October 23, 2004


He ranks as top Card: It's not easy to deal with Pujols at plate (Kevin Paul Dupont, October 23, 2004, Boston Globe)

Let's start with the only, which probably will be just the first of many onlys Albert Pujols carries with him as he barrels down the express E-ZPass lane to Cooperstown.

Four years into his major league career, the 24-year-old Cardinals first baseman has hit 160 home runs, and within that 40-homer-a-year average is the simple and astounding fact that no one else in big league history ever has hit 30 home runs in each of his first four seasons.

Not Hank Aaron or Babe Ruth. Not Mark McGwire or Mel Ott. Certainly not long-ago Red Sox favorite Tony Conigliaro (second youngest to reach 100 homers). Not Ted Williams or Barry Bonds or Eddie Mathews or even the great Joe DiMaggio. For starters, no one ever has come out swinging like Pujols, who Thursday night was crowned most valuable player of the National League Championship Series, after leading the Cardinals into the World Series with an august .500 batting average (14 for 28), 4 homers, and 9 RBIs against the Astros.

Easy to lose track of in all the Sox hysteria but Pujols is the best young hitter in the history of the game--as a chart in the print edition of the Globe shows--with only Babe Ruth trumping his first four full seasons, but the Babe's beginning at age 24 because he was a pitcher first.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 23, 2004 1:36 PM


Posted by: JimGooding at October 23, 2004 3:15 PM

Jim: Take a look at his picture. Then look at Bonds, McGwire, Giambi, Bagwell. In particular, their necks. Sports Illustrated ran pictures of the latter two in spring training this year and from previous years. They're half the men they used to be.

Posted by: brian at October 23, 2004 3:28 PM

Being a resident of the St. Louis area and a Cards fan I can honestly say that it has been a privelege to have witnessed Albert Pujols first four seasons. Besides his offense he is also developing into a gold glove caliber first baseman. Thank God the Cards showed the wisdom and foresight to sign him to a multi-year contract before this season.

Posted by: MB at October 23, 2004 3:30 PM


supposedly that's why McGwire limits his public appearances.

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2004 3:33 PM

Pujols numbers are great. Here are some more, for perspective.

Mays first four years in home runs:
20 41 51 36 (note steroid spike from year one to two): average of 37 HR/yr

Matthews first four:
25 47 40 41 (note steroid spike from year one to two): average of 38 HR/yr

F. Robinson first four:
38 29 31 36: average of 33 HR/yr

McGuire first four:
49 32 33 39: average of 37 HR/yr [he was ashamed of his body that first year, it was just too big and strong, people mocked him for his neck]: average of 37 HR/yr

Canseco first four:
33 31 42 37: average of 36 HR/yr

ARod first four:
36 23 42 42: average of 36 HR/yr

HR's per game in 2002: 1.043
HR's per game in 2003: 1.071
HR's per game in 2004: 1.123
(in 2004 MLB began more detailed testing for steroids; despite the testing, HR's climbed)

We have stronger ballplayers who lift weights, which makes them STRONGER. And they play in smaller ballparks, which returns more glory per foot/lb of force.

Posted by: JimGooding at October 23, 2004 4:02 PM


Ignore the homeruns and compare batting average and slugging % for Pujols, Bonds, Mays, Gehrig, Aaron, Ruth, Arod, etc. Ruth blows everyone away but then Gehrig is probably closest to Pujols.

Parks are obviously no smaller than in the 30s and the steroids only take these guys so far.

Posted by: oj at October 23, 2004 4:14 PM
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