Making lemons out of lemonade: tough loss, but two important home runs & MVP talk

This game was frustrating in so many ways.  To name a few:

  •  Kyle Loshe, proclaimed healthy from surgery. was his same unproductive self.
  • The Cardinals’ rally was too little, too late because they let the game get away early.
  • We let the Cubs have their first series win since the last time they played us.  Why can a team 17 games back only beat us?
  •  Coupled with a Reds loss, this means we’re back in 2nd place.

And on and on and on it goes.

We all know how awful this game was, so no point in rehashing every last detail.  Instead, let’s talk about the couple meager good things about this game.  Both things are home runs from two different players at two very, very different points in their career.

The first was a surprise home run by recent call-up, Steven Hill.  This guy’s life sure has
changed in the last week.  He’s probably the only guy in the free world who appreciates steven hill.jpgJohnny Cueto’s Bruce Lee impersonation.  As a result of Jason LaRue going on the DL from Cueto’s antics, the Cardinals needed a back-up catcher.  For only logistical reasons (the Memphis Redbirds were too far away), the call-up went to AA catcher Stephen Hill, as opposed to AAA catcher, Matt Pagnozzi.  There was talk of sending Hill down and bringing up Pagnozzi (yes, he is the nephew of famed Cardinal catcher, Tom Pagnozzi), but when the game initially got out of control today, LaRussa decided to give Yadier Molina a rest.  Yadi has caught more innings than any other NL catcher this season.  In his second major league at-bat ever, Hill got his first major league hit via the long ball.  Barely over the fence and barely fair, but a home run is a home run.  This sparked the only Cardinal rally of the day.

The second was certainly nowhere as unexpected as Steven Hill’s.  This home run was by Albert Pujols, a man who has done that very thing 395 times before.  Still this was a very significant home run, as it gave Pujols his 30th home run of the year, meaning he has done that in his first 10 years of playing.  No other play IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME has even done that their first 7 years of playing.

Albert has been really heating up in August as I mentioned here.  This should surprise no one as, historically, August has been his best month hitting-wise.  But until recently, many people had pretty much written his season off as merely “good” as opposed to “ridiculously awesome” as it’s previously been.  But those of us who have had the privilege of watching Albert game after game for the past 10 seasons can tell you that any “slump” he has does not last for long and he will continually to be an MVP threat every year.  I’ve read a few articles not really even giving Albert a chance.  I think that once you have been so good for so long, people tend to take what you are doing for granted and not realize that we literally are watching history in the making every time he takes a swing.  In a separate article, a writer stated that there were three guys that had a possibility of making a run at the Triple Crown this year: Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton and Joey Votto.  All great players for sure, but how do you not put Pujols on the list?  Sure, his average was low at the time (and by “low” I mean around .300), but one hot streak and he’s right there.

Recently, I looked at Wainwright’s bid to be the 2010 Cy Young winner and tonight, I would like to look at Albert’s numbers to see if he could possibly be the NL MVP for the 3rd straight year.  We’ll also look at his competitors and break it down similar to how I did the Cy Young award.

The Numbers
Obviously, the place to start, what do the numbers say about Pujols and the guy that many think is the possible MVP / Triple Crown threat.

                      G           AB       .AVG        .SLG       HR      RBI       BB       SO 

Pujols           115        435        .315         .586        30        86        71          54
Votto             110        404       .322          .594        28        79        67          90         

Pujols is 2nd in home runs, 1st in RBI, 4th in .AVG, 2nd in .SLG, 2nd in .OBP
Votto is   3rd in home runs, 3rd in RBI, 1st in .AVG, 1st in .SLG,  1st in .OBP

Basically, Pujols leads in 2 of the three triple crown categories, but Votto has him on average, slugging and on-base.  The question will be how long Albert continues on this tear.  In the matter of a couple weeks he has managed to raise his average from slightly below .300 to a fantastic .315 only .07 points of the lead.  One more home run will tie Adam Dunn for the lead there and he maintains a safe distance as the leader in RBI.  If Albert manages to raise his average, he will definitely be a favorite to repeat as the MVP.

Pujols also leads Votto in walks (2nd in NL), while striking out a whole lot less.  He has also hit more doubles and stolen more bases, but Votto has scored more runs.

The Intangibles
Not a year goes by without the debate of what “valuable” really means.  Is Albert Pujols more valuable because of his monster numbers, despite having a slugger like Matt Holiday on the team?  Or is Votto more valuable because no one expected the Reds to be in 1st place this far into the season?  Is Albert more valuable because his ability to do this year after year or is Votto more valuable because you look at 2010 and 2010 alone.  No matter how you answer these questions, other factors will always figure in the MVP voting that you can’t always know.  A big one is getting your team into the postseason and remains to be seen which of these guys (or if maybe both) will do that.

My Conclusion
This is a two horse race between these two guys at this point.  Other guys have good numbers, but not GREAT numbers like Votto and Pujols have put up so far.  The other power hitters don’t have the average and the high average guys have low power numbers.  But these two are examples of the perfect combo.  The remaining 1 1/2 months of the season will reveal who has in him to complete the 162 game grind still producing for his team.

But for now?  It’s too close to call.

According to my stats, a lot of you are reading but not very many are commenting, so let’s change that.  I’d love to hear what you have to say.  You can start now by weighing in on this discussion.

sp;  Who’s your call between these two?
–   Do you think I should have shown love to guys like Dunn or Gonzalez as MVP candidates?
–   Will Albert ever win the Triple Crown?  Will anybody???
–   Do you think Stephen Hill slept with his home run ball tonight?

Or anything else that tickles your fancy…..

Glad to be done playing the Cubs,

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