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José Alberto Pujols Alcántara (born January 16, 1980), better known as Albert Pujols ( ), is a professional baseball player who has played his entire career in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the St. Louis Cardinals. Currently a first baseman, Pujols is well-known for his all-around ability as a player to hit for both average and power, plus his base-running and fielding excellence. His consistency over his nine years in the Major Leagues has earned him the reputation as one of the best players in the game today and the most feared hitter in baseball, according to a poll of all 30 MLB managers in 2008. Since his MLB debut in 2001, Pujols has been selected as an All-Star eight times, has won the National League Most Valuable Player Award three times, and won a World Series title in 2006.

After the end of the 2009 season, he led all active players in batting average (.334), slugging percentage (.628), and ranks among the leading home run hitters in Major League Baseball history.

He stands , weighs , bats and throws right-handed.

Early life and career

Born on January 16, 1980, Pujols was raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic by his grandmother. Pujols and his family immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1996, first to New York Citymarker. In the U.S., Pujols displayed his hitting skill by batting over .500 in his first season at Fort Osage High School in Independence, Missouri, twice earning all-state honors. Pujols graduated from high school in December 1998. He attended Maple Woods Community College in the Kansas Citymarker area in spring of 1999. In his only college season, Pujols hit a grand slam and turned an unassisted triple play in his first game. He batted .461 for the year.

Professional baseball career

Minor leagues

Few major league teams were very interested in Pujols. A Colorado Rockies scout reported favorably about him. The Tampa Bay Rays arranged a tryout for Pujols, but it went poorly (after the team did not draft him, the scout who had found Pujols resigned). He is a prime example of a late draft value pick. The St. Louis Cardinals drafted Pujols in the 13th round of the 1999 draft with the 402nd overall pick. However, Pujols initially turned down a USD $10,000 bonus and opted to play in the Jayhawk League in Kansasmarker instead. The Cardinals increased their bonus offer to $60,000, Pujols signed, and was assigned to the minor leagues.

In 2000, Pujols played for the Peoria Chiefs of the single-A Midwest League, where he was voted league MVP. Pujols quickly progressed through the ranks of the St. Louis farm clubs, first at the Potomac Cannons in the high-A Carolina League and then with the Memphis Redbirds in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League.

Major league career

2001–2002

During the 2001 season, the team was preparing for Pujols to be sent to Memphis-AAA. However, Pujols' outstanding play, combined with a hamstring injury to Bobby Bonilla (at the time the starting third baseman for the Cardinals) allowed Pujols the opportunity to start the season in the majors. Pujols started his major league career playing third base. During his rookie season, he started at four different positions (1B, 3B, LF, and RF).

In May, he was named National League Rookie of the Month. In June, he was named to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game by NL manager Bobby Valentine, the first Cardinals' rookie selected since 1955. In the second half of the season, Pujols had a on-base streak of 48 consecutive games from July 28 to September 22. Pujols' successful rookie season helped the Cardinals tie for the National League Central Division title. In 2001, Pujols batted .329 with 37 home runs and 130 RBI, and was unanimously named the National League Rookie of the Year. His 37 home runs were one short of the National League rookie record of 38, held by Wally Berger of the 1930 Boston Braves and Frank Robinson of the 1956 Cincinnati Redlegs. His 130 RBI set an NL rookie record.

When Scott Rolen joined the team in 2002, Pujols was moved to left field. In 2002, Pujols struggled at first, but batted extremely well through the season, hitting .314 with 34 homers and 127 RBI. The Cardinals defeated the Diamondbacks in the first round of the playoffs, but lost to the San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship series. Pujols finished second in the MVP voting behind Barry Bonds.

2003–2004

Following an injury scare in 2003, Pujols was moved to first base.

Pujols had one of the best offensive seasons in Cardinals history, batting .359 with 43 home runs, and 124 RBIs. He won the NL batting title while also leading the league in runs, hits, doubles, extra base hits, and total bases. At 23, Pujols became the youngest NL batting champion since 1962, and joined Rogers Hornsby as the only players in Cardinals' history to record 40+ homers and 200+ hits in the same season. The Cardinals failed to make the playoffs. Pujols finished second in the MVP voting to Barry Bonds for the second straight year and had a 30-game hitting streak.

In 2004, Pujols signed a seven-year, $100 million contract extension with a $16 million club option for 2011 on February 20. He received a no-trade clause for 2004–2006, and a limited no-trade clause for the other years, until after the 2010 season when he would receive a '10-5' veto if he remains with the Cardinals.

Throughout the year, Pujols was plagued by plantar fasciitis, but was still hitting .331 with 46 home runs and 123 RBIs. Pujols, along with teammates Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen, earned the nickname 'MV3' for their phenomenal season. He was named the MVP of the 2004 NLCS, helping his team reach the World Series.

2005–2006

In 2005 season Pujols established career highs in walks and stolen bases, while leading his team in almost every offensive category. He finished batting .330 with 41 home runs (including his 200th career homer), 117 RBIs, 97 walks, and 16 stolen bases. His performance earned him the 2005 National League MVP award.

The Cardinals were eliminated by the Houston Astros 4 games to 2 in the NLCS, but Pujols hit a memorable home run in Game 5, with the Cardinals only one out from elimination. With the Astros leading 4–2 with two outs in the ninth inning, Pujols hit a game-winning, three-run home run off closer Brad Lidge that landed on the train tracks in the back of Minute Maid Parkmarker. After the game, Pujols commented that he was telling himself, "Don't try to be a hero; don't try to hit a three-run home run."

In the early months of the 2006 season, Pujols became the 35th player to hit home runs in four consecutive at-bats, and the 20th batter to hit four home runs in four consecutive plate appearances, on April 16 and 17. That month, he set the record for the most home runs hit in April of the season, at 14, on April 29, 2006—a record later tied by Alex Rodriguez in 2007—and became the fastest player in major league history to reach 19 home runs in a season by May 13. On June 3, Pujols suffered an oblique strain chasing a foul pop fly. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his career on June 4, missing 15 games. He returned in time to help the Cardinals win the NL Central. He started at first base for the NL All-Star team. Pujols finished the season with a .331 batting average, establishing new career-highs in slugging percentage (in which he led the majors), 49 home runs (second) and 137 RBIs (second). Of his 49 home runs, 20 accounted for a game-winning RBI, breaking Willie Mays' single-season record set in 1962. In the MVP voting, he came in a close second to Ryan Howard, garnering 12 of 32 first-place votes.

After appearing in the playoffs with the Cardinals in four of his first five years in the big leagues, Pujols won his first World Series when the Cardinals won the 2006 World Series, defeating the Detroit Tigers.

After having shared the lead for errors at his position in 2005, Pujols' defensive improvements were recognized with his first Gold Glove award in 2006. He had the highest range factor among first basemen in his two full seasons at the position, and led the National League in that category; emblematic was a sprawling, flip-from-his-back play Pujols made to rob Plácido Polanco of a hit in the 7th inning of Game 5 of the World Series.

2007–2008

Pujols had a slower start in the spring of 2007 than in previous years due to several injuries in his right elbow. Following the All-Star break, he hit four home runs in his first three games back.

He hit his 25th home run on August 15, making him the fifth player to hit 25 home runs in his first seven seasons in the major leagues, and the first since Darryl Strawberry. On August 22, he hit his 30th home run of the season, becoming the first major league player to hit at least 30 home runs in each of his first 7 seasons. It was his fifth consecutive game with a home run, tying the Cardinals' single-season record.

Pujols notched his 100th RBI for the seventh consecutive year, to be only the third player to accomplish that from the start of his career.

Pujols won the Fielding Bible Award for defensive excellence at first base in 2007.

On June 10, 2008, Pujols strained his left-calf muscle and went on the 15-day disabled list for only the second time in his career. Pujols won his seventh career NL Player of the Week award for Aug. 18–24. He got his 1,500th career hit on August 30, against the Houston Astros. His 30th home run on September 1, and his 100th RBI on September 11, made him the first player in MLB history to start his career with eight seasons of at least 30 HR, 100 RBIs, a .300 BA, and 99 runs.

In 2008, he also led the NL in two lesser-known sabermetric categories: VORP (98.6), runs created (160), and in OPS+ (190).

On October 13, Pujols elected to have surgery on his troubled right elbow, "a procedure that included decompression and transposition of the ulnar nerve" but not the more invasive Tommy John surgery to relieve persistent pain.

Pujols won a number of awards for 2008, including the Players Choice National League Outstanding Player of the Year, and Players Choice Player of the Year (his second Player of the Year Award, having also won in 2003; he joined Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds as two-time winners). Pujols was also named The Sporting News Player of the Year for the second time in his career. On October 25, Pujols was named the 2008 winner of the Roberto Clemente Award for the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement, and the individual's contribution to his team.

Pujols won the Fielding Bible Award for defensive excellence at first base for the third consecutive year. For the third time in four years, Pujols was named NL Most Valuable Player in the annual Internet Baseball Awards, a poll conducted by Baseball Prospectus. Pujols also won his fourth Silver Slugger award, having previously won one at 3B in 2001, OF in 2003, and 1B in 2004.

On November 17, Pujols won his second NL MVP Award. The MVP award continues his streak of finishing in the top nine in the BBWAA voting every year of the first 8 years of his career. He ended the year by winning TYIB's 'Hitter of the Year' Award.

2009

Pujols declined to play in the World Baseball Classic for his native Dominican Republicmarker, because of insurance issues relating to his off-season right elbow surgery in October 2008.

On May 21, he hit a memorable upper-deck HR off the "Big Mac Land" sign in left field, causing the 'I" in "Big" to be knocked out.

Pujols was the leading vote-getter for the 2009 MLB All-Star Game, receiving 5,397,374 All-Star votes, the highest number of votes in NL history. For the All-Star Game, which took place at his home ballpark of Busch Stadiummarker in St. Louis, Pujols participated in the Home Run Derby and caught President Barack Obama's ceremonial first pitch before the All-Star Game.

The 2009 season marked the ninth consecutive season since the start of his career that he has reached 100 or more RBI and 30 or more doubles, and the fifth time he has hit 40+ home runs and won his first home run title. In 2009 Pujols also played his 1,000th game at first base.

Pujols tied a club record with his 10th multi-home run game of the year., the 33rd time in his career in a 5-1 victory, Sept. 9, (#46 and #47), raising his league-leading slugging percentage to his highest ever (.698) at so late in a season.

On Sept. 20, he hit his 40th double of the season, making him the second player in major league history to hit 40 doubles and 40 home runs in three separate seasons (2003, 2004, 2009), joining Lou Gehrig.

He led the NL in VORP (98.3), runs created (165), OPS+ (188), home runs (47), and a variety of other categories.

In 2009, he led the NL in AB per HR (12.1), Best OPS against the fastball (1.152), and OPS by a right-hand hitter against a right-hand pitcher (1.080).

Later that year he was awarded the Sporting News "MLB Player of the Decade".

He successfully had surgery to remove five bone spur removed from his troublesome right elbow on October 21.

He won the Sporting News "MLB Player of the Year" award for the second consecutive year, and his third (2003) overall. He is just the third player in the history of the award to win in consecutiveseasons. Boston Red Sox outfielder Ted Williams won the award in 1941-1942, and Cincinnati Reds second baseman Joe Morgan did so in 1975-76.

He won his third MVP Award on November 24, tying Stan Musial as the St. Louis Cardinals' leader in that esteemed category.

Personal life

Pujols married his wife, Deidre, on January 1, 2000. They have three children, Isabella (Deidre's daughter, from a previous relationship), Albert Jr., and Sophia. Albert and his wife are active in the cause of people with Down syndrome, as Isabella was born with this condition. He has taken part-ownership in Patrick's Restaurant in Maryland Heightsmarker, Missourimarker. The remodeled restaurant was re-opened as Pujols 5 in 2006.

Pujols is close friends with second baseman Plácido Polanco, a former teammate with the St. Louis Cardinals. Pujols is godfather to Polanco's 3-year-old son, Ismael. Polanco and Pujols played on opposite teams in the 2006 World Series.

In 2007 Pujols became a U.S. citizen, scoring a perfect 100 on his citizenship test. Later that year Upper Deck Authenticated announced it had signed Pujols to an exclusive autographed memorabilia agreement.

In 2008, Pujols agreed to help bring a MLS franchise to St. Louis by using his reputation and a large financial investment.

Pujols and his wife are active Christians; his foundation's website states, "In the Pujols family, God is first. Everything else is a distant second."

Pujols Family Foundation

In 2005, Albert and Deidre Pujols launched the Pujols Family Foundation, which is dedicated to "the love, care and development of people with Down syndrome and their families," as well as helping the poor in the Dominican Republic. Pujols has taken several trips to the Dominican Republic, by taking supplies as well as a team of doctors and dentists to the poor who need medical care. The Pujols Family Foundation also holds an annual golf tournament in which members from the Cardinals and other people play golf to raise money to send dentists to the Dominican Republic.

A new center for adults with Down syndrome that will bear his name ("Albert Pujols Wellness Center for Adults with Down's Syndrome") is scheduled to open in November 2009 in Chesterfieldmarker, Missourimarker. He was there when it was launched on November 18, 2009.

Accomplishments

Pujols is widely considered to be one of the greatest players in modern Major League Baseball; this is due in part to his impressive accrual of statistics and records before the age of 30. Nearing the end of the 2009 season, Pujols currently ranks within the top 15 players in major league history in four statistical categories: on-base percentage (twelfth), slugging percentage (fourth), on-base plus slugging (OPS; fourth), and adjusted OPS (tied for sixth). He also ranks in the top 500 players in major league history in a variety of statistical categories (see below), and is a two-time MVP.

From 2001 to 2005, Pujols hit 201 home runs, second all-time for the most hit in a player's first five seasons. By 2009, he had reached the 350-homer plateau at the age of 29—the third-youngest to do so—and surpassed Ralph Kiner's record for most home runs in his first nine seasons. In so doing, Pujols became the first player to hit 30 or more home runs in the first nine seasons of his career, as well the second player to have 100 or more RBIs in the same timespan.

Pujols holds the Cardinals' franchise record for most career grand slams; he broke the record of nine previously held by Stan Musial. Musial and Pujols are also two of only four players in history to have a career batting average above .330 and less than 500 strikeouts at the time of their 300th home runs (Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio).
In his first 5,000 career at bats, Pujols had amassed 372 doubles, 358 home runs, and 14 triples for a total of 744 extra-base hits, the most in NL history, and is the second player in Major League Baseball to post nine consecutive seasons with 30 doubles, a .300 batting average, 30 home runs, and 100 runs batted in or better (Lou Gehrig).

He has scored 100 or more runs in eight of his nine seasons.

He currently has eight career walk-off home runs.

With his 129th RBI in 2009, he passed "Sunny Jim" Bottomley for third place in Cardinals' history in a career with 1,106.

Only Enos Slaughter (1,148) and Stan Musial (1,951) have more.


In the field, Pujols has set the Cardinals' franchise for the most assists by a first baseman in a single game (seven). He also set the all-time Cardinals' and National League record for assists by a first baseman in a season (182) in 2009, then in the last game of the 2009 season, broke Bill Buckner's 1985 major league mark of 184 with his 185th. Keith Hernandez held the previous Cardinals' record with 146 assists in 1979, and Mark Grace in 1990 held the old NL record with 181.

In spite of his accomplishments, Pujols has said he doesn't play solely for the numbers. "I don't play for numbers. I play first of all to glorify God and to accomplish in this game what everybody wants to accomplish, which is getting to the World Series and coming up with a win at the end. Those are the things that I really try to focus on and try to make sure that I do every day for the rest of my career."

Awards and honors

Award / Honor Time(s) Date(s)
NL All-Star 8 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
NL Player of the Month 5 May 2003, June 2003, April 2006, April 2009, June 2009
NL Silver Slugger 5 2001 (3B), 2003 (OF), 2004 (1B), 2008 (1B), 2009 (1B)
Fielding Bible Award 4 2006 (1b), 2007 (1b), 2008 (1b), 2009 (1b)
TSN Player of the Year 3 2003, 2008, 2009
NL Outstanding Player (Players Choice Award) 3 2003, 2008, 2009
ESPY Awards Best MLB Player 3 2005, 2006, 2009
NL Most Valuable Player 3 2005, 2008, 2009
Player of Year Award (Players Choice Award) 3 2003, 2008, 2009
Hank Aaron Award 2 2003, 2009
World Series champion 1 2006
TSN Player of the Decade 1 2009
NL Batting Champion 1 2003
NL Home Run Champion 1 2009
NL Gold Glove Award 1 2006 (1B)
NLCS MVP 1 2004
Roberto Clemente Award 1 2008
This Year In Baseball's "Hitter of the Year" Award 1 2008
Rookie of the Year 1 2001


Career statistics



Yr. Team Lg G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB OPS+
St. Louis NL 160 568 124 186 45 1 47 135 16 4 115 64 .327 .443 .658 1.101 374 23 9 0 8 44 188
TOTALS   1,399 5,146 1,071 1,717 387 14 366 1,112 61 30 811 570 .334 .427 .628 1.055 3,230 180 69 1 55 198 172


Statistics current through October 4, 2009.



Italic in 2009 = led NL.

Footnotes



See also



References

External links




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