Mano-a-Mano: Pujols-Halladay and the 20 Most Intriguing Hitter-Pitcher Matchups
In Major League Baseball today, fans are privileged to see several star hitters and pitchers square off every season.
The MLB schedule allows every team in their respective league to play each other, while mixing in inter-league play in the middle of June.
In 2011, the Boston Red Sox and their potent lineup will try to dismantle the Philadelphia Phillies, who have perhaps the best starting pitching staff on paper since the Atlanta Braves of the mid 90's.
Aside from the prime sluggers and Cy Young candidates, 2011 refreshes bitter rivalries between New York Yankees great Alex Rodriguez and Athletics ace Dallas Braden; and Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips Vs. Cardinals youngster Jaime Garcia.
It was difficult to narrow the list of premiere match-ups down to 20, but the following hitter-pitcher duels will surely cause headlines...
Albert Pujols Vs. Roy Halladay
Pujols Vs. Halladay: (1-7, BB)
Although Albert Pujols has only faced Roy Halladay a few times in his career, these guys might be the best two players in all of baseball.
Halladay will see a lot more of Phat Albert now that he's pitching in the National League, and there couldn't be anymore anticipation for a fan when they face each other.
Pujols will look to be a key contributor against the Phillies all season long, because the Cardinals had a very disappointing finish to last season.
The Cards need to win the big games against Philadelphia, the best team in the National League.
Carlos Gonzalez Vs. Tim Lincecum
Gonzalez Vs. Lincecum: (5-21, 1 HR, 1 BB, 9 K)
Lincecum has much more experience than Car-Go, but expect this match up to even out as Gonzalez matures.
Fortunately, the Rockies and Giants will play each other 19 times since they're division rivals.
Gonzalez and Lincecum are the two best hitters and pitchers in their division, so expect great things from both of them in 2011.
The Rockies of course will have to find a way to take down the pitching arsenal that won the Giants a World Series in 2010. Gonzalez will have to continue his pace if Colorado wants a shot at the division.
Joey Votto Vs. Adam Wainwright
Votto Vs. Wainwright: (1-12, 4 K)
It's the NL MVP against one of the NL Central's best pitchers.
Votto emerged as a five tool threat last season, and he's one of baseball's most versatile sluggers.
As for Wainwright, he won 20 games last season and had an ERA of 2.42.
He has one of the nastiest curve balls in baseball.
The Reds and Cardinals rivalry is heating up since 2010, and the battles between these two studs will be great to see in 2011.
Ryan Howard Vs. John Lester
Howard Vs. Lester: (0-6, 5 K)
Ryan Howard has historically struggled against left-handed pitching, but this match up is a potential World Series preview.
The Red Sox and Phillies will meet in inter league play, and this battle is much-anticipated.
It's the Red Sox's best arm against the Phillies' most powerful bat. Who will win?
Justin Morneau Vs. Zack Greinke
Morneau Vs. Greinke: (5-29, BB, 6 K)
This battle has a few story lines behind it.
Greinke is a former AL Central pitcher, and he experienced a lot of success against Morneau while pitching for Kansas City.
Morneau is fresh off a concussion injury in 2010, and he hopes to have his bat ready for the Brewers come inter league play.
Morneau was having an MVP-calber season before his injury.
Brandon Phillips Vs. Jaime Garcia
Phillips Vs. Garcia: (3-14, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 K)
The only reason this is on the list is because of Phillips' fight with the Cards in the middle of August last season.
Garcia pitched on the day of the fight, and both teams jawed for the rest of the season, as the Reds eventually pulled away for the NL Central title.
Both teams hate each other, so it will be fun to watch them run into each other this season.
Alex Rodriguez Vs. Dallas Braden
Rodriguez Vs. Braden: (3-5, HR, RBI, 0 K)
Here's another unexpected fight from 2010, after A-Rod walked across the mound when heading back to the dugout.
Rodriguez's actions were seen as a sign of disrespect towards Braden, and both guys exchanged words through the media several times.
The Athletics even made "Get Off My Mound' shirts when the Yankees returned to play in Oakland.
Buster Posey Vs. Ubaldo Jimenez
Posey Vs. Jimenez: (1-8, RBI, 4 BB, 2 K)
The Giants are of course the defending champs, while the Rockies just missed the playoffs last season.
Both teams are arguably the best in the NL West.
Posey had a brilliant rookie campaign and he's the most complete catcher that the MLB has seen in a long time.
Jimenez came just short of a Cy Young Award last season since he tailed off in the second half, but he's going to be a great pitcher.
Both of these youngsters will see each other a lot this season, and will play important roles in their team's playoff run.
Evan Longoria Vs. Neftali Feliz
Longoria Vs. Feliz: (0-2, 1 K)
Solely because of last season's playoff match up between the Rangers and Rays, this is on the list.
The Rays lost tons of talent in the off season, but Longoria is still their centerpiece.
As for Feliz, he's a sight to see when closing games for the Rangers, who also lost Cliff Lee after 2010.
The match up doesn't have much history, but headlines two young stars emerging in the MLB.
Carl Crawford Vs. David Price
Crawford Vs. Price: No History
These men went from being teammates, to division foes after Crawford signed with Boston a few months ago.
Carl Crawford provides his talents to the Sox as a top-caiber base runner, fielder, and as a solid hitter.
He's one of many players that left the Rays out to dry after 2010, and you can bet Price wants some payback.
Price is an unbelievable young southpaw.
Crawford will be booed when he heads back to Tropicana Field.
Albert Pujols Vs. Cliff Lee
Pujols Vs. Lee: (1-5, 2 BB)
Here's another great match up, all made possible by Lee's signing with the Phillies.
Pujols and Lee don't have much history, but they'll face one and other in 2011 with big implications.
The Cardinals might just have the best line up in the National League, while Lee completes a monster rotation for the Phillies.
This is just simply a match up between two of the league's best.
Kevin Youkilis Vs. CC Sabathia
Youkilis Vs. Sabathia: (12-28, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 5 BB, 4 K)
It's the greatest rivalry in baseball.
The Yanks and Sox showcase some of the best talent every year, but several people forget how good Youkilis is.
He's batting .429 against Sabathia, one of the league's best arms.
Expect the Yankees and Red Sox to display more great baseball in 2010. Youkilis is healthy, so look out!
Josh Hamilton Vs. Felix Hernandez
Hamilton Vs. Hernandez: (6-31, 1 HR, 3 RB1, 7 BB, 8 K)
What a match up.
The 2010 AL Cy Young winner against the AL MVP.
Hamilton and Hernandez both had career seasons in 2010, and on the bright side, they're in the same division.
The Mariners won't compete for a division title, but it's always nice to see this much talent in one plate appearance.
Hernandez owns Hamilton historically too.
Chase Utley Vs. Brian Wilson
Utley Vs. Wilson: (2-4, RBI, BB)
The Phillies' best all-around hitter against perhaps the best closer in the Majors.
The Phillies and Giants also squared off in the NLCS last season, and Brian Wilson cemented a prominent reputation for himself.
The Giants are trying to prove they can head back to the World Series, regardless of how much better the Phillies roster got in the off season.
Prince Fielder Vs. Matt Garza
Fielder Vs. Garza: No History
Garza's arrival in Chicago will shake up the fate of the NL Central.
He's never faced Fielder before, but Garza knows of the Milwaukee-Chicago rivalry.
Fielder struggled the majority of the season last year, and he'd love nothing more than to tee off against the Cubs.
Albert Pujols Vs. Tim Lincecum
Pujols Vs. Lincecum: (5-14, BB, 4 K)
This is just more of the same from the list. A great match up.
Lincecum is looking to contend for a Cy Young Award again this season, after he struggled for the entire month of August in 2010.
Pujols might be a free agent after 2011, and with anticipations that he might head to the American League, we might not see too much more of this match up.
Just another gem.
Adrian Gonzalez Vs. Mariano Rivera
Gonzalez Vs. Rivera: (0-1)
More Yankees-Red Sox.
Gonzalez finally gets his chance to put his numbers towards a possible championship, but in the toughest division in baseball.
The Red Sox have the best lineup, but the Yankees will stay confident when the game is on the line. They have the greatest closer of all time in Rivera.
The rivalry should be interesting in 2011, especially when considering how much worse the Yankees' pitching staff became.
Hanley Ramirez Vs. Stephen Strasburg
Ramirez Vs. Strasburg; No History
Strasburg was perhaps the biggest story of the 2010 season.
He's injured, but he'll eventually be healthy enough, and luckily the Marlins are division counterparts.
Ramirez is stuck on a lame-duck Marlins team, but he still manages to put up top numbers every season.
Both of these stars might be competing against each other for years to come.
Troy Tulowitzki Vs. Matt Latos
Tulowitzki Vs. Latos: (0-5, 2 K)
Latos makes this match up special because of his emergence as the Padres' stud ace last season.
Tulowitzki on the other hand has been so consistent when healthy, and he's torn up division pitching.
The Rockies also have Carlos Gonzalez, but Tulowitzki hits third in the line up.
More division rivalry in this one, and the NL West has busted wide open.
David Wright Vs. Josh Johnson
Wright Vs. Johnson: (6-26, HR, 3 RBI, BB, 6K)
Johnson dazzled for the Marlins last season, while Wright somewhat struggled like the rest of his team.
Both of these teams haven't competed for the playoffs in the past couple seasons, but these two guys might be the most important contributors.
Wright is looking to get his average back over .300, while Johnson is looking to stay healthy.
The division has been run by the Phillies lately though.
Maybe the Mets will stay healthy, and the Marlins will provide some offense.