On The Heels Of a Giant: When Albert Pujols Passes Stan Musial

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On The Heels Of a Giant: When Albert Pujols Passes Stan Musial
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

St. Louis has been home to many of MLB's greatest players, including Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and Ozzie Smith. 

But no player is more revered in St. Louis history than "Stan-the-Man" Musial. 

Stan-the-Man finished his career with a .331 batting average, 475 home runs, 1951 RBIs and 3630 hits.  He went to 24 All-Star games, won three World Series, and earned the NL MVP three times. 

Although he has long been the most storied St. Louis Cardinals baseball player, Musial's shoes will be filled within the next 10 years, or perhaps even five, by Albert Pujols. 

"The Machine" is currently chipping away at his 10th season as a St. Louis Cardinal, and is already within 100 home runs of Musial, who played 22 seasons. 

To date, Pujols has 385 home runs, 1170 RBIs and a career .333 batting average. 

So will Pujols' passing of Musial make him the greatest player of the 21st century? 

Not necessarily.

Provided he stays healthy, Pujols will be what people thought Ted Williams could have been had he not missed years of playing time serving in the military, what Ken Griffey Jr. could have been had he not suffered injuries that kept him from putting up freakish career numbers. 

But "provided" and "if" do little to comfort fans. 

Pujols will have to simply play as though records don't exist, as if every game depends solely on him in order to be crowned greatest ever. 

And what's more important? 

Winning World Series as a member of a great team, or building a bigger personal trophy case as the years progress?

Pujols already has a World Series ring, something titans like Barry Bonds and Griffey Jr. cannot boast. 

How fans view Pujols in the next ten years will be interesting. It seems as though the Machine has already done everything a player can hope to do in his career: hit a ton of home runs, win awards, win World Series rings. 

Will fans continue to back Pujols when he gets a little older?  What will happen if Pujols only hits 500 home runs, only gets 3000 hits? 

Will fans be satisfied with anything but the greatest player ever?

Only time will tell.  For now, we can all just sit back and say "wow" every time Pujols does what he does best: be himself.

 

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