The Great Pujols

This morning, when debating what to write about today, I thought about penning something about Albert Pujols. It’s tough to say anything new and interesting about the man, because after all, what is there to say? He’s the best player in baseball and everyone knows it. So, I wrote about the legendary Juan Uribe instead.

But then, Albert just insists on being covered. I was considering mentioning how unbelievably hot he’s been lately this morning, and now, he’s just finished an afternoon game against Milwaukee where he went 3 for 5 and launched two more home runs, giving him 47 on the season. His stretch of baseball the last six days has been obscene.

September 4th, @Pit – 2 for 4, HR, BB, .38 WPA
September 5th, @Pit, Pinch hit game winning HR, .33 WPA
September 6th, @Pit, 3 for 5, .10 WPA
September 7th, @Mil, 3 for 4, 2 2B, BB, .25 WPA
September 8th, @Mil, 1 for 3, HR, 2 BB, .15 WPA
September 9th, @Mil, 3 for 5, 2 HR, .17 WPA

13 for 22, 2 2B, 5 HR, 4 BB, 0 K. Not a bad week.

I guess we shouldn’t be that surprised. After all, we’re talking about a player who hasn’t had a single day all season where his OPS was less than 1.000. It hasn’t been under 1.100 since mid-June. His performance today pushed him over the +8.0 win mark for the season, and he’s now on pace to have the best offensive season of his career.

The man is an incredible player. He could go 0 for the rest of his lifetime and still be a first ballot Hall Of Famer. He’s one of the greatest hitters to ever live. He is amazing.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

58 Responses to “The Great Pujols”

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  1. Archie says:

    Albert and the girl scouts could win the Central. What an incredible player.

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  2. Nick C. says:


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  3. Evan says:

    Who is this Pujols I keep hearing so much about?

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  4. Michael says:

    Hyperbole much, Dave?

    No but in all seriousness, he’s sick.

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  5. Matt B. says:

    The best since Barry Bonds…

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    • VolsnCards5 says:

      ugh…please don’t bring that steroid talk about pujols here…he’s clean

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    • Matt B. says:

      I don’t care if Bonds did or didn’t, he was great before during and after… I am certainly not implying Pujols was or wasn’t a user either!

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    • Cards4Life says:

      He is WAY better than Bonds. And Sosa. And A-Rod. And Manny.

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      • Xavier says:

        I’m going to go out on a crazy limb and assume you’re something of a Cards fan and your comment might be the result of red-colored glasses, but the assertion is pretty blatantly false.

        Way better than Bonds?

        .359/.462/.687/1.149 wOBA of .462, 47 Home Runs, 16 Stolen Bases.

        That’s a cherry-pick of his best stats in each category, though to be fair, it’s pretty close to what he’s doing this season.

        .306/.440/.688/1.127 wOBA of .458 49 Home Runs, 11 Stolen Bases.

        Thats Bonds in 2000. Pretty similar, no? Now consider that was Bonds’ WORST offensive season from 2000-2004.

        The point? Pujols is insanely good. Steroid Bonds is the best hitter in probably any of our lifetimes.

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  6. VolsnCards5 says:

    dave, you’re using the wrong word…its ridiculous you are looking for

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  7. MU789 says:

    Listening to the game today when Albert hit his first homer with first open and Ankiel on deck. The first thought was what are they paying Macha for? The second was this would not end in a good way for the Brewers.

    Does Macha really think Ankiel is the next Babe Ruth? Is he going to fear Tony Pena Jr. now?

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    • intentional walks are nearly always a bad idea. Ankiel’s been so bad (and Pujols so good) this year that it MIGHT have been a fair idea then, but, in general, except in very VERY specific circumstances, it’s been shown that IBB (even to a hitter as great as AP) are generally worse than just pitching to the guy.

      Even Albert Pujols gets out more than half the time.

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  8. vivaelpujols says:

    I appreciate this article.

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  9. Mark R says:

    Best season offensive season of his career? Hardly! His productive outs are way down this year. I don’t know what’s gotten into him. He needs to focus on getting the ball on the ground and hitting behind the runner.

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    • Abreutime says:

      I agree. He needs to work on his scrappy-ness.

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      • MU789 says:

        If only San Diego would trade a ‘gamer’ like David Eckstein so the rest of the Cardinals can learn how to play the game right. You’ll never see Eckstein admiring his home run. He runs like hell when he hits it every year.

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    • Joe R says:

      Okay, two comments bashing Pujols for not bunting enough. I’m convinced the troll is in.

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  10. Red Matter says:

    I thought the name of this blog was FanGraphs, not FanBoy ;-)

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  11. Mike B. says:

    It’s pretty ridiculous when an anemic season for a hitter features an OPS of .997, an ISO of .241, and a measly 32 HRs (Pujols’ line from 2007). And at 29 he already has a career BB/K of 1.42. Yikes.

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  12. Mikel says:

    The man can do it all. Put him on the mound, lets see what happens.

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  13. Jon says:

    A week ago, I was very surprised to see Chase Utley in front of Pujols on the value leaderboard. I’m glad to see that Big Al has taken steps to rectify the temporary lapse.

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    • Xavier says:

      I actually wasn’t overly surprised. Sure Pujols is an amazing hitter, but he’s judged in comparison to Morales, and Teixeira, and Morneau etc.

      Utley is being compared with other 2nd basemen. 2nd basemen who hit like really good first basemen are insanely valuable. The fact that Pujols is ahead is testament to how much better he is at hitting than everyone else.

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  14. PhillyPhantastico says:

    There is no excuse for his lack of sacrifice bunts this year. He is a selfish player, always looking to clear the bases and win games by himself. Albert, there is no “me” in “team.” Wait, my mistake, there is.

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    • Kampfer says:

      Who is he bunting over anyway
      Cards was Albert and seven dwarfs before Holliday arrived, and Holliday hit behind Pujols

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    • Joe R says:

      Pujols? Sacrifice bunting?

      This has to be a joke.

      No sac bunts / sac hits for Pujols? Congrats, he’s in a category with exactly half of the 156 hitters who have the minimum eligible # of plate appearances. Maybe Pujols should take a lesson from Kaz Matsui, who has 13. Assholes hit home runs, REAL teammates bunt the guy over and give up about .2 runs worth of expectancy each time they do it. Who knows where the Astros would be without those 13 sac bunts from Kaz Matsui…

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    • Mike T says:


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    • Nats Fan says:

      obviously a joke

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  15. Eddie says:

    “He’s one of the greatest hitters to ever live. He is amazing.”

    He is a steroid fueled freak.

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  16. wtf says:

    Yeah Eddie, he has been on steroids for 9 ehfin years. A medical feat like that would be more impressive than the numbers he has amounted….almost

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  17. Eastsider says:

    He’s a pretty nice guy, too. (Click my name)

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  18. Domination says:

    Xavier, I’m just a little curious as to why you cherry picked 47 home runs for albert pujols when he hit 49 home runs in a single year. Ultimately he will hit more home runs this year but to date 49 is still his best.

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  19. Jacob says:

    Come on people…..settle your differences in the arena:

    If you dare, that is……

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  20. Matt Nolan says:

    If anybody is interested in something about Pujols, look up the article in SI which features some commentary by Bill James about the Perfect Career, which Pujols is in the midst of creating

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    • It’ll be interesting to see how Pujols finishes up his career, with his bum shoulder and all. You’d assume his hitting profile (great eye, great swing, power) will age pretty well, presuming his health stands up.

      A lot of folks seem to think he’ll end up in the discussion with Bonds, Ruth, Williams et al among the absolute top 5 or 6 elites. I’m guessing he may end up something like all-time top 20 (I suspect a lot of the folks who have him 2 or 3 overall as an all-time hitter perhaps have a slight contemporary bias). He’s probably among the top 50 already, even if he retired tomorrow, and I guess he has a shot at being the best or 2nd best right-handed hitter of all time…

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  21. Jason T says:

    I thought we settled this, he’s The Pujols.

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  22. Wrighteous says:

    looks like someone is on-cycle!

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    • Batman says:

      don’t have to be a detective to figure that one out…

      why is he as good/much better than all those other great players who abused steroids?

      must just be that natural talent that no one on earth (cheating or not) has ever possessed before.

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  23. Joe R says:

    I wonder if he’ll try batting lefty while blindfolded once the Cardinals lock up the best record in the NL. He’d still be the team’s best hitter.

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  24. David W C says:

    Yea Albert is a very selfish player he should quit hitting all those game winning homeruns and start hitting behind the runner and bunting more. What the hell could he be thinking Why win the game when you can leave it up to the next guy.nothing but me, me, me! Tony should bench him during the playoffs I see your point you would make a great manage for the Nationals next year its not how many games you win its how you win them! Guess the Cardinals will never learn.

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  25. Nats Fan says:

    Its all BABIP! He has just been lucky to hit the ball where they ain’t. Someone just needs to raise all the OF Walls in the NL and those homers turn into doubles and outs. He’ll come down to earth….

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  26. james says:

    Can we do another post on whether teams should ever pitch to the guy? It seems to me, he’s being helped this season by his team having a playoff spot locked up and feasting on five mediocre-at-best teams in his division who don’t have a reason to pitch around him. Pitt and Milwaukee have no reason to avoid him. They have no reason to play hard against St. Louis at all. All beating them would do is cost them draft position… so they’re not even trying, as far as I can see. It’s not like they really have any fans to upset. Their biggest crowds come when the Cubs come to town.

    I have Pujols on my fantasy team and every morning I wake up to look at the box scores and wonder how I’m getting such great numbers from him… how the opposition isn’t just telling him to take first base?

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  27. Andrew says:

    Because the rest of our lineup will just make sure he keeps producing runs at the insane pace he already has been this season, I suppose. That and he gets so many great hits off of well placed strikes and even balls that its incredibly hard to even walk him “unintentionally-intentionally.”

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    • All4tookie says:

      Huh? How the F is it hard to walk him with the UIBB? His walk rate is about 14% excluding IBBs (~1.5x league average), and he swings at less balls outside of the strike zone than most (by O-swing).

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  28. kilian says:

    any stat heads out there able to crunch numbers and see how much playing against the weak NLC benefits the cards?

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    • Eastsider says:

      I know this isn’t the statistical analysis that you are looking for, but it is interesting:

      vs East 16-11 .593
      vs Central 41-27 .603
      vs West 18-13 .581
      vs AL 9-6 .600

      That is pretty freakishly consistent.

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  29. Alireza says:

    All this, and he has a productive 14/18 SB rate and UZR’s weaknesses in small sample sizes are crapping on his defensive ranking.

    BTW, the only reason one could have said Bonds was ever better is that Bonds was a legit burner on the bases for about 3/4 of his career. Otherwise, Bonds and Pujols are actually rather similar, once in a generation greats from different generations. The difference being their handedness and Pujols superior contact to Bonds’ superior eye.

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    • Joe R says:

      And the way franchises pseudo-died as a result of their actions.

      Pirates by letting Bonds walk (bravo boys, that’s worked great for you)
      Astros by their closer allowing himself to become the “other guy” in the baseball poster of the decade.

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  30. Bumps says:

    Pujols against teams with winning records in 2009: .269 BA, 12 HRs over 156 at bats.

    He’s done most of his damage against the Reds, Indians, Royals, Mets, Pirates, and Nationals.

    Stick him in the AL East and he’d turn into Hideki Matsui.

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    • Samg says:

      How is that at all a predictive stat?

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    • Rex says:

      1st. Only showing BA and HR is begging people not to take you seriously.

      2nd. You are putting up ABs instead of PAs, but regardless, that is closing in on 50 HRs for 600 ABs.

      3rd, put him in Yankee Stadium and watch him hit 70 HRs.

      4th. a .269 BA over 159 ABs is of no predictive value.

      And the sad part is that it sounds like you are serious.

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