Star vs SuperStar: Do Reds Votto & Bruce Measure Up?

Miguel CabreraPsychologically for most of us, Labor Day marked the end of summer, it’s very last day in our collective minds. But for baseball fans, true lovers of the game, it is a time of new beginnings and baseball at its best when the races heat up and this year, with oh so many teams still in the mix with not only division champs qualifying for the postseason, but two Wild Cards in each league qualifying as well. 

This too is a time when baseball junkies keep an eye on individual races and there is so much to be decided when it comes to individual races, adding even more excitement to these grand times for fans of Abner Doubleday’s brainchild that became America’s pastime.

The high-tech world is an interesting one, not only because we can keep up with up to the minute happenings of our beloved game, but emails are fired around the country like Rozzi fireworks in Cincinnati on Labor Day Weekend.

As part of a group of peers on the Internet generated out of Boston, one of the few who was not pissy about the fate of the 2012 Red Sox shot me a message with some stats pointing out our own Reds right fielder and NL All-Star Jay Bruce was one of only two players in baseball who currently has reached the plateau of 30 homers, 30 doubles and 90 RBIs to date, along with Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera.

I had been saving this column idea for a little later, one that included discussing individual award winners, the traditional arguments over Cy Young, MVP and the rest of the honors that come with hardware, waiting until the most prized hardware was doled out and lifted at the conclusion of the World Series.

With many individual cases still yet to be made among the leading candidates, I did however want to branch out a bit with that subject still very much in mind.

It is no secret that in Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, the Reds have one of the premier slugging tandems in baseball. We may not be talking the likes of the Tigers’ Cabrera and Prince Fielder for example, but stars, one already established and one certainly in the making.

Before getting into it, although there are so many LA Angels rookie Mike Trout for American League MVP bandwagon, I have to say, not so fast. Cabrera is second in the AL in hitting (.330) three points behind Trout, has hit 35 homers, is second in the league with 116 RBIs, second in hits, fourth in runs, third in on base percentage and tops in the league in slugging.

Stay with me here. This is not a columnist trying to sell you on Cabrera as the best hitter in the game, but, well, I think he is.

But it begs the question as to just what does it take to go from star to super star, the game’s elite?

It is about consistency and longevity, the year after year monster numbers and Cabrera and Albert Pujols jump to mind faster than anyone.

And while Votto has put up some serious numbers in his young career and Bruce appears to be blossoming into a real star, lets take a look at just what it takes to get a key to the executive washroom.

Beginning in 2004 when he became a regular with the Marlins, only after helping them win the World Series the season before, Cabrera has hit 30-plus homers every season since including this season but one. He can be forgiven hitting 26 one year as he hit .339 that season. He has never driven in less than 103 runs in that span and has six ..300 seasons and has never hit below .292! His career batting average is .317 and will rise after this campaign.

Pujols is yet another prime example of continued greatness, he too a measuring stick for all would be superstars. A regular with the Cardinals in 2001, he is the only player in history to hit 30 homers and drive in 100 runs and hit .300 his first 10 seasons.

His “off year” came in 2011 when he hit .299 and drove in 99. One more homer this season and he will be the only player in history to hit 30 homers in his first 12 seasons. He has never hit less than 32 homers as a regular. Just saying. Currently his numbers on this so-called off-season while adjusting to a new league in LA are right there (.288-29-92).

Does Votto have what it takes? Does Bruce have what it takes? Don’t know, but those numbers are what it takes to be counted among the game’s elite. A World Series ring, something both Cabrera and Pujols have, would certainly help.

While on individual awards, although Reds ace Johnny Queto has been the NL Cy Young front-runner for some time now, being a realist, the front-runner is currently the New York Mets’ A.J. Dickey. Oh the final ballots are not counted yet, but for the sake of argument Queto’s case is strong. He leads the NL in ERA (2.58), is 17-7 and is fourth in the league in innings.

However Dickey’s case is even more solid considering he plays for a lower caliber team and has equal eye-popping stats. He is 18-4, second in the NL in ERA at 2.64 and second in innings. But to bolster his case, he leads the NL with five complete games (5) and is third in strikeouts.

Then of course there is the David Price, Jered Weaver Cy Young debate … you get the picture, but the main thing is the Reds are in line for both individual awards … Todd Frazier for NL Rookie of the Year and Ryan Ludwick Comeback Player … and the big prize as a team.