Comparing the best MLB players of the 2000s and 2010s: First base
First base: Albert Pujols vs. Miguel Cabrera
There really isn’t much of a debate here, but we’ll do our due diligence. Albert Pujols had a dominant 2000s decade and is the easy pick for best first baseman. Todd Helton had a tremendous decade, while Jason Giambi, Jim Thome, and Carlos Delgado all put up impressive power numbers.
However, Pujols won three NL MVP awards and finished in the top four in voting in all but one year. He is first among first basemen in the decade in batting average, OPS, and RBIs. He batted over .300 every year and only had an OPS under 1.000 twice. Few hitters have so thoroughly dominated a decade.
The 2010s decade is much tougher to decide. The traditional offensive numbers (batting average, hits, home runs, RBIs) favor Miguel Cabrera. However, Joey Votto has the edge in WAR, 53.8 to 43.5. He narrowly beats out Cabrera in OPS, .944 to .943, largely on the strength of his ability to draw walks. Paul Goldschmidt was pretty good during the decade, too. I’m going to go with Cabrera in a close race over Votto, as the traditional numbers are too hard to ignore.
So is there really much of a debate between Pujols and Cabrera? Not really, but one thing we will say about Cabrera is that he did his damage largely in pitcher-friendly Comerica Park. However, Pujols has the advantage in so many categories; the 1.055 OPS, as opposed to Cabrera’s .943, really separates Pujols. Cabrera had a great 2010s decade; we’re not taking anything away from him. Pujols was just too good.