The addition of Matt Holliday to the team's lineup for his first full season in the uniform meant a bit of competition for Albert. In fact, in two categories, the left fielder topped the three-time National League Most Valuable Player. Holliday edged Pujols in batting average at .31208 to .31175 and in doubles, 45 to 39. That was it, however.
Moving on from there, a more relevant population against which to compare Pujols is the remainder of the NL, and specifically Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto.
As the numbers below indicate, Pujols was more consistently at or near the top of the league's leaderboards than his Cincy competitor. Yet, because Votto's team reached the postseason and Pujols' did not, the former is considered by many to be in position to break the Cardinals' star's two-year reign as MVP.
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Despite his strong numbers across the board, 2010 represented one of Pujols' least impressive in his decade with the Cardinals.
That .312 average was his lowest as a major leaguer, two points worse than in his 2002 sophomore season. In 2010, Pujols did not set a career high in even one of the ten listed categories. In fact, in eight of the ten stats, his 2010 total ranked in the bottom half of his ten big-league seasons.
Most recently, in 2009, Pujols established his personal bests in intentional walks and total walks and the year before, set new highs in one-base percentage and OPS.
The fact that Pujols had such a strong 2010 season compared to his peers, yet not as much in comparison to his own past is a most explicit reminder of precisely how great he has been.
Among Albert's highlights in 2010:
Ninth All-Star berth in ten years
Only player in MLB history with 30 home runs in each of his first ten years
August NL Player of the Month
Only player in Cardinals history with three consecutive 100-walk seasons
Third-youngest player in MLB history to reach 400 home runs
Passed Stan Musial with the most multi-home run games in team history
Congratulations are hereby offered to Albert Pujols, The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com St. Louis Cardinals Player of the Year for 2010.
Note: Link to article with all award winners across the system as well as 2010 team recaps, exclusively for subscribers!
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Selected TCN content appears at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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