Sunday, August 9, 2009

Albert Pujols Joins an Exclusive "Exclusive Club"

Last night, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman, Albert Pujols, hit a 3-run double to help lift the Cardinals over the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-3. This year, Pujols is 8 for 10 with the bases loaded, including 5 grand slams for a total of 27 RBIs. As Stuart Scott of ESPN might say, "Pujols' numbers with the bases loaded are ridiculous." Indeed, the guy is lethal with a bat in his hands, especially when the bases are jammed.

The three RBIs gave Pujols 100 for the season, marking the 9th consecutive season he has reached the century mark. This puts Pujols in a very exclusive club of players who have obtained 100 RBIs in their first nine seasons. Exclusive may be an understatement, as he became only the second player ever to do so, joining Hall of Famer, Al Simmons. In fact, Simmons drove in 100 runs in his first 11 seasons. And Pujols is the only player today who comes close in comparison to the great Simmons.

Like Pujols, Simmons was a superior clutch hitter and an overall, hitting machine. He was the heart and soul of legendary manager, Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics teams, of the 20's and 30's. The Athletics won 3 consecutive pennants (1928, 1929 and 1930), dethroning the mighty New York Yankees, and were World Champions in 1929 and 1930.

Many consider the 1929 club the greatest team ever. On August 19, 1996, Simmons was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, 40 years after his death, in an exclusive, titled: "The Team That Time Forgot"; 'The 1929 Philadelphia A's, not the '27 Yankees, may have been the greatest baseball club ever assembled.' Now that's saying a lot, but when you consider, besides Simmons, the team also featured Hall of Famers, Jimmie Foxx, Joe Cronin, Mickey Cochrane, Eddie Collins and Lefty Grove, you can see where Sports Illustrated is coming from.

Simmons was a career .334 hitter, with 2927 hits and 1827 RBIs. He was a two-time batting champion (.381 in 1930 and .390 in 1931) and his 253 hits in 1925 are the 5th highest total ever in a single season.

Pujols would need to reach 100 RBIs in the next three seasons following this year to pass Simmons. If he stays healthy its quite possible he'll do it, but for now, I don't think he minds rubbing elbows with one of the greatest players ever.

Albert Pujols photo courtesy of
Al Simmons photo courtesy of the National Baseball Library

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