- 1B, 3B, DH, LF, OF, RF, SS, 2B
- Prince Albert, Phat Albert, The Machine
- January 16, 1980
- 6' 3"
- 230 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-02-2001 with SLN
- Allstar Selections:
- 2001 ROOK, 2001 SS, 2003 Hank A, 2003 ML, 2003 SS, 2004 NLCS, 2004 SS, 2005 MVP, 2006 GG, 2008 ML, 2008 MVP, 2008 RC, 2008 SS, 2009 Hank A, 2009 LG, 2009 ML, 2009 MVP, 2009 SS, 2010 GG, 2010 SS
"The man is good at every little thing he does." - Mike Easler
"When that ball flew over our heads, I turned to Mike Mason, our bullpen coach, and said, 'That's why they pay that guy a hundred million bucks.' "— Ray King, watching in the bullpen when Albert Pujols hit a key post-season home run in 2005
Albert Pujols is quite possibly the best player of the 2000-2010 decade. Based on the similarity scores method, the most similar player to Pujols, at ages 21-27, is Joe DiMaggio. At ages 28-30, it is Jimmie Foxx. The second most similar player to Pujols, at his current age (2010), is Frank Robinson.
Pujols won the National League MVP award in 2005, 2008 and 2009, but that shouldn't obscure the fact that he was also in the top four in the MVP Award voting in each of 2001-2004 and 2006. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2001.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Pujols moved to the United States in the early 1990s. He briefly attended a Missouri community college and in 1999 was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round.
The year 2000 was his only one in the minors. At age 20, he played most of the season for Peoria in the Class A Midwest League, posting .324/.389/.565 with 17 home runs. He was the league's MVP. His teammate Ben Johnson hit 13 home runs, but with a much lower batting average. Pujols then spent 21 games with Potomac in the Carolina League and 3 games with Memphis in the Pacific Coast League to finish out 2000. He hit a walkoff home run to win the PCL Championship Series for Memphis.
His major league seasons from 2001-2009 have been uniformly excellent. The lowest batting average he has posted is .314, his lowest home run total has been 32, and his lowest RBI total has been 103. He even stole 16 bases in 18 attempts in 2005.
There is no way to know what the future will bring, but after his first nine years, Pujols had the fourth highest slugging percentage in the history of the game, behind Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig, and ahead of Barry Bonds. Of course, those players did it over the course of a career, while Pujols still has many years to play.
If anything negative could be said about his play, it's that his range defensively early in his career could have been better. However, he is a multi-position player, having appeared in left field, right field, third base, and first base during his career, and even once apiece at shortstop in 2002 and second base in 2008. He switched largely to first base in 2004-06, and won a Gold Glove at the position in 2006. In 2009 he set a record for assists by a first baseman.
2006 was a typical season offensively for Pujols, except his slugging was a bit better than usual. He played on the 2006 World Series winning Cardinal team, and while he hit only .200, it was a low-hitting series, with the Cardinals as a team hitting .228 and the Tigers hitting .199.
In 2006, Albert Pujols reached 2,000 career total bases in just 854 games, making him the quickest player ever to achieve that mark. The record had been 869 games by Nomar Garciaparra. He lost the 2006 NL MVP race to Ryan Howard, 388 points to 347. The Dominican Republic sports ministry arranged a news conference for Pujols, where he vented that a player from a non-playoff team should not win the MVP. It should be pointed out that Howard's team won two more games than Pujols' team and only missed the playoffs because they played in a tougher division.
Pujols hit his 300th home run on July 4, 2008. It made him the 5th-youngest player to hit 300 as he was 28 years and 170 days old, one day younger than Mel Ott. Alex Rodriguez, Jimmie Foxx, Ken Griffey Jr. and Andruw Jones had reached 300 at younger ages than Pujols.
In 2009, Pujols broke Bill Buckner's major league record of 184 assists by a first baseman. Mark Grace had held the NL mark.
Even though he is not yet 30 years old at the end of 2009, he already ranks # 31 on the all-time list for points as determined by the Hall of Fame Monitor. The scale is such that 130 points "is a virtual cinch" to get into the Hall, while Pujols already has 226 points.
Pujols hit his 400th career home run on August 26, 2010, off Jordan Zimmermann. He became the 47th major leaguer to reach that figure and the third-youngest after Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr.
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