Votto, CarGo out to end Pujols' NL MVP run
All three sluggers had seasons big enough to warrant honor
Joey Votto of the Reds and Albert Pujols of the Cardinals battled neck-and-neck for the elusive Triple Crown for much of the season and wound up watching Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies walk away with the National League batting title.
But who will walk away the NL Most Valuable Player award? We'll find out today at 2 p.m. ET.
All three put up monster numbers in 2010, making them the favorites to win the MVP -- an award Pujols has won three times previously, including in each of the past two years. Neither Votto nor Gonzalez has won the award before, but they have certainly put themselves in the mix with Prince Albert this season.
Pujols, who led the NL in home runs (42) and RBIs (118) and was sixth in batting average (.312), is trying to become the first player to win three consecutive NL MVPs since Barry Bonds won four in a row from 2001-04. But it's certainly not clear-cut as to whether he'll win.
Votto led Cincinnati to the NL Central Division title by hitting. 324 with 37 homers and 113 RBIs while earning his first NL All-Star nod. He finished third in the NL in homers and RBIs and was second to Gonzalez in batting average.
Gonzalez came out of relative obscurity to hit .336 with 34 homers and 117 RBIs for the Rockies, who made a late playoff push. The last Rockies player to win the NL MVP was Larry Walker in 1997, and no Reds player has won the award since Barry Larkin in 1995.
Here's how each of the candidates shapes up:
The case for: He led the NL in on-base and slugging percentages and drove the Reds to the NL Central title.
The case against: He didn't lead the NL in any of the Triple Crown categories.
The case for: He led the NL in homers and RBIs, was second in OPS and sixth in batting average.
The case against: His stats were a bit off his career averages and his Cards fell short of the playoffs.
The case for: He was terrific down the stretch, batting .387 with 17 homers and 55 RBIs in his final 59 games.
The case against: He hit 26 of his homers at Coors Field, and his average was 91 points higher at home.
Also worth consideration: Martin Prado, 2B, Braves; Roy Halladay, RHP, Phillies; Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Padres; Dan Uggla, 2B, Marlins.
Now it's your turn, fans. Tell us who you think should win the NL MVP. Sure, Pujols' numbers were down from his previous two MVP years, but they stacked up favorably against the rest of the field. Unlike Pujols and Gonzalez, at least Votto backers can argue that his team made the playoffs. One thing is for sure: there won't be a unanimous winner like Pujols was last year.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.