As hard as it can be to remember this, there was a time when none of us had heard of Albert Pujols.
It was way back in 2001, and Mark McGwire was entering his final injury-plagued season for the Cardinals. In spring training Pujols performed well enough that Cardinals manager Tony La Russa knew that he had to create a spot for Pujols somewhere.
Pujols broke camp with the team and in his first three games went 0-for-9 while playing left field, right field, and pinch-hitting.
He wouldn't look back.
By the end of April, Pujols was hitting .370 with a 1.171 OPS and had played four positions.
By the end of May, Pujols was still hitting .351, had a 1.080 OPS, and had hit 16 home runs.
Albert played 161 games as a rookie and batted .329 with a 1.013 OPS, hit 37 home runs, amassed 130 RBI, and scored 112 runs. He also finished the season with 194 hits, 47 doubles, four triples, and 360 total bases.
By any standard, it was one of the top 10 seasons by a 21-year-old in baseball history, and all things considered it was probably in the top five.
Pujols won Rookie of the Year and finished fourth in the NL MVP voting behind Barry Bonds, who'd set the single season home run record; Sammy Sosa, who hit 64 home runs and 160 RBI; and Luis Gonzalez, who also came out of nowhere and hit 57 home runs.