LA Angels All-Decade Team: Albert Pujols Clear Choice for First Base
By Vincent Page
As the LA Angels had season after season of meaningless baseball this decade, Albert Pujols‘ ascent remained one of the most entertaining storylines for Halo fans since his arrival in Anaheim.
It’s been said a million times, so we aren’t going to talk about how underwhelming his contract with the LA Angels has been. This article is an appreciation post for what The Machine has done since signing that contract prior to the 2012 season.
First off, let’s start with his first few seasons in Anaheim. Obviously he wasn’t the same hitter that won three MVP’s in St. Louis, but he was still one of the better players in the American League. In those three years, he averaged a .273/.332/.478 slash line. Despite only playing 99 games in 2013, Pujols averaged 25 home runs and 35 doubles in those years as well. In the two seasons where he stayed healthy, he finished 17th in MVP voting each year.
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Apart from the production he’s provided a plethora of historic moments. He hit his 500th home run in 2014 against the Washington Nationals. The next season, Pujols earned his 10th All Star nod, something only 64 other MLB players have ever done. 2017 came and The Machine hit home run #600 off of former Halo Ervin Santana, the ninth player to ever do so.
Perhaps the most impressive milestone for Pujols was his 3000th hit in 2018. He’s the 32nd player in the 3000 hit club.However, Pujols is just the fourth player with both 3,000 hits and 600 big flies, joining Alex Rodriguez, Hank Aaron, and Willie Mays.
Since joining the Angels, Pujols has moved up huge portions of the all-time leaderboards. The following numbers are his all-time rankings in some stats, followed by where he ranks after his eight seasons with the Halos.
Hits: From 250th to 15th
Doubles: 103rd to 7th
Home Runs: 42nd to 6th
RBI’s: 100th to 4th
These eight years have been extremely important for Albert Pujols’ status as an all-time great. He had the Hall of Fame locked up as soon as he won his third MVP award (much like Mike Trout is a surefire Hall of Famer after his MVP win this year), but his rankings in these stats push him higher and higher up the greatest player of all time rankings.
So while it’s true he hasn’t lived up to the lofty expectations of his contract, Pujols has provided plenty of storylines and milestones to watch and cheer for as a Halo. Watching one of the smoothest, most beautiful swings in all of baseball for eight years has been a joy, and it goes without saying that once Albert Pujols does retire, it will be weird watching someone else play first base for the Halos.