I love watching people at the plate who can have power and plate discipline. The three most recent ones are Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas in his prime and Albert Pujols when he was with the Cardinals. Those are the three players I watch batting who I thought had an advantage over the pitcher. I’m guessing that Babe Ruth and Ted Williams were similar. I would say Pujols had this skill from 2003 to 2010. He led the National League in Baseball Reference WAR from 2006 to 2010. In 2011 he started to fade. He started to fade a little more in 2012, his first year with the Angels. It came fast, because starting in 2012 he has been an average player at best.
This hurts his rate stats as he climbs up the list. Pujols can move up the list, but the last few years he has been moving very slow. He has an outside chance of passing Rose and a slimmer chance of passing Ott, but I don’t see him passing Rivera.
I remember watching game 6 of the 2011 World Series where the Cardinals came back twice. I remember the announcers talking about the Rangers winning the World Series, which is all right, as there was only a half-inning to go and the Cardinals were down two. However, I knew Pujols was up second and I knew in my heart he would get on base, which he did with a double. Before that hit the Cardinals would have a 4 percent chance of winning. That figure would go up and down for the next hour. Texas went ahead with Josh Hamilton hitting a two-run home in the top of the 10th. I thought the game was done this time. It wasn’t as the Cardinals rallied. Pujols was intentionally walked in the bottom of the 10th even though he was the lead run. He ended up on third when Allen Craig grounded out to end the inning. Dave Freeze hit a home run in the 11th to finally win it for the Cardinals. Everyone was emotionally drained after that game.
I was just looking at the Cardinal 5th in game 7th where they won the World Series. They had a 3-2 lead coming into the bottom of the fifth. That gave them a 72 percent chance of winning the game. This is what their batters did that inning:
- Ground out
- Hit by pitch
- Ground out, runners advance to 2nd and 3rd
- Intentional Walk
- Walk run scores Cardinals up 4-2
- Hit by pitch run scores Cardinals up 5-2
- Ground out
What a way to get those insurance runs. Pujols was the first one to be hit by a pitch that inning. It was the last run he would score as a Cardinal, but he ended his career with them as a World Series winner. The Cardinals try to keep him, but the money offered by the Angels was too much. It was probably better for the Cardinals in the long run. Which is sad to say about such a great player.