During Mays' era, batting average was the first statistic cited when comparing players. Mays batted .302 for his career. Pujols has batted .328.
Mays hit 660 career home runs over basically 20 full seasons, which is an average of about 36 home runs over a 162-game season.
Pujols already has hit 445 home runs during his 11 seasons, which is an average of about 42 home runs over a 162-game season.
Mays' on base average was .384. Pujols' is .420. Mays slugged .557. Pujols has slugged an incredible .617.
It isn't really close. Pujols is surpassing Mays in every important offensive category by a wide margin.
Before a strikeout became "just another out," it was a disgrace to strikeout. Even sluggers were embarrassed when they didn't make contact. Many great sluggers walked more often than they struck out.
Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Mize, Stan Musial, Ralph Kiner and Hank Aaron, the all-time career home run leader, walked more than they struck out.
Mays averaged 83 strike outs and 79 walks a season. Pujols has averaged 67 strikeouts and 93 walks a season in an era of strikeouts, which is as incredible as DiMaggio hitting 361 home runs and striking out 369 times in his career.
Turning to modern statistics, a disclaimer is necessary. Many of the statistics are based on subjective assumptions that compromise some measurements, but they do provide a ball park (really, no pun intended) evaluation of a player's accomplishments.
WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is a single number that presents the number of games a player added to his team above what a replacement player would add.
Mays' average WAR was 7.0. Pujols' was 8.1.
Mays' average oWAR or offensive WAR was 6.2 and his average dWAR or defensive WAR was 0.8.
Pujols' average oWAR was 7.0 while his average dWAR is 1.1.
The dWAR reveals a major weakness in many modern statistics. Does anyone in his right mind think that Albert Pujols is even close to Willie Mays as a defensive player?
Finally, RAR represents Runs Above Replacement, which is defined as the number of runs a player is compared to a replacement player.
Mays' average RAR was 6.7. Pujols has an average RAR of 7.9.
Whether one compares Mays to Pujols using traditional measurement or sabermetrics, there is no doubt that at this point in his career, Albert Pujols ranks well ahead of Willie Mays among great offensive players.
The key question is whether or not Mays' great defensive abilities are enough to rank him ahead of Pujols as an overall great.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!