Rick Zamperin: Joey Votto is one of the best, but not yet the best Canadian

Joey Votto trails only Larry Walker for all-time home runs in Major League Baseball by a Canadian.
Joey Votto trails only Larry Walker for all-time home runs in Major League Baseball by a Canadian. Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Cincinnati Reds star first baseman Joey Votto is undoubtedly the best Canadian baseball player in the major leagues today.

I’m sure Toronto’s Russell Martin and John Axford, as well as Seattle’s James Paxton — who had a no-hitter against the Blue Jays earlier this season — would agree.

But is Votto the best Canadian ever to play in the big leagues?

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The jury is out, at least until the 34-year-old slugger announces his retirement and we can better analyze his career numbers and compare them to other Canucks who have starred on the diamond.

Currently, Votto would be on Canada’s Mt. Rushmore of Canadian ball players.

Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins would be prominently displayed on that monument, as would former Montreal Expos and Colorado Rockies great Larry Walker who, by the way, is still waiting for his call to Cooperstown. Whether Walker will ever get that call, and I have my doubts, is a debate for another day.

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Former AL MVP Justin Morneau would occupy the fourth position on the monument, with apologies to Martin.

On Monday night, Votto cranked his 266th career home run to pass Matt Stairs for second place on the all-time list of homers among Canadians. Walker is No. 1 with 383. Just so you don’t have to do any math (because, really, no one does) that’s a difference of 117 dingers.

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Now, home runs isn’t the only criterea that determines my list of all-time best Canadian major league ballplayers. Championships, MVP, Cy Young and Gold Glove Awards all count, too.

I was too young to ever see him play, but Jenkins — for the simple fact that he is the only Canadian player to ever be elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame — is No. 1 on my list. Walker is the best Canadian ballplayer I’ve watched, with Votto close behind.

If there’s a consolation prize, it goes to the man who had one of the best handles in major league history, Canadian or not. That honour goes to Windsor’s Richard Keith Clapp, who is more commonly known as “Stubby” Clapp.