Pujols the near-unanimous choice

Our ESPN experts weigh in with their thoughts on who is baseball's best young hitter.

Originally Published: June 17, 2003

The question: Who is baseball's best young hitter (25 or under)?

Peter Gammons
1. Albert Pujols
2. Albert Pujols
3. Albert Pujols

What about Alfonso Soriano, you ask? Soriano is a good offensive player, not a great hitter. To compare Soriano and Pujols is laughable.

Tom Candiotti
1. Alfonso Soriano
When he hits the ball, it jumps off his bat. He goes up there to hit, not to draw a walk, so sometimes he chases bad pitches. He just can't wait to swing. When he develops more discipline, he'll be an even better hitter. With his bat speed, power and base-running skills, there might not be a better offensive threat in baseball.

2. Albert Pujols
He has more command of the strike zone than Soriano. With his ability to hit for average and power, Pujols can pull out a serious whupping stick.

3. Hank Blalock
He can hit the ball with authority to all fields, and his power numbers will come if he chooses to go that way. He has great bat speed with a powerful swing.

Joe Morgan
Albert Pujols
He's far and away the best young hitter -- it isn't even close. He doesn't swing at the ball, he attacks it. He can handle all pitches, showing much more maturity than other young hitters. He's selective when he needs to be. Pujols doesn't chase as many bad pitches as Alfonso Soriano does.

Soriano is a good hitter with a quick bat, but he can be overly aggressive at times. He swings at bad pitches, especially when he's behind in the count.

Rob Dibble
Albert Pujols
He's the only player in baseball history to hit .300, score 100 runs, hit 30 homers and have 100 RBI in each of his first two years.

He hits the ball to all fields. Last year, he led the majors in pitches seen per at-bat, and when he worked the count to 3-2, he hit .343. It's amazing for a 23-year-old to be so polished.

Last season, when pitchers pounded him hard inside, he only hit .294 up to the All-Star break. He made his adjustments, and hit .335 and drove in 61 runs after the break. He's a tireless worker and should stay hungry his entire career. His manager, Tony La Russa, recently said that Pujols is the best player he's ever managed. That says it all.