MLB Matchup: Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto vs. St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols

Cliff EasthamSenior Writer IIMay 20, 2011

This is the first in a series of match-ups that I will be soliciting your opinions on in the coming days.

It is interesting to highlight the careers of two players as well as their current performances/abilities.

Picking the winner in a matchup of the winners of the last three MVP awards is not an easy task.

They are two of the best first basemen in the game today. Is your opinion tainted by team loyalty?  

To pick the better player, a person must come to the table with an open mind, and be completely unbiased (easier said than done if you are a Reds FC).

To throw a young lion like Joey Votto against the King of the Forest seems unfair on its face. However, even though he is just in his fifth season in MLB, he does not enter the arena without skills.

Albert Pujols is widely regarded as the best player in baseball. Detractors will mention other players of high stature and numbers, but Prince Albert garners his share of praise.

With the preliminaries out of the way, let us jump right into the fray. Pujols is 31, while Votto is 27. The age comparison does not equate to their experience.

Pujols is in his 11th season (hard to believe), while Votto has only three complete campaigns on his resume (he is in his fifth season). Pujols has a big trophy case, including a Rookie of the Year award, three MVP awards, two Gold Gloves and six Silver Sluggers.

In his 10 seasons thus far, he has four runner-up finishes in MVP voting and one third-place finish. He has finished in the top three in voting in eight of the 10 seasons.

In Votto’s first full season, he finished second to Geovany Soto in Rookie of the Year voting. Call it Homerish of me, but I feel he got the short end of the stick because Soto is a catcher.

There, I said it.

Pujols’ lowest average in a season thus far is .312 while Votto hit .297 in his rookie year. Pujols has the best power numbers, hitting 11 more HR yearly based on 162 games.

The more versatile of the two by far is Pujols. He has played every position except CF and C. Votto, on the other hand has been exclusively a first baseman, except for six games in LF in his first season.

Pujols has the edge in clutch hitting as well. With two-outs and RISP he is hitting .325 for his career, while Votto is batting .293 in the same situation.

Both men put fear into the heart of opposing pitchers. They have both been walked intentionally in threatening situations on a regular basis. Some managers have walked Pujols intentionally with the sacks loaded, opting to give up the one run as opposed to many.

Votto has picked up where he left off in 2010, batting .340 with an OBP of .466. Pujols, who has a career OBP of .423 is struggling with a .264 BA and a .335 OBP so far this season.

Even though these are two of the best, if not the best first basemen in the game today, Votto has his work cut out for him if he is to replace Pujols as King of the Forest.

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