Albert Pujols truly had it all in St. Louis. He was an icon who was worshiped by all walks of life in the Gateway to the West. He was amazing on the diamond and just as amazing off it with all the time he gave to the community, and yet he walked away from it all.
Regardless of which camp you believe, Pujols left for the West Coast and a truckload of money and St. Louis is a small speck in his rear-view mirror.
Here are five reasons Pujols will regret packing his bags and heading West.
1. Lineup protection
Pujols is a hitting machine, no doubt. That said, he was well protected in the lineup during his time in St. Louis. For years he had Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen protecting him and providing opportunities for RBI's. More recently, the Cardinals management brought in Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman to force pitchers to throw to Pujols.
Now Pujols will be surrounded by the likes of Mark Trumbo, Kendrys Morales and Torii Hunter. Trumbo is still developing as a hitter and strikes out a ton, Morales hasn't played in the big leagues since 2010, and Hunter is past his prime. Pujols may be taking that slow trot down to first an awful lot this year when the opposing skipper holds up four fingers.
2. Not getting to face the NL Central
Again, not to take anything away from Pujols' dominance, but he has built a career feasting on weak pitching in the NL Central. He is a career .331 hitter against the NL Central opponents with 231 home runs and 675 RBI's. Those are nearly half of his career totals in each category.
While Pujols has hit well in inter-league series over the years, he hasn't fared well in AL West parks. In his limited at-bats in AL West parks, Pujols has posted a paltry .189 average.
3. Better pitching in the AL
Pujols will be going to head-to-head with the likes of Felix Hernandez, Derek Holland, Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, and the list goes on and on. While some of the better pitching resides in the other divisions in the AL, Pujols will most likely face King Felix and Holland more than once this year. Pujols has never faced Hernandez, and Holland owned Pujols in the World Series.
Then there is the run through the AL East. The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays all offer better pitching than Pujols saw on a regular basis during his time in the NL. Pujols will need to raise his game to a new level to keep in line with his career stats.
4. Pressure to win
Pujols could have continued to own St. Louis for the rest of his life, well beyond his playing years. The pressure to win a championship would never have surfaced again. Pujols help lead the Cardinals to two world championships in three appearances.
With a salary larger than some small country's annual GDP being shelled out to Pujols, the pressure to win a championship will be squarely on his shoulders. Add to that the huge L.A. market, Pujols will have to answer for any Angels shortcomings in years to come.
Arte Moreno has done an exceptional job building a fanbase that plays second fiddle to the Dodgers in the L.A. market. That said, there is no competition for fans in St. Louis. The Cardinal fanbase is right near the top in many lists as the best baseball town in America.
It is an unknown if the Angels fanbase will support Pujols like the Cardinals fans did for 11 seasons, especially if the Angels don't win right off the bat.