When Joey Votto takes the field today at Great American Ballpark for the Cincinnati Reds and assumes his usual position at first base, he will be making a little bit of history.
In doing so, the Toronto native will mark his 1,989th Major League game, eclipsing Larry Walker to become the all-time leader in games played by a Canadian player.
This is not the first time that Votto, 38, and Walker have been linked statistically. Votto has been chasing down records set by the Hall of Famer from Maple Ridge, B.C., ever since he entered in the league in 2007, which was two years after Walker’s career ended. Votto was the first Canadian MLB player since Walker to hit 300 homers and collect 1,000 RBI, and also joined the former Montreal Expo in the 2,000-hit club.
But while Walker still holds the edge in career hits (2,160 vs. 2,093) and homers (383 vs. 342), this made-in-Canada record is Votto’s alone. And if Votto has any say in the matter, whoever wants to displace him will have their work cut out.
Speaking during the recent “Field of Dreams Game” in Iowa, Votto was asked if 20 seasons was a mark he felt he could achieve. He said he he’d spoken to Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Sr. about that very subject.
“I was talking to Griffey Sr. before the game and I said, ‘I feel good.’ And he said, ‘You look good, keep going.’
“I’m having a great time,” said Votto, who is batting .214 but is leading the Reds in homers (11) and is in the top three on the team in hits, runs, walks, and on-base percentage. “I want to keep playing.”
If he does, it’s fun to imagine how far he could go. With 50 more games left this season for the Reds, Votto would still be outside of the top 200 amongst all-time leaders in games played.
His rookie season, when he played just 24 games, aside, Votto is averaging about 125 games a year. Another season like that and he’d tie Bill Mazeroski for 164th. Season 18 would put him ahead of Goose Goslin at 120th. If Votto were to play a 20th season, he would likely crack the top 50 list, where the only active players residing are the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera and the soon-to-retire Albert Pujols of the Cardinals.
And if he were to play until he was 43, like Griffey Sr. wished he had? Well, that could take Votto into the dizzying heights of the top 15, where names such as Beltre, Staub, and Bonds reside.
Either way, it would be a number the next Canadian player would not eclipse anytime soon.