|Anything Goes: Albert Pujols||| Print ||
Written by Adam Adkins (Contact & Archive) on May 30, 2009
This generation is full of great players.Â Letâ€™s just look at the players weâ€™ve seen in this decade.Â Barry Bonds, the home run king, the best left fielder ever and quite possibly the greatest baseball player of all time.Â Mark McGwire, a hall of famer (production, production, production) who has been shunned.Â Roger Clemens, a dominant right hander with longevity that puts him in the inner-circle.Â Greg Maddux, the most intuitive pitcher to have ever lived and also one of the very best of all time.Â Ken Griffey Jr, a man with 600 home runs hit.Â Alex Rodriguez, the most powerful short stop of all time (with the Dutchman) and now perhaps the most powerful third baseman of all time (hat tip to Michael Jack Schmidt, of course).Â Mariano Rivera, the man who made closing cool.Â Johan Santana, the most dominant pitcher of the decade.Â Joe Mauer, a phenomenal catcher with the hitting skill to be a right fielder.Â Randy Johnson, perhaps the most dominant left hander ever and a single solitary win away from 300.Â Tom Glavine, a man nearly forgotten among Clemens, Maddux, and Johnson, who has 300 wins.Â How about the man known simply by his first name, Pedro?
By now, you might be thinking, Adam is recalling the players of the decade.Â He mentioned Bonds, Rodriguez, Clemens, Maddux, Johnson, Pedro, Rivera, Mauer, McGwire...
Wait, wait, wait.Â Youâ€™re forgetting someone.
How about the best player n the sport right now, Adam, you genius?
Albert freaking Pujols.Â Oh, how I love Pujols.Â I love his goofy Terminator-like SportsCenter commercial.Â I love my Pujols shirt-jersey even though it has holes in it.Â I love watching that highlight of him obliterating a Brad Lidge offering in the playoffs a few years ago.
You all know I am a stat guyâ€”the numbers wonâ€™t lie.Â For our little discussion, Iâ€™ll be using Adjusted OPS, which is simple to understand.Â If your OPS+ is above 100, thatâ€™s good.Â How far above is the number above average you are, so, letâ€™s say Player X scores a 145 OPS+.Â That means heâ€™s 45 points above average.Â If, by chance, Player X manages a 57 OPS+, that would mean heâ€™s 43 points below average.Â Obviously, 100 is average.Â Also, Adjusted OPS is tweaked to take into account park effects, era (1995 was better for hitters than 1968, for instance) and opponent (AL East > NL Central), so itâ€™s a well-rounded stat.Â (Note: OPS+ numbers can be found on baseball-reference.com.)
Let me quickly give you some career OPS+ numbers for hitters you will recognize, along with their current (or final) at-bat counts.
So, this should illustrate some things.Â One, Barry Bonds was unbelievably good at swinging a baseball bat.Â Two, Stan Musial and Willie Mays were both very awesome for a long time.Â Three, Alex Rodriguez, at least offensively, is not an inner-circle player (not if you conclude the inner-circle is Bonds, Ruth, and Mays... which, well, isnâ€™t that what an inner-circle should be?).
Just look at that for a moment.Â Yes, I realize heâ€™s only about a third of the way through the AB count the retired hitters have.Â Yes, heâ€™s barely over half of the ABs that A Rod has.Â But he is seventy points better than average.Â Thatâ€™s far better than Rodriguez, far better than Griffey Jr, far better than Aaron, and not far better but better, certainly, than Mays or Musial.