Wednesday, July 1, 2009

There Goes Adam Drinking The Cool-Aide Again or Why Albert Pujols Sucks

Let the rant begin...

I don’t want to get in a debate over who the best baseball player in history was (let alone who the second greatest player was), but I do feel a need to make some sort of retort to one Mr. Keller who recently tried to argue Albert Pujols was the second greatest baseball player ever to live. Here are his words:

“Best Baseball Players of All-Time: 1. Babe Ruth* 2. Albert Pujols 3...doesn't matter; everyone else is mortal. *-while it is true that Pujols is in fact a better hitter, Babe Ruth was a pretty darn good pitcher before he ever swung a bat for the Yankees.”


“haha ok, so i was joking about Pujols being a better hitter than the Babe, but look at the numbers...nobody in the history of the game has been better the first nine years of their career, and Rogers Hornsby is the only right handed batter ever to have a better nine year span than Albert (1921-29 with the Cardinals, Giants, Braves and Cubs in case you were wondering)...Hank Aaron has the numbers most similar to Albert year in and year out, but Pujols' career Batting Average is 30 points higher, Slugging % is 75 points higher and On-Base % is 50 points higher...Also, since his Major League debut, Albert leads the NL in AVG, HR and RBI - the career triple crown - and in each category the only guy in 2nd who is even close is Todd Helton, who's batting average is 8 points behind Pujols from 2001-2008. Nobody is more consistent, nobody has started better, and one more thing; at 29 Pujols is just now entering into his prime.”

Before I continue I want to make a few things very clear. First, stats are like Bible verses, they can mean different things to different people. I can lay out a statistical argument that Albert Pujols is not the best player in the National League this year. I can also lay out an argument suggesting he is the greatest baseball player of all-time. So I do not want to get into some kind of statistical debate and argue in circles all day. All I want to accomplish is letting Adam know that Albert Pujols, at the very least, has some very steep competition for the number two (or one) spot as the greatest player ever.

Second, Albert Pujols is a great player.

Third, Babe Ruth is a great player.

With this said, Albert Pujols sucks.

Case Number One: Ted Williams

Ted Williams is considered by some to be the greatest hitter to ever live. He made his major league debut at the age of twenty and played 18 seasons with the Boston Red Sox. It must always be remembered that Williams lost three seasons (from age 24 to 27) because he was serving in the Air Force during World War II. Here are the period comparisons to Albert Pujols.

From Age 21 to 24
Williams: .366/.497/.654, 96 HR, 110 2B, 22 3B, 388 BB, 132 K
Pujols: .334/.412/.613, 114 HR, 138 2B, 7 3B, 220 BB, 227 K

From Age 27 to 29 (Noting that Albert’s numbers are incomplete, but also noting that Williams age 27 year was his first season after the War since he was 23.)
Williams: .351/.498/.639, 95 HR, 121 2B, 20 3B, 444 BB, 132 K
Pujols: .339/.446/.631, 97 HR, 101 2B, 1 3B, 262 BB, 143 K

Ted Williams’ On-Base Percentage from 1939 (rookie year) to 1951 (age 31)
.553 (22 years old, 143 games in 156 game season, 2nd in MVP voting, 1.287 OPS, 235 OPS+)
.499 (217 OPS+)
.497 (first year back from WWII, 215 OPS+)
.499 (205 OPS+)

In 1957, Williams had an .526 OBP and a 233 OPS+ at the age of 38. Between 1940 and 1958 Williams never had an OBP bellow .442 and had a slugging percentage bellow .600 three times (.594, ’40; .556, ’51; .584, ’58).

Final Thoughts:
Ted Williams had only one season where he played at least 100 games and did not have an OPS of at least 1.000. Albert has had two seasons where he hit under 1.000. Williams is also the last player to ever hit .400 in a season. And while I expect Pujols to surpass him (assuming health), Williams did hit 521 home runs in his career. After returning from WWII Williams never struck out more than 50 times in a season. In 1941 Williams walked 147 times and struck out 27 times (he also slugged .735 that season, making he the youngest player to ever have a SLG over .700. Only Ruth, Bonds*, Gehrig, Hornsby, McGwire*, Bagwell, Foxx and Sosa* have ever surpassed .735).

Case Number Two: Walter Johnson

I won’t go into too much detail, but here are some of the arguments for him being the best pitcher of all-time.

417 Wins (second all-time)
110 shutouts (MLB record)
Career 2.17 ERA (11th all-time)
3509 strike outs (9th all-time)
1.06 WHIP (8th all-time)
147 ERA+ (4th all-time).

Case Number Three: Ty Cobb

I went too long with the Ted Williams deal so I’m only going to list the records Ty Cobb is in the top 10 all-time.

Career Batting average: 1st (.366)
Single-Season BA: 8th (.420)
Career OBP: 9th (.433)
Career Games Played: 5th (3035)
Career Runs Scored: 2nd (2246)
Career Hits: 2nd (4189)
Single-Season Hits: 8th (248)
Career Doubles: 4th (724)
Career Triples: 2nd (295)
Career RBI: 7th (1937)
Career Stolen Bases: 4th (892)
Career Runs Created: 5th (2522)

Note: Ty Cobb is 11th all-time in career extra base hits. George Brett is 13th.

Ty Cobb retired in 1928 and was among the first class to be voted into the hall of fame with Walter Johnson, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Babe Ruth and received more votes than all of them. Cobb was voted as the best major league player ever by baseball writers in 1950.

There are more, but I’m getting tired and lazy. In 1998, The Sporting News listed their version of the Top 100 MLB Players. The top 10 were Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Hank Aaron, Lou Gehrig, Christy Mathewson, Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby and Stan Musial. (Barry Bonds ranked 34th, Ken Griffey Jr. was 93rd... this was in 1998 mind you.)

Anyway, the point is to say that while Pujols is very good, he’s still got a long way to go if he wants to be in the discussion for best baseball player ever. That’s all I’m trying to say. I’m going to go eat my dumplings now.


Anonymous said...

What we've learned from this:

-Ted Williams is what you get if you take Albert Pujols and make him left handed.

-Ben spends more time hating the Cardinals than managing his own fantasy team (see: standings)

-Royals fans are either unaware that the "Chuck Norris" type jokes can be a fun way to praise your favorite athlete immediately after watching him make history, or simply bitter that nobody in Kansas City has earned that status.

In all seriousness though, obviously Pujols has quite a way to go before reaching baseball godhood, my only point is you won't find a right handed hitter better than Albert through their first 9 seasons.


Anonymous said...

but your point was not "right handed hitter" Your original statement was "2nd best player ever"...dont flip-flop now.

tonester_84 said...

Brfore the end of his career pujols will be the best player of all time