George Herman “Babe” Ruth. The name is synonymous with greatness. It’s the name every father shares with his son when explaining the history of the game, and it’s also the name Hollywood uses for allure when referencing baseball in movies. After this postseason, I am wondering if Jose Alberto Pujols is going to take over that status one day.
Jose Alberto, also known as Albert, is regularly viewed as one of the current greats of baseball by those who follow the game, but it is getting to the point where Albert may have to be considered as one of the best players ever. A Similarity Scores comparison on baseball-reference.com has Albert most comparable to Joe Dimaggio at his current age of 31. Yep, that’s Joltin Joe! Mr Yankee! The King of New York in the 1950s! Everyone knew Dimaggio back then, but I don’t feel as if every non-baseball fan knows of Pujols the same way now. Why doesn’t Pujols get the love that Joe got?
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I know the obvious answer is Albert has played in one city, St.Louis, his entire career, and his games are often overlooked by the major networks in order to show yet another Red Sox/Yankees match-up. But that may change soon because Pujols is a free agent after this season, and if he lands in a major city like Chicago, you better believe his greatness will be on display more often than now. I personally do not want to see him leave the Cardinals, but leaving may put his ascension to greatness on the fast track.
Take a look at Pujols’ numbers and you will see that he is already a lock for the Hall of Fame — and he’s only 31. He has been named National League MVP three times and is likely to get many votes this year, as well. He is a nine-time All-Star and a six-time Silver Slugger. He was the Rookie of the Year in 2001 and has one batting title in 2003. He already has the one thing that many people think defines greatness: He won a World Series with the Cards in 2006.
A deeper look into his numbers provides these averages per year: .328 Average, 42 HR, 126 RBI, 197 H, .420 OBP, 1.037 OPS. That’s just disgusting, isn’t it? Now that I have all the sabermetrics geeks excited, let’s take a look at his postseason numbers. A career postseason average of .338, with 14 postseason HR and 43 RBI. Unreal!
Basically, we have a baseball player with many good years left who is a statistical machine; but that is not all that he is. Many people used to say that if they had to build a baseball player he would look like Mickey Mantle. For this generation, I think, when you say “baseball player,”Pujols pops into your head. He looks the role. He looks like the player you know is going to come through in the clutch, and he usually does. Does everyone remember that bomb he hit off of Brad Lidge in the postseason?
The best part about Albert though is not his monster home runs or his crazy postseason success; it is his attitude toward baseball and life. If you ask Albert which accomplishment he is most proud of he would probably tell you that his 2008 Roberto Clemente Award means the most. That’s because Albert gets “it.” He knows when you become successful you should try and use your fortunes to help those who can’t provide for themselves. As much as professional athletes may not like it, they are role models, and there is nobody better to look up to then Pujols.
I am aware that this sounds like a love letter, but there is seriously not anything to not like about the guy. I just hope that in the next few years, Jose Alberto Pujols gets all the recognition he deserves, because we are witnessing greatness and greatness doesn’t come around often.