The 12-year, $251.5 million guarantee that the Reds have given first baseman Joey Votto through his age-39 season has baseball pundits divided. One one hand, Cincinnati is not a huge market, Votto's salary could take up a quarter of the club's expenditures without a payroll boost, and the Reds don't currently have a mega TV contract bringing in big bucks. On the other, Votto's best historical comps among first basemen have aged rather gracefully, Cincy will share in the higher revenue streams from MLB's national TV deals (and perhaps an overall increase in franchise values in the wake of the Dodgers sale), and they're in a better position to get a big local cable TV deal in 2016 with Votto than without him.
Regardless of which side of the fence you stand on, one thing's for sure: Votto can clear it. The lefty is one of the game's true all-fields sluggers. Check out the location of Votto's home runs over the 2009-11 seasons:
Votto hit 39 homers to left field, 24 to center and 28 to the pull side. Overall, he has put the ball in play more to the opposite (33.8 percent) and middle (38.4 percent) fields than to right field (27.8 percent) over the past three years.
When it comes to going oppo, Votto is topped only by Ryan Howard among lefty hitters:
Highest slugging percentage to the opposite field by LHB, 2009-11
To center, Votto is also comfortably in the top 10:
Highest slugging percentage to the middle field by LHB, 2009-11
Votto doesn't stand out quite as much to the pull side, but we're talking in relative terms here. His .808 slugging percentage to right field is about 60 points above the big league average for lefties.
Left, center or right -- Votto makes loud contact in all directions. Pretty appropriate for a guy who could now buy his own chain of islands.