cheapest 15 On-Base (OB) batter by 160 points, and in roster building terms 160 points is basically hitting the jackpot. However, is the rest of his card worth the salary and is he even rosterable?

On the surface Votto has a very good card. He initially checks a lot of boxes: high OB, only 4 outs, max defense at first base, positive clutch, and he is a lefty.

But then things get weird.

He has a 5-11 walk range and singles at 12-20. In the 2019 version of Clutch, not having a natural double isn’t the end of the world. But the biggest problem is having a singles/walk guy that has E (4) Speed. Sure he may get on a bunch, but with no doubles he isn’t going to drive in as many and he will “clog” up the base paths.

With Votto you have a cheap 15 OB guy who is a great defender and will get on base a ton. I think we can agree his card is a good value, but then what? What do you do with a guy who has 4 speed and where do you put him in your lineup?

Leadoff makes some sense. You could reduce the amount of times he could hit into a double play and have the two best hitters in your line up behind him to make it easier for him to score. He could act as protection to your power hitter in the 4th or 5th spot; if your opponent IBB’d the batter in front of him he would have 17 OB, which is scary no matter who you have on the mound.

I have Votto on my High Heat league team and initially I batted him second behind Jose Altuve, but after one too many auto double plays on a ground ball I swapped them in the order and that seemed to work better. He came up to bat a lot less with runners on when he hit right after the bottom part of my line up.

But even now after playing him there for almost twenty games it still doesn’t feel right. Like, am I missing something, or is he a good card without a spot in a line up?

And the thing is after a 16-game regular season and 15 games in the post season, he is putting up really good numbers for my team, with a .328/.461/.402 slash line, 30 walks, 35 singles, three doubles, two home runs, 29 runs, and 11 RBI. So it is pretty clear the card is “good,” but where does that “good make sense?

The other “problem” with his card is he doesn’t really fit into a stadium either. Cincinnati would have been the perfect park for him, but Votto is a lefty and the effect is for a righty. The only other stadiums that make him better are New York (A) and to a much lesser degree Chicago (N).

Looking at strategy cards there aren’t many that help make his card better either. On the one hand having no icons helps with his low salary, but on the other he doesn’t get any added bonuses.

Some strategy cards you might want to consider decking if you roster Votto are cards like Hit and Run, Chugga Chugga, Walk this Way, Airmailed It, Bush League, Sweet Spot, Thou Shall Not Pass, or The Wheelhouse.

Votto has a weird 2019 Clutch card. On the one hand it has great value, but on the other hand I don’t think there is an obvious way to use him. You just gotta get creative and hope it works out. I did that and he helped me win a championship, so hey, it might not be the worst plan.

What do you think of Votto’s card and what spot would you place him in your line up? Comment below.

Matt Slagle

A Clutch OG, Matt is the Manager of the World Champion San Diego Armada and host of the Clutch Baseball Podcast.
Matt Slagle

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