Thursday, August 26, 2010

Who Ya Got? - Votto or Pujols

The last man to win the Triple Crown in baseball (that means to lead your respective league in Batting Average, Home Runs and Runs Batted In) was Carl Yastrzemski back in 1967 when he played for the Boston Red Sox.  Every year it seems as though someone is going to come close but they usually tail off at the end of the season or another guy in the league gets hot and beats them out in 1 of the 3 categories.

This year it's not just one guy trying to join "Yaz" in the exclusive club, it's two.  Both Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals and Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds have a legit chance of winning the triple crown and accomplishing one of the rarest feats in baseball. 

Here are their stats as of today:

Pujols  .319   -   33 Home Runs   -   92 RBI
Votto   .326   -   31 Home Runs   -   90 RBI

To make the chase for history between these two more exciting just add in the fact that Votto's Reds currently have a 3.5 game lead over Pujols' Cardinals in the NL Central.  So going down the stretch the play of these two All-Star first basemen will be even more important.

So the question now is Who Ya Got?


Home vs Road

For some players hitting at home is much easier than hitting on the road.  The fans are behind them and they know the ballpark.  For Joey Votto this is a non issue.  In fact his numbers on the road are just slightly higher than his numbers at home.
Home -  .306/15/43 
Road  -  .345/16/47.  

16 of the Reds last 32 games are on the road so it seems like Votto is covered in that sense.


Of the Reds last 32 games 22 are against the Pirates, Astros, Cubs and Diamondbacks all of which are in the bottom 1/3 of the league in team ERA and Runs Allowed.  The other games come against much stiffer competition in the form of the Padres, Rockies and Cardinals.  

Career September Numbers

Some players tend to slow down in September as the long season gets to them and they become tired and weak.  This is not the case for Votto as his career numbers in September are just as impressive as his numbers the rest of the year.  

In 118 career September games Votto is hitting .326 with 31 Home Runs and 90 Runs Batted In.  So down the stretch run he should be able to maintain his level of play.  

Other Factors
One of the things that really worries me about Joey Votto is the latest cover of Sports Illustrated magazine.  Why you might ask does this worry me?  Because of the SI cover jynx.  Anytime anyone is put on the cover of that magazine they suffer some sort of defeat/injury/downward spiral right afterward.

I remember during the NFL playoffs last year the Jets were cruising and looked to be on the verge of beating Indy when they found a way to blow it.  Next day my issue of SI shows up and sure enough on the cover is the New York Jets and Mark Sanchez.  That's only one example but there are more.  The SI Cover Jynx even has its own Wikipedia page.

I think Votto made a huge mistake by doing that cover and it could end up costing him the Triple Crown.


Home vs Road

Much like Votto Pujols doesn't have a problem hitting on the road.  His average is much lower but in terms of the production it's just about equal. 

Home - .352/17/48
Road - .286/16/44

Of the Cardinals last 34 games 20 of them are on the road.  That doesn't bode well for Pujols as his average suffers significantly when he isn't at Busch Stadium and seeing as the only category he trails Votto in is average this could spell the end of Pujols' chase for the Triple Crown.


Of the Cardinals last 34 games 18 will be against the Cubs, Astros, Pirates, and Brewers which as I stated previously are among the worst pitching teams in baseball.  The Pirates have the 2nd lowest team ERA in all of baseball at 5.04 and the Cardinals play them 6 times before the end of the season.

The Cardinals also have to play some tough teams though as they have 4 games against the Atlanta Braves #4 in team ERA and 4 games against the San Diego Padres who are the best pitching team in the league.

Career September Numbers

Much like Votto Pujols does not fade late in the season.  In 123 career September games he is batting .319 with 33 Home Runs and 92 Runs Batted In.  This isn't surprising though as ever since he first came into the league Pujols has been one of the games best hitters.  The guy is a monster and is probably the best pure hitter of this generation.

Other Factors

All season Albert Pujols has been going along at a steady pace.  That was until August started.  So far this month has 9 Home Runs and 20 RBI and his OPS is a ridiculous 1.353.  When Pujols gets hot there isn't a better hitter in the game and right now Pujols is hot.  If he keeps up this pace he should pass Votton in Batting Average by the end of the month and from then on its over.

Interesting fact:  if Pujols wins the Triple Crown this year he will have done so while not putting up his best season, statistically of course.  Last year he hit .327 with 47 home runs and 135 RBI.  If he finished with those numbers this year the Triple Crown would be a lock.

I personally want Votto to win simply because like myself he is Canadian.  Also he went through some pretty serious depression a year ago after the death of his father and this would be a nice rebound for him.  He has the whole underdog thing going for him as well as he plays for a small market team in Cincinnati and Pujols is such an established player where as Votto is still not a household name.  Votto has all the talent in the world and with the pennant race coming down to the wire he has ample distractions to stop him from dwelling on winning the Triple Crown.

Having said that I think Albert Pujols is just too damn good.  The guy is an absolute freak when it comes to hitting and I think a Triple Crown would really cement him as one of the best ever.  Since he first entered the league he seemed like he had Triple Crown potential and now this year the stars might finally align and allow him to finally put together that dream season.

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