Commentary

The Pena vs. Reynolds slugfest

When it comes to pure, all-or-nothing power, who's No. 1?

Originally Published: January 20, 2010
By John Perrotto | Baseball Prospectus
Getty ImagesCarlos Pena tied Albert Pujols for the major league lead in at-bats per home run with 12.1.

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The Setup

Mark Reynolds and Carlos Pena both hit home runs in bulk, even during a time when sluggers are no longer quite as bulky.

Reynolds, the Arizona Diamondbacks' third baseman, went deep 44 times last season and finished fourth in the National League in home runs. He hit three fewer than league leader Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals. The 26-year-old Reynolds exploded in 2009 after hitting 17 homers in his rookie season of 2007 and hitting 28 in 2008.

(Check out this 2009 Baseball Prospectus piece for more on the Reynolds phenomenon.)

Pena, 31, the Tampa Bay Rays' first baseman, hit 39 home runs last season and tied for the American League lead with New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. Pena would have certainly won the title outright if Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia hadn't unwittingly helped Teixeira by smashing two of Pena's fingers with an inside fastball on Labor Day. Pena sat out the rest of the season.

Neither Reynolds nor Pena bears much resemblance to the cartoonish sluggers of the mid-1990s and early 2000s. Reynolds is 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, and Pena goes 6-2, 225. Their forearms aren't thicker than an average man's thigh, and they don't wear size-8 caps. (They don't have big heads figuratively, either; both are nice guys.)

Yet both have prodigious power and are the epitome of all-or-nothing: It seems they can only hit a home run, strike out or walk.

The question, before us is simple -- who is the truest slugger, Reynolds or Pena?

Before diving in, here are some numbers to consider.