Baseball Card of the Week: Howard, Pujols Battle for MVP

We hear a lot 'round these parts about just how underrated Albert Pujols is. We hear how he should have half a dozen MVP awards by now, how he's putting up numbers that almost no one in the history of the game has, and how no other player in the game of baseball right now even begins to intimidate opposing managers to the same level that Pujols does.

Of course, most of that stuff comes from Cardinal fans. As for the rest of the country, well, let's just say there's a reason that Albert only has one MVP award so far.

Once again this year, Albert is making a strong case for himself as the Most Valuable Player in the National League. Early in the year, Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros was having an absolutely unreal year, and would have had to be the choice. Berkman fell off, though. In the second half, Carlos Delgado of the New York Mets made a big charge and began to generate some buzz. That's mostly died down again, though, as Delgado has cooled back off and so have the Mets.

Really, there's only one player right now that stands between Albert and his second MVP award. And that just happens to be the same man that stood between Albert and his second MVP back in 2006. I'm talking, of course, about the local boy (the pride of Lafayette High School), Ryan Howard. So we're going to have us a good old fashioned MVP Smackdown, Card of the Week style.


The Contenders:

What we have on the left is a 2001 Ryan Howard Prospect Premier card by Upper Deck vs. a 2004 Bowman Chrome Albert Pujols card on the right.

The Pujols card was previously featured in the 11th of July edition of the Card of the Week, and the Ryan Howard card I had to scour the seamy underbelly of the internet to find a pic of. (Ever seen 8MM? It was sort of like that, but online.)

And now, let the battle begin!

Hey, mang. I'm posting an 1.100 OPS this season, with goldeng glove defense and a walk to strikeout ratio of almost 2:1. What 'chu got, mang?

Ha, screw that! I've hit 47 home runs this year! And I've got 142 RBIs! Check and mate, my friend!

Come on now, mang. My .457 OBP is second in the league to Chipper Jones, who's a little bitch, by the way. My .641 slugging percentage is tops in all of baseball.

Forty seven home runs, bitches! One hundred and forty two RBIs! That's a one, a four, and a two! Eat it, Albert!

Now, Ryan, you know that RBIs have been empirically proven to be less the product of a hitter's skill, and more the product of the skill of the hitters in front of him to place themselves in a position to be driven in by the hitter who amasses the RBI totals, right?

Um, well, actually no, I didn't really... Hey! Wait a second! That's BS, man. Look at them home runs, boy! Ain't nothin' you can do about those!

Well, that is true, mang, but when one looks at the overall statistical package that you present, one comes to the inevitable conclusion that your home runs are really the only valuable thing you bring to the party. Your OPS is a measly .874, over two hundred points lower than mine. Your batting average is over a hundred points lower, and you've struck out almost four times as often. Mang.

Oh. Uh, well, hey! My team's probably gonna make the playoffs! Suck on that! That's what the MVP is, right? Most Valuable Player? How can you be the Most Valuable Player if your team doesn't even make the playoffs?

Oh, you mean like all those years that Barry Bonds won it over me when the Giants didn't make the playoffs? Or when you won it in '06 with your team not making it? You mean like those times?

Shit. Um, well, what about the glove? I can flash the leather with the best of them.

No you can't. The fielding metrics have you below average across the board. Meanwhile, I save more runs over an average fielder than any other first baseman in baseball.

Yeah, but, I... um, hey, I, um, I've got 47 home runs! Forty seven! How many you got, mang?

I'm going to ignore your dig at my accent, as well as that of this ridiculous sports columnist. Not even worth my time, mang. Let's just put it this way. If I played in the same bandbox you do, and pitchers didn't empty their bladders at the mere thought of throwing me a strike in a meaningful situation, my thirty five homers would look a whole lot more like your forty seven. And if I had Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins hitting in front of me, well, my RBI total would look a whole lot better, too. Remember, Ryan, counting stats are a very bad way to evaluate a player.

Oh. Um, well, huh.

Anything else, mang?

Forty seven, bitches!!!

Thus concludes this week's edition of Card of the Week Theatre. Remember to send any future submissions to me at [email protected].

- Aaron Schafer

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