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In the realm of fantasy baseball, we often attach ourselves to certain players. In my case it is Nick Markakis and Adam Dunn. Recently, Cincinnati 1B Joey Votto has begun to win my heart. Ironically, Adam Dunn leaving the Reds opened the door for a new Cincinnati player to win my affection. Lets just call it a coincidence.
The Canadian-born, slugging lefty first came into our lives at the end of the 2007 season ans continued his stint into his rookie year in 2008. Despite having to battle Scott Hatteberg for the 1B job (seriously Dusty Baker?), Votto made a real case for NL Rookie of the Year with 24 HR and 84 RBI while batting .297 (he finished 2nd behind Chicago’s Geovany Soto).
In the Sports of Boston baseball league, I drafted Votto ahead of his preseason rank. Taking him in Round 5 seemed like a stretch at the time, but I know what the man is capable of.
Votto’s power and average are legitimate as evident by his minor league track record. In 2006 with AA Chatanooga, Votto hit .319 with 22 HR and 77 RBI. Also of note were his 24 SB. Yeah, Votto has some wheels on him. In 2007 with AAA Louisville, he hit .294 with 22 HR, 92 RBI, and 17 SB. So far in the Majors, Votto has not flashed his base stealing tendencies. If Dusty Baker ever allows him to run, then we could see 30 HR power and 10-12 SB from Votto.
Now here we are in 2009 and Votto is already off to a scorching hot start. In three games, he has 2 HR and 7 RBI. No, I am not stupid, I know this won’t happen every game. What I do know is that we have a power hitting lefty batting third in a young and potent Cincinnati lineup and for the first time in his young career, has a guaranteed starting job. Also encouraging was Votto’s growth in the 2nd half of last season. He batted .321 after the break with 11 HR. This included a stellar .382 July and a September that saw him hit 9 HR.
Experts agree that Votto is poised for a step forward. Bill James projects that Votto is in store for a .307/30/102 season. My hero Ron Shandler predicted in his annual Baseball Forecaster that Votto may not hit the 30 HR plateau in 2009, but he will hit over .300 with over 100 RBI.
I know a huge debate before the season started was which young 1B to draft in 2009: Joey Votto or Texas’ Chris Davis. I was with Votto all the way since he bats third in his lineup while I knew that Davis, although immensely talented, would be pushed to the bottom of a Rangers’ order that has an excess of offensive talent. As it stands now, Davis is batting 7th and has yet to record a hit this season.
So I welcome Joey Votto to my man crush family and invite all of you to do the same. We all know the kid is talented, but I feel that he takes a big leap forward this season and as a result, will move up on draft boards for 2010.