CINCINNATI -- Two major awards were issued to a first baseman this week, and so far it's 2-0 in favor of the Cardinals' Albert Pujols (establishment) over the Reds' Joey Votto (the newer guy). Pujols was named a National League Gold Glove winner for defense on Wednesday, and on Thursday was named a Silver Slugger recipient for being the top offensive producer at his position. Both awards were determined by voting among the NL's managers and coaches. More often than not, they tend to let their eyes and a player's reputation weigh heaviest while filling out their ballot and let the numbers take more of a backseat.
Pujols is a Silver Slugger winner for the sixth time and the third consecutive year, and he is perennially a worthy candidate. But did he deserve the award this year more than Votto? That's not so automatic. The 27-year-old Votto has only been in the Majors for three full seasons and has a much lower profile than that of the superstar Pujols. When comparing their offensive numbers, both Votto and Pujols have a compelling case that made a definitive Silver Slugger choice difficult.
Votto was second in the NL with a .324 average, while Pujols was sixth, batting .312. Votto was third in home runs with 37 and RBIs with 113, while Pujols led with both 42 homers and 118 RBIs.In the key category of on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS), Votto was the NL leader at 1.024, while Pujols was second at 1.011. Pujols led with 115 runs scored, while Votto was tied for fourth at 106. Of course, Pujols had the benefit of batting ahead of another superstar slugger in Matt Holliday, who also won the award Thursday, while Votto had Scott Rolen hitting behind him. The Baseball Writers of America will reveal their vote for NL Most Valuable Player on Nov. 22. This time, if Votto doesn't win, it would be more of an upset. He is viewed by many people as the leading candidate. Besides convincing statistics, Votto has two very important points going his way. He was a major force in big games down the stretch, and his Reds beat the Cardinals for the NL Central title. That meant Pujols spent the postseason at home. If Votto does win the NL MVP, he and Pujols would have something in common. The last player to not win a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger the same season he won his league's MVP was Pujols in 2005.