One of my favorite pastimes is scouring the Baseball Reference pages of many of the game's legends, and while there are better ones (Barry Bonds, ever heard of him?), one of the best pages to stare at in stunned disbelief is the page of Albert Pujols. Go ahead and look, I'll be here when you get back.
Seriously, how insane is that rookie year? He put up MVP numbers, then eventually won three MVPs and finished second in the voting FOUR times. Four straight 40-plus homer seasons, 10 straight seasons of 100-plus RBIs to begin his career, led the league in OPS and slugging three times, had a .400-plus OBP nine of his first 10 seasons in the MLB and nearly won the Triple Crown in 2010. Each number is more eye-popping than the last.
Unfortunately, Pujols time in an Angels uniform has somewhat marred what is surely a first-ballot Hall of Fame career. That was always going to be the case when he signed that astronomical contract, one he couldn't possibly live up to in his late 30s. His decline in performance has been noticeable, though he's still had three seasons of 30-plus homers and four seasons of 100-plus RBIs during his time in LA. This year, he's hit 23 homers and collected 90 RBIs. Not bad for an aging player on the 18th hole of his career.
But out of all of his incredible numbers, perhaps none are as jaw-dropping as the one tweeted out by the Elias Sports Bureau on Wednesday night. In the first inning of a game against the New York Yankees, Pujols flew out, brining his career batting average under .300 for the first time in, well, ever (sort of):
That is, and I cannot say this loudly enough, BANANAS. Not since April of 2001 has Pujols not been a career .300 hitter. I know batting average means nothing anymore, but that is still a wildly impressive stat, one that highlights just how consistent of a hitter he's been during his nearly two-decade long career. The craziest part is that he has not batted .300 or better for a season since 2010, so he's had nine years of a sub .300 batting average, three of those years being under .250, and still was .300 for his career. Pretty remarkable.
Pujols was able to get back over that mark later in the game, picking up two hits in his next four at-bats and an RBI. He also grounded into a fielder's choice that led to a throwing error from Yankees pitcher Adam Ottavino at home plate, which allowed a run. The Angels, a 69-83 club, won 3-2 over the best team in baseball, and it was Pujols that played a massive role in helping them get it done. As of right now, his career batting average is .300 exactly. What a legend.