Well, I was planning on starting this topic anyway before today's game, but now it's just even more fitting given what Prince Albert did to us this afternoon with his three home runs. I've already made a quick comparison of what Jeff Bagwell has done to the Reds in his career, and it's fitting to also take a look at what Albert Pujols has done to us so far in his brilliant career.
First, I'll make a quick comparison of Pujols' early start to his career using Win Shares:
Considering that Albert's peak consists entirely of his first five seasons, and that Albert's 2006 season will likely be greater than his his "worst" season of 2001, the chances are pretty darn good that Pujols will inevitably have a greater peak than the great Jimmie Foxx. Already through five seasons, he's right over Foxx's shoulder and looking to pass him.
Player Peak WS WS/162 ~OPS+
Jimmie Foxx 183 39.32 184
Albert Pujols 180 36.91 169
Foxx Peak = 1929, 1930, 1932, 1933 and 1938
Pujols Peak = 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005
Now let's take a look at how Pujols has fared vs. the Reds:
For a point of reference here, just know that the league average OPS for Pujols' career is ~.764, and here's how Pujols' stat splits vs. the Reds shape up to a few high-powered offensive seasons in the past by some legendary hitters in a similar offensive environment that Pujols has played in:
Albert Pujols Splits
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO HBP AVG OBP SLG OPS
vs. Reds 353 89 135 31 0 28 81 39 26 5 .382 .446 .708 1.155
vs. Others 2642 555 861 197 11 181 557 375 323 39 .326 .414 .614 1.028
- Babe Ruth's best single season OPS was 1.382 in 1921 (league OPS of 768).
- Ted Williams' best single season OPS was 1.287 in 1941 (league OPS of 765).
- Lou Gehrig's best single season OPS was 1.240 in 1927 (league OPS of .763).
- Stan Musial's best single season OPS was 1.152 in 1948 (league OPS of .760).
Obviously those four guys, plus others, have likely had an extremely high amount of success vs. individual teams, but that data is hard to come by. Those seasons above are among some of the greatest single seasons any hitters has ever had in the history of the game. Any time a hitter is able to put together a 1.155 OPS in nearly 400 plate appearances against one team ... well, simply put ... that's domination at its finest.
Until the Reds can field at least a major league average pitching staff, they should seriously consider altering their strategy against Pujols. The question then becomes, with our current pitching staff, when should we just go ahead and intentionally walk Pujols and when should we elect to pitch to him? A chart for when the Red should walk Pujols, such as this one for the league against Barry Bonds in 2002, may not be a bad idea for the Reds to look into (but we know it'll never happen!).