Albert Pujols Free Agency: 10 MLB Lineups the Slugger Fits into Perfectly
The biggest free-agent name out there is Albert Pujols this winter, and there will be a handful of clubs that will make a serious run at the slugging first baseman and future Hall of Famer.
While there may be just a few teams that make a serious bid for Pujols, there are many lineups in which he would be a perfect fit.
Here are 10 of them...
1. Texas Rangers
The team that Albert Pujols and his St. Louis Cardinals defeated in the 107th World Series is a club that could use an upgrade at first base.
While the Texas Rangers are a heavy-hitting team that ranked first in MLB in team batting average and second in home runs last season, current first baseman Mitch Moreland is not one of the big hitters on the club.
Moreland hit .259 with 16 homers and 51 RBI in 2011. Adding Pujols to a lineup that already features Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz, Michael Young and Mike Napoli would make the Rangers' offensive attack one of the greatest in the history of the game.
2. Milwaukee Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers are almost certain they won't have slugging first baseman Prince Fielder back next season, which opens up a gaping hole at first base for a team that is built around its offense.
Albert Pujols would fill the vacuum perfectly, with Ryan Braun (.332, 33 HR, 111 RBI) to either protect Pujols in the lineup, or be protected, guaranteeing some terrifying results for opposing pitchers.
3. Florida Marlins
The Florida Marlins have a new title, a new look and a new manager.
They might want to even consider a new first baseman that can solidify the middle of their lineup.
Albert Pujols could team with Hanley Ramirez and new skipper Ozzie Guillen to bring on-field excitement to a new stadium in South Florida.
4. Chicago Cubs
Perhaps the most intriguing off-field news during an exciting MLB postseason was the Cubs' hiring of Theo Epstein as their president of baseball operations.
It remains to be seen what moves Epstein will make prior to the 2012 season, but one of them could be to bring Albert Pujols to Wrigley Field, where Carlos Pena (also a free agent) may not remain in the blue pinstripes at first base for the Cubs, and where the faithful will be in year No. 104 without a world championship.
5. Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals signed free-agent slugger Jayson Werth to a monster deal following his final year with the Phillies in 2010, but so far he has been far from what the Nats hoped for.
Werth hit just .232 with 58 RBI in 2011.
The Nationals could certainly use some offensive pop to provide support for Stephen Strasburg and Washington's pitching staff, and Albert Pujols could provide it.
Current first baseman Michael Morse has experience in the outfield, and could be moved to accommodate a Pujols arrival in the nation's capital.
6. Baltimore Orioles
Buck Showalter's Orioles looked to become the surprise of MLB early in 2011, but then rapidly faded from contention, finishing last in the AL East yet again.
Despite Baltimore's woes, a lineup featuring Mark Reynolds (37 HR, 86 RBI in 2011), JJ Hardy (30 HR, 80 RBI) and Nick Markakis (.284, 73 RBI) could become very dangerous with the likes of Albert Pujols in the middle.
7. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers really weren't in the mix in the Pujols sweepstakes, but with rumors of Mark Cuban potentially purchasing the franchise, anything's possible.
James Loney has been a solid offensive presence at first base for Los Angeles for many years, but 2011 was a down year for Loney, who drove in just 65 runs after posting 90 and 88 RBI in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Albert Pujols could really invigorate a lineup that already has Triple Crown threat Matt Kemp in the middle.
8. Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays made a furious dash to the regular-season finish line in 2011, qualifying for the playoffs on the last day and conjuring up images of a potential Cinderella story.
It wasn't meant to be, and the Rays now need to retool their offense, which was one of the worst in baseball last season (25th out of 30 clubs in team batting average, .244).
Albert Pujols would be a huge upgrade over current first baseman Casey Kotchman, and with Evan Longoria could create a fantastic one-two punch for the Rays.
9. San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants have too many first basemen on the roster, which makes them more of a long shot to sign Albert Pujols this winter.
But their current starter, Aubrey Huff, had a dismal 2011 season after a great 2010 campaign in which he led the team in home runs (26) and RBI (86).
In 2011 Huff saw his batting average drop by 44 points, and his on-base percentage by a startling 79 points.
Albert Pujols would not only be a huge upgrade at first base, but would fit very nicely between returning catcher Buster Posey and a rejuvenated Pablo Sandoval.
10. St. Louis Cardinals
Perhaps the most perfect fit for Albert Pujols, in a lineup or otherwise, is his current home team: the St. Louis Cardinals.
And after an improbable and thrilling World Series victory in 2011, that's probably where he'll stay.