Chicago Cubs: Comparing the National League Central’s first basemen

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Votto slowing down in a big way at the plate

It’s been known for most of this decade that Joey Votto was one of the most productive first basemen not only in the National League Central but in all of baseball. In seven of his 13 seasons in the big leagues, Votto has led all of baseball in on-base percentage.

He’s posted an OPS over 1.000 four times and in three of those seasons, he played 150 games or more. For his career he’s compiled a 58.5 fWAR. Sammy Sosa, arguably the Cubs greatest power hitter ever, finished his career with a 58.6 fWAR – but it took him 18 seasons, compared to Votto’s baker’s dozen. The last two seasons, however, Votto has started to show glaring signs of regression.

This season is his age 35 season and comes off a .284/.417/.419 slash line. That’s not so bad for someone who is trending down, but that slugging percentage was the lowest of his career. He’s only slugged under .500 three times. His 12 home runs in 2018 marked a new personal worst outside of 2014 when he only played 62 games due to injury.

Those trends have carried over into 2019. Votto’s slash line sits at a disappointing .206/.325/.338. It’s been a very slow start to the season for him, undoubtedly the worst we’ve ever seen. Yet, the Reds enter Tuesday just 4 1/2 games back of the NL Wild Card. Simply put, Votto is too great a player to play like this over 162 games.