There is no replacing Albert Pujols. There is no filling any hole left by him. You take him out of the equation and you have a big void. But how big? Statistician Bill James tackled this question once by asking: how many wins is a player responsible for? And how can it be quantified? That's the statistic "runs created." So, let's just use that as our arbitrary guide.
This wasn't Pujols' best season ever—he was hobbled up and so he only amassed 106 runs created, or 6.48 per game. Now here are 12 players the St. Louis Cardinals could pursue. Think of them as offensive replacements.
Prince Fielder: younger, more durable, and he comes with optional beast mode!
He piled up 129.9 runs created in 2011 while playing in all 162 games.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim had tired of him Kendry Morales, and he could be dealt to someone (although he also plays right field).
When not hurting himself and others, Morales is a good hitter. In his last full season (2009) he went .306/34/118 (106 runs created).
Then there's Mark Trumbo, the 25-year-old who stepped in for Morales last year. In his first full season, he hit 29 home runs with 89 runs batted in (70.7 rc).
He was voted the team MVP after his first season and would have won the American League Rookie of the Year award were it not for Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson's great debut season. The Angels repaid young Mark by handing him Albert Pujols's jock.
Anyway, the Angels have way more first base talent than any team should be allowed to have under modern monopoly laws. It seems strange that the Cardinals might want to get in on another team's discarded girlfriend, but the Cardinals aren't to proud to beg.
Injury-plagued Carlos Beltran had a comeback season in a big way last year. His body held up and he played in 142 games, batted .300, hit 22 home runs, and drove in 84. That was good for 100 runs created on the nose.
Once a great center fielder, he now plays right field, which would fit the Cardinals, with them moving right fielder Lance Berkman to first base.
33-year-old Carlos Pena batted .225 last year in 153 games. He also struck out 161 times, which is why I included the picture here. He flirted with the Mendoza Line most of the year, but finished strong. Along the way, he belted 28 home runs and 80 runs batted in. He had 86.8 runs created.
Here's an interesting name. Kotchman is 28, batted .306, hit 10 home runs, and drove in 46. Last year was a dream following his .217 season in 2010 with the Seattle Mariners. He was good for 79 runs created in 2011, and he could probably be had cheaply.
By the way, I love this picture of him swinging and missing.
Eric Hosmer is just 22. He was ranked as the best first baseman prospect prior to 2011, and he did not disappoint. He hit .293, with 22 home runs, and 78 runs batted in. In his first season, he was good for 78 runs created.
The question is, does this young man want to spend the first good years of his career with the lowly Kansas City Royals? Or can he be had in a deal for a contending team like the Cardinals.
The Cardinals have an old team, they need some young blood. I know it would probably take a massive deal, but I just wanted to start the conversation here on first-base prospects
I can't figure out why some team hasn't picked this guy up. OK, he's 34, I'll concede that. But last year he batted .279, stole 27 bases, and scored 80 runs. He played in 158 games and struck out only 41 times. The Cardinals need speed and they need someone to set the table. He had 71.5 runs created last year.
I used to be high on this guy. He always seemed to fly under the radar and put up respectable seasons at the plate and as a second baseman. But last year, he only batted .222, forty points below his career average. I'm an optimist, so I think the Cardinals could get him cheap. He hit his customary 21 home runs last year along the way, with 16 stolen bases. He had 71.1 runs created in 2011.
Maybe the Cardinals need to go in a different direction to get some runs back in the lineup. They already have a string of big bats, what they don't have is any speed on the bases or even a viable lead-off man.
Coco Crisp batted .264 last year, down about ten points off his career average, but he stole 49 bases and scored 69 runs in 136 game (69 runs created). It's a thought.
OK, Ibanez is 39. He still hit 20 home runs and drove in 84, with a dwindling .245 batting average. He collected 62.8 runs created last year and could be a decent desperation move.
29-year-old Jason Kubel has pop in his bat. If he can stay in the lineup he could rack 30 home runs. His best season was 2009 where he went .300/28/103. Last year he was .273/12/58 in 99 games with 51 runs created.