Albert Pujols: Is Anyone Better?
Albert Pujols is quickly becoming one of the greatest hitters that the game has ever seen.
In his first eight full seasons in the MLB, he has put up gawdy numbers, that can't be matched.
Recently, Pujols surpassed the 1,000-RBI plateau, and is slowly creeping up the all-time home run list.
Pujols was drafted in the 13th round of the 1999 MLB Draft by St. Louis. He has only played in the minors for one year (2000), and appeared in just three games at the AAA-level.
However, he is a seven-time All Star, four-time Silver Slugger, two-time MVP, and his best years may actually be ahead of him.
Let's take a look at what "Fat Albert" or "Winnie the Pooh"jols has done in eight complete seasons.
2001: NL Rookie of the Year
Home runs: 37
Awards: NL Rookie of the Year, All Star, Silver Slugger, fourth in NL MVP voting
You will see that this is the norm for Pujols. An OPS around .800 is superb, but he stays around the 1.000 mark every year.
2002: Not Quite the MVP Yet
Home runs: 34
Awards: Second in the NL MVP voting
2003: Coming Up Short Again
Home runs: 43
Awards: All Star, Silver Slugger, Second in NL MVP Voting (I don't know how with 51 doubles and 43 HR, but OK)
2004: Not Second, but Third This Time
Home runs: 46
Awards: All Star, Silver Slugger, Third in NL MVP voting
2005: Finally the NL MVP
Home runs: 41
Awards: NL MVP, All Star
Not his best year number-wise, but the MVP Award finally belonged to Pujols.
2006: A Gold Glove in the Trophy Case
Home runs: 49
Awards: NL Gold Glove, All Star, Second in NL MVP voting
The least amount of games played for Pujols, but the highest HR and RBI production to date. Seriously, how good is he?!?
2007: An Off Year
Home runs: 32
Awards: All Star, ninth in NL MVP voting
His lowest run, HR and RBI total for any given year, but still not too shabby.
2008: NL MVP Once Again
Home runs: 37
Awards: NL MVP, All Star, Silver Slugger
Looking at the overall numbers, his best year so far, but perhaps the best is still yet to come.
He's Only 29!!
He hasn't even hit 30 years old (turned 29 in January), but here has what he's done so far...
Home runs: 319
Pujols has hit at least .314, with 32 HR and 103 RBI in every season, (I didn't think that was possible).
He also has a season OBP average of over .400 (minus 2002). That means he's getting on base somehow in over 40 percent of his at-bats. That's pretty good.
Home runs: 39
It's kind of hard not to be in awe of this guy.
2009: What's in Store for Albert?
The 2009 season is nearly a month old, and Pujols continues his attack on the game.
With the Midsummer Classic being in his home ballpark this year, he will no doubt be named to his eighth All Star team, and will always be on the MVP watch list.
After this season, here's where is numbers should roughly stand
Home runs: 360
Total Bases: 3,200
Pretty good for a 13th-round pick, who will complete just his ninth year in the league come October.
A Look Into the Future
So what kind of numbers can he end up with?
Well, keeping his season averages in mind, he should reach the 3,000 hit mark, and has the opportunity to be the new home run king (if he pulls a Hank Aaron or Barry Bonds), and plays past 40 years old.
Keeping his pace of hits, Pujols should get No. 3,000 midway through the 2016 season.
Giving him the benefit of averaging 40 HR a year, he could surpass 762* in the ending weeks of the 2020 season, but he would 40 years old that year.
Or he could become the king to begin 2021 at the age of 41.
Pujols plays the second least demanding position in the league, at first base (DH is easiest), so his body has a good chance of holding up (knock wood).
If Pujols indeed plays for 12 more years, we can safely assume that there will be another class act amongst the greats.
There's More to Pujols Than Just Numbers
Pujols was also given the 2008 Roberto Clemente Award for the community service he does around St. Louis.
His main project is the Pujols Family Foundation, which tries to improve the lives of children and younger adults who have Down Syndrome. He also helps underpriviledged children in his native Dominican Republic.
Pujols also gives time to the Boys and Girls Club, as well as the Ronald McDonald house.
I've never met Pujols myself, but I've also never seen him in the negative limelight.
I think it would be safe to assume that if you came into contact with Pujols, he would be the nicest guy you'll meet.
The on-field numbers are good, but it's the off-field demeanor that makes room for him amidst the all-time greats.
Pujols is a true leader, that anyone would love to meet, as well as have on their team.