Throughout the years baseball has constantly produced world class hitters: Babe Ruth, Ken Griffey Jr, Hank Aaron, and Pete Rose.
However, without taking away from them, this article entails the two greatest of all time.
Albert Pujols and Ted Williams.
Yes, it is true that Ted Williams currently has the upper hand on Pujols. However, is that really an upper hand when you put the statistics aside?
Williams played in an area not contaminated by steroids whereas though Pujols had the opportunity to access them, the strong belief in baseball is that he strayed from them. In fact, Pujols undergoes two voluntary steroid tests per month to keep himself accountable to his teammates and the integrity of baseball.
Pujols has had to face pitchers such as Roger Clemens, Éric Gangé, and Andy Pettite; three of the top pitchers found on the infamous Mitchell Report. Williams never had to stand against a trial such as this as steroids weren't discovered until the mid-1930’s and at that time were not easily distributed or attainable as they are now.
Now, before all of Red Sox Nation and the rest of baseball pour out a reign of fire on me, let me explain my reasoning from a statistical standpoint (using logic mixed in).
Because we all know how little you care of one's personal aspects compared to their prestigious statistical achievements.
See Pete Rose, right? That's for you, Bud.
For his career, Williams sported a .344 batting average with his beat year being the greatest of all time with a .406 average in 1941. Williams clubbed 37 HR's and 120 RBI's that year, an absolute monster season.
On the other hand, Mr. Pujols is currently fixated at a career .334 batting average, exactly ten points lower than Williams'. How do we atone for this?
Steroids, society, and field sizes and equipment changes.
It isn't wrong nor unreasonable to question whether or not the steroid era would have had a large impact on Ted Williams' career. In fact, it's a very valid point. Outside of those on the Mitchell Report, there are suspected others who may have avoided persecution but appear on the currently secretive BALCO list.
Many experts in baseball believe the only reason the list has not been released is due to the invalidity it would bring to the game. I mean, we have enough of that with the Yankees buying up every big name player they see as if they are Mother Russia circa 1950 stocking up on nuclear missiles.
Furthering the proof of Pujols having more obstacles is that back in Williams' day baseball was hardly as competitive. The first half of the century, children who would now be playing minor league ball were working hard in factories or on the farm trying to support their family who either couldn't work physically or could not make enough on their own. These children normally today would have a few years to develop into great ballplayers, which would include the pitching position whereas in the 1900's they had just came into the league playing as is.
Factoring in to the development of players is pitch velocity. Back in Ruth and Williams’ day, 91-92 MPH was considered “fast”. Pujols sees the nastiest breaking pitches and speeds of 97+ MPH. You can’t tell me that Ted Williams’ could have hit that out of the park much less hit that a lot. Pujols does it all the time, in fact, he feeds on it. Ruth used a bat that was 40 ounces back in the day, that bat wouldn’t even knick a 95+ fastball.
Simple enough, players today are bigger, faster, and stronger.
Lastly, you can listen to these ESPN analysts and other sportswriters tell you how great and big the ballparks were, and while that may be true if you’re talking about centerfield, the porches were quite short. A lot of the older ballparks were fit into a city block, whereas now, they’re often given a nice plot of land with room for parking.