Joey Votto beats Albert Pujols for NL MVP

Joey Votto


Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto won the National League MVP award, beating three-time winner Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals. Votto got 31 of 32 first-place votes while Pujols received the other vote. Votto just barely edged Pujols among position players for the most wins above replacement (WAR) in the National League this season, and had a bigger lead for the highest win probability added (WPA).

Highest WAR, 2010
NL Position Players

Votto set career highs in nearly every offensive category -- hits, runs, home runs, runs batted in, walks, stolen bases, batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, just to name a few.

He led the National League in slugging and OBP (and of course, OPS), finished second in batting average and third in home runs and RBI. He developed impressive power, as well: his 25.0 HR/FB rate led baseball (min. 400 PA), up from 17.45 last season.

Oddly though, his fly ball rate dropped significantly from 39.3 in 2009 to 34.8 this year. So he got the ball in the air less frequently, but when he did, it went out more often.

Votto hit .324 with 37 HRs, 113 RBIs, 91 walks, a .600 slugging percentage and a .424 on-base percentage. And 18 of those 37 home runs were opposite-field shots, which led the majors. He became the fifth player in Reds history to hit over .300 with 30 HRs and 100 RBIs, and three of those five won the MVP award that season.

And perhaps more importantly, Cincinnati won the NL Central by five games over the Cardinals, the Reds’ first playoff appearance since 1995. St. Louis had won four of the previous six division titles and six of the previous 10. In fact, 2010 was the first time this century that the Reds finished ahead of the Cardinals in their division.

Albert Pujols

PujolsPujols finished second after leading the National League in runs scored, home runs, RBIs and intentional walks. It’s his eighth top-three finish, which is one behind Barry Bonds for the most all time, and his ninth top-five, which ties him for second behind Bonds, who had 12. Pujols was second in the league in OBP and OPS, and finished sixth with a .312 batting average, the lowest batting average of his incredible 10-year career. In addition to his offensive prowess, Pujols won his second career Rawlings Gold Glove Award this season.

Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies finished third after finishing first in the National League in hits, batting average and total bases, second in RBIs and slugging percentage, and fourth in home runs. He too won a Gold Glove for his work in the outfield as well as a Silver Slugger award. He tied for 11th in the NL with 26 stolen bases to go with 34 doubles and nine triples, which was the sixth-best total in the league.

San Diego Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez finished fourth, the fourth straight season that he’s finished higher than the year before. Gonzalez was the definition of clutch this season, leading the league with a .407 batting average with runners in scoring position.

And rounding out the top five is Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki, his second consecutive fifth-place finish. Tulowitzki became just the fourth National League shortstop since 1901 to post a season with a .300 batting average, 25 home runs and a .900 OPS. He set career highs this season in batting average, slugging and OBP.