The Angels Albert Pujols reminds me of a story of a vintage Delorean speeds down an abandoned Hill Valley street slowly eclipsing 88mph on the odometer reading at precisely 1:23AM! Bolts of lightning run from the top of the Clock Tower, down the attached cable, and finally through the car post generating the 1.21 gigawatts needed for the flux capacitor to propel this story into the past!
We arrive in 2001. Where a rookie in St. Louis, Albert Pujols, is redefining what it means to be a modern day hitter. From his first hit against Colorado, to crushing batting practice performances, the table was set for something special.
Skill, power, and desire accompanied a complete lack of nerves as Pujols stunned baseball with his endless pursuit of being better. He worked counts like a 10-year veteran. Wielding his bat like a meat cleaver, missing pitches that still went over the fence, all while shredding balls to open spots anywhere on the field with zero discrimination.
Making history is never for those who shrink at the sight of it. What would Pujols say if in our 2001 scenario he ran into his former self? What a conversation that would be. Maybe that seems too absurd to seriously consider. Maybe his exact replica is not totally possible… for anyone.
Going back to the future, Mike Trout is pretty close.
Pujols has 3 Most Valuable Player Awards, 3 second place finishes, a third, and a fourth. In 8 of 9 years he finished in the top 5 of NL MVP voting. He was top 5 in the first 6 seasons of his career, which had never been done. After it was clear he would win a third MVP in 2008, ESPN’s SportsCenter chose a baseball expert to put it into historical perspective.
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Tony Gwynn had told that expert, Tim Kurkjian, about a story Ted Williams would lament to Tony involving walking down the street one day as people gasped at seeing “the greatest hitter of all-time.” Kurkjian then confided that Gwynn thought Ted’s story would become Pujols’ reality.
Both players burst onto the scene as Rookie of the Year and MVP candidates immediately. Both are Gold Glove caliber defenders in their prime while having six Silver Slugger honors… each.
Mike Trout has finished in the top 4 of AL MVP ballots in seven consecutive seasons to START his career… AND COUNTING. He had 2 in his trophy case by the time he was 25, and 3 runner-ups by the same point, somewhat due to historical anomalies by Miguel Cabrera. In 2019? Yeah, you can bet it’s going to be eight seasons in a row.
Through 1,000 games Trout has a career .308 average, 754 runs, 1,126 hits, 224 home runs, and an OPS of .989. Pujols through 100? Glad you asked… a .330 average, 789 runs, 1,235 hits, 266 home runs, and an absurd 1.040 OPS. Pretty close in Pujols’ favor, and there are certainly things Trout does better over a similar span.
Trout has 189 stolen bases over his first seven campaigns, compared to Pujols’ 45. The Kid also bests the Machine in hitting into double plays… let’s just say by… a lot. Obviously having more speed helps Trout as an outfielder too, though, Pujols lateral quickness at first garnered 2 Gold Gloves(06′, 10′); a distinction Mike Trout is still whistling Dixie in hopes of finding. Trout did win a slightly less prestigious Wilson Overall Defensive Player of the Year Award(12′), so there’s that.
No matter which version of Albert Pujols you find, be it in 2001(Rookie), 2008(3rd MVP), 2011(LAA), or back here in 2019, the past and present remain unchanged. The only unknown is how close of a replica is Mike Trout? Is he even a future version at all? Or something… more mechanical? The answers are simple with a quick look into the future. Wait, where’s my Sports Almanac? BIFF!? (♫ cue Back in Time by Huey Lewis and the News ♫ )
* No authors or readers were harmed during the process of this time jump.