- "I'd give him the Barry Bonds treatment right now. I wouldn't even pitch to him. Right now, he's more dangerous than Pujols . . . if he and Pujols were in the same lineup, I'd pitch around Votto to get to Pujols. I wouldn't do that the rest of the season, but right now, that's how good Votto is going."
Votto's been fantastic this season. Obviously.
Is he the best hitter in the National League, right now?
I don't know. Scouts see things that I don't. But the season is relatively young. But assuming that everybody's healthy, right now ... Well, I'm still going to suggest that it's Albert Pujols and a bunch of other guys.
Looking at every hitter with at least 750 plate appearances since Opening Day of 2009, there are some obvious stratifications:
Albert Pujols: 180 OPS+
Adrian Gonzalez: 163
Joey Votto: 160
Prince Fielder: 157
Miguel Cabrera: 154
Joe Mauer: 153
Kevin Youkilis: 150
Justin Morneau: 148
The strapping fellow at the top stands alone. Then come three National Leaguers, bunched up pretty good, followed by four American Leaguers, bunched up pretty good. Would it be chauvinistic to suggest that if we account for the differences between the leagues, Youkilis and Morneau are roughly as skilled as Votto and Fielder?
Sure, it's possible that the five best hitters in the majors all play in the National League. It just doesn't strike me as particularly likely.
Meanwhile, there will be a day when Albert Pujols isn't the best hitter in the known universe. That day isn't today, though.