St. Louis Cardinals: Is Albert Pujols the Greatest Hitter in NL Playoff History?

Kelly Scaletta@@KellyScalettaFeatured ColumnistOctober 13, 2011

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 12:  Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals walks back to the dugout against the Milwaukee Brewers during Game Three of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium on October 12, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Albert Pujols has been having an utterly ridiculous NLCS. In fact, it's been the most ridiculous NLCS in the history of the NLCS, as he's sporting the highest all-time OPS in that round of the playoffs at 1.965. Even his slugging percentage reads like an OPS, at 1.273.

This isn't his first ridiculous NLCS or postseason, though. In fact, when you look at what Pujols has done over the course of his career, he makes an excellent case as the most productive hitter in the history of the National League playoffs. 

Let's start with his slash numbers (BA/OBP/SLG). His .339/.450/.604 makes him one of only two players in NL history who have more than 100 postseason at-bats to post a .300/.400/.600 line. The other is Lenny Dykstra, who has a .321/.425/.661. The amazing thing is that Pujols has held up his numbers with more than twice as many at-bats.

Dykstra held his numbers up for 112 plate appearances; Pujols has done it over 230.

When you look at the numbers separately, it's not less impressive. Pujols' .339 batting average is the highest of any hitter with at least 100 at-bats. Steve Garvey's .338 is second-best. 

Further, Pujols' .442 on-base percentage is fifth best in NL history; but again, you have to consider the number of plate appearances. Fellow Cardinal Lance Berkman is the all-time leader for players with at least 100 plate appearances, of which he only has 159. 

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Garvey, who sports a .468 OBP, is the only player with at least 200 at-bats (232) who is ahead of Pujols. No player has a higher average with more at-bats. 

Pujols' slugging percentage is third-best in NL history, behind only Lenny Dykstra (.661) and Jaysen Werth, (.608). Again, though, both have far fewer plate appearances than Pujols does.

No player with more plate appearances than Prince Albert has a higher BA, OBP or slugging percentage. When we look at the cumulative numbers things get no less impressive for Pujols. With 14 home runs he is the all-time National League leader. He trails Chipper Jones by just one double and 14 total bases. Both those records could very easily fall before this postseason is over.

He has the third-most hits, trailing Pete Rose (86) and Chipper Jones (96), with 78 base hits of his own. With 42 RBI, he only trails Jones. The RBI record is easily within reach, and the hits record isn't that far off either, though it's a stretch.

In runs scored, he trails again just Jones, who has 58 compared to Pujols' 45. It's not realistic to expect that even Pujols can score 13 more runs in this postseason.

When you put it all together, it's realistically possible that when this postseason is over, Pujols will be the National League's all-time postseason leader in batting average, home runs, doubles, total bases and RBI. He either should be or already is second all-time in hits and runs as well. 

This, in addition to no player having more plate appearances than him having a higher batting average, on-base percentage or slugging percentage. Is that enough to qualify him as the greatest postseason hitter in NL history?

Hold on a second. We aren't done yet. Where Pujols really steps things up is in the NLCS. 

ST LOUIS - OCTOBER 21:  Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals yells as he rounds the bases after Scott Rolen #27 hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the 6th inning to give the Cardinals a 4-2 lead in game seven of the National League Championshi
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

No player with at least 50 at-bats has a higher batting average than Pujols' .389 NLCS average. Only Carlos Beltran, who has 51 ABs, has a higher OBP, slugging percentage or OPS than Pujols, who has sustained his success with more than twice as many at-bats. 

Pujols also holds the all-time NLCS lead in home runs (9), doubles (8), total bases (75), extra-base hits (17), runs (24) and RBI (24). 

He is tied with Jones for second with 40 hits, trailing Rose by just five hits. 

He also has the single season record (at least for now) in OPS in a single series with 1.965. He has the second most runs in a single series with 10 in 2006. He has the most total bases in a single series, with 28 in 2004. 

He is tied for the most home runs in a singles series with four from the 2004 NLCS. This year he already has four doubles, tying him for second-most all-time, trailing Javy Lopez by just one. 

His nine RBI in the 2004 series are the second-most in NLCS history. 

His World Series numbers aren't nearly as impressive, and that might be where there's a chink in his armor. His .267/.421/.467 numbers are relatively pedestrian. He has just one home run, two RBI and scored only four runs.

With only 30 ABs, though, a hot World Series this year would certainly help him to elevate those numbers, and the way he's hitting right now bodes well for that. 

If you're talking about what he's done in the NL playoffs, it's hard to question he's the greatest NL postseason hitter ever. To take the title of best overall NL postseason hitter ever, though, it's going to take him buffing up his World Series totals.