Even with a recent six-game winning streak, which was snapped Monday night in a 10-7 loss to the San Francisco Giants, the Reds are 14 games under .500 at 14-28. The Reds lost at least 90 games each of the previous three seasons.
Votto, who has played his entire 17-season career (including minors) with the Reds, was asked about the team's start by Yahoo! Sports for their MLB podcast. His comments came before the Reds' recent four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, which Cincinnati swept, but the podcast was published Tuesday.
"Clearly with our performance this year, we thought we had met the bottom in the past and that's certainly not the case," he said.
"I genuinely hope that we're trending in the right direction, but this is the worst start I've ever seen," he added. "If I'm not mistaken, it's been noted in the past that this was historically one of the worst starts for this franchise. There are so many people that are losing interest in our organization -- and deservedly so. It hasn't been a fun time to be a Cincinnati Reds fan."
Votto, 34, noted that he's "invested" in the team as he signed with the Reds out of high school and signed a 10-year, $225 million contract with the team in 2012, putting him under contract through the 2024 season.
"Not often does a player get to speak the way I'm speaking right now because my role is to do my job on the field and pretty much zip my lips, which makes sense. But in the same breath, I've been with this franchise for, I think, 17 years now. You can say things are business, but to honest with you, I was a kid when I signed with this franchise, I take it personally. This is a personal thing to me," he said.
"People inside of the organization in all likelihood are not going to enjoy my responses. But it's been disappointing."
Votto, who finished second in National League MVP voting last year, is enjoying another strong season despite the Reds' struggles, hitting .291 with six home runs and 23 RBIs. The five-time All-Star and former MVP (in 2010) has a .313 average, 263 home runs and 853 RBIs in 12 major league seasons.
He left Monday night's game in the fourth inning with lower-back tightness. The Reds indicated they might sit him out Tuesday as a precaution. After the game, Votto deflected questions about his back with humor, saying a mild earthquake that occurred in San Francisco during his first at-bat was to blame.
"I was feeling pretty good and then that earthquake hit and all of a sudden everything got thrown off right around 7:18 p.m. in the middle of my first at-bat," he told reporters. "Oh, I got taken out of the game because of it, are you kidding me? I'm a sensitive soul."