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Albert Pujols Proves Rogers Hornsby Was Baseball's Greatest Right-Handed Hitter

Harold FriendChief Writer INovember 8, 2011

Rogers Hornsby Statue
Rogers Hornsby StatueDilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Albert Pujols, who has played for the St. Louis Cardinals since 2001, is the best player in baseball.

Few players can successfully match Pujols' accomplishments during his first 11 seasons, but Pujols isn't the greatest right-handed hitter in baseball or even Cardinals' history.

Rogers Hornsby was a Cardinal from 1915-26. He batted .359/.427/.570, averaging 16 home runs and 88 RBIs a season. His career spanned the end of the "dead ball" era and the "lively-ball" era, which started in 1920.

Miller Huggins was the Cardinals manager when Hornsby was signed. Huggins is known as the New York Yankees' manager who almost could handle Babe Ruth. The diminutive skipper knew how to deal with Hornsby, who had some problems off the field. The manager and the player got along extremely well.

When Huggins, who was unhappy with the Cardinals front office, left to manage the Yankees, he was replaced by Jack Hendricks, whom Hornsby resented and didn't respect. The Cardinals finished last in 1918, and Hornsby declared that he wouldn't play if Hendricks remained the manager.

Team president Branch Rickey replaced Hendricks.

From 1920-25, Hornsby produced six of the greatest offensive seasons ever. He batted .397/.467/.666. Pause a second.

He hit .397 over six seasons. No one has ever done that and no one ever will.

When Tony Gwynn batted .394 in the 1994 strike-shortened season, fans marveled at his accomplishment, as they had done when George Brett hit .390 in 1980.

From 1921-25, Hornsby batted over .400 three times. During those five seasons, he batted .402/.474/.690. Ted Williams was the last player to bat at least .400 for just one season.

In 1922 and again in 1925, Hornsby won the Triple Crown. The only other two-time Triple Crown winner is Ted Williams.

Albert Pujols is a tremendous hitter. This is not an attempt to denigrate Pujols because that cannot be done, but Pujols' great season's indicate Hornsby's true greatness as a hitter.

From 2003-2010, Pujols batted .334/.433/.635, averaging 42 home runs and 122 RBIs a season. For his 11 Cardinals' season, Pujols has batted .320/.420/.617, which is remarkable.

Hornsby left the Cardinals following the 1926 season at the age of 31, which is Pujols' age.

For the remainder of his career, he batted .357/.450/.593 until he retired when he was 41-years-old. So much for the expected offensive fall off after the age of 32 or 33.

The most home runs Hornsby hit a season was 42, but Hornsby had at least 200 hits in five seasons while Pujols has done it once. Pujols averaged slightly more doubles, but Hornsby averaged many more triples.

Pujols has already won three MVP's while Hornsby won two, but in 1924, when he batted .424, one voter, Jack Ryder of Cincinnati, left Hornsby off his ballot because, he explained, he thought that Hornsby wasn't a team player.

In 1962, the Baseball Writer's Association of America retroactively recognized Hornsby as the 1924 MVP.

The St. Louis Cardinals have had some of the greatest hitters in baseball history, but there was only one Rogers Hornsby.

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