Depending on who you ask, Joey Votto either had an excellent individual season in 2013, or he had a mildly underachieving one.
As a wise man once said, the numbers don't lie, but the numbers also strangely provide justification for folks to either criticize Votto or praise him.
Those who choose to praise Votto will most likely point toward his league-leading 135 walks and .435 on-base percentage, as well as his ability to rebound from knee surgery to play in all 162 regular season games.
However, those who choose to bash him will probably reference the decline across the board in his power numbers. Namely, the fact that he drove in just 73 runs, and recorded the lowest single-season slugging percentage (.491) of his seven-year career.
So, where does that leave us in our honest attempt to assess Votto's season? Truthfully, the realistic assessment is probably somewhere in the middle.
The Canadian's knack for getting on base and avoiding outs has become legendary. Votto has led the National League in on-base percentage four years running, and that fact alone has left most of the baseball world in awe, however the feat hasn't come without a price.
The 30-year-old has posted a noticeable decline in power since his magical 2010 MVP run. After smashing 37 home runs in 547 at-bats in 2010, Votto has smacked just 38 combined over the past two seasons, which equates to approximately 961 at-bats. Aside from the long ball, Votto has also lacked the ability to drive in runs on a consistent basis, which most critics attribute to his keen eye at the plate.
Defensively, this past season was not a good one for Votto, and unlike his hitting approach, that isn't debatable. The Gold Glove first basemen committed a career-worst 14 errors for a fielding percentage of .990 in '13. For the record, he committed just 17 errors in the three seasons combined before this last one. So, it's safe to assume Votto won't be winning his second Gold Glove this winter.
All in all, it's hard to realistically look at the numbers Votto produced and dub the season as a sub-par one. Sure, it may have been slightly below average by Votto's standard, but the fact remains that there are hundreds of major league players who would love to record the kind of individual campaign as Votto did.
With that being said, Votto did fall a bit short of preseason expectations, and that is precisely why I gave him the grade that he received. Nonetheless, it was a good season.
Season Grade: B+
Feel free to chime in with your thoughts in the comment section below.
Be looking for more individual player grades as the offseason continues.