Chat with Jerry Crasnick
Pluses for Pujols
Pluses for A-Rod
Fred (Long Island)
Gee, I don't think you can lose with either player... now I have seen A-Rod play a lot more and I don't mean any disrespect to King Albert because he is great but I would take A-Rod over King Albert. And my primary reason is based on the position that he plays.
Jerry Crasnick (1:04 PM)
Thanks, Fred. My sentiments, exactly. I talked to a half dozen front office people before making my decision, and the consensus is that Pujols is the better pure "hitter." But you can find a lot of first baseman who can at least come close to approximating Pujols' production. Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Mark Teixeira, Derrek Lee, Lance Berkman, Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Morneau, just to name a few. And the great DHes (Thome, Hafner and Ortiz) would all be playing first base if there were no DH rule. Now look at the third base alternatives to A-Rod: David Wright, Chipper Jones, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera, Garrett Atkins and Ryan Zimmerman spring to mind. Jones is about to turn 36 and hasn't played in 140 games since 2003. And Braun and Cabrera are so bad defensively, they're going to have to change positions. It's just a much tougher position to fill.
Matt (San Diego)
You forget to discuss clubhouse presence and maturity, which gives Puljos the edge if you're starting a team.
Jerry Crasnick (1:05 PM)
Matt, No question, Pujols has a lot less baggage to carry around. But that's partly a reflection of playing in St. Louis, where there's one local paper and the media spotlight isn't nearly as suffocating. Of course, A-Rod is the guy who chose to play in New York (and hire Scott Boras as his agent), so he can't complain about all the attention.
Jeff New Jersey
(Mets fan remember) I have to believe it would be A-Rod as well. As much as I like Pujols, I see his back problems to continue to get worse as he ages and A-Rod looks like he is getting better. With his new deal and tenure in NYC, he will continue to progress and might not win a world series next year, but will help the ball club as it uses its farm league to turn things around.
Jerry Crasnick (1:08 PM)
Jeff, A-Rod's durability was also a point in his favor for me. The guy simply doesn't get hurt. Pujols is also good for 150-plus games a year, but over the past few seasons, he's suffered injuries to his hamstring, quad and oblique. He' also been bothered by plantar fasciitis. He plays every day out of sheer toughness. But I think the injuries are bound to catch up to him eventually.
Dan, Chestnut Hill, MA
I have to agree with Matt. As a Yankee fan A-Rod's antics serve as a constant distraction in the clubhouse where you never hear a negative comment about Pujols. Additionally, while both are essentially even as hitters, A-Rod had a down year in the field where Pujols was stellar again. I also agree Who over Zepplin.
Jerry Crasnick (1:11 PM)
Dan, It's good to see there are some people from my musical generation on this chat. As for the defense, Pujols had the edge there. He's phenomenal. From everything I've seen and heard, A-Rod is basically an average third baseman at this point. His range is so-so at best,, and he has a heck of a time with pop flies.
If you're actually talking about BUILDING a team, you'd have to do it around Phat Albert, since A-Rod would wipe our your budget. If money was not an issue, I'd say A-Rod, but reality says pick Pujols.
Jerry Crasnick (1:12 PM)
Kevin, I didn't take the salaries into account. For what it's worth, Pujols is under contract for three more years at $48 million, with a $16 million option for a fourth year. Think the Cardinals will exercise the option?
Jimbo, San Francisco, CA
Pujols, has a ring. A-rod is a proven loser. End of argument. Neither really matter. Pitching wins championships, not a position player, who gets 3 AB's a game. Stupid argument to begin with. I can think of about 20 pitchers that I'd take over either player
Jerry Crasnick (1:13 PM)
Jimbo, If you can think of 20 pitchers that you would take over Albert Pujols or Alex Rodriguez, feel free to send them along. I'm wagering you can't.
Nathan (Brooklyn, NY)
Don't get me wrong. I love Albert Pujols. But put him in pinstrips and let's see how he handles the pressure of being a Yankee and living in the midst of the media storm that is New York City. I imagine the St. Louis beat writers aren't going to put the screws to him like the NY Post, Daily News, or Mike and the Mad Dog...
Jerry Crasnick (1:16 PM)
Nathan, I agree. Again, A-Rod chose New York, so he has to live with what he gets there. But I remember a scenario a couple of years ago where Pujols was acting testy and blowing off the media, and hardly anyone outside St. Louis heard about it. It's just a different world between St. Louis, where the fans are knowledgeable yet upbeat by nature, and New York, where they love to pick apart their heroes. Remember how A-Rod got skewered for taking off his shirt and sunning himself in Central Park? Geez ...
Jeff (Las Vegas)
I would take A Rod however I have to think twice how well does he hit in the playoffs he couldnt hit water if he fell of a boat, in the playoffs
Jerry Crasnick (1:18 PM)
Jeff, I looked this up through the always helpful baseball-reference web site, and A-Rod was actually a .330 hitter in the postseason (34 for 103) through the 2004 season. He's gone 7 for 44 since then, and he's now a .279 hitter in October. Not great, but he's not the lifelong postseason choke artist that everybody makes him out to be.
Adam (Corona, CA)
It's easier to find a quality first baseman than a SS that can produce like A-Rod! Enough said.
Jerry Crasnick (1:20 PM)
Adam, A-Rod isn't a shortstop, of course. He's a third baseman. I asked a scout if he could still slide over and play SS, and the answer is pretty much no. Rodriguez could do a serviceable job over there as a stopgap for a week, but he's simply too big and lacks the range to play SS on a regular basis now.
Jesse (Cambridge, MA)
Since I'm from Boston, where almost every pro team (Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Revolution) are winning because of what Bill Simmons calls "chemacterility," I have to go with Pujols over A-Rod if I'm starting a MLB team today. Pujols is definitely a guy in the Brady, Garnett, Varitek mold; guys who clearly earn the respect of their peers by their work ethic, character, and genuine likability. As much as A-Rod produces massive numbers, I think having the ability to take your team to the next level, a la Garnett, is much more important because there's no way any player, no matter how good, can do it alone.
Jerry Crasnick (1:22 PM)
Jesse, Fair enough. I've watched Pujols hit a lot, and I'm amazed at how readily he'll try to hit a ground single up the middle to drive in a big run rather than just swing for the fences. He's a very good baserunner and an outstanding defender, as well. That stuff all matters.
Craig (New York, New York)
I agree as between AROD and Pujols, I take AROD. But then again, I take David Wright over either in a heartbeat!
Jerry Crasnick (1:24 PM)
Craig, The question here is A-Rod vs. Pujols, but I'm sure there are other, younger players you'd have to consider if starting a team from scratch. Just look at impact shortstops like Hanley Ramirez or Jose Reyes, or a Grady Sizemore in Cleveland. Those up the middle positions -- catcher, shortstop and center field -- are like gold.
Matt - St. Louis, MO
obviously my opinion is biased, but to recap what everyone has pointed out...pujols is the better option: 1) starting next year, he'll be getting paid half as much! 2) 4 years younger 3) WS ring/able to perform in playoffs 4) no baggage a-rod's position and defense does give him the edge in that category, but don't forget that pujols is a gold glover at first so they're both assets on D a-rod has more speed, but that will (if it hasn't already) begin to fade
Jerry Crasnick (1:26 PM)
Matt, One other point: A lot of people in baseball, right or wrong, think that Pujols is actually older than 28. There's never been a shred of reporting to confirm it, and Pujols has always maintained that his listed age is right on the money. So we'll take him at his word and leave it at that.
Jerry, say you're at a fantasy baseball draft. Do you take either A-rod or Pujols with your pick. Personally, I'd take A-Rod. Primarily because of position. If this wasn't a fantasy draft but building a team around, I would go with Pujols.
Jerry Crasnick (1:29 PM)
Jesse, Yep, I'd take A-Rod because I could always grab a Mark Teixeira, Adrian Gonzalez or Justin Morneau in a lower round as my first baseman. If I pass on A-Rod, I might wind up with Melvin Mora or Pedro Feliz.
Do you give any weight to the fact that Pujols has been beating up on quadruple A pitching while Alex has spent his whole career in the AL?
Jerry Crasnick (1:31 PM)
Eric, I considered taking the difference in leagues into account, but to me it seems to apply more strongly to comparing pitchers (say, Jake Peavy vs. Josh Beckett) than hitters. Does Pujols really derive an advantage from facing NL pitchers? I don't see it.
Evan (Los Angeles,CA)
I would take A-Rod for sure. He played stellarly everywhere he's been, which INCLUDES New York. When i see Pujols put up numbers as a Yankee, with the enormous pressure of the New York Media, then i might consider Pujols. Though Pujols is better defensively, thats at first base. Plenty of guys that can hit and play firstbase. As previously mentioned, how many monsters are at third base? not so many.
Jerry Crasnick (1:33 PM)
Evan, Here's another interesting thing I learned about A-Rod while checking his numbers: The guy has been successful on 80.5 percent of his career stolen base attempts. Heck, Lou Brock was only successful on 75.3 percent. A-Rod currently has 265 stolen bases. With three more, he'll pass Mickey Rivers on the all-time list. I kid you not.
Jimmy The Cat (St. Louis)
What people do not understand is that Albert is the most surly guy in that clubhouse. The only time he deals with the media at all is when it is a feel good piece for ESPN. I also find it hard to believe that he is only 28, there will be a day when all the info on Albert comes out and when that day arrives I think it will surprise a lot of people. AROD all the way.
Jerry Crasnick (1:35 PM)
Jimmy, I honestly don't know about the age. There were several stories written on the topic when Pujols first arrived in the big leagues, but nothing came of it. As for Albert's persona, he's been known to be standoffish at times. But I approached him for a story last summer and he was great. I think he's started to understand the responsibilities that come with being one of the game's best players.
Did you consider ballpark effect? I don't know much about the two St. Louis parks that Pujols has been in, but Yankees Stadium is a "pitcher's park" and is supposed to be hell for righty power hitters and A-Rod has crushed the ball at home.
Jerry Crasnick (1:39 PM)
Eric, I looked at that as well. You're right about Yankee Stadium -- it's a major poke for a right-handed hitter. From everything I've seen, the new Busch Stadium is pretty much neutral. The thing with Pujols and A-Rod is, they crush it at home and on the road. So I don't think ballpark factor is a huge deal.
I like both. The chemistry, age and money make me say Pujols. I see the repeated theme of position but didnt pujols play 3rd before Rolen came? he doesn't seem as stiff as say Ryan Howard. I think Arod also has benefit of playing around better hitters as well
Jerry Crasnick (1:41 PM)
Jacon, Yes, Pujols began his career as a third baseman, just as A-Rod started out as a shortstop. Both guys seem better off where they are right now because of their body types. Pujols is less inclined to break down at first, and A-Rod is simply too big to play shortstop.
Kevin (Evanston, IL)
Answering Eric's question, A-Rod hit slightly better on the road last year, hitting two more homeruns and slugging 30 points higher away from the Stadium. Pujols home/road splits were much more pronounced: .294/.399/.487 with 12 HR at home, .358/.455/.642 with 20 dingers on the road.
Jerry Crasnick (1:41 PM)
Thanks for the info, Kevin.
steve - nyc, new york
i think i would have to pick pujols because of his ability to perform in the clutch...and his quiet personality that helps him stay out of all the drama, kind of like jeters'...even though i think pujols might be older than his papers state...i would still pick him being an avid lifelong yankees fan
Jerry Crasnick (1:43 PM)
Steve, On the topic of performing in the clutch, A-Rod is a career .306 hitter with a .965 OPS with runners in scoring position. With the bases loaded, A-Rod hits .353 with a 1.147 career OPS. So the guy doesn't exactly melt when there are ducks on the pond (unless, of course, you include some recent Octobers).
Joe (NY, NY)
ARod will be breaking every record in baseball in the next 4 or 5 years. He is the reason a team makes the post season.
Jerry Crasnick (1:46 PM)
Joe, That point is definitely worth noting. When the regular season is 162 games long and a team can be eliminated in three games in the first round of the playoffs, don't we have to take that into account? As one MLB executive told me, "Maybe you can blame one guy for a team's performance in the NBA (Take Dirk Novitzki in Dallas, for example). But in baseball? No way you can pin the Yankees' recent failures on one guy."
You keep saying A-Rod is too big for SS. Has he bulked up that much since his back-to-back Gold Gloves in 2002-2003? The only reason he plays 3B is because Jeter is an icon. A-Rod's career fielding pct as SS is .977, but only .960 at 3B.
Jerry Crasnick (1:48 PM)
Ben, You're right -- it might not be a function of size alone. But I checked all the defensive ratings from last season -- David Pinto's probablistic model of range and everything else -- and A-Rod didn't exactly set the world on fire at third base. If he's not covering ground at third, it's tough to see him shifting back to SS.
Ben (Columbia, MO)
It's the 9th inning in an elimination LCS game. Two outs, two runners on, down by two. Who do you want up? A-rod or Pujols. I'll bet you I know who Brad Lidge wants to face. Pujols can hit when it matters.
Jerry Crasnick (1:51 PM)
Ben, I'd take Pujols because he's a better pure hitter with fewer holes in his swing. This is almost impossible to fathom, but the man has 452 strikeouts and 592 walks in the majors. He also grounds into a ton of double plays (20 or more GIDPs five times in seven seasons), but that's an unfortunate side effect of him putting the ball in play so routinely.
Peter (Greenwich, CT)
Mrs. Pujols or Mrs. A-rod?
Jerry Crasnick (1:51 PM)
Peter, Interesting question, but I think we'll have to save that one for another day.
George (NY, NY)
let's spice it up, Jerry...pls answer my question...how bout the fact that Pujols is probably on steroids and will likely have a Jason Giambi-eque breakdown in the next 5 years? Why isn't anyone bringing this up? Am i being that ridiculous?
Jerry Crasnick (1:55 PM)
George, I was hesitant to even post this comment, but given the current climate, the question was bound to come up eventually. Jose Canseco has made a bunch of veiled threats about A-Rod, but who knows if he'll have anything substantive to say in his book. Pujols' name was mentioned in that sham list that was posted in advance of the Mitchell report (it turned out to be completely false). and he's consistently denied using performance enhancers. Really, I don't feel comfortable tossing around rumors and speculation about every guy wearing a big league uniform. But that's the world we live in today, unfortunately.
I agree that pitching is more rare but I watched A-rod "grow up" with the M's and he and Junior were rare combinations of character and ability. Pujols is great but give me A-rod or Jr in his prime.
Jerry Crasnick (1:57 PM)
Brian, A funny thing about A-Rod: He was pilloried last year for yelling "Ha!" and distracting Howie Clark from catching that pop fly in Toronto. I asked Earl Weaver about it later in Cooperstown, and he thought it was a great baseball play and that people had absolutely no reason to criticize Rodriguez. Which makes you wonder: If it were anybody else, would people have even said a word about it? Because of his salary and his personality, A-Rod is judged by a different standard than everybody else.
Spencer (Orange County)
Who would you rather have a beer with?
Jerry Crasnick (1:59 PM)
Spencer, Great question. I'd probably pass on both guys and go out for beers with Torii Hunter and Sean "The Mayor" Casey.
Steve (Boston, MA)
Jerry know that i think of it ill take Youk, and Mike L. over both of them to play my corner spots WS CHAMPS baby
Jerry Crasnick (1:59 PM)
Steve, Thanks for the provincial Bostonian viewpoint. A baseball chat at ESPN simply wouldn't be complete without it.
Phil (Normal, IL)
Addressing Pujols hitting into double plays. The reason for that is that he makes such solid contact that when he hits it to an infielder it gets to them so quick that if they field it cleanly they could turn it on anyone not named Ichiro.
Jerry Crasnick (2:02 PM)
Phil, For what it's worth, the top five MLB players all-time at grounding into double plays are Cal Ripken, Hank Aaron, Carl Yastrzemski, Dave Winfield and Eddie Murray. If Albert Pujols joins them one day, he'll be in pretty good company.
Jerry Crasnick (2:03 PM)
Thanks for all the responses, folks. We got nearly 3,000 in an hour, so it appears there are a lot of people more interested in talking about baseball than Roger Clemens and the upcoming Congressional steroid hearings. Have a great weekend.