St. Louis Cardinals: The Albert Pujols Factor


Albert Pujols spent 10 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. When he left after the 2011 season, it opened doors for the future of the organization.

It was a move no fan ever saw coming, Albert Pujols leaving the St. Louis Cardinals for the Los Angeles Angels. Let’s be honest, no fan saw Pujols leaving St. Louis for any other team, but he did.

Many fans are still bitter about Pujols leaving to sign a 10-year, $265 million contract. He was supposed to be a Cardinal for life, he couldn’t leave. Pujols wasn’t the man, no, we already had one of those in Stan Musial. However, Pujols was, and in his own right still is, a machine.

That move was one that will stay with fans forever. However, it was a move that allowed the organization to make moves that have proved to be beneficial. The Cardinals are still seeking its first World Series win since Pujols left.

The Cardinals received two compensatory picks in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft. Both of them due to Pujols’ departure to Hollywood.

The first player the Cardinals drafted that year was a young man out of Texas A&M named Michael Wacha. The other player the team drafted was current right fielder, Stephen Piscotty.

Fans would probably agree that the addition of two young, talented players outweighs the pain and suffering they felt when Pujols jumped ship to LA.

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Before the start of the 2012 regular season, another important move was made. Yadier Molina agreed to a five-year, $75 million extension. Again, that move made possible by the departure of Pujols. Had the Cardinals paid Pujols the money the Angels did, Molina could be wearing a different uniform right now.

In November of 2013, the Cardinals made a splash in the free agent market by signing shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $53 million contract. Although Peralta hasn’t played a game in 2016, his bat alone has proven he was worth the money.

Although Adam Wainwright hasn’t been who fans expect him to be in 2016, you can add him to the list of players the Cardinals have been able to keep in St. Louis by not signing Pujols.

In March of 2013, Wainwright signed a five-year deal worth $97.5 million. Up until this past off season, that was the biggest deal for a pitcher in franchise history.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Arizona Diamondbacks
MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Arizona Diamondbacks /

The following March, the team dipped its toes into foreign waters and signed Cuban infielder, Aledmys Diaz. You may have heard of him, he’s “filling in” for the injured Jhonny Peralta at shortstop. Once Peralta comes back, Diaz will be in the lineup elsewhere.

Although the starting pitching hasn’t been great for the Cardinals this year, think about what it would be like if Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha weren’t part of the mix. Take a second to think about how 2013 would have panned out if they weren’t part of the team at all.

Yadier Molina’s offense in 2015 was less than stellar. This year, however, it’s been great. His career numbers speak for themselves as far as his importance of being in the lineup nearly every day.

Jhonny Peralta’s bat was seemingly the only offense the Cardinals were able to generate last year. Unfortunately his bat only carried him through the first half before it tapered off.

One could argue the Aledmys Diaz deal wasn’t a direct correlation to Albert Pujols leaving, but it did save the team money to go out and court Diaz.

Stephen Piscotty’s numbers with runners in scoring position are off the charts this season. He’s only going to get better as he gets older. It’s a pick that was years in the making, and the team finally has fans asking, “Heyward who?”

Next: Tough Finish to Pittsburgh Series

Yes, Pujols’ decision to leave St. Louis is one that has puzzled many through the years. It’s one that fans will never forget, but it hasn’t turned out to be a bad thing. In fact, it may have been the best thing that could have happened for both sides.