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Is Prince Albert still king of first basemen?

From the ol' mailbag:

    Hey Rob, saw where you called Joey Votto the best 1st basemen in the National League. That's just stupid. You tried to qualify it by saying "right now", to get rid of the precedent Albert Pujols has set. So I guess since Albert has the same amount of homers, more RBI, and is barely behind Votto in BA, SLG% and OBP, Votto is clearly the better first basemen in the National League. Clearly the guy who's never driven in more than 84 runs is "now" the best in the league. I guess since we're operating in the "now" though, shouldn't the fact that over the last ten games for each of them, Albert is 20/47 .426 avg, 5 hr, 12 rbi with 3 k's and Votto is 15/39 .385 avg, 3 hr, 8 rbi with 8 k's, be taken into account? Albert has been, is, and will continue to be, better than Joey Votto. Make a comparison when Votto hits 30 homers for the first time, drives in 100 for the first time, wins a division for the first time, wins a division for the first time, and sets the new assists record for his position, which Albert currently holds.

    - Brian (St. Louis)

I said that? Are you sure? Without a link, I don't know exactly how to check. I do know that just one month ago, I wrote a blog post and titled it, "Votto's great ... but still no Pujols."

OK, so it's not exactly "War and Peace" or "This Time Let's Not Eat the Bones" ... But I think it got the point across.

That said, your contention that " Albert has been, is, and will continue to be, better than Joey Votto" is a little over the top, don't you think. Do you mean Pujols will be better than Votto forever? What about in 2020, when Albert's 40 and Votto's 36? Will there never be a moment at which we decide that Votto is better than Pujols?

Yeah, it's definitely possible. We tend to think of Pujols as a veteran and Votto as a relatively young player, but the actual four-year difference might not mean a great deal in 2020. They're both likely to still be a playing, but a lot may happen between now and then. Pujols might have retired, or Votto might have.

Still, Joey Votto's OPS+ over the last two seasons is 162. Same time frame, Albert's is 177. Advantage: Albert. And the advantage probably grows if we consider fielding and baserunning. If I had to choose one first baseman for the rest of 2010, or for 2011, I would probably choose Pujols. But what about a first baseman in 2013? What about 2012 through 2014? Could we at least begin to make the case for the other, younger guy?

I don't know. Too many variables to wrap my noodle around. Let's just not be too quick to dismiss the notion.