Earlier this week I made the case for Albert Pujols as the lead dog in The NL MVP Race. Honestly, he isn’t the lead dog, he is the only dog worth even mentioning.
Some of you may understand just how historic Pujols has been in his career, other’s may not, so I thought I would spend a few minutes detailing to you just how amazing Pujols has been through his first nine seasons.
(1) If not for some moronic voting in 2002, Albert Pujols would have been selected to the All-Star team in every season of his career (he ended the year hitting .314 with 34 homers, 127 RBI and 118 runs scored and was hitting “only .294-21-66-66 in 84 games in the first half).
(2) Pujols may have won two MVP awards so far, his third one will be added to the mix shortly, but despite playing only nine seasons he is already 11th all-time in MVP Shares. He could easily move up to about sixth on the list after this year’s vote is announced.
(3) Pujols owns a .334 career batting average, the 24th best mark in baseball history for players with at least 3,000 plate appearances. He has never finished below seventh in NL batting race in his nine seasons.
(4) Pujols owns a .427 career OBP, the 13th best mark in baseball history. Six times he has finished in the top-3.
(5) Pujols owns a .628 career SLG, the fourth best mark ever. In each of his nine seasons he has finished in the top-9.
(6) Pujols owns a 1.055 career OPS, the fourth best mark in baseball history. In all of his nine seasons he has finished in the top-10, and over the past five years he has finished first in the NL four times.
(7) Pujols has had only one “down” season in his career. In 2007 he hit .327 with 32 homers, 103 RBI and 99 runs scored. That ’07 season is the only one in his career in which he has failed to knocked in at least 116 runs or score at least 100 times.
(8) Here is how Pujols ranks, amongst all major leaguers, during his career (minimum 3,000 plate appearances).
AVG: .334, 1st overall
HR: 366, 2nd overall (A-Rod has 394)
RBI: 1,112, 1st overall
Runs: 1,071, 1st overall
OBP: .427, 3rd overall
SLG: .629, 2nd overall (Barry Bonds posted a .731 mark)
OPS: 1.055, 2nd overall (Barry Bonds posted a 1.262 mark)
(9) And finally. In each of his nine seasons, Pujols has hit at least .314 with 32 homers, 103 RBI and 99 runs scored. That run of nine consecutive seasons is the longest such stretch in the history of the game (Babe Ruth is second with seven). What about Alex Rodriguez or Manny Ramirez, the two other right-handed hitters often spoken of as potential all-time greats from the right side of the plate? A-Rod’s longest stretch is two years (2000-01) while Manny has never done it in back-to-back seasons.
Those are just some of the numbers that speak to the greatness that is Albert Pujols. So next time you are sitting around the fire blazin’ up some smores and the conversation floats to baseball, you know which man you should lead with when someone asks you ‘who is the greatest right-handed hitter you have ever seen play?’ If you are under 40 and you don’t say Mr. Pujols you need to lay off the ripple. If you were to come back and ask this question in another 10 years I think it’s at least a 50-50 bet that no matter how old you are that the answer would be Albert Pujols. Mr. Pujols isn’t just great, he is historically magnificent. You can tell him I said so.
By Ray Flowers