Pujols vs. Bautista: Battle of the Sluggers- Friday Faceoff
Friday, May 27, 2011
MLB reports: On the surface we appear to have a changing of the guard in baseball. Albert Pujols had been anointed the next Babe Ruth many years ago and his numbers to-date have been simply outstanding. 416 home runs over 11 seasons with a lifetime .329 AVG, .423 OBP and .617 SLG are clear hall of fame numbers. But then something seems to have happened this year. As Pujols entered his free agency year, his numbers began to drop. As Albert Pujols has fallen back down to earth, home run king Jose Bautista continues his career rise. After 54 home runs in 2010, Bautista has hit the ground running in 2011 and has the MLB world talking. After so many requests for this faceoff, let’s take a look at Albert Pujols and Jose Bautista in 2011 and determine which is the better player.
Pujols is 31 years-of-age while Bautista is 30. Rumors have constantly circled Pujols that his actual age may be closer to 33-34, based on Dominican age scandals in the past. But without substantiation, we will take Pujols at his word and conclude that both players are very close in age and in the same stage of their careers. Verdict: Draw.
Bautista leads the majors in home runs with 19 while Pujols has been slow out of the gate at 8. Pujols has a .407 SLG while Bautista sits at .785. There is no question that Bautista has far exceeded Pujols in the power department this year. Considering that Bautista has only had Adam Lind for part of time for protection in the lineup with few other sluggers makes the numbers even more astounding. Pujols has both Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday in the mix and should be able to see far better pitches than Bautista. This part is a no doubter. Verdict: Bautista, by a country mile.
Patience and Batting Eye
This should have been Pujols category for the taking. With a career 934/666 BB/K, Pujols has a batting eye that few can match. This year however, Pujols sits at 20/20 BB/K. Good numbers, but not superstar Pujols type numbers. Bautista on the other hand leads the way with 42 walks on the season and is on pace to break 150. With only 24 strike outs in 2011, Bautista has an almost 2/1 BB/K ratio. It looks like we have a new sherif in town. In 2010, Pujols was great with 103/76 BB/K while Bautista produced 100/116 BB/K. While the walks were evenly matched, Pujols was able to strike out fewer times. But that was then and this season reads a different story. Pujols has a .330 OBP and Bautista leads with a .492 OBP. Not even close. Verdict: round 3 goes to Bautista.
Pujols has a lifetime .329 AVG while Bautista sits at .250. In 2010, Pujols had a .312 AVG while Bautista sat at .260. In 2011 though we have a seen a role reversal. Pujols has a .261 AVG while Bautista has a .342 AVG. Case closed again. Verdict: Bautista.
Neither player is a speed demon by any stretch. Bautista has 5 stolen bases on the year with 9 in 2010. Pujols had 14 last year but three this year. Neither gets on base with the thought of running and the stolen bases are negligible between the players. Pujols has stolen up to 16 bases in his career and stole 14 last year. But at the current pace, the numbers are fairly even. Pujols has stolen three bases without getting caught while Bautista has been 5 for 7 in his opportunities. Verdict: Draw.
With 3 rounds going to Jose Bautista and 2 draws, this week’s competition was a no-brainer. Jose Bautista in 2011 has taken the crown of best hitter in baseball away from Albert Pujols. It almost seems like the players have somehow changed bodies. Jose Bautista has literally become the Albert Pujols of 2011, while Pujols himself has morphed into a lesser slugger in the mold of Bautista before 2010. Bautista is doing all the right things, by hitting for average, taking a lot of walks and hitting home runs with no end in sight. Pujols in contrast, has been a shell of himself this year. He is not able to do any of the things that Bautista has and will need to get himself moving if he hopes to catch up. As mentioned before, Pujols has great lineup protection and should be seeing many more fastballs and quality pitches to hit than Bautista. While Adam Lind was hot for a stretch, he is by no means Berkman or Holliday. Jose Bautista has had to produce with sub par players surrounding him in the batting order for most of the season. Pujols has also played 9 more games than Bautista, who missed games due to personal reasons and a neck strain. We shall see where these players are at come season’s end. Only time will tell. But until then, we are ready to crown Jose Bautista as the best hitter in baseball. Check the numbers, they don’t lie.
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