Albert Pujols Is MLB's Superman: A Game of Heroes
For years, I have taken extreme heat for my extreme interest in all things Major League Baseball, particularly for the amount of time and energy I put into my yearly fantasy exploits.
Amazingly enough, these America’s Pastime party poopers aren’t my family and friends, though my wife will be the first to admit that she is a fantasy widow come April, but from career peers. You see, I work in the comic book industry and surprisingly enough, following baseball while employed in that field is the social equivalent to liking comic books if you worked in sports.
To help bridge the growing divide between my fantasy baseball followers and my funny book friends, I have taken some of the top players in the game today and lined them up against some of the top superheroes flying around the fictional cities they protect and as you’ll come to see, there are very few differences between the two worlds.
Albert Pujols and Superman
Super Sized Offense
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Like DC’s Man of Steel, Pujols is about as invincible as a hitter could hope to be, especially when he’s locked in. He may not be faster than a speeding bullet, but he sure seems as powerful as a locomotive and thanks to that pop, he’s capable of jacking a hanging curveball over the outfield fence with a single swing.
If you’re going into a three game series battle with the enemy, there are very few people you want dropped into your lineup, which is pretty much what Superman’s teammates in the Justice League say about him just before they go toe to toe with the latest world threat.
Carl Crawford and the Flash
And he's off...
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Yes, youth is fading for the 29-year-old outfielder, but getting up in years has not slowed Crawford down on the base paths all that much.
With seven years of over 40 stolen bases already under his belt, including 60 in 2009, he’s easily one of the fastest hitters in the game today. But what sets him apart from speedsters like Michael Bourn in Houston and Chone Figgins in Seattle is that he can hurt you with his hands just as easily as he can with his feet, as evidenced by his 110 runs and 90 RBIs in 2010.
Joey Votto and Captain America
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Chiseled jaw aside, Votto easily took up the mantle of America’s hero in 2010, helping the Cincinnati Reds take hold of the NL Central and winning a surprising 91 games. Like the red, white and blue Avenger, he seemed to become a super soldier overnight, increasing his stat line in almost every category that counts, including home runs, where he walloped a career high 37.
And seriously, look at that Steven Rogers jaw line!
Josh Hamilton and the Question
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Plagued by a series of career ups and downs, Hamilton truly is a question, especially when it comes to committing an early round draft pick to him. Recently released from the hospital following a bout with early pneumonia, many are left wondering if the league leader in batting average and OPS will be back in 2011, or if we once again will be left with the slugger’s sluggish 2009 campaign numbers and a “well, there’s always next year” end to the season.
Much like the Question, Hamilton has both the tools and the skill set to get the job done, but is he the first person you’d call when a threat loomed heavy on the horizon? Probably not.
Roy Halladay and the Punisher
This way to the gun show!
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As consistent and as dominating as any pitcher in the game, Halladay, a seven-time all-star, has been punishing batters with his seemingly limitless arsenal of weaponry (including a killer two-seam fastball) for over a decade. Relentless on the mound and stocked up on plenty of ambition ammunition for a 33-year-old, he was a 21 game winner in 2010 for the Phillies and although he has been known to have the occasional team affiliation (the Jays being the other one), he mostly comes off as a brooding loner.
Add a baseball-shaped skull on the front of his uniform, and the city of Philadelphia has its very own vigilante on the loose.
Ryan Howard and the Thing
Fantastic At The Long Ball
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Big, bulky and lovable in that over-sized teddy bear sort of way, Howard is your brawny, meat-of-the-order bat who is capable of jacking over 40 home runs during any given season. While his numbers were down across the board in 2010, he’s still rock solid, much like the Thing’s tough outer dermis has proven during his tenure with the Fantastic Four.
Even with his high whiff rate working against him and a somewhat disappointing year only a season behind him, Howard is still going to bank you 100 runs and 100 RBIs in 2011, proving that sometimes it’s better to bring brawn to a fight and leave the brains at home.
Mark Teixeira and Two-Face
A Tale of Two Faces
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Like many Red Sox fans, I thought for certain Teixeira was coming to Boston in 2009, only to be left in jaw-dropped silence upon watching him sign with the Yankees, the much-hated rival to the south. Combine that irrational disappointment with his per usual dismal early season numbers (compared to his otherwise stellar summer production turnaround), and you’ve got someone nearly as two-faced as the Batman villain himself.
After all, he chose the dark side when he set up shop in the Bronx, leaving the hero role to someone else now…Professor Gonzo and his sidekick, the Green Monster.