- Mark Saxon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Three-and-a-half months ago, this blog asked the question: Who would you rather have, Albert Pujols or Josh Hamilton? The response here: Pujols. Better production, better durability, longer track record.
OK, stop laughing now. Please stop laughing now.
Things change over time. It's the nature of things. So, how do we analyze this question now?
It seems wrong, not to mention sadistic, to bring up the notion that the Angels have Pujols signed for nine more years beyond this one. We'll confine our discussion to the present, since nobody can predict the future and few Angels fans have the stomach for it anyway.
We should also offer this disclaimer: Hamilton is coming off a record-breaking, four home run night and Pujols is in the worst slump of his career. Nobody -- and I mean even the Texas Rangers' horse, whatever it's called -- thinks these two players will stay on their current trajectories. But this is where we are, so let's take a look:
Pujols has 11 total bases in his last 70 plate appearances. Hamilton has 22 total bases in his last six plate appearances. (Thanks ESPN Stats & Info)
In other words, last night Hamilton doubled Pujols' production since April 20.
More fundamentally, Pujols has a .509 OPS and Hamilton has a 1.298 OPS. Hamilton has hit 14 times more home runs and driven in four times as many runs. Pujols' WAR (wins above replacement) is -6 and Hamilton's is 2.4 (the defensive metrics aren't real high on him, interestingly).
[CORRECTION: As accurately pointed out in the comments below, Pujols' WAR is -0.3, not -6]
So, according to this measure, the Rangers would be something like 18-12 if they had used their next-best outfield option; the Angels would be about 14-17 if they had plugged in their next-best first baseman. In other words, take these two players out of the equation and the Angels would only trail Texas by 4 1/2 games, easily manageable at this point of the season.
Is it scientific? Not exactly, but it also doesn't fail the eyeball test. All it really does in the final analysis is reinforce what we already knew: the Angels aren't going anywhere if Pujols doesn't pick it up soon.