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Thread: Is Albert Pujols the greatest first baseman ever?

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    Big Red Machine RedsBaron's Avatar
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    Is Albert Pujols the greatest first baseman ever?

    Is Albert Pujols the greatest first baseman ever? No.....at least not yet....but I was surprised to realize that he arguably has a good chance of achieving that honor before he retires.
    Last week's cover story in Sports Illustrated was about Pujols, and it addressed in part the allegations, made without any actual evidence, that Pujols has used steroids, and the flat denials of juicing made by Pujols.
    I like Pujols and I want to believe him, but I also realize that a number of players have previously denied using steroids, only to have those denials later prove to be questionable at best and lies at worst.
    The article did get me to take another look at Pujols's statistics, which have been remarkably consistent ever since he reached the majors in 2001.
    The status of Lou Gehrig as the greatest ever first baseman has never been seriously challenged, and I never really expected it to be challenged, but I compared the numbers of Pujols through age 28, the 2008 season, with those of Gehrig through age 28, the 1931 season.
    Pujols has 947 runs scored; Gehrig had 937.
    Pujols has 1531 hits; Gehrig had 1350.
    Pujols has 342 doubles; Gehrig had 279.
    Pujols has 13 triples (Albert has little speed); Gehrig had 104 (Lou was both faster and played in bigger parks).
    Pujols has 319 home runs; Gehrig had 233.
    Pujols has 977 RBI; Gehrig had 995.
    Pujols has a .334 BA; Gehrig had .342.
    Pujols has a .624 SLG; Gehrig had .642.
    I then used Baseball Reference.com's stats neutralizer to place those stats in a neutral park, 715 runs per team context, per historical averages. The raw counting stats didn't greatly change for the most part. Pujols runs/hits/doubles/triples/home runs/RBI become 917/1493/334/13/311/947, while Gehrig's become 898/1322/273/103/227/951. Gehrig does gain some at bats to reflect the 162 game schedule. The neutralized stats that really jumed out at me were batting average and slugging percentage; Pujols had .329 and .613 while Gehrig had .327 and .614---in other words, a virtual tie..
    I wish I could calculate the respective neutralized OBP of Pujols and Gehrig to compare the same through age 28 for each player. Pujols's "real" OBP is .425 and his neutralized OBP is .419, but I do not have those numbers for Gehrig at age 28.
    We obviously have no way of knowing how long Pujols's career will last, or how well he will play as he enters his thirties, but remember that Gehrig was finished as a player at age 35 (he briefly played at age 36 in 1939). When you consider that the quality of play has also probably improved over the decades and factor in that Gehrig played in a "whites-only" league, Pujols is building a decent argument to be eventually considered to be the greatest first baseman of all time. I find that to be remarkable.
    Does anyone have runs created totals for Pujols and Gehrig through age 28, or their respective win share totals through those ages? If so I would be curious to see those stats.
    "Hey...Dad. Wanna Have A Catch?" Kevin Costner in "Field Of Dreams."

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  3. #2
    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Is Albert Pujols the greatest first baseman ever?

    He certainly is on pace to be. But as of right now, no.

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    Re: Is Albert Pujols the greatest first baseman ever?

    I wouldn't trust anyone from this generation to rate them that high. People were saying Arod was going to be the best viewed as the best overall player just three months ago.
    This is the time. The real Reds organization is back.

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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Is Albert Pujols the greatest first baseman ever?

    How well did Gehrig play defense? And it will be interesting to see how Pujols ages. Gehrig was a complete stud up until the end of his age 35 season (and he died the following October).
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Five Tool Fool jojo's Avatar
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    Re: Is Albert Pujols the greatest first baseman ever?

    Pujols has been roughly an 8 win player every year as a major leaguer. Best ever? I guess when the air is that rarefied, I don't quibble.
    "This isnít stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Member paulrichjr's Avatar
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    Re: Is Albert Pujols the greatest first baseman ever?

    Wow I guess I never realized just how good Gehrig was.
    Tim McCarver: Baseball Quotes
    I remember one time going out to the mound to talk with Bob Gibson. He told me to get back behind the batter, that the only thing I knew about pitching was that it was hard to hit.

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    post hype sleeper cincinnati chili's Avatar
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    Re: Is Albert Pujols the greatest first baseman ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cedric View Post
    I wouldn't trust anyone from this generation to rate them that high. People were saying Arod was going to be the best viewed as the best overall player just three months ago.
    I still say it could happen, but it would have been more clear had he stayed at shortstop.
    ". . . acquiring J. Blanton from Oakland for, apparently, Bailey/Cueto, Votto and a lesser prospect. I do it in a second . . . The Reds' equation this year is simple: Make Matt Belisle your #3 starter . . . trade for Blanton, win 85 or more, be in the mix all summer." - Paul Daugherty, Feb. 8, 2008

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Is Albert Pujols the greatest first baseman ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by paulrichjr View Post
    Wow I guess I never realized just how good Gehrig was.
    With that said, he played in a severely watered down game without anyone who wasn't white and hardly anyone born west of the Mississippi.

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Is Albert Pujols the greatest first baseman ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    With that said, he played in a severely watered down game without anyone who wasn't white and hardly anyone born west of the Mississippi.
    Of course the bulk of the population was east of the Mississippi pre ww 2.

    What great players stayed in the west Doug?

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Is Albert Pujols the greatest first baseman ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou View Post
    Of course the bulk of the population was east of the Mississippi pre ww 2.

    What great players stayed in the west Doug?
    While thats true, it certainly did limit the overall talent pool that was being drawn from.

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    Member paulrichjr's Avatar
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    Re: Is Albert Pujols the greatest first baseman ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    While thats true, it certainly did limit the overall talent pool that was being drawn from.
    But Pujols has never played in a MLB game where the starting pitcher would throw at your head and you didn't have a helmet on either.

    I would assume that Gehrig would probably not even be a bench player on teams today but I would also imagine that he was a thing of beauty to watch play baseball in the 1920s just like a young Griffey or a Pujols is today.
    Tim McCarver: Baseball Quotes
    I remember one time going out to the mound to talk with Bob Gibson. He told me to get back behind the batter, that the only thing I knew about pitching was that it was hard to hit.

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    Beer is good!! George Anderson's Avatar
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    Re: Is Albert Pujols the greatest first baseman ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by paulrichjr View Post

    I would assume that Gehrig would probably not even be a bench player on teams today
    So your saying Javy Valentine in 2009 is better than Lou Gehrig was in 1927?
    "Boys, I'm one of those umpires that misses 'em every once in a while so if it's close, you'd better hit it." Cal Hubbard

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Is Albert Pujols the greatest first baseman ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by George Anderson View Post
    So your saying Javy Valentine in 2009 is better than Lou Gehrig was in 1927?
    If time travel were possible and we could send 2008 Javy Valentin to 1927 I bet he would own Major League Baseball. The things he is subject to now that guys just weren't back then would make incredible differences. The nutrition and weight training he has had in his career put him well ahead of the curve, the advanced pitching he has faced compared to that of the 1920's would be like sending him back to Low or High A. Of course what if someone of Gehrigs talent were brought up in todays age and he had played his entire life with the training offered now, who knows how good he would be. Its just simply too difficult to judge something like that.

    But no, Valentin in 2009 compared to his league isn't better than Gehrig compared to his league in 1927.

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    Member paulrichjr's Avatar
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    Re: Is Albert Pujols the greatest first baseman ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by George Anderson View Post
    So your saying Javy Valentine in 2009 is better than Lou Gehrig was in 1927?
    Honestly I don't know. I would love to assume that great athletes from that generation would be great athletes today. I just have no idea. Doug is right when he says that it was a small pool that they pulled from back then. Think about it today...American kids who want to be good often start playing baseball at 4 years old. My own kids (14 and 9) are trained by former major leaguers or current professional coaches. Blacks, whites, Japanese, Koreans, Hispanic you name it are now in the mix. I think Lou Gehrig was a great player and a true American Hero but I have no idea if he were born today whether or not he would even be able to make it to AAA baseball.
    Tim McCarver: Baseball Quotes
    I remember one time going out to the mound to talk with Bob Gibson. He told me to get back behind the batter, that the only thing I knew about pitching was that it was hard to hit.

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    Beer is good!! George Anderson's Avatar
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    Re: Is Albert Pujols the greatest first baseman ever?

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    The nutrition and weight training he has had in his career put him well ahead of the curve, the advanced pitching he has faced compared to that of the 1920's would be like sending him back to Low or High A.

    .
    Is the pitching today really that advanced?? Are there more variety of pitches today or more flame throwers?? I don't really agree or disagree but I can't see pitching today being that superior to the pitching of the 20's. For one the spitball was legal then and I don't think the ball was as wound tight back then as it is today. IMO pitching today MAY be better today but not by alot.
    "Boys, I'm one of those umpires that misses 'em every once in a while so if it's close, you'd better hit it." Cal Hubbard


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