Posts from Maryland about everything MLB, NFL and college sports

The Greatness of Albert Pujols

Babe Ruth. Reggie Jackson. Last night, Albert Pujols joined in on the company of those two legends.

Pujols because just the third player in World Series history to smack three home runs in a game. He went 5-for-6 with six runs batted in, becoming the second player in Fall Classic history with five hits, tying Paul Molitor’s 1982 Game 1 performance. His six-RBI night also tied for the most in World Series history with Bobby Richardson (1960 Game 3) and Hideki Matsui (2009 Game 6).

In addition to tying some elusive milestones all in one night, Pujols can also scribble his name alone on top of some records. He had 14 total bases yesterday, a new World Series record that had previously been shared by Ruth and Jackson with 12. Pujols also became the first player ever in a Fall Classic game to have as many as four hits, two home runs and five RBIs in one game. The fact that he was able to accumulate one more of each of those figures in a game makes this performance one of the greatest, if not the greatest, in World Series history.

The best postseason performers throughout history have been able duplicate, or ever raise their regular season numbers against the best competition when the lights shine brightest. Ruth was a career .342/.474/.690 batter in the regular season but hit .326/.467/.744 with 15 home runs and 33 RBIs in 41 career playoff games. Jackson, over his career, was a .262/.356/.490 hitter, but in the postseason, raised those numbers to .278/.358/.527 with 18 homers and 48 RBIs in 78 games. The modern-day Mr. October, Derek Jeter, is a career .313/.383/.449 batter in the regular season and in 152 career playoff games, has hit .307/.374/.465 with 20 homers and 59 RBIs.

Albert Pujols is already the closest modern-day batter to Ruth, Pujols being a career .320/.420/.617 hitter over his career. Pujols has hit more than 40 home runs in a season six times in his career, or one more time than he has finished with fewer than that standard. Since becoming a full-time position player in 1919, Ruth finished with 11 years of over 40 home runs compared to five full seasons of fewer than that number. Granted, Ruth played in 16 full seasons as a position player while Pujols, who is 31 years old, has played in 11 so far.

Pujols, though, has somehow raised his modern-day Ruthian numbers in the playoffs. Over 70 career postseason games, he is a .343/.444/.630 batter with 17 doubles, 18 home runs and 52 RBIs. If you take out his playoff numbers in his first two big league seasons at ages 21 and 22, respectively, Pujols is a .371 batter with a .445 on-base percentage, 16 homers and 45 RBIs over 57 games in the postseason. He is that rare breed who is somehow able to raise an already incredibly high-set bar in the playoffs when the lights shine brightest.

A couple months ago, I wrote that Albert Pujols was the greatest player we will ever see. His postseason performance, not only from his record-setting night in Game 3 of this year’s Fall Classic, is only adding to that legacy.

3 responses

  1. Albert Pujos joins Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson as only ones with 3 home runs in a World Series game.

    October 23, 2011 at 7:22 pm

  2. Laurence

    You make a nice argument for Albert but I have the advantage of years and I would have to rate several players i saw play over Pujols. Certainly he is never going to be as good a hitter as Ted Williams. And Ted was only slightly better at the plate than Willie Mays and Willie’s all around surpassed, well, everybody. Its hard to rate anyone higher than the Babe (never got to see him, of course, I am only 64) when you consider he was for several years one of the better pitchers in the game. Maybe we will someday be able to say that Albert was the first baseman of all time but at this point in his career I would say he compares with Orlando Cepada, Maybe even Willie McCovey but probably not Lou Gehrig. And in overall rating of all around baseball he trails many besides the ones I mentioned: Yaz, Clemente and Mantle come to mind. Albert just is not there yet. Fair enough if you say Pujols is the best player YOU have ever seen. But on My All Time team Pujols would be my DH….against leftys.

    November 4, 2011 at 1:05 am

    • Laurence,

      Thanks for the comment. I should have clarified in the story that I am only 20 years old, and therefore, am not as lucky as you to have seen some of these legends play. Certainly you are correct in the fact that Pujols is not Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams and Willie Mays. Obviously I never got to see Yaz, Roberto Clemente and Mantle play, but I believe Pujols’ numbers actually stack up quite nicely against them. But again, I never saw them play so that’s all I have to go by.
      Thanks again for the comment and for reading my blog! You made some really great points and I appreciate you taking the time to write them out!

      Scott

      November 4, 2011 at 11:20 am

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