Albert Pujols was once revered as The Machine. As a St. Louis Cardinal from 2001-2011 he quickly became the face of one of the game's most prestigious franchises. He also appeared on the cover of the 2nd best baseball video game of all time.
Pujols was Rookie of the Year in 2001. He won the 2003 batting title, 3 MVPs, 2 World Series and 3 NL Pennants. For over a decade he was one of the most feared hitters of not just his generation, but of all time. He hit over .300 and had over 100 RBIs every year he played in St. Louis until his final season where he "slumped" to .299 and 99 respectively.
Some may say he made up for that down year in October.
Pujols' St. Louis numbers are other worldly. Lots of bold.
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When Albert Pujols signed a 10 year $254 million dollar deal with the Los Angeles Angels in December 2011 his career batting average was .328. Same as Wade Boggs. Many still believed he was an elite talent even at the wrong side of 30. I don't think anybody thought he'd put up the same numbers he did earlier in his career, but with the possibility of DHing you figured he'd put up some respectable numbers.
He did not.
I know today's baseball doesn't value batting average like our grandparents might, but it still matters. Baseball is the one sport that truly honors and cares about numbers. Most baseball fans know what 4256 or 61 refers to. Retiring a career .300 hitter is a huge accomplishment that not many players with 10+ years in the bigs can say. While it's not an automatic ticket to the HOF like 3,000 hits once was, it's quite the feat. After last night Pujol's career average dropped below .300 for the first time since he had under 15 Major League at bats. This stat almost doesn't make sense.
Albert Pujol's career in Los Angeles of Anaheim has been so horrid that there is an entire generation of baseball fans that just know Albert as a shitty DH for the Angels as they waste Mike Trout's prime. As a baseball fan it bums me our worse than the ending of Toy Story 4.
His highlights in LA include one of the least effective 40 HR seasons of all time. How you can have a slugging % below .500 40 bombs is mind blowing. No seasons after 2012 with a batting average above .275. Only three seasons with a WAR above 2.0. .259 clip in 8 seasons. One postseason appearance (swept in 2014 ALDS). It's hard to believe these are the numbers of the man who almost ended Brad Lidge's career.
With only 9 games remaining in their schedule after tonight, there aren't too many more chances for Albert to make up for 8 years of legacy ruining. It's not right that all these major milestones happened in an Angel uniform. After almost a decade I'm still not used to it. Pujols is still without a doubt a first ballot Hall of Famer, but it sure is sad to see his eye popping stats take such a hit. There aren't many 20 year old baseball fans out there, but I'm sure they have a hard time remembering St. Louis Al and what an absolute freak show he was. I understand how time works but that still fucks me up.