Fantasy Baseball: Joey Votto vs. Adrian Gonzalez

by Tim Heaney and Matt Trueblood on March 25, 2010 @ 03:36:55 PDT


Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

Tim Heaney

Votto's fantasy baseball player profile

  • Votto, who turns 27 in September, has an elite growing profile with his bat: He improved his batting eye (0.66) and flyball rate (39.3 percent). His walk rate climbed as the season wound down, too. Votto sustained a high HR/FB (17.5 last year, 18.5 in '08) as his flyballs leapt, too. Unlike Adrian Gonzalez, Votto excels against both righties and lefties. Votto's BABIP was high, but his typically high line-drive rates should help keep that at formidable levels. His home park should cultivate his homer growth.
  • Cincinnati Reds 1B Joey Votto
    Deserving of your Votto?
    Votto's season was limited to 469 at-bats because of dizziness and headaches caused by an ear infection, as well as depression over the death of his father. His emotional state aside, the ear infection certainly affected his in-game equilibrium at times. After his return to action in July, head clear and infection cured, he hit 16 homers in 315 at-bats.
  • Yes, Adrian Gonzalez led the majors in walk rate last year. Know why? Not fully because of his talent - it's because of the "talent" surrounding him, his 22 intentional walks and likely countless unintentional free passes. Look at his discipline before last season. Are you willing to bet that he all of a sudden pulled everything together all on his own to double his batting eye ratio in one season? I'm not.
  • Want more? Look at A-Gon's HR/FB percentages in April (36.0) and May (33.3). That produced 20 dingers in the first two months on absurd fly rates. He wasn't so bad with 20 over the next four months, but his 40 homers, his main source of value, were fueled by a ridiculous hot streak. His percentages of homers on flyballs for the rest of the season: 14.8 in June, 13.8 in July, 17.6 in August and 18.8 in September. Still good numbers, but at less of an advantage than Votto's in the grand scheme.
  • Many are drafting A-Gon hoping for him to be traded to a better hitting environment; his home-road power splits are heavily skewed in favor of locales outside PETCO Park. First off, it's foolish to bank on a trade as a main reason for drafting what would be a core player. Second, the Pads have him under control until next season. They'd have to be wowed by an offer this year; they'd probably net a bigger return next season around the 2011 trade deadline.
Closing argument: I'm not saying A-Gon won't reach 30-plus dingers, but Votto's 30-homer pop will come with better peripherals than A-Gon's. You should trust Votto's natural plate skills more than you should Gonzalez's heavily ensemble-influenced walk rate. Gonzalez has shown he must use his road trips to accumulate homers; the guy who plays in the tater-friendly park gets my Votto.

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, San Diego Padres

Matt Trueblood

Gonzalez's fantasy baseball player profile

  • Whatever type of production an owner may prioritize at first base, everyone wants a guy who can go out and play every day. Over the last three seasons, Gonzalez has played 483 games, or all but three of those played by the Padres during that span. Joey Votto, meanwhile, played just 131 games last season, as he dealt with depression over the death of his father and an ear infection that caused dizziness. Neither of those are chronic injuries, but Gonzalez's exceptional durability is a distinct advantage.
  • San Diego Padres 1B Adrian Gonzalez
    Will he be A-Gon as much in 2010?
    Gonzalez's power has trended up for four years in a row, as his home run rate on flyballs reached a career-high 22.2 percent in 2009. Votto's rate fell from 18.5 percent to 17.5, despite his hitting more flyballs. In the second half, Votto was even worse, knocking just 13.9 percent of his flies out of the park in September and October. Gonzalez's power trended down in the second half, too, but not nearly as severely.
  • Votto's .373 batting average on balls in play last season is unsustainable, especially given his flyball rate. In fact, xBABIP (which takes into account batted-ball profile and speed of each player) suggests Votto should have been more in the neighborhood of .340 in that department. That suggests his .322 average last season will prove very difficult to repeat. Gonzalez, meanwhile, had an xBABIP almost 50 points higher than his .280 BABIP mark. Only nine batters in the major leagues had less fortunate splits last season. That could lead to an edge for Votto of only 10-15 points in the average department next season, hardly enough to cover the difference in their projected power.
  • Gonzalez clubbed 28 of his 40 home runs, and batted a robust .306, away from his cavernous home park in San Diego last season. That may seem to work against him, but with the Padres having already entertained trade offers for Gonzalez, one could well come to fruition. If that were to happen, Gonzalez could elevate himself to the next echelon of power-hitting first basemen, alongside Prince Fielder or Ryan Howard.
  • Despite Votto's own very strong plate discipline, Gonzalez is superior in that regard. In 2009, Gonzalez drew 45 more walks than he had the previous year and whiffed 33 fewer times. He ended up with an astounding 119 free passes. Votto still has not developed the same degree of patience. While Gonzalez walked 17.5 percent of the time in 2009, Votto notched a solid but not superb 12.9 percent. Votto also struck out 22.6 percent of the time.
Closing argument: With two players still very much in the prime of their respective careers - Gonzalez will turn 28 in May, Votto 27 in September - and who have such excellent profiles for prognosis, it is hard to go wrong. Because Gonzalez has four full Major League seasons under his belt, though, he provides a much larger foundation from which to project. Combine that with the superior consistency and durability he provides, and Gonzalez has a clear, if relatively small, edge over Votto.

KFFL staff verdict

Analyst Joey Votto Adrian Gonzalez
Nicholas Minnix X  
Tim Heaney X  
Bryce McRae X  
Cory J. Bonini X  
Keith Hernandez X  
Eric McClung X  
Matt Trueblood   X

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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