Los Angeles Angels star Pujols dropped in on the Dodgers Talk podcast on Monday, and guest McGwire used the opportunity to remind us how talented he has been in his career.
Appearing on Monday’s Dodgers Talk podcast with David Vassegh, former Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire sat in during his weekly “Big Mac Mondays” appearance. A number of baseball-related topics were discussed, including the proposed restart to the season, the testing they will need to involve, taxi squads, and more. However, the conversation got interesting when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim star Albert Pujols dropped in to surprise his former teammate.
Pujols broke into the league in 2001, getting a chance to suit up beside McGwire during his last season in the league. As such, McGwire got a chance to see the star that Pujols would become when he hit .329/.403/.610 with 37 home runs, 130 RBI, and won the Rookie of the Year trophy with the Cardinals. It goes without saying, that McGwire has thought highly of Pujols throughout the years and wasted no time in heaping praise on his former teammate.
"“One of the greatest, if not the greatest ever.”"
Pujols, who has been spending time hanging with the kids, swimming, and riding bikes during the shutdown, has been enjoying his time off to reset his batteries. Healthy for the first time in a while, Albert has been focused on staying in shape by working out and trying to get himself ready for when the call comes to return.
Interestingly enough, the conversation came to Pujols making the Cardinals team out of spring training. It turns out that then Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa was hesitant to add Pujols to the roster coming out of Spring Training, owing to the fact that he hadn’t yet played in Triple-A. It took McGwire’s prodding a fortunate injury to Bobby Bonilla to open up the opportunity for Pujols to start with the big club. The rest, as McGwire elegantly put it, was history.
"“Listen to this. The greatest first ten years of anybody to ever put on the spikes in the game of baseball.”"
To put that in perspective, Pujols hit an amazing .331/.426/.624 with 408 home runs, 1231 RBI, and an OPS+ of 172 in that first ten-year span. That included three National League MVP awards and five additional top-5 finishes in the voting.
That’s not bad production from a former 13th round pick, something that McGwire also touched up. With the 2020 MLB Draft being shortened to just five rounds, can you imagine for a minute missing out on a generational talent like Albert Pujols because the draft wasn’t long enough to get to him or that the bonus money wasn’t enough to lure him out of school?
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Whatever you feel about the Albert Pujols that the Angels received when they signed him in 2011, it is hard to argue against any of McGwire’s points here. Pujols is an all-time great and will undoubtedly be enshrined in Cooperstown. With two years left on his deal, Angels fans should take the opportunity to appreciate the player he was and hope that he can recapture just a touch of that magic as his career winds down.