Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols Deals Leave NL Weaker (Again)

ANAHEIM, CA - Albert Pujols sits on the stage at a public press conference introducing newly signed Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim players Pujols and C.J. Wilson at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

With Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols moving to the American League, the Great National League First Baseman Club just got a whole lot more exclusive.

Point: Look at all these awesome first basemen!

There will probably be three first basemen on the American League All-Star roster this year. They had four in 2010, but one of those was Ty Wigginton, who made it for the Orioles under the "This Time Everyone Gets a Ribbon!" clause that requires every team to have at least one player on the All-Star roster. That means that one of Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, and Mark Teixeira probably doesn't make the team.

You might say, "Teixeira!", but remember that he has the support of Yankees partisans everywhere. They are legion. He could get voted in. And he could also have a hot start, being Teixeira and all, that would make him impossible to snub. That would mean one of Gonzalez, Fielder, or Pujols staying home.

Unless all four are taken. Pujols can play third! But then you have to consider the up and comers like Eric Hosmer and Carlos Santana. You also have to remember that every team has to have a representative, which gives someone like Paul Konerko a good shot. And if Bartolo Colon can snort his own dried umbilical-cord powder and come back to resume his career, there's a chance for a former MVP like Justin Morneau to overcome his concussion problems and be what he once was.

You probably don't' care about this stuff in June, so you sure as heck don't care about it in January, but here's the point: Man, the American League is stacked at first base. It's unlikely that Pujols, Fielder, Gonzalez, and Teixeira will all make the Hall of Fame, but they've certainly had Hall-worthy peaks, and now they're all in the same league. I'd wager those are four of the game's five best first basemen, and I'd give Hosmer and/or Santana (when he stops catching completely) decent odds of cracking that top five sometime soon.

If you don't have a great-hitting first baseman in the American League, you're behind the curve. The A's (Daric Barton), Blue Jays (Adam Lind), Rangers (Mitch Moreland), and Orioles (Chris Davis) have some hoping and wishing to do when it comes to their first baseman.

Counterpoint: Holy hell, National League.

Joey Votto is great. If Lance Berkman continues to age gracefully, he'll remain an MVP candidate. Ryan Howard will still be overpaid when he returns from his injury, but he's certainly not bad.

Freddie Freeman has a nice career ahead of him. So should Ike Davis, if he's not broken. Gaby Sanchez is alright. Todd Helton had a nice year last year, though he's 38.

Wait, the Diamondbacks re-signed Lyle Overbay on purpose, taking away at-bats from Paul Goldschmidt?

Aubrey Huff and James Loney will start for the Giants and Dodgers. Oh.

...

Mat Gamel, Bryan LaHair, Brett Wallace, and Garrett Jones all play in the same division. It'll be as if Votto and Berkman bit their necks and extracted the hits.

...

Adam LaRoche.

...

Well played, American League. When you stuck a hose in the first-baseman barrel and started sucking, you somehow ended up sucking less when the siphoning was over. A lot less. There was a talent drain to the AL (again), and it was focused on a single position. Last year, first base was the most productive offensive position for the National League, but it just barely beat out right field. With Pujols and Fielder (and Carlos Peña) switching leagues, next year could be the first time it isn't the league's most productive position since Barry Bonds was a ringer for the left fielders in 2004.

At the end of the season, though, there will still be a best-of-seven quirkathon to decide which league is better! So buck up, National League. It doesn't matter who your star first basemen are if David Freese can be better for a week than all of them lassoed together. But when Garrett Jones or Aubrey Huff has a decent chance to be the median talent at first base, there's a chance that this isn't the Golden Era of National League first basemen.

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