Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Pujols Watch

One of my favorite websites on the entire internet, if not the favorite, is Everyone should have that site bookmarked, and send them a little pocket change when you get the chance. The amount of information they have available for a free site is out of this world.

Today's post is in regard to a new feature they have which is very interesting. You can now sort statistical leaders by age using this section.

Using their new content, I decided to look into where my favorite young hitting stud ranks among others that have played the game at his age. Keep in mind that these statistics are different than those you may have seen that group players by their first 4 seasons in the majors.

Through Age 24

Mr. Pujols stacks up quite well on the all-time list of players at the age of 24 and younger.

OBP - .413, 10th
SLG - .624, 4th
OPS - 1.037, 4th
OPS+ - 169, 6th (Right behind Stan the Man at 170)

Doubles - 189, 9th
Home Runs - 160, 8th
Extra Base Hits - 358, 5th

The only contemporary players that tend to rank ahead of Pujols in counting stats are Ken Griffey Jr and Alex Rodriguez. Which, of course, isn't a shock considering they were both great young players, and that they both were getting major league at-bats at the age of 19, compared to Pujols at 21.

In the World of OPS+ - well, take a look at Albert's peers.

1. Ted Williams, 191
2. Joe Jackson, 183
3. Ty Cobb, 176
4. Lou Gehrig, 172
5. Stan Musial, 170
6. Albert Pujols, 169
7. Mickey Mantle, 166
8. Jimmie Foxx, 165
9. Tris Speaker, 162
10. Dick Allen, 161

Talk about some great company. Seven members of the Hall of Fame, Dick Allen, who was no slouch, and Joe Jackson, who may have found his way into the hall if he hadn't cheated.

Through Age 25

As Pujols starts his Age 25 season, what kind of milestones can we keep an eye on in regard to his age?

Doubles - Pujols only needs 42 doubles this year to have the 2nd most ever through the age of 25. Fourty two would give him 231, which would be one more than Ty Cobb's 230. Considering that he had 51 in each of the past two seasons, 41 should be very realistic, assuming his foot can keep up the pace.

The top mark through the age of 25 is 258 doubles by Joe "Ducky" Medwick, former Cardinal great and a Hall of Famer.

Home Runs - The field is more crowded in the home run department. Below, I'll list the milestones for where he could end up this year.

7th - 32 Home Runs to pass Orlando Cepeda
6th - 43 Home Runs to pass Frank Robinson
5th - 48 Home Runs to pass Mickey Mantle
4th - 52 Home Runs to pass Mel Ott

Pujols has hit 43 and 46 home runs over the last two years, and I've seen projections for him to hit as many as 50 this year.

Total Bases - Albert Pujols would need 372 total bases in 2005 to knock Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Robinson out of 10th place. Over the past two seasons, he's had 394 and 389 total bases. If he is able to make the top 10, it will be the first time in his career that he's made the cut for his age group.

As a side note - Alex Rodriguez at 2nd on this list, just behind Mel Ott, is a great reminder of just how good he was at such a young age.

RBI - This one is a slight long shot, but not impossible. If Pujols can drive in 131 runs this year, he'll edge out Joe Medwick for 10th on the all time list. His career high was 130 as a rookie, but with a full season of Larry Walker hitting in front of him, topping that mark could be done.

Extra Base Hits - A completely underrated statistic. As I mentioned last year in this blog, Pujols made a run at becoming just the 3rd Cardinal to ever have 100 XBH in a season, falling just short with 99. (Rogers Hornsby and Stan Musial have each topped the century mark with the Birds on the Bat.) His 99 XBH's, however, were the 3rd most recorded by a 24 year old in MLB history, behind Lou Gehrig (117) and Jimmie Foxx (100).

In 2005, Pujols should pile up enough XBH to pull into 4th place all time for his age. To hit that mark he needs just 76, which matches his career low from the 2002 season. If Pujols somehow manages to fight off his injury enough to amass enough XBH to hit 3rd on that list (119), we'll not only be looking at an MVP season, but a triple crown run.


While this article likely would bore 99% of the general population (or more), I enjoy looking over statistics of this manner. Not only does it help put a player like Pujols into perspective, it also serves to help us connect with players from the past that most of us didn't have a chance to see. Names like Mel Ott, Jimmie Foxx, Joe Medwick - sure, we've heard of them. But seeing their names and numbers in relation to current players helps me to gain a better appreciation for what they were able to do in a different era.


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