Albert Pujols is a 23 year old baseball player. He plays for the storied St.
Louis Cardinals. Pujols had the greatest first and second year start to his
baseball career in the history of baseball. In case you missed what I just
said, let me lay it out for you again. No player ever, not Babe Ruth, nor Ted
Williams, nor Roger Maris, nor Barry Bonds had as good a start as Albert
Pujols, the 2001 Rookie of the Year. And in
2003, his third year, he is a Triple Crown threat, batting around .390.
Let's do some statistics comparison. The best statistic for each column
between the three players below is in bold.
Year Ag Tm Lg G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
2001 21 STL NL 161 590 112 194 47 4 37 130 1 3 69 93 .329 .403 .610
2002 22 STL NL 157 590 118 185 40 2 34 127 2 4 72 69 .314 .394 .561
1939 20 BOS AL 149 565 131 185 44 11 31 145 2 1 107 64 .327 .436 .609
1940 21 BOS AL 144 561 134 193 43 14 23 113 4 4 96 54 .344 .442 .594
1986 21 PIT NL 113 413 72 92 26 3 16 48 36 7 65 102 .223 .330 .416
1987 22 PIT NL 150 551 99 144 34 9 25 59 32 10 54 88 .261 .329 .492
Pujols' was the first player ever to maintain a batting average over .300,
hit 30 homeruns, score 100 runs, and accumulate 100 RBI in his first two
seasons, making his first two years more impressive than Ted Williams', who
admittedly had a fantastic start to his career. Regardless, Pujols is the one
OK FINE, I feel obligated to take on the inevitable whine of a Red Sox fanatic, or perhaps one of the cryonics technicians
keeping the human icicle version of the one time great sportsman:
"But Ted Williams was a little bit better," you say. Exactly. Ted
Williams' individual statistics are in fact, to a narrower inspection of their
first two years, better. Agreed. However, that you even have to make an
argument to compare popsicle-man to the fleshy Pujols, in the form of a
death throe from a sad and inadvertent experiment in the psychology of social
memory. To the clearer thinker: Pujols broke more individual records over the
two year span. Consider also that most players foul up quite dramatically in
their rookie season. Not just mediocre players, but most hall of famers took from two to three (at least one) years to reach the
level of statistical accomplishment that would persist over their long careers.
Even the Sultan himself, the man that is both the Elvis and
Buddha of baseball, the man who lives forever not in a meat
refrigerator, but in a candy bar, the man whose name the Japs
would scream out while fighting hand to hand with other Yankees in the
Pacific: Babe Ruth.
Even the Babe took a couple years to heat up. Granted, he started his career
as a pitcher, but even in that role he didn't break into
the league like Phat Albert. Pujols still needs to prove himself
as a player. I agree. And, I hope he stays in St. Louis.
You've seen Pujols' stats for his first two years. Thought it
was a fluke? Let's check out his numbers so far in the 2003 Season:
(updated as the season progresses)
YEAR G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS
2003 82 315 75 119 29 0 24 76 32 27 0 1 .378 .435 .698 1.134
Check out that batting average, son. He had two slumpy days two days
ago, and before that it was .391. That number is not even funny. That number
is scary, even to me, a part of Cardinals nation since birth. He has a chance
to hit .400. Who else to be the last to hit .400 but our Ted Williams, and
that was in 1953. Fifty years ago.
Some say that Albert Pujols is not the greatest fielder. Consider that
Albert Pujols has played, succesfully, at five defensive positions: Right
Field, Left Field, Third Base, First Base, and the difficult Short Stop position. Ted Williams, as a random
example, only ever played in the outfield. Pujols commands both the infield and
outfield, with carreer averages in Fielding Percentage in all the individual
positions never lower than .937 Bonds never played in the infield, either.
Pujols is making a home out in Left, as well as at First. He could be a great
Third Baseman, but his current team already has the position filled
with Scott Rolen, arguably the best in the entire Major