St. Louis Cardinals: Albert Pujols passes Stan Musial on all-time RBI list

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Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a home run in the fourth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on August 26, 2010 in Washington, DC. It was the 400th home run of his career. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a home run in the fourth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on August 26, 2010 in Washington, DC. It was the 400th home run of his career. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /
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Albert Pujols drove in run number 1,952 of his career, passing St. Louis Cardinals icon Stan “The Man” Musial for sixth place on the career RBI list on Sunday.

Both of these guys- Musial and Albert Pujols– have their claims as the greatest St. Louis Cardinals player ever, up there with guys like the Dean Brothers, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, Lou Brock, and Rogers Hornsby.

These are the upper echelon of greats that set the league on fire from the moment they entered the league and remained great for many years, etching their names in the history books along the way.

Pujols and Musial are certainly no exception

Stan Musial had a career longevity that is unmatched by most position players today. Save for one season in which he served during World War II, Musial played from 1941-1963, and hit above .300 for the first 16 of those seasons. Musial was an All-Star every year except for his first year and change from 1941-42 and won 3 MVP’s from 1943-1948.

Despite all of this individual success, the teams he was on did not perform nearly as well as one might expect. Musial only made four trips to the playoffs, and they were all before he turned 26. Try as he might, he couldn’t quite get his Cardinals past the  National League after 1946.

As it turns out, the Brooklyn Dodgers called up a trailblazer of their own before the 1947 season, the man that made the number 42 a baseball icon, in addition to a 3-time MVP catcher in Roy Campanella. On top of that, the New York Giants had Willie Mays, and the Milwaukee Braves brought in one Henry “Hank” Aaron. It was a tough time to win.

This is not to say that Musial didn’t do everything he could towards that end. After picking up his second MVP and third World Series title in 1946, Musial really began his transformation into “The Man.” After a down year by his standards in which he slashed .312/.398/.504, he won his final MVP in 1948 in his greatest season.

He hit .376 with a 1.152 OPS, slugged 39 home runs, and drove in 131 RBI’s. However, despite that performance and a MVP caliber year from right fielder Enos Slaughter, the Cardinals finished the year 6.5 games behind the pennant winning Boston Braves.

While he continued his stellar play and finished runner-up for MVP twice the next three years, he could never reach the playoffs again. Despite this, he left his mark with some insane seasons. Here is a few of them:

1951: .355/.449/.614, 32 home runs, 108 RBI’s

1953: .337/.437/.609, 30 home runs, 113 RBI’s

1954: .330/.428/.607, 35 home runs, 136 RBI’s

1957: .351/.422/.612, 29 home runs, 102 RBI’s

Stan was certainly “The Man” for the St. Louis Cardinals during his long STL tenure, and is certainly up there as one of the best hitters to ever wear a St. Louis Cardinals jersey. For many years, he was considered the unequivocal greatest Cardinal hitters of all-time, but one man in recent years has come to challenge his throne.

For most Cardinals fans, Albert Pujols needs no introduction. He came to the Cardinals as a 13th round pick in 1999 while attending high school across the state in Independence, MO. He made it to the majors in 2001, and won Rookie of the Year while taking all the first place votes. He hit an impressive .329/.403/.610 with 37 home runs and 130 RBIs.

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Pujols is the only player in major league history to drive in at least 100 RBIs over his first 10 seasons, and is tied with Alex Rodriguez for the most total seasons with over 100 RBIs at 14. He is also the first player to hit at least 30 home runs in his first 10 season, and he did it in his first 12.

With these gaudy records, you can bet that Pujols has his slew of incredible seasons. Here is just a handful from his 11 years in St. Louis:

2003: .359/.439/.667, 43 home runs, 124 RBI’s

2006: .331/.431/.671, 49 home runs, 137 RBI’s

2008: .357/.462/.653, 37 home runs, 116 RBI’s

2009: .327/.443/.668, 47 home runs, 135 RBI’s

Considering that he was able to pass Musial’s total in two-plus less seasons, this record places  Albert Pujols in a category of his own. It’s a shame that he didn’t do it in a Cardinals’ uniform, it is something Cardinal nation should celebrate all the same.

In my mind, there is no argument that Albert Pujols is not the king of Cardinal sluggers. While some may argue that Musial is a better hitter overall, there is no doubt that Albert Pujols is the greatest power hitter in Cardinals’ history.

And no, Mark McGwire doesn’t count.

Next: RUMORS- Five players the Cardinals need to make the playoffs

What do you think this means for Albert’s legacy? Will he end up on the Mount Rushmore of hitters? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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