First Base – Albert Pujols
This is no contest. Despite your feelings of how Albert Pujols left, he is without a doubt one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. I still hate the fact that he is not patrolling first base for the Cardinals, as that is a position that has been in utter disarray since he left. I still remember going to the games and stopping whatever I was doing to watch Albert hit.
You just had the feeling each time he came up to bat that he was going to do something amazing. I still remember his assault on the National League during the second half of the 2006 season, which led the Cardinals to the playoffs and eventually the World Series that year. Albert’s career numbers with the Cardinals are staggering, a slash of .328/.420/.617 and 915 extra-base hits (455 doubles, 445 homers, 15 triples), which ranks second all time on the Cardinals.
Looking at Albert’s numbers through his 11 seasons as a Cardinal the thing that stands out to me is his .420 OBP that ranks for second all time on the team behind Mark McGwire. The closest Cardinals’ hitter to come close to that for even one season since Pujols’ exit is Matt Carpenter in 2013 with .396. Despite having the mantra of not being a top postseason hitter, he had a career slash of .323/.431/.599 in the postseason with 38 extra-base hits (19 homers, 18 doubles, and one triple).
It’s safe to say that had Pujols stayed with the Cardinals and finished his career here, he could have wound up being the best hitter in team history. Unfortunately, that is just speculation now with Pujols floundering in Los Angeles the past four seasons. It will be a long time until the Cardinals have another hitter like Pujols, it was truly a joy watching No. 5 play for 11 seasons in St. Louis.
Next: Second Base - Rogers Hornsby