This year’s National League MVP is quickly becoming a race between two players, Albert Pujols and Joey Votto, who are not only in a race for the MVP, but also for the Triple Crown. Looking at these two players, it’s not so much an issue of which one deserves the MVP—they both do. The question is, which player deserves it more? While the sexy pick is the underdog Votto, a closer look at the numbers reveals a different story. Here are five reasons why Pujols deserves it more.



Fielding isn’t normally the first thing you look at when you’re considering the MVP, especially from first basemen, but when you’re looking for places to distinguish players, especially if they play the position, one place you can look is fielding. While Votto is a decent fielder, Pujols is the NL leader at the position in Put Outs, Assists, Double Plays, Range Factor, and has a higher fielding percentage than Votto. Fielding alone isn’t enough to give it to Pujols, but it’s a factor that shouldn’t be entirely ignored. 



The two players are atop the leaderboard in most of the hitting stats, or are very close to it. While Votto leads Pujols by one run, and has a very slight lead over Pujols in BA and OBP, Pujols leads Votto in HR, RBI, hits, doubles, walks, steals, slugging, and OPS.

Pujols leads Votto in more categories, and in more significant categories. The Cardinals played three fewer games than the Reds as well. Taking this into account, Pujols projects to nine more RBI and six more HR than Votto. Pujols has actually done slightly more than Votto to merit the award.



Votto’s been nothing short of splendid. His second half splits, .344 BA, .420 OBP, .590 slugging, and 1.010 OPS, are exactly what you want to see from an MVP candidate. The problem for Votto isn’t what he’s doing in the second half, it’s what Pujols is doing, .352 BA, .411 OBP, .662 slugging, and 1.073 OPS. And as if that’s not enough, Pujols is picking up speed, posting a ridiculous August, with a 1.353 OPS, nine HR and 20 RBI with a week left to go in the month.

On August first, Votto had a .322 BA and was 23 points ahead of Pujols. Since then he’s actually raised his BA a point, but now is only one point ahead. Pujols has clearly taken it to another level, and it doesn’t look like Votto has another level to take it to. Look for those slight leads that Pujols has now to grow over the next few weeks. 



There aren’t a lot of places where you can see a big distinction between the players, but there is a big one in one place, what they do when they are needed the most, with two out and runners in scoring position. In that situation Votto is hitting .302 with a 1.092 OPS. Pujols on the other hand is batting .381 with a 1.320 OPS.

Not to get too “sabermetricy” on you here, but Pujols has a 265 sOPS+ (split OPS+) in that situation, which is a measure of how a player does in a split compared to the league average of 100. Votto’s is an admirable 200, but 265 is just flat out ridiculous, and MVP worthy.


It’s Most Valuable Player

Surprisingly, it’s often advanced that Votto should win it because he has more value to the Reds than Pujols does to the Cardinals. I find this hard to accept for a couple of reasons. First, on the intangibles, it’s well known that the Cardinal slugger is the hardest working man on the team. That’s pretty meaningful on a team with four or five rookies starting pretty consistently.

When young players see a player with Pujols status working as hard as he does, they work hard. Apart from that though, there’s the statistical argument. Votto has 147 runs produced, accounting for 23.63 percent of all Reds’ runs scored. Pujols has 146, accounting for 25.61 percent of the all Cardinals’ runs. Both on and off the field, Pujols has more value than Votto. 

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