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Published:September 13th, 2005 17:54 EST
Bonds is Not a Factor, but Pujols Still Not a MVP

Bonds is Not a Factor, but Pujols Still Not a MVP

By Andrew Tyndall

Tuesday marked the return of Barry Bond after missing 142 straight games and the media once again flocked to the slugger.  His absence has been a breath of fresh air, seemingly clearing much of the steroid scandal clouds out of the National League and allowing new players to get some limelight.  With him gone, it seemed that Albert Pujols would finally get his Most Valuable Player award after being second place in the voting for three years. Although Bonds is gone, Albert may not be the easy pick for the National League MVP.

Barry Bonds has won the NL MVP the last four years. What he did during that time was nothing short of amazing. He shattered both the single season home run record with 73 and the single season walks with 232, albeit most of them intentional, during that four year stretch.

Yet in those years, Pujols put up numbers that rivaled him. From 2001 to 2004, Bonds had 438 RBIs, 209 Home Runs, and a batting average around .350. During that same time, Pujols had 524 RBIs, 160 HRs, and an average of .333. These were Pujols’ first four years in the majors, and he is getting to offensive milestones faster than anyone before him. He had more RBIs than Bonds each of the last three seasons and had more home runs than him last year. Still, Bonds easy took the MVP with far more first place votes in all four years.

The main factor that decides who gets the MVP award between two with similar stats is their importance to their team. Bonds was not only the biggest offensive factor for San Francisco, he was the biggest threat in the league. The Giants would have never made it to the playoffs in 2002 and 2003 without him, much less Game 7 of the 2002 World Series. The Giants have a team very similar to the 2004 Giants but with only 65 wins and in 3rd place they will not finish near last year’s 91-win mark. The missing factor for the team is Bonds.  Pujols has had the benefit of sluggers like Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen, and Larry Walker for lineup protection during his first five years. He has always received more favorable pitches to hit with more men on base. He is important to St.Louis, but Bonds was and is vital to San Francisco. 

So with Bonds hurt, this is supposed to be Pujols’ year. Unfortunately, he will probably come up short again. Andruw Jones has carried the Atlanta Braves on his back this year. He leads the majors with 49 home runs and the league with 121 RBIs. Pujols’ numbers are not far behind, with 108 RBIs, 39 Home Runs and a league leading .338 batting average. Yet St.Louis has not had their division lead threatened for months. They lead over Houston by 15 games and will probably clinch the central division win in a few days with three weeks left in the regular season.

Atlanta has once again achieved an amazing turn around. On June 16, 2005, they were five games out and in forth place. Chipper Jones and other veterans were hurt for much of the season and the team has included up to 16 rookies to replace them. No team with that many minor league call-ups has ever had the success the Braves are having. Andruw Jones needed to step up as a veteran force and he has in a big way. He earned the Player of the Month awards in June and August and seemed to step up when the Braves needed him most. His 19 game winning RBIs tie the league lead. Atlanta now leads its division by six games on its way to a 14th straight division title.

So while Bonds steals some headlines for his return, Albert Pujols and Andruw Jones will be the ones enjoying the playoffs in October. Both of them will have many years to battle for the MVP because at 41 years old and plagued with injury and scandal, it is time for Barry to step aside and let a new generation of sluggers take over.