Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Best Player In Baseball: Albert Pujols vs. Alex Rodriguez

When the discussion of the best player in baseball comes up, the conversation usually includes both Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez. There are a few reasons why I think Pujols is clearly the best player in baseball ahead of A-Rod. Pujols is probably a better fielder and A-Rod has more speed but what sets them apart in my mind is the approach Pujols takes at the plate compared to the one A-Rod takes.

A-Rod is a great power hitter and has tremendous talent but he is not a great “hitter” in the way that he approaches at-bats which is why he struggles in certain situations. That is what sets Pujols apart from him in my mind. Pujols is a career .334 hitter compared to A-Rod’s .306 and Pujols would probably hit that good average wise no matter how big and strong he was.

The biggest reason I think Pujols is a better hitter than A-Rod is that he has a career OPS of 1.048, while A-Rod’s is at .967. Sure, A-Rod's number is more than respectable, but Pujols' OPS is just historically great. In fact, he ranks 5th all time in OPS behind only Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Lou Gherig, and Barry Bonds.

Here are two more reasons that I believe Albert Pujols is a far better hitter than A-Rod:

- Pujols is a more complete hitter than A-Rod because he goes with the pitch and uses the whole field, while A-Rod sometimes because too pull happy. I couldn’t find any historical data, but Pujols hit to the center & right of the field 50% of the time last year, while A-Rod was at 39% of the time and I would imagine he is even less so this season. I think Pujols goes with the pitch more which makes him tougher to get out, while A-Rod is easier to get out because he might try to pull a pitch he should be going the other way on. I just have seen too many A-Rod at bats where he just looks like he doesn’t have a clue up there, which tells me he doesn't have a very good approach to his at-bats and is relying more on his talent. I think A-Rod could be just as good as Pujols if he went the other way more and became less of a pull hitter.

- Pujols strikes out way less than A-Rod about 60 times per season compared to A-Rod about 120 times per season. To me that means that Pujols has better bat control and is a better hitter than A-Rod because he is putting the ball in play more often which gives him a better chance to get a hit. Striking out gives you no chance obviously. So Pujols is putting the ball in play on average about 60 more times per season just based on strikeout differential alone. That means an extra 60 times that Pujols has a chance to do something productive at the plate.

That’s why I believe A-Rod relies more on his talent than his approach. He’s so gifted he can make mistakes at the plate and get away with them sometimes, while Pujols uses both his immense talent and solid approach at the plate. Since A-Rod relies on his talent more than Pujols, I think once A-Rod’s talent starts to slip he will decline a lot more rapidly then Pujols will.

They might have the same skill set when they are both 38 years old for instance, but I think Pujols will still be able to put up better numbers because of his approach at the plate. When A-Rod's skills start to decline I think it will bring down his power from 35-50 range to 25-35 range. Basically I believe that Pujols will age more like Manny Ramirez (130-150 OPS+ range), while A-Rod will be more like Griffey, Jr. (100-120 OPS+). Still productive but far from being a great hitter.

More: MLB


  1. You are unqualified to comment on the issue.

    Leave it to the baseball analysists dumbass.

  2. My bad, didn't know I wasn't allowed to have an opinion.

    At least this dumbass can spell analysts though....

  3. i personally think arod is the better player..lets remember that pujols is in the national league compared to arod being in the american league

  4. @ 2nd Anonymous...
    Please if you don't know what you are talking about or can't support your point please STFU! it is easy to predict how Albert Pujols would do in the american league by checking his interleague stats and projecting an entire season... Judging by your comment I'm guessing you don't know those stats, so here are some for you:
    Projected Stats: BA .371 OBP .551 110 HR 283 RBIs 220 Walks