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Albert Pujols is a 23 year old baseball player. He plays for the storied St. Louis Cardinals. Pujols had the greatest first and second year start to his baseball career in the history of baseball. In case you missed what I just said, let me lay it out for you again. No player ever, not Babe Ruth, nor Ted Williams, nor Roger Maris, nor Barry Bonds had as good a start as Albert Pujols, the 2001 Rookie of the Year. And in 2003, his third year, he is a Triple Crown threat, batting around .390

Let's do some statistics comparison. The best statistic for each column between the three players below is in bold.

Albert Pujols
Year Ag Tm  Lg G   AB  R   H   2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA   OBP  SLG 
2001 21 STL NL 161 590 112 194 47  4 37 130 1  3  69 93 .329 .403 .610
2002 22 STL NL 157 590 118 185 40  2 34 127 2  4  72 69 .314 .394 .561
Ted Williams
1939 20 BOS AL 149 565 131 185 44 11 31 145 2  1 107 64 .327 .436 .609
1940 21 BOS AL 144 561 134 193 43 14 23 113 4  4  96 54 .344 .442 .594
Barry Bonds
1986 21 PIT NL 113 413  72  92 26  3 16  48 36  7 65 102 .223 .330 .416
1987 22 PIT NL 150 551  99 144 34  9 25  59 32 10 54  88 .261 .329 .492

Pujols' was the first player ever to maintain a batting average over .300, hit 30 homeruns, score 100 runs, and accumulate 100 RBI in his first two seasons, making his first two years more impressive than Ted Williams', who admittedly had a fantastic start to his career. Regardless, Pujols is the one to beat.

OK FINE, I feel obligated to take on the inevitable whine of a Red Sox fanatic, or perhaps one of the cryonics technicians keeping the human icicle version of the one time great sportsman: "But Ted Williams was a little bit better," you say. Exactly. Ted Williams' individual statistics are in fact, to a narrower inspection of their first two years,  better. Agreed. However, that you even have to make an argument to compare popsicle-man to the fleshy Pujols, in the form of a death throe from a sad and inadvertent experiment in the psychology of social memory. To the clearer thinker: Pujols broke more individual records over the two year span. Consider also that most players foul up quite dramatically in their rookie season. Not just mediocre players, but most hall of famers took from two to three (at least one) years to reach the level of statistical accomplishment that would persist over their long careers. Even the Sultan himself, the man that is both the Elvis and Buddha of baseball, the man who lives forever not in a meat refrigerator, but in a candy bar, the man whose name the Japs would scream out while fighting hand to hand with other Yankees in the Pacific: Babe Ruth.

Even the Babe took a couple years to heat up. Granted, he started his career as a pitcher,  but even in that role he didn't break into the league like Phat Albert. Pujols still needs to prove himself as a player. I agree. And, I hope he stays in St. Louis.

You've seen Pujols' stats for his first two years. Thought it was a fluke? Let's check out his numbers so far in the 2003 Season:

(WRITER'S NOTE)

(updated as the season progresses)
YEAR  G  AB  R  H   2B  3B  HR RBI BB SO SB CS BA   OBP  SLG  OPS
2003  82 315 75 119 29  0   24 76  32 27 0  1  .378 .435 .698 1.134

Check out that batting average, son. He had two slumpy days two days ago, and before that it was .391. That number is not even funny. That number is scary, even to me, a part of Cardinals nation since birth. He has a chance to hit .400. Who else to be the last to hit .400 but our Ted Williams, and that was in 1953. Fifty years ago.

Some say that Albert Pujols is not the greatest fielder. Consider that Albert Pujols has played, succesfully, at five defensive positions: Right Field, Left Field, Third Base, First Base, and the difficult Short Stop position. Ted Williams, as a random example, only ever played in the outfield. Pujols commands both the infield and outfield, with carreer averages in Fielding Percentage in all the individual positions never lower than .937 Bonds never played in the infield, either. Pujols is making a home out in Left, as well as at First. He could be a great Third Baseman, but his current team already has the position filled with Scott Rolen, arguably the best in the entire Major Leagues.


sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/scouting?statsId=6619
www.baseball-reference.com/

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