Votto named a finalist for NL MVP Award

Votto named a finalist for NL MVP Award

CINCINNATI -- Reds first baseman Joey Votto performed and produced outside of the national spotlight as his club finished 2017 last place in the National League Central. That didn't mean Votto's special season went unnoticed.

On Monday, Votto was named a finalist for the NL Most Valuable Player Award along with Paul Goldschmidt of the D-backs and Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins. Voting was done at the end of the regular season by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

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"It's very exciting, and I'm honored to have been amongst the finalists," Votto said. "These are two guys that I have a great deal of respect for, and there are several guys that weren't amongst the finalists that I have a great deal of respect for, so just being in that conversation is meaningful to me."

If Votto is named the winner on Nov. 16, it would be his second NL MVP Award after he received the honor in 2010. Despite the Reds finishing with 94 losses, he wasn't stunned to have received respect from the voters.

"I feel like typically the voting done by the Baseball Writers' Association is the most objective, the most researched, and I think the points system helps," Votto said. "A lot of the other awards don't have that sort of system, so there's a reason why the Cy Young and the Most Valuable Player and the Managers of the Year, that those awards have quite a bit of history to them and they're very distinguished awards. And the players respect the people that win those awards because they know that they've passed a lot of tests to get that."

Votto, 34, had what he considered the best season of his 11-year Major League career. While starting all 162 games, he batted .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBIs, 106 runs and 7.5 wins above replacement. He led the NL in on-base percentage, OPS (1.032) and walks (134).

Votto named NL MVP finalist

Other feats accomplished during Votto's season included:

• He was the only player in the Majors to produce at least 26 homers and 100 RBIs while hitting at least .300 with an OBP of .400 and slugging .500.

• Votto reached base in 150 of his 162 games, including each of the final 32 games of the season. He also had on-base streaks of 27 and 29 games earlier in the year. In August, he tied an NL record when he reached safely at least twice in 20 straight games, one shy of Ted Williams' modern Major League record. Votto also led the Majors by reaching safely 321 times overall.

• Votto led the Majors with a walks-to-strikeouts ratio of 1.61, which was far ahead of Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner's second-best 1.05 and Angels outfielder Mike Trout's third-best ratio of 1.04.

• Besides Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, Votto became the only player in Major League history to produce at least 179 hits, 36 homers, 134 walks with 83 or fewer strikeouts in a season.

Votto felt that starting every game and playing for a non-contender added degrees of difficulty to his season, which helped make it better than what he achieved in 2010.

"Had I taken that time off and not played against certain starters, I think I would have had my best OPS or some of the other runs created-plus and some of those all-encompassing numbers, I think I would have done better," Votto said. "That's a give-and-take sort of thing. I think I gave that up to make sure I played every day."

Joey Votto flashes the leather

The season also included Votto's fifth NL All-Star selection and becoming an NL Gold Glove Award finalist at first base. That improvement was his proudest feat of 2017.

"That was my goal, to really get back on track as one of the best defensive players at my position in baseball," Votto said.

This marks the third time that Votto is an NL MVP finalist. He finished third in the 2015 vote. He came in seventh in '16. The BBWAA electorate consists of two voters in each of the 15 NL cities with points awarded to each player from first through 10th-place votes.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.