Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Power and the Glory: Jose Alberto Pujols Alcantara and the Reaping of the Harvest

In 2001, Barry Bonds hit seventy three home runs. Roger Clemens won the Cy Young without completing a single game he started. The Seattle Mariners won 116 games in the regular season, on the wings of twenty-seven year old rookie Ichiro Suzuki. The Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series in seven games, capping one of the most dramatic postseasons to date. Less than two years after being the 402nd pick in the 1999 draft, Albert Pujols made his debut for the St. Louis Cardinals. This is how it turned out:
Standard Batting
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB Pos Awards
200121STLNL16167659011219447437130136993.329.403.6101.0131573602191765379/DAS,MVP-4,RoY-1,SS
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2017.


He had a season that many ten year veterans can only dream about, and he did it at age twenty-one. He hit thirty-seven home runs that year. Last night, over sixteen years later, Pujols hit his 600th. Now a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Albert, dubbed The Machine many years ago, is nowhere near the player he once was. Yet in deterioration, the reaping of a career's effort now comes to pass. As Pujols joins a now-nine man club of all-time sluggers, it is evident that though the bright years of his youth have long since faded, Albert Pujols will be considered one of the greatest to ever step into a batter's box.

Over the years, Pujols was a model of consistency and it was not all about the dingers. For eleven straight years to begin his career, his OPS was over .900, with a majority of those seasons above 1.000. Just look at his career numbers for extra base hits.


Standard Batting
Year Age AB 2B 3B HR OPS
200121590474371.013
20022259040234.955
200323591511431.106
200424592512461.072
200525591382411.039
200626535331491.102
20072756538132.997
200828524440371.114
200929568451471.101
201030587391421.011
20113157929037.906
20123260750030.859
20133339119017.767
20143463337128.790
20153560222040.787
20163659319031.780
201737205609.708
17 Y17 Y934360816600.959
162 162 61140139.959
AB 2B 3B HR OPS
STL STL 6312455154451.037
LAA LAA 30311531155.793
NL (NL (6312455154451.037
AL (AL (30311531155.793
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2017.

The only other player in history with more than six hundred doubles and six hundred or more home runs is Hank Aaron, the greatest power hitter of the twentieth century.

Albert is 124 hits from 3,000. Only three players in history have that many hits and six hundred home runs. Hank Aaron, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays. In all likelihood, however, Pujols will need to beat back father time to join Aaron in the 3,000/700 club, one narrowly missed by Barry Bonds.

The names Pujols is associated with are legends. Myths. Faces on baseball's Mount Rushmore, for better or worse.

The somewhat rapid decline of his offensive prowess has tampered with an otherwise glowing career. Over the first eleven years, Albert snagged three MVP awards and was runner up three times. He finished in the top-five in all but one of those seasons.

In 2012, after winning a second World Series with St. Louis, Pujols left for the Angels. There he was hidden by East Coast media outlets and a rookie phenom who took the game my storm, much in the way Albert had done over a decade earlier. With the attention drawn to Mike Trout, Albert Pujols mellowed out and continued to amass a longer list of career accomplishments. Now thirty-seven, the dominant years of Pujols' career are all but a distant memory. Yet in the masked decay of a monolith figure, Pujols has remained one of the game's best, merely eroded by the evidence that he is no longer the most terrifying hitter in baseball.

As careers go, it will be tough to find one more golden than that of Albert Pujols. Just look at his line from last season, when he was washed up and fading.


Standard Batting
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB Pos Awards
201636LAAAL1526505937115919031119404975.268.323.457.780111271242066*D3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2017.

Now that is a line many ten year veterans can only dream about, and he did it at age thirty-six.

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