February 6, 2011


MLB Players Of The Decade: Can Albert Pujols Do It Again? (Rob Neyer, 2/05/11, SB Nation)

Here they are with Seasonal Ages in 2011, plus on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and Wins Above Replacement (via Baseball-Reference.com) over the last two seasons ...

* Cabrera (28) - .407/.582, 11.3
* Gonzalez (29) - .400/.530, 13.3
* Pujols (31) - .429/.627, 16.4
* Votto (27) - .419/.585, 10.7
* Morneau (30) - .390/.553 (8.4)

In case you're curious, the other first basemen with at least 10 WAR over the last two seasons are Youkilis (10.7), Prince Fielder (10.2) and Teixeira (10.1). I've already dismissed Youkilis and Teixeira, and I have a hard time imagining Fielder aging real well.

If Morneau hadn't been hurt last season, he probably would be third or fourth on the WAR list. So we have to consider him. Except for the little matter of not knowing when he's going to play. Sure, the Twins are supposedly still optimistic that Morneau will be ready for Opening Day, but I think that actually means they're hopeful that he'll be ready. Which isn't all that encouraging. If Morneau was a little younger, or had spent the last three months getting his swings, we might consider him seriously. But he's not, and he hasn't, so we can't.

Let's look at the other four, starting with the youngest. Votto's one year younger than Cabrera, two years younger than Gonzalez, and four years younger than Pujols. Even so, he's 27 - already hitting his peak seasons. We probably can't expect better from Votto than we've seen, and in fact 2010 was his first great season. Will he have others? Probably. But Cabrera's already had three or four great seasons, Gonzalez two.

(Hey, I think we're getting somewhere!)

Meanwhile, Pujols ... well, Pujols has been great in every season. Literally every season. He's played in 10 seasons, and was great in all of them.

Pujols is so good, I think he's one of those rare players - like Willie Mays, like Barry Bonds, like Ted Williams - who will continue to dominate his competition well into his 30s. He might not be a great player at 38 and 39, but he'll have been great enough earlier that nobody can catch up to him.

If you could get him on Barry Bonds's chemical regimen it would be one thing, but from age 36 to 38 Willie played at replacement level (admittedly in a pitchers era in an awful hitters park). Given that Albert is already 31, you're going to be paying him for 5 yeears of greatness and five when you already know he's only going to be good at best. Let the Yankees fall into that trap.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 6, 2011 8:41 AM
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