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Pujols is Amazing, but is Soriano 2006’s Best Overall Offensive Player?

From Opening Day of the 2006 MLB season, until the day when Pujols went on the DL with a strained oblique muscle, the Cardinals #5 was part of every baseball conversation.  "How many homeruns does Pujols have now?" was a commonly heard line if you went to the ballpark.  And there was good reason for this; Pujols was racking-up homeruns at an alarming pace and was on track to beat Barry Bonds' single-season record of 73 (whether you believe that number was inflated by steroids or not) by a mile.  Pujols was a legitimate threat to win baseball's Triple Crown (league leader in batting average, homeruns, and RBI's), and it's quite possible that he still is, provided he's able to come back quickly and strongly from his injury. 

Overshadowed by Pujols' amazing 2006 season was the year that Nationals' leftfielder Alfonso Soriano was putting together.  Through the games on June 3 (the day when Pujols was hurt; to compare him to Pujols you can't take statistics from games when Pujols wasn't playing), Soriano was batting .304 with 20HR and 40RBI.  Pujols was batting .308 with 25HR and 65RBI.  It's important to note however that Soriano was batting leadoff for the Nationals, while Pujols was in the cleanup spot for the Cardinals.  Leadoff hitters can't compile as many RBI's as cleanup hitters because more of their at-bats come with no one on base.  Also important to note is the fact that Soriano had 13 stolen bases to Pujols' 2 which definitely adds offensive value to Soriano over Pujols.  And the final thing that needs to be noticed is that Soriano's home park is the very-pitcher-friendly (and power-hitter unfriendly) RFK Park, while Pujols plays half of his games at the hitter-friendly Busch Stadium.

Based on the "obvious" statistics (average, homeruns, RBI), Pujols is the best hitter so far in 2006 and possibly in many years, but a closer look reveals that perhaps Alfonso Soriano is worthy of being mentioned whenever Pujols is.  Which of the two is the better hitter clearly depends on what you think makes the best hitter and what statistics you look at.  You can bend it either way, but in my opinion, it's Soriano who outduels Pujols for the "Best Hitter So Far" title.

Please comment on which of the two you think is the better hitter.

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