On Thursday, Albert Pujols was designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels. A DFA is MLB’s fancy way of saying a player has been released. Here is the official definition from the MLB glossary.
“When a player’s contract is designated for assignment — often abbreviated “DFA” — that player is immediately removed from his club’s 40-man roster. Within seven days of the transaction, the player can either be traded or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.”
It’s unclear where Pujols will finish his career, but he is undoubtedly a first-ballot Hall of Famer in Cooperstown if he never stepped into the box again. The “Thank You Albert Pujols” posts have been sweeping social media because the Angels’ decision has accelerated the inevitable end of the first baseman’s career.
I believe Pujols still has some quality at-bats left, but there is no better time to examine if he is the greatest first baseman of all time. When I first thought of this question, my immediate reaction was yes!
After conducting some research, it’s apparent that Albert Pujols is the greatest first baseman that the game has ever seen.
Albert Pujols: The MVP Awards
Successful careers can be measured with more than just MVP Awards. There have been countless players who have won the MVP with a stellar season, but they lacked consistency throughout their careers.
Pujols was not a player who lacked consistency. He was the National League MVP on three separate occasions, and he received votes ten other times for baseball’s most covenant individual accolade. That is the definition of consistency.
Pujols won the MVP in 2005, 2008, and 2009 with the Cardinals. In 2005, he blasted 41 homers and led the league in runs with 129. 2005 was the third consecutive year that he crossed the plate more than anyone in baseball.
In 2008 and 2009, Pujols was untouchable at the plate. His performance left no doubt that he deserved back-to-back MVP awards. His combined slash line was .342/.452/.656.
Pujols also left the yard 84 times in 2008 and 2009. Forty-seven of these bombs were hit in 2009. Pujols is not the only first baseman to win three MVPs, but he is the only player at the position to accomplish this milestone in the modern era.
Barry Bonds has won the most MVP trophies with seven, but Pujols is tied for second with ten other players. Mike Trout will probably move into second during his career when he collects his fourth MVP honor, but Pujols is still in an elite class if he falls to third for any position player.
Albert Pujols: Home Runs and Pressure
Baseball has become a game where it’s all about home runs, walks, and strikeouts. Therefore, the home run statistic is very critical to observe when ranking players.
There has not been a first baseman who has hit more home runs than Pujols. He is fifth on the all-time list with 667 homers behind Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), and Alex Rodriguez (696).
He led the league in bombs twice, with 47 in 2009 and 42 in 2010. He has hit 30+ in 14 out of 21 seasons and 40+ in seven of his 21 campaigns.
Hitting home runs is one thing, but GOATs must deliver under pressure. Pujols has been in a position to win countless games, and he delivered more times than not.
The first baseman is second on the all-time walk-off home run list with 12. Pujols is behind Jim Thome, who has hit 13 walk-off shots, but this statistic is still very impressive for the future Hall of Famer.
When it came to power, Pujols was the most reliable first baseman in the game.
Albert Pujols: The Rings
The final marker for a GOAT is the number of World Series rings that they can wear on their finger. Pujols led the Cardinals to two World Series in his 11 seasons in St. Louis.
He is a legend in the “Gateway to the West” for more reasons than one. However, his ability to bring championships to St. Louis is a quality that will always be hard to replicate.
The numbers and rings do not lie. Albert Pujols is the greatest first baseman of all time.
Tanner Kern is a writer for Knup Sports and the Sports 2.0 Network. He is the host of Between the Lines, the official show of Baseball Spotlight, and the main contributor for the website. Connect with Tanner on IG @tannerkern and Twitter @tannerkern_.
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